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cropped CAT 11 George Cooke.  Xenophon.  BA 94.png

CAT 11. Engraved by George Cooke. Xenophon. In Historic Gallery of Portraits and Paintings, vol. 6. Vernor, Hood, & Sharpe, 1810. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.

From entry in HG 6: “Xenophon, a philosophical historian, and distinguished captain, was the son of Gryllus. He was born at Athens, in the year 450 B.C., and at an early age joined the troops of Cyrus, who had revolted against his brother Artaxerxes Memnon. He was at the battle of Cunaxa, in which Cyrus perished. He there acquired considerable reputation. It was after this battle that the celebrated retreat of the 10,000 Greeks from Babylon to Trebisond was made; a retreat which Xenophon advised, at which he presided, and which he has described with wonderful interest. In this difficult and dangerous march, all the eloquence of Xenophon was necessary to encourage his exhausted soldiers, who, deprived of their general, found themselves at a distance of five to six hundred leagues from Greece. On his arrival in Thrace, he united his army, then reduced to six thousand men, with the Lacedæmonian troops, who were about to engage . . . the satraps of the Persian monarch.” After the eventual defeat of the Persians, “Xenophon retired with his two sons to Corinth, where he passed the remainder of his life. He died at the age of ninety, in the year 360 B.C. . . . [D]uring the interval of peace [in the Lacedæmonian war], he composed his works, which have handed him down to posterity more than his warlike exploits. . . . His History of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, a precious morsel of history, is written by a general, who could say, et quorum pars magna fui” (n.p.).

Melville acquired Xenophon’s History of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand as part of the Classical Library in 1849 (Sealts no. 147; vols. 1, 2, tr. by Edward Spelman as The Anabasis). In Mardi Melville playfully alluded to Xenophon “retreating on Greece, all Persia brandishing her spears in his rear” (NN M 368).