Test 1 Question 2

In what ways does the portrayal of Cyrus by Xenophon differ from the ways in which Isocrates portrays Cyrus? What may be the reasons for Isocrates and Xenophon to write such contrasting opinions of the same person? 

Possible Texts

  • Xenophon’s The Education of Cyrus
  • Isocrates’ Evagoras

Supporting Points


  • Produced a glamorous image of Cyrus
    • Cyrus possessed all of the qualities of a successful leader from a young age
      • Gregarious personality; lived to please others to gain honor
        • The hunt – Book 1, Chapter 4, pg 36-38
    • He remained uncorrupted by the temptations leadership can present
      • Wife of Abradatas – Book 5, Chapter 1
    • Portrayed Cyrus as a “martyr”; sacrificing his personal gains for the good of others
      • Sacrificed his romantic/personal life – Book 5, Chapter 1
    • Cyrus was never shown as making a mistake
      • His conquests went smoothly
      • Those he conquered submitted to him without much of a fight if any fight at all
    • Things always worked out in his favor to make him appear as a superior leader
      • The hunt – Book 1, Chapter 4, pg 36-38
      • Military escapades
        • Gained the alliance of all he conquered
        • Was an empathetic conqueror and bettered the lives of those he conquered
          • Peace arrangement of the Armenians and Chaldaeans – Book 3, Chapter 2
          • Sparing the life of the Armenian King – Book 3, Chapter 1


  • Provided a more realistic image of Cyrus
    • Depicted Cyrus as a more militant leader
      • Whereas Evagoras conquered piously, Cyrus conquests were “not in accordance with religion”
        • Isocrates’ Evagoras – pg 6, part 38
      • Isocrates’ mentions Cyrus’ murder of his grandfather, whereas Xenophon’s portrayal of Cyrus and Astyages’ relationship was completely platonic and there was no mention of murder
        • Isocrates’ Evagoras – pg 6, part 38
    • Downplayed the extravagance of Cyrus’ achievements
      • Page 5, Part 37




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