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ANNO XLIV / 2014

P  À  T  R  O  N E  D  I  T  O  R  E
B  O  L  O  G  N  A 2015


Manuel Tröster, Cimone come benefattore panellenico e campione

di concordia. Una proiezione di Plutarco?..................................... pag. 9
Maria Federica Petraccia, Uomini e gentes nella prima metà del
V secolo a.C.: Spurio Cassio ..........................................................  » 29
Luca Sansone di Campobianco, Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary:
a brief Enquiry on the Concepts of Courage and Discipline .........  » 47
Cesare Rossi, Some Examples of the Hellenistic Surprising Knowl-
edge: its Possible Origin from the East and its Influence on Later
Arab and European Engineers .......................................................  » 61
Miguel Requena Jiménez, Commovisti terram, et conturbasti eam
(Vulg. Psalm. 60, 4). Los terremotos en la antigüedad .................  » 85


Giovanni Parmeggiani, Anassimene di Lampsaco. Note sulla
trasmissione del corpus ..................................................................  » 109
Stefan Schorn, Historiographie, Biographie und Enkomion. Theorie
der Biographie und Historiographie bei Diodor und Polybios .....  » 137
Matteo Zaccarini, La battaglia all’Eurimedonte in Diodoro e Plu-
tarco: ricezione, modello e frammenti ‘cumulativi’ di storiografia
di IV secolo .....................................................................................  » 165
Pietro Maria Liuzzo, Eforo, Teopompo e FGrHist 104 ....................  » 185
4 Indice


Paolo Lepore, Gli homines militares fattori di ‘deformazione’

del­l’assetto repubblicano ............................................................... pag. 225
Beatrice Girotti, L’ambiguità del culto di Augusto tra fonti lettera-
rie ed epigrafiche: un contributo dagli autori tardoantichi?..........  » 237
Giacomo Manganaro, Ricercatori di tesori nel mondo romano: a
proposito di epigrammi di Gregorio di Nazianzo  » 247


Philippe Akar, Concordia. Un idéal de la classe dirigeante romaine

à la fin de la République, Publications de la Sorbonne, Paris 2013
(Gabriella Poma).............................................................................  » 259
A. F. Caballos Rufino (ed.), Del municipio a la corte - La reno-
vación de las elites romanas, Universidad de Sevilla ed., Sevilla
2012, (Serena Zoia).........................................................................  » 261
Enrique Melchor Gil, Antonio D. Pérez Zurita, Juan Fco. Ro-
dríguez Neila (eds.), Senados municipales y decuriones en el
Occidente Romano, Sevilla 2013 (Gabriella Poma) ......................  » 263



In the following pages I wish to offer a reflection on the semantic and conceptual inter-
relations existing between four terms that Xenophon uses to express his views on warfare.
On one side the couple θάρσος / θράσος, which conveys a nuanced concept varying
between courage and recklessness. On the other, the couple of antonyms εὐταξία / ἀταξία,
whose meaning Xenophon seems to develop into that of a self-discipline that stems from
and reflects a well ordered state of the soul, and its opposite. The aim of this paper is
to explore these new nuances and follow their emergence in Xenophon’s vocabulary.

Urging the assembly to appoint new leaders in substitution to those who have
been killed or taken by the enemy, Xenophon explains that:

…without leaders nothing fine or useful can be accomplished in any field, to put it
broadly, and certainly not in warfare. For εὐταξία, it seems, keeps men in safety, while
ἀταξία has brought many ere now to destruction.
Xen. An. 3.1.3 1

Here as in other passages Xenophon stresses that the difference between

victory and defeat quite often depends on the predominance in the army of one
of two antithetic qualities: ἀταξία or εὐταξία 2. Overall, translators and scholars

  Brownson 1922. If not otherwise stated, the following translations are mine.
  Cf. Xen. An. 3.2.39; An. 7.7.31 and especially Oec. 8.4-6, where Xenophon defines “utterly
useless” [ἄχρηστος] an army that is prey to ἀταξία, whereas its opposite is considered “a noble
sight to friends and an unwelcome spectacle to the enemy” (on the importance of τάξις in hoplite
warfare at the time of Xenophon also cf. Anderson 1970, 94-5). Xenophon’s views are likely to
48 Luca Sansone di Campobianco

understand this set of antonyms as a sum of their elements, therefore as a τάξις

[structure] that could be either εὐ- or ἀ-, ‘good’ as in orderly organised, or just
altogether missing. When encountered in authors discussing military matters,
translators seem to normally interpret the former as ‘obedience’ and / or its natu-
ral outcome of ‘order in the ranks’. Likewise, the latter is rendered through the
negative antonyms ‘insubordination’ or / and the resulting ‘disarray in the ranks’.
Historians would then consider εὐταξία mainly as a term referencing the artful
keeping of a phalanx in a tight yet neat formation, which they seem inclined to
identify as the key to its effectiveness in combat. 3 On the opposite side, ἀταξία
would convey an image of general indiscipline that breeds a situation of disorder
within the ranks, thus realising the phalanx’s capital weakness. Together, they
could serve as practical criteria by which professional soldiers, accustomed to
the strict discipline required and established by the στρατιωτικός βίος 4, could be
distinguished from an “unruly lot” of amateurs 5.
This interpretation is certainly capable of explaining the use of these terms in
the passage quoted, as well as the majority of Xenophon’s passages that feature
them 6. However, a few instances of εὐταξία and ἀταξία seem to convey a surplus
of meaning that their usual interpretation do not feel able to fully deliver.

derive from his personal experience, and are also confirmed for earlier events: when hoplites are
deployed ἀτάκτως heavy losses are to be expected (cf. Thuc. 3.108.3), especially when fighting
against an ordered phalanx (cf. Xen. Hell. 7.1.16-7). In fact, Xenophon seems to considers
εὐταξία so important in real-life situations that it may even turn the tide of the battle and grant
victory against a larger host (cf. Xen. Cyn. 12.5, discussed infra). One may certainly note that
in the Anabasis Xenophon also stresses the importance of morale (3.1.42) and good leadership
(7.7.31) over sheer numbers, however the circumstances of his speeches suggest that he may be
engaging in oratory, as clearly in 3.1.43. Finally, it is interesting to note that Aristotle will also
adopt Xenophon’s word of choice ἄχρηστος in his discussion on warfare, and place the ‘good’
τάξις at the heart of the hoplite fighting to the extent that if the notion is altogether missing, then
so is the notion of the phalanx itself (cf. Pol. 4.1297b20-2).
  Cf. Salmon 1977, 90 envisaging a fighting unit able to always keep its cohesion despite its
large size; Snodgrass 1993, 55 speaking of a thick yet orderly formation; Wheeler 2008, 204,
mentioning the need of ensuring ‘the close integrity of the phalanx’s ranks and files’; Schwartz
2009, 195-98 stressing the importance of maintaining a cohesive formation at all times, and
especially during the movements of the army. In so doing, all historians more or less implicitly
understand εὐταξία as ‘order in the ranks’, pointing to it as the key to the phalanx’s effectiveness.
  Cf. Arist. Pol. 2.1270a4-6.
  Cf. Xen. Μem. 3.5.6. On the problems and ways of keeping the discipline in ‘amateur’
armies and the tight discipline in the ranks as a sign of professionalism cf. amongst others Van
Wees 2004, 108-13; Hunt 2008, 131-2.
  Aside for An. 3.1.3, cf. An. 1.5.8; Mem. 3.3.14, 3.5.6; Hier. 9.6; Eq.Mag. 7.9. This
interpretation is particularly fitting the long discussion staged in Oec. 8.4-9, concerning the
importance of discipline and order in the ranks during the movements of the army. Even when
Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary 49

For example, discussing the usefulness of hunting as training for war Xeno-
phon notes:

Indeed, it has happened before now, when a great host of allies has been put to
flight, that a little band of such men [trained by hunting], through their εὐταξία καὶ
θράσος has renewed the battle and routed the victorious enemy when he has blundered
[ἀμαρτάνω] owing to difficulties in the ground. For men who are sound in body and
mind [οἱ τὰ σώματα καὶ τὰς ψυχάς εὖ ἔχοντες] may always stand on the threshold of
success. [6] It was because they knew that they owed their successes against the enemy
to such qualities that our ancestors looked after the young men...
Xen. Cyn. 12.5-6 7

Xenophon lists here εὐταξία and θράσος as key qualities for a successful
counter-attack, stressing twice (12.5, 12.6) that only men in good conditions, both
physical and psychological, may have a successful chance against the enemy 8.

Xenophon omits to use them one may still perceive their influence in the background when he
discusses τάξις, as in Hell. 1.1.28.
  The Greek text is from the edition of Marchant 1969, the translation is derived from
Marchant 1968.
  I accept here the lectio difficilior εὐταξία well preserved in Stob. 3.29.76 and sustained
by Marchant 1920 & 1969, against the lectio facilior εὐεξία [good physical condition] offered
by the codices Vidobonensis 4.37 and Vaticanus 98, and now accepted by some (Dakyns 1897;
Delebecque 1970; Tessier 1989). Following the lectio facilior, this passage would present a
variation of the concept expressed in An. 3.1.3: if their soul is brave enough [θρασύς] and their
bodies are in a sound physical condition [εὐεξία], trained men may successfully fight back even a
larger host, provided its ranks have fallen in disarray. This lectio would then seemingly consider
Xenophon’s remark on healthy bodies and souls [οἱ τὰ σώματα καὶ τὰς ψυχάς εὖ ἔχοντες] at
12.6 as reprise and development of the terms εὐεξία and θράσος. While certainly acceptable
in its general terms, this lectio arises a few problems when checked against the consistency of
the linguistic patterns and vocabulary usually adopted by the author. The term might be absent
in Cyn. 12.5, but there is little doubt that Xenophon is referring to the staggering of the enemy
[ἀμαρτάνω] as yet another instance of ἀταξία. In Eq.Mag. 7.9 he presents a similar case where
an army staggers (again, the verb of choice is ἀμαρτάνω) due to its own largeness, this time
clearly referring to the resulting state of disarray in its ranks as a case of ἀταξία. However, when
Xenophon offers the description of a battle where one side loses due to its ἀταξία, his linguistic
habit is to set this deficiency in opposition to the positive state of εὐταξία that the winning side has
managed to maintain. Thus, in Xenophon’s vocabulary the couple of antonyms εὐταξία / ἀταξία
appears to be used as an interpretative frame that may account for victory and defeat in battle,
as in An. 3.1.3. As such, the use of one term recalls the other, and to read εὐεξία in Cyn. 12.5
is to invite an exception into this consolidated linguistic pattern. Another problem derives from
the codex Vindobonensis that preserve the lectio εὐεξία. The codex is in fact a sixteen century
copy of a significantly damaged twelve century original, which Marchant describes as “blurred
and partly illegible” (cf. Marchant 1968, xliv). The state of the codex may somehow explain
a possible mistake made by the sixteen century copier while transcribing the text, and there is at
the very least one ascertained instance of confusion between the two words. As noted by Lipka,
who receives a conjecture originally proposed by Dindorf 1898, the copier of Vaticanus 1335,
50 Luca Sansone di Campobianco

Xenophon’s remark on “having a sound body” that follows the couple θράσος /
εὐταξία can be regarded as a natural and expected follow-up of his observations
opening the chapter. In 12.1 he introduces the discussion on hunting, stressing its
usefulness as a physical conditioning for war and specifying its positive effects
on the body 9. Xenophon would then consider both εὐταξία and θράσος as quality
of the soul, positive psychological traits whose joined possession substantiates,
at least in his eyes, what makes a soul εὖ for a soldier. If this is the case, then the
usual understanding of εὐταξία as ‘order within the ranks’ and / or ‘obedience’,
may not feel capable of fully accounting for the use of the term in this specific
A valuable insight on the term’s meaning may derive form the nature of the
relationship established by Xenophon between εὐταξία and θράσος. He is, in
fact, the first author expressively suggesting that a collaboration between these
traits would in some way benefit warfare, and the meaning of both terms is thus
likely to be determined by the novelty of this association. Thus, any new nuance
that εὐταξία may have earned here should be searched within its newly forged
connection with θράσος, i.e. in how they are intended to affect each other, so that
they may jointly contribute to the soldier’s benefit.
On this note, the positive spin usually given to θράσος by translators also raises
a few perplexities 10, as the root *θρ- from which the term stems is a notoriously
dodgy customer. In Homeric language it conveys, alongside its double *θαρ-, an

admittedly the best codex for Xenophon’s Spartan Constitution, would have arbitrarily changed
at Lac. 8.1 εὐταξία with εὐεξία (cf. Lipka 2001, 168 comm. ad loc.). Finally, it may be objected
on the ground of Xenophon’s use of θράσος that the term may not have a connotation positive
enough to reference the ‘good’ soul of a soldier. As I will try to argue in the following pages,
unlike the root *θαρ- the root *θρ- in Xenophon is usually endowed with negative connotations,
conveying the idea of recklessness and rashness, not of courage. The presence of this negative
trait would rather endorse the lectio εὐταξία, since any potential harm the soldier would cause
to himself due to his recklessness would require the mental counterweight offered by εὐταξία, as
expressed in Xen. Cyr. 2.1.22 discussed infra. Interestingly, the copier of the codex Vindobonensis
4.37 also changed θρ-άσει with a unique and now positively connoted θάρ-σει, perhaps as a way
to force consistency on the text. Editors usually reject this lectio, however to reject θάρσoς is also
to doubt εὐεξία, because both terms are needed to fully substantiate the following οἱ τὰ σώματα
καὶ τὰς ψυχάς εὖ ἔχοντες.
  Cf. Xen. Cyn. 12.1: “But the advantages that those who have been attracted by this pursuit
will gain are many. For it makes the body healthy, improves the sight and hearing, and keeps
men from growing old”.
  Dakyns 1897 has a plainly positive ‘courage’; Marchant 1968 has a more subjective
‘confidence’; Delebecque 1970 has an as elegant as improbable ‘force morale’; Tessier 1989 has
a rather clever ‘audacia’, a term that in Italian maintains a certain degree of ambiguity between
positive and negative connotations.
Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary 51

overall positive image of courage 11, although few passages already show the emer-
gence of an alternative and negative connotation as arrogance or recklessness 12.
However, throughout the first half of the fifth century the positive implications
seem to be progressively yielded to the root *θαρ-, whereas the negative connota-
tions begin to coalesce around the formations of *θρ-. Aeschylus and Sophocles
may still use the root *θρ- to prevalently convey a positive trait 13, but compared
to Homer its negative connotation as rashness is increasingly gaining ground 14,
whereas *θαρ- always remains positive 15. Starting from the second half of the fifth
century this trend intensifies and reaches a certain degree of stability, reflected in
the consistency by which authors now use *θρ- to convey the idea of a degenerate
state of courage 16. Conversely, *θαρ- has remained endowed with entirely positive
connotations 17, although ἀνδρεία and ἀνδρεῖος now begin to slowly emerge as its
alternatives 18. Whether the cause or the result of this linguistic development, one
may also notice at this time traces of a reflection aimed at exploring nuances and
differences between the concepts expressed by the two roots. For instance, Thucy-

  Cf. Chantraine 1968, 423, listing the relevant passages.
  Cf. Hom. Od. 17.449, 19.91.
  Cf. Aesch. Supp. 497; Pr. 870; Ag. 993; Eu. 295; Soph. Trach. 725; Aj. 1334; El. 478.
  Cf. Aesch. Pr. 41; Sept. 188; Ag. 769; Soph. Ant. 751, 859; El. 625, 994; Eur. Med.
1344; Or. 565, 585. I have not taken here into consideration Herodotus’ prose as its analysis has
yielded inconclusive results. He consistently uses the root *θαρ- in a positive sense (cf. Hdt.
1.9.2, 1.63.11, 1.88.7 et al.), but makes little use of *θρ-, aside for θρασύτατος used as negative
(3.108.22) and θρασύς as positive (7.49.20).
  Cf. Aesch. Supp. 600, 731, 739 et al.; Soph. Phili. 145, 596, 666, 773 et al.
  Cf. Eur. Med. 856, 1344; Heracl. 474, 977; Hipp. 936; Andr. 260, 443; Hec. 1182, 1285;
Supp. 507; IT 274; Phoen. 598; Or. 565, 585, 902, 1567; Bacch. 269, 490. Quite interesting, the
only play where Euripides would consistently use *θρ- in its positive connotation is the much
disputed Rhesus. Cf. Thuc. 2.40.3; 1.120.5; 4.92; cf. Ar. Eq. 180, 304, 428, 636, 962; Nu. 889,
994; cf. Lys. 1.13.1, 1.94.1.
  Cf. Thuc. 1.6.9, 6.16.6, 6.92.1, 1.129.3, 2.92.1, 6.68.1, 1.76.1; Ar. Ach. 829; Eq. 14, 622;
Nu. 140, 421, 426, 435, 989; Lys. 1.13.1, 1.94.1 et al.
  As it is not fully pertinent to my enquiry, and certainly worth of undivided attention, I
will not consider here in detail the emergence and progressive establishment in the fifth century
of ἀνδρεία as the Greek word of choice for ‘courage’. The term is unknown to Homer, and while
Herodotus uses the adjectives ἀνδρηῖος its overall meaning is that of masculine, in opposition to
feminine (cf. for instance Hdt. 1.17.6, using ἀνδρεῖος as an adjective to distinguish male from
female trumpets). Aeschylus is the first author using the abstract ἀνδρεία (cf. Aesch. Sept. 51),
but he clearly still prefers the Homeric couple θράσος / θάρσος. From the mid-half of the fifth
century onward authors will begin to use ἀνδρεία and its derivatives alongside θράσος / θάρσος
(cf. for instance Thuc. 2.39.1 ἀνδρεῖος; 2.39.4 ἀνδρεία; 2.64.2 ἀνδρείως et al.). Later on, Plato
will adopt ἀνδρεία as his word of choice for courage and seemingly use θράσος together with
θάρσος in the negative connotation of overconfidence, and often present them in opposition to
ἀνδρεία itself (cf. for instance Pl. Prot. 351a4-5). Aristotle will fall in Plato’s linguistic footsteps,
(see infra).
52 Luca Sansone di Campobianco

dides will passingly remark on the main psychological factor causing θράσος 19,
while Plato will offer the first example of a philosophical debate on the subject 20.
In mid-fourth century, this development seems to have reached a new stage. For
instance, Aristotle still consistently uses *θρ- in a negative sense, choosing θράσος
to reference a degenerated and false state of courage, 21 but ἀνδρεία has now won
against *θαρ- as the word of choice for courage. The root *θαρ- seems now to be
perceived merely as a phonetic alternative to *θρ-, and is endowed with equally
negative connotations 22. Reflecting this stage, Aristotle presents courage as the
right μεσότης between excesses of opposite signs, and uses θράσος / θάρσος to
reference what stands at the opposite of an excessive fear, i.e. an excessive state
of confidence 23.
Back to Xenophon, his use of *θαρ- / *θρα- appears consistent with the lin-
guistic development so far observed. Chronologically set between Thucydides
and Aristotle, he receives the novelty of ἀνδρεία from the mid-fifth century but,
unlike in Plato and Aristotle’s works, *θαρ- has yet to lose its dominance and
remains his first choice for courage 24. Conversely, Xenophon’s use of lemmata
stemming from *θρ- reflects a process that is still in the making, but clearly he
takes a further step towards the shifting from positive to negative connotations. He
still uses the comparative θρασύτερος in a positive sense 25, but every other term
derived from *θρ- conjures up connotations of arrogance and rashness. Perhaps
  Cf. Thuc. 1.142.8 and especially 2.40.3, noting that ἀμαθία μὲν θράσος… …φέρει. In
his analysis, an arrogant disregard of reality is to be identified as the main psychological cause
of a sense of confidence that is deemed excessive because misplaced and with no real ground.
  Cf. Pl. Lach. 196c6, presenting the first definition of ἀνδρεία as knowledge [ἐπιστήμη] of
what is to be feared and dared. In this perspective, the thoughtless, the foolish and the inexperienced
cannot possess courage but at best θρασύτης (Pl. Lach. 197b4). Plato would seem here to further
develop the Thucydidean concept of ἀμαθία into the outcome of ἀφοβία, and identify in θράσος
the psychological trait leading from the former to the latter (Cf. Pl. Lg. 3.701a7-b2; [Hp.Mg.]
298a6; [Def.] 416a15-6).
  Cf. for instance Arist. EE 1220b22-3; EN 1107b3.
  As Aristotle accepts the term ἀνδρεία as the word of choice for courage, it is unclear if he
ends up seeing *θαr- and *θρ- as equally negative. He seems to still use them to reference two
different traits, although connected (cf. Arist. VV 1250b4), however he also affirms that anyone
exceeding in confidence [θαρ-ρέω] will become θρ-ασύς, a term that he clearly uses only in its
negative connotation (cf. Arist. EE 1220b12, 1221a7, 1228a33 et al.; cf. also EN 1115b29-33,
especially 1151b7 for the θρασύς as a pretender of courage).
  Cf. Arist. EN 1104a22-24, 1107a25-28, 1115a5-6 et al.
  There are 37 occurrences throughout Xenophon’s works of words related to ἀνδρεία, versus
a staggering figure of 97 terms that stem from the root *θαρ-.
  In Xenophon’s language, θρασύτερος usually denotes someone who takes courage with
good reason from the happening of a certain positive event. For instance, in Hell. 3.2.24 the
Eleans’ resolve against the Spartans is strengthened by an earthquake that forces Agis to withdraw
his army from the field. In a military context, it denotes a soldier or an army who gains more
Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary 53

because already suggesting the idea of an excess, the superlative θρασύτητος al-
ways has a negative meaning 26, and save for one exception θράσος never conveys
an entirely positive trait 27.
On a battlefield, this rashness never fails to consistently manifest itself through
a well established behavioural pattern:

Now when the Olynthians saw the peltasts sallying forth, they turned about, retired
quietly, and crossed the river again. The peltasts, on the other hand, followed very rashly
[θρασέως] and, with the thought that the enemy were in flight, pushed into the river af-
ter them to pursue them. Thereupon the Olynthian horsemen, at the moment when they
thought that those who had crossed the river were still easy to handle, turned about and
dashed upon them, and they not only killed Tlemonidas himself, but more than one hun-
dred of the others.
Xen. Hell. 5.3.4 28

The same scheme is repeated every time Xenophon uses the adverb θρασέως
in a live combat situation 29: at the sight of the enemy fleeing the winning side
becomes θρασύς, breaks the ranks and engages in pursuit. However, by so do-
ing its ranks often fall into a state of ἀταξία, as Xenophon would probably have
it, creating the premises for a counter-attack. Thus, the fleeing side makes a turn
and takes its chances, takes the pursuer by surprise and inflicts heavy casualties,
sometimes complete defeat 30. In this type of situations ἀταξία appears as the main
cause for defeat, supporting the view that disarray in the ranks is the phalanx’s
capital weakness. However, Xenophon’s consistent use of θρασέως suggests that

courage by seeing his situation improved or that of the enemy worsened, cf. Hell. 4.5.15, 4.5.16,
6.5.27, 7.4.15; An. 5.4.18, 7.8.16.
  Quite interestingly, this excess in courage that produces harmfully daring actions is always
associated with youth: cf. Xen. Hell. 2.3.23, 2.3.54; especially Cyr. 1.4.8, where Cyrus has fallen
down from his horse as a consequence of his being θρασύτατος, far too reckless during the hunt.
Perhaps because he perceives any excess in courage as altogether negative, Xenophon never uses
the superlative θαρραλεώτατος from the positive stem *θαρ-.
  Positive connotation in Oec. 7.25; negative connotation in Cyr. 1.4.3; Hell. 5.4.65; Cyn.
13.16. 1220a3-5.
  Brownson 1930.
  Cf. Xen. Hell. 5.3.10, 5.4.42, 5.4.54, 6.3.13. Uses of θρασέως in other contexts, as in Hell.
5.4.63, 6.2.39, Cyr. 3.3.43, will not be considered here. However, the term maintains an overall
negative connotation, with the sole exceptions of Hell. 5.4.63, 6.2.39.
  Spurred by his θράσος, Polytropus presses on the Mantineans who are retreating from the
siege with only his troops, and dies in their counter-attack (cf. Xen. Hell. 6.5.14). Tlemonidas dies
at the hands of the Olynthians in a similar way, along with more than one hundred of his troops,
and so does Phoebidas in his pursuit of the Thebans (cf. Xen. 5.4.43-4). In fact, the breaking of
formation may offer such a good opportunity that Xenophon even suggests baiting the enemy into
pursuit by goading them into a sense of false confidence (cf. Xen. Cyr. 1.6.37).
54 Luca Sansone di Campobianco

ἀταξία may only be a middle ring within the chain of causality, and that the real
cause is to be searched elsewhere. The first ring in the chain seems to be that
particular psychological state to which soldiers may fall pray, once they begin
pursuing the enemy. In short, they see a chance for victory, forget caution and just
fling themselves ahead 31.
This analysis may perhaps help gaining a better understanding of Xenophon’s
remarks in Cyn. 12.5. Here he envisions the good soldier as someone whose soul
possesses not just θράσος but also an additional quality, εὐταξία. Given how Xen-
ophon understands *θρ- in general and θράσος in particular, here the purpose of
εὐταξία is in all likelihood to work in synergy with it by acting as it restrain. As
Xenophon remarks elsewhere, what positive θάρσος soldiers may feel ought to
be controlled by their leaders, sometimes even restrained lest it turn into θράσος
and push them too eagerly ahead 32. Similarly, in Cyn. 12.5 εὐταξία feels again
like a restrain that now the soul gives to itself, a counterpoise to θράσος and
meant to preserve courage as a positive resource for the soldier by preventing its
degeneration into an excess of overconfidence.
If this analysis is so far plausible, then εὐταξία exceeds here its usual sense
as ‘obedience’ and / or ‘order in the ranks’. Not just an isolated case, this use
finds confirmation and further development in two more passages of Xenophon’s
work. In the Cyropaedia, Cyrus is portrayed instituting competitions as a positive
reinforcement in the army’s military training. More specifically, he wants to ac-
custom the private soldier to become:

...obedient [εὐπειθής] to his officers, ready for hardship [ἐθελόπονος], lover of dangers
with sense of measure [φιλοκίνδυνος μετ’εὐταξία], familiar [ἐπιστήμων] in the duties
required of a soldier, lover of beauty [φιλόκαλος] in the care of his equipment, and ambi-
tious [φιλότιμος] about all such matters…
Xen. Cyr. 2.1.22 33

Again, given the context none of the usual interpretations of εὐταξία feels
adequate. ‘Obedience’ as a translation would fit, but it would also be a repetition
of εὐπειθής. On the other hand, ‘order in the ranks’ as the result of a military skill
would make the term stand out as the only practical ability in an otherwise coher-
ent list of psychological traits. Instead, it is perhaps more likely that Xenophon is
voicing out again a concern related to the ambivalent nature of θράσος / θάρσος.
  As Xenophon remarks elsewhere, “to be in pursuit creates courage [θάρσος] even in
cowards” (cf. Xen. An. 6.5.17). Clearly, problems emerge when there is somehow too much of
courage, thus when the positivity of θάρσος degenerates into θράσος.
  Cf. Xen. Hell. 7.1.31, where soldiers are filled with θάρσος at the sight of positive omens
before the battle, and need to be restrained by their leaders.
  Miller 1961.
Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary 55

Of course, soldiers ought to nurture a certain ‘love for dangers’ – he says, in what
feels as a paraphrase for θάρσος – but as in Cyn. 12.5 is key here that this qual-
ity be coupled with εὐταξία. In the light of what so far discussed, it feels safe to
believe that Xenophon is again presenting this psychological trait as some sort
of counterweight to what may develop into an excess of courage. Overseen by
εὐταξία, the soul of the trained soldier is prevented from going beyond the proper
limit and becoming a harmful liability.
A possible explanation for this unusual role may lie in a different appreciation
of the two parts that form the word. A ‘good structure’ somehow implies a sense
of the right measure, which, in turn, entails the existence of a harmonic propor-
tion between its constituting elements. This is, in fact, the underlying factor of a
good formation on the battlefield, but both the concept and the word that conveys
it may be applied, amongst other things, to the soul:

There are four types of εὐταξία: there is that regarding the soul, that regarding the
body, that regarding movement, that regarding numbers. The εὐταξία that takes place in
the soul is called decorum [κοσμιότης], the εὐταξία that takes place in the body is called
beauty [κάλλος], the εὐταξία that happens in the movement is called harmony, in numbers
is called εὐταξία what is obedience [πειθαρχία] to the leaders.
Div. Aris. 54.11-7

As the author will write few lines further, the cause [αἰτία] of both physi-
cal and psychological εὐταξίαι is to be found precisely in the right proportion
between the different parts [μέρα] that respectively form body and the soul 34.
A soul possessing the quality of εὐταξία is thus characterised by a balance be-
tween its parts, which informs its demeanour and somehow implicitly excludes
the possibility of excesses. Applied to courage and fear, this sense of proportion
would then determine the realisation of something that feels rather similar to the
μεσότης theorised later on by Aristotle as the key requisite for ἀνδρεία. A psycho-
logical state that knows and understands fear yet is not hindered by it 35.
The second passage may provide some more evidence supporting the hy-
pothesis that Xenophon could have understood εὐταξία in a sense of ‘virtue of
the right proportions’, and considered it an attribute of the soul. Throughout
Cyr. 8.1.21-33 he presents Cyrus successfully establishing at his court a set of

  Cf. Div. Arist. 60.20-1.
  As Xenophon notes, in warfare fear plays a positive role, forcing the soldier in a good
state of alertness (cf. Xen. Mem. 3.5.5-6). Clearly, I am not implying the possibility of a direct
derivation of the Aristotelian concept of courage from Xenophon. I am merely suggesting that
both authors could have been exposed to similar philosophical debates on courage (on Xenophon’s
socratic education cf. Anderson 1974, 20-2), and may have reached similar conclusions that each
would have formulated in his own way, according to his experience and purposes.
56 Luca Sansone di Campobianco

virtues by setting himself as their living example (21-2). In order, he goes for
εὐσέβεια (23-5), δικαιοσύνη (26), αἰδώς (27-8), πειθώ (29), σωφροσύνη (30-1)
and ἐγκράτεια (32). As a result:

[Cyrus] created great εὐταξία out of his subjects, who began to give precedence to
their betters, as well as a great sense of decency [αἰδώς] and politeness [εὐκοσμία] to-
wards one another. And amongst them you would never have detected anyone raising his
voice in anger or giving vent to his delight in boisterous laughter; but on seeing them you
would have judged that they were in truth making a noble life their aim.
Xen. Cyr. 8.1.33 36

The nuances of meaning taken by εὐταξία are here dynamically portrayed by

means of a narrative frame. The trait is not listed between the virtues that Cyrus
wants his subjects to nurture. Instead, Xenophon presents it as the main and first
outcome of their institution: once Cyrus has managed to establish them, the entire
court becomes a living portrait of εὐταξία. Here the word seems used in a sense
that feels very close to that featured in the quoted passage of the Divisiones Aris-
toteleae: in both cases εὐταξία refers to something that takes place ἐν ψυχῇ, and
its establishment is mirrored in a similar display of εὐκοσμία, a term that closely
resembles the κοσμιότης used by the author of the Divisiones. Once the soul
has acquired this trait and begins acting under its influence, its key attributes of
proper order and measure begin to work on the background, shaping the actions
of Cyrus’ subjects. Then life at court becomes a display of decorum 37, where be-
haviours are marked accordingly by the absence of excesses 38.
If this analysis of εὐταξία is so far plausible, then Xenophon may also have
used its antonym ἀταξία in a similar sense, as a trait of the soul. Mirroring εὐταξία,
it may be possible for its antonym to convey the image of a disorder that happens

  Miller 1961.
  Quite interestingly, this is the meaning of the word according to Sturz, who highlights the
rarity of the fact in Xenophon’s vocabulary, cf. Sturz 1964, s.v. εὐταξία.
  One might object that εὐταξία only refers to the behaviour of ‘giving way’ [ὑπείκω], by
stressing the usual connotation of the term as ‘obedience’. But in Xenophon the behaviour ὑπείκω
always involves a blend of reverence, respect and affection, rather than simple subordination.
The outcome of these feelings may certainly be obedience, yet not the same characterising the
soldier, to which Xenophon usually refers using words that stem from *πειθ-. In fact, Cyrus
himself takes pride in his habit of ‘yielding’ to the elders (cf. Xen. Cyr. 8.8.16; a similar concept
is expressed in An. 7.7.31), and Agesilaos is said to often ‘yield’ to his comrades out of his care
and affection towards them (cf. Xen. Ag. 7.7.31). In this sense, εὐταξία feels very close here to
what Aristotle will call εὐεξία τῆς ψυχῆς (Arist. EE 2.1220a3): a ‘good condition of the soul’
which he defines as a well ordered structure, i.e. a harmony of proportions between its parts (cf.
Arist. EE 2.1220a3-5). Similarly to Xenophon, Aristotle will also acknowledge the normative
meaning of εὐταξία (cf. Arist. Pol. 6.1321b6, 7.1326a30).
Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary 57

in the soul, and that becomes responsible for ethically questionable behaviours
marked by the negative and opposite trait of excess. Admittedly, the usual under-
standing of ἀταξία very well fits the majority of Xenophon’s passages, yet this
extension of meaning could prove useful to gain a better insight of at the very
least one of its instances in Xenophon’s work.
In the Anabasis Xenophon finds himself in need of defending the choice of
resorting to physical punishment, admittedly not the norm in Greek armies 39:

I admit, soldiers, that I have indeed struck men because of their ἀταξία, the men who
were content to be kept safe by you who marched in good τάξις and fought wherever there
was need, while they themselves would leave the τάξις and run on ahead in the desire to
secure plunder and to enjoy an advantage over you. For if all of us had behaved in this
way, all of us alike would have died.
Xen. An. 5.8.13 40

Xenophon’s decision to punish is triggered here by an act of insubordination,

and the harshness of the punishment certainly reflects its gravity. However, it can
hardly be denied that his words also carry an underlying moral judgement on the
soldiers, and the motives by which he justifies his decision include an ethical
dimension. Thus, the term ἀταξία feels here to be standing at the crossroad of
these two complementary dynamics. The term certainly refers to the outcome of
disarray resulting from the soldiers’ behaviour, but at the same time it may also
point towards the feelings of greediness and selfishness that produced it, and by
extension to the disorder of the soul that they reflect 41.
Some passages of Thucydides may also offers examples of nuance of
In one of them the Athenians:

dashed forward in great ἀταξία, as if they had already won [ὡς κεκρατηκότων]... ...then
the Boeotians made the first stand against them, attacked them, routed them, and put them
to flight...
Thuc. 7.43.7 42

Here Thucydides uses ἀταξία to describe the sudden state of disorder in which
the Athenian ranks fall, yet their disarray is also the result on the battlefield of a
  In classical times, at least in the Athenian army, officers could arrest, cashier and fine their
subordinates (cf. Hunt 2008, 131 with sources), but physical punishment was generally excluded
(unless in certain circumstances, cf. Dem. 22.55, 24.157).
  Brownson, 1961.
  A frequent situation in Xenophon’s experience, cf. Xen. An. 4.3.30; 5.4.16, 20; 5.7.13-7.
Cf. also a similar situation in Thuc. 7.31.2.
  Dover, 1965.
58 Luca Sansone di Campobianco

parallel state of psychological confusion in which the soldiers have just stepped.
This time, the trigger is not an excess in greediness, rather a now familiar false
sense of hope that has bred an excessive self-confidence. Left unchecked by Xen-
ophon’s εὐταξία, the courage of the Athenians goes beyond the proper measure
and turns into its negative counterpart of θράσος 43.
Something similar may happen when the mind of the soldier is troubled by an
excess in the opposite sense, and a potentially positive condition of fear degener-
ates into that of despair.
For instance, Thucydides presents Gylippos addressing his army before the
attack, and while describing the condition of the Athenians he remarks that:

…the excess of their sufferings [ὑπερβαλλόντων τῶν κακῶν] and the necessities of their
present distress have made them desperate [ἐς ἀπόνοιαν καθεστήκασιν]; they have no
confidence in their force, but wish to try their fortune in the only way they can…
Thuc. 7.67.4 44

Thucydides has Gylippos describe the situation of the enemy using a word,
ὑπερβάλλω, that Aristotle will choose later on as the key term to convey the con-
cept of excess in his discussion on virtue. Without the counterweight of εὐταξία
the current circumstances are driving the Athenians ἐς ἀπόνοιαν, ‘out of their
mind’, but a few lines later (7.68.1) Gylippos / Thucydides will also refer to this
condition using the term ἀταξία. This instance plainly exceeds the usual interpre-
tation and understanding of the word as ‘disorder in the formation’ or ‘insubordi-
nation’, as Thucydides clearly uses it to reference a negative mental state caused
by a sense of excessive despair. Strictly speaking, in these passages ἀταξία is
not just the disorder in the ranks but also the dynamic degenerative process that
causes it, and that begins when a strong emotion infects the mind of the soldier.
Unchecked by what will be Xenophon’s εὐταξία, the emotion slowly takes hold
of the soldier’s soul and grows till it reaches a stage of excess, causing a definitive
state of overall disorder.

  As Aristotle would have it, the Athenians in this situation cannot be defined ἀνδρεῖοι but
θαρραλέοι (strengthening the impression that Aristotle now considers both roots *θρ- and *θαρ-
as negative). Their actions cannot be taken as a display of true courage, because “they think they
are stronger than the enemy, and not likely to come to any harm” (cf. Arist. EN 1117a17-8),
hence they dash forward fearlessly, embolden by what Thucydides would probably consider an
instance of ἀμαθία.
  Dover 1965.
Notes on Xenophon’s Vocabulary 59

Inconclusive conclusions

The analysis of Xenophon’s vocabulary offers an interesting snapshot of the

reflection on courage in warfare taking place between the fifth and fourth century.
The author is amongst the firsts to seem aware of the different connotations in
meaning that are setting the roots *θρ- and *θαρ- apart. However, both the pro-
ficiency and consistency he shows in their use seems to hint towards something
more that simple awareness. The overall impression is that Xenophon might be
using these roots as semantic landmarks, cognitive instruments of a personal en-
quiry aimed at understanding courage in its different nuances and aspects. No
doubt, the subject was debated in Athens before and after Xenophon, but while
other authors may have experienced it in a general way, his insight would have
derived from a far more specific experience. His analysis may have lacked a
refined philosophical background, but his first hand experience of the battlefield
seemingly led him to explain, for the first time, courage as the result of a more
complex synergy between the traits of θράσος and εὐταξία. This synergy, how-
ever, implies an understanding of εὐταξία that diverts from its usual ‘order in
the ranks’. It is admittedly a peculiar use, one that rarely occurs in Xenophon’s
works, but there may be little doubt that in selected passages the author uses the
term to reference a state of the soul. Xenophon may have derived this meaning
from the time of his education under Socrates, as its presence in the Divisiones
Aristoteleae somehow confirms its use in a philosophical context. On this note,
Xenophon’s reflection on courage oddly seems to foreshadow some of the salient
traits of Aristotle’s discussion on virtue. Although he never formulates a theory,
his use of *θρ- and *θαρ- implies the idea of a possible degeneration that courage
may undergo under the urge of a passion that, if left unchecked, would result in
a harmful excess.


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