Thursday, September 29, 2011

Follow Me, Then, and Learn

Xenophon, the son of Gryllus, a citizen of Athens, was of the borough of Erchia; and he was a man of great modesty, and as handsome as can be imagined.

They say that Socrates met him in a narrow lane, and put his stick across it and prevented him from passing by, asking him where all kinds of necessary things were sold. And when he had answered him, he asked him again where men were made good and virtuous. And as he did not know, he said, "Follow me, then, and learn." And from this time forth, Xenophon became a follower of Socrates.

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Xenophon. Diogenes Laertius's epigram on Xenophon, which refers to his Anabasis, is also worth noting, since it is the single best summary of the Anabasis as a philosophical work (it is usually read as a mere history) that I have ever found. Somewhat paraphrastically:

Not only for Cyrus did Xenophon go up [aneben] to Persia,
But rather to find the way up [anodon] to Zeus's realm;
For, having shown that Hellenic deeds came from education [paideia],
He recalled how noble and good [kalon] was Socrates's wisdom.

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