Xenophon: The Shorter Socratic Writings [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 50 (3):697-700 (1997)
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This volume contains translations of Xenophon's Apology of Socrates, Oeconomicus, and Symposium, accompanied by illuminating critical essays. In his introduction, Bartlett notes that "after a century and a half of neglect, stemming from indifference or outright contempt, the writings of Xenophon are once again attracting serious scholarly study". These three sets of text and commentary will convince any student of ancient philosophy that Xenophon's masterful dialogues deserve a higher place than they often receive. It is not surprising that Cicero, Quintillian, and Plutarch among the ancients, and Edward Gibbon among the moderns, found such profit in his works, for Xenophon is a daring rhetorician and a brilliant exponent of Socratic method. Many earlier translators, resting on prejudice and indulging in literary affectation, have done great disservice to our appreciation of Xenophon. The translations offered in this new volume dispel at once all such impediments. Here we have conversations characterized by finesse, wit, and spiritedness, qualities that emerge simply by letting the author's vigorous rhetorical style speak for itself in English that mirrors the Greek as closely as possible.



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