essay on the Xenophon's The Education of Cyrus
An old essay of mine I am considering resubmitting basically it is suppose to be 12-15 pages on the Xenophon's The Education of Cyrus. The only thing else important is that no outside sources besides the text are suppose to be used.
I could really use help on my grammar and clarity
~PattytheWitchIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie; or A Reification of Tyranny
Through the Installment of a Phydo-Capitalistic System of a Hierarchy of Dependence,
An Analysis of Xenophon's Cyrus Shepard of the People
Xenophon's historical romance The Education of Cyrus centers on the question of the exceptional individual, in the sense of one who is capable of capitalizing upon the natural inclinations of men and their base desires in order to exert control over them. In this, Xenophon likens Cyrus to the perfect herdsman (8.2.14) and this claim until the end of the work remains indisputable at which point the question is not, whether or not, his claim to power was successful, but rather whether it was possible for this political stability to be transferred to the next generation. However, in exploring the central point of Cyrus's work-namely the creation of political stability presumably created by Cyrus- the reader finds that The Education of Cyrus makes a variety of distinctions between kingship and tyranny, humans and animals, written and spoken law, and ultimately the herd from those in positions of leadership (1.1.1,6). I argue that these distinctions, kingship and tyranny, humans and animals, written and spoken law, and ultimately the herd from those in positions of leadership between outside of Cyrus's assessment, then depends on whether or not the greatest desire of the human being is a claim to freedom, when in fact it may be an element of selfishness that negates the very freedom they desire. There is clearly distinction between the ruling of animals and humans. Cyrus is capable of leadership namely in his realization that humans desire not to be ruled, in that, "Human beings unite against none more than against those whom they perceive attempting to rule them" (1.1.2). Stemming mainly in the belief that one would be capable of gaining more freedom and more things if one existed independent of this system as well as the ability to act as one desires. Cyrus, in Xenophon's romance is forced to reconcile, not only within himself between freedom and virtue, but is also forced to instill within his Persian peers, privy to the same education system that restraint, even when using virtue and moderation as a vehicle to obtain other goods. This incapacity to negotiate desire is directly linked to his ability to negotiate between the Midian and the Parisian systems, as well as reconcile the early made distinctions between kingship and tyranny, humans and animals, written and spoken law, and ultimately the herd from those in positions of leadership. First we will look at the relationship between tyranny and kingship and the ways in which this shapes and positions his view. Next we will look at the distinctions between humans and animals and this distinction extends to the separation between Cyrus and his Persian peers. Finally, relationship between the written and the spoken law, and how this ultimately leads to Cyrus's preference of the later over the former in order to become himself, a manifestation of the law and what potential drawbacks this choice produces.
The distinction between men and animals is one rooted in behavior, behavior which is the product of the Persian educational system. That system instills a thriving for virtues and moderation in order to create a civilization consisting of the best boys and the best youths. A similar description for the mature men, however, emphasizes not virtue but obedience, in that they are "the best executors of the orders and requirements of the highest authority" (1.2.5). This distinction is a far cry from the earlier description of the required virtue that the Persian education system aims at obtaining: "The regime through the use of which [the Persians] think to produce the best men." (1.2.15) The system here is described as "thought" to produce, therein drawing attention to the fact that it might have failed in this endeavor, given that the virtues of obedience and "best execution of order" is not in and of itself the attribution of virtue. This raises the question as to whether the good, or virtuous citizen, is necessarily the good or just man, and if there is some distinction made that is directly linked to what was originally a flawed system. The Persians, despite their claim to equality, could not obtain it due to economic means. While all individuals had access to the Persian education system, only certain individuals with enough economic means would be able to enroll. Thus, despite the appeal to a republic, it is a republic that must be supported through the creation of a hierarchy, in which the law itself provides a shield against the claim for true equality. In this system of governance by law in Persia, there is a clear separation between the commoners and the peers; the former being the uneducated, and the latter being those who, though educated and wealthy, do not participate in society, but rather sit around the courthouses, idly thriving for virtue but in an ascetic manner. One is created and formed through the Persian education, one which is directly challenged by Cyrus appeal to the virtues over the lawful. Because the use of the lawful becomes symbolic of the central flaw to Cyrus's system, namely that there are a set of individuals who will be naturally forced into a state of unquestioned subservience, one which cannot be overcome through the educational system since it requires station and financial support. A flaw which cannot be overcome through the educational system, or a system of equal distribution, because Cyrus education, and Cyrus's system is not a republic though it grants the ability for others to reach for higher status through personal achievement, as well as through gratifying him.
Thus the relationship between animal, human, and man is inexplicable and ultimately faults short, even within the Cyrus's system of governance some individuals will live a less politically recognized life. However, the choice of the spoken law over the written, for Cyrus, is one which not only expedites the transformation in that it does not require the mediation of law, but places Cyrus as the embodiment of justice himself. The Persian system is based on a law in which they refer to law rather than justice, as is exemplified within his engagement with his mother, and his choice to remain in media rather than return home to his father. And the proper relationship to law is one, that allows him to experience a form of a law which is rooted in someone rather than in documentation and thereby has the potential to be more just particularly within hands of a just individual.
Despite the differences that are expressed between the Persian men and the commoners both are susceptible to the promise of honors and material goods and are ultimately self-interested. As a result they are incapable of transcending their own position in order to view Cyrus behavior as a form abuse, and in the act of doing so they would be as Cyrus interested to benefactor others for the good self. It seems that there is something different that must be done in order to rule over human beings as opposed to animals, and that appeal to the animal part of the human psyche--through food, shelter and safety--is not enough in of itself in order to answer the question of whether there is a distinction between the ruling of animals and human beings. Through the act of ensuring that they are free to serve him rather than forced into this position of servitude, Cyrus creates the illusion of freedom that conceals the underlying hierarchy of dependence. The difference between humans and animals is more clearly a distinction between two forms of freedom. One form being a freedom which is evoked through the ability to attain one's desires; and the second a freedom which is a result of self-sufficiency. The two desires represented in Cyrus as higher than the base desires for material goods, are that of virtue and honor. When citizens exhibit a flagrant disregard of morality and law, societies quickly crumble, thus the individuals who thrive for honor as oppose to material goods are more capable of attaining those goods because they follow a desire that would in turn satisfy the base desires more easily. Cyrus and men are both described as being capable of obtaining these is higher Persian virtues: "Gobryas believe his people to be much more free than they. But then he noted the restraint of his tablemates, none of the educated Persian men became visibly distracted by any of the food or drink, neither in their eyes not by grabbing nor in their minds, so as to fail consider just what they would have even if they were not at table." (5.2.16,17) and are hence described more free.
The interest in freedom is evoked through the ideas that the Persian education grants freedoms which others cannot replicate, in that they are superior to others and capable of restraining themselves from material goods. They seem therefore free from the base desires that haunt Gobryas' men. Freedom in the traditional sense is never fully defined by Gobryas, but he suggests that it is related to the obtainment of things. However, freedom here archives a dualistic definition in that freedom is both, the ability to obtain what one desires and the freedom to abstain from it. In this the Persian men are capable of practicing a form of erasure in which they recognize that the former freedom is harmful to them, because the obtainment of it prevents them from attaining the higher honors from Cyrus. Cyrus here is both, the distributor of material wealth, as well as the honors. Class distinction then between his Persian superiors and those of the common is attributable to the desire for the honorary over material wealth, the latter being viewed as something associated with the animalistic: "It seemed to them that being excited by food and drink is very piggish and bestial" (5.2.18). The distinction between Cyrus and the other men is one that must be then rooted in one of this other characteristics and not in his value for praise and the honor which like him all other Persian men possess, no longer existing within the status of the bestial.
In Cyrus referring to himself as the law, the transactionary nature of legislating is nullified, and the claim is that, by removing that barrier, Cyrus therefore can enact justice. This is not true justice, however, because all the individuals underneath him are capable of thriving for higher positions do not succeed. Near the end of the romance, it seems that there is still a lower class of individuals for whom ascension is denied but also one which inevitably challenges the Persian ideal system and points out the main concern of Cyrus leadership; namely one which functions on a case by case bases rather than according to a written law, one which must take into consideration .The establishment of this law is first seen in his decision of the two boys with the shirts, an illustration which the proof that Cyrus provides to his mother to support his choice to remain in media, rather than return with her. Because he understands Persian law and seemingly has something to gain even beyond the explicitly stated horsemanship in his stay in media:
His mother said, " but my child, how will you learn justice here when your teachers are there ( in Persia). And Cyrus said " but mother, this at least, I know accurately already." " How do you know it?" Madame asked " Because, " he said" the teachers appointed me to be judged for others on the grounds that I was already accurately versed in justice. And then, in one case, I was beaten because I did not judge correctly. The case was like this: A big boy with a little tunic took off the big tunic of a little boy, and he dressed him in his own tunic, while he himself put on that of the other. Now I, in judging it for them, recognized that it was better for both that each have the fitting tunic. Upon this the teacher beat me, saying that whenever I should be appointed judge of the fitting I must do as I did; but when one must judge to whom the tunic belongs, then one must examine, he said, what is just possession, whether it is to have what is taken away by force or to possess what one has made or purchased. Since, he said, the lawful is just and the unlawful violent, he ordered that the judge always cast his vote in conformity with the law. So mother, I am by all means already accurately versed for what you at least in what justice is. If I need anything further in this, grandfather here will teach me." (1.3.16-17)
The appeal to the grandfather becomes an appeal to the idea that Persian law cannot be justice, and that this form of Persian law--one which equates law with justice--undermines the idea of justice itself. This passage is an early example of Cyrus's choice to become himself a vehicle of justice, a justice that he claims might be learned from his grandfather who, despite his lack of Persian virtues, is an arbiter of justice himself and does not use the law as a means of obtaining this justice. Hence, the justice of his grandfather is more just than that of Persia, in that it does not claim to be justice in its appeal to one individual's justice over the justice of the law. This large claim of law of media being more just is rooted in the notion that justice is better held by an individual capable of making decisions for the individual circumstances rather than by a paper, which claims that justice is merely existent as in the example of law when justice is not considered.
Persia becomes mutable and functions on an order were the abuse of the lower class is justified and the inequalities appear to be justice, the claims on his journey which Cyrus makes to the commoners, but never reveals to the upper class draws attention to the class distinctions. The law seemingly in Old Persia forbids what is good and just, by the refusal to give the large boy the large tunic and the small boy the small tunic, and thereby an appeal to justice or convenience is forbidden by law. The appeal here is that in order for the system to be based upon justice and the good--rather than to the only the law-the wise man could make a judgement.
Cyrus's choice to remain with his grandfather is one which first draws attention to the distinction between tyranny and kingship. A distinction which is raised by through the concerns of his mother, who ultimately fearful of the things that he might learn from his grandfather which could challenge the existing law in Old Persia, which is direct based on the written as the mediator:
At the court of your grandfather (she says to Cyrus), and among the Persians, there is no agreement about what constitutes justice. For your grandfather has made himself a despot of all among the Medes, but among the Persians it is thought that equality (to ison) is just. And your father (the Persian king) is the first one to do what is ordered by the state and to accept what is ordered, and it is not his will which is the measure for him, but law (nomos). So be careful that you are not flayed alive when you come home, if on your return you have learned instead of kingship (to basilikon) the ways of tyranny (to tyrannon), where it is thought necessary for one to have more than all the rest.( 1.3.18)
The undesirable consequences of Cyrus's stay at media, however, have already been obtained prior to his stay in media as he has already come to question the system of law in place in Persia when we was called out to judge the cases of the two to tunics. He came to recognize that law and justice where not equivalent, and that law dictated the contrary to justice. This realization, though it might have allowed him to continue on in Persia, ultimately affected him in that he was capable of realizing its faults. He would come to recognize the faults of those in the media as ones of lack of self-restraint. But it is not media itself that has caused this, but dissociation with the Persian system itself, between what is practiced and what is preached; in which justice of law is not justice only based on propriety and claim to ownership, and hence dissatisfactory, in the same manner idealness in Media prevents it from self satisfaction both of the individual and of the group, but grants at least a system in which justice is not associated with leadership and therein the faults of the system become symbolic of tyranny yet seemingly gives no rise to this same claim to equality of the Persian system.
When Cyrus' leadership comes to be tested, he neither accepts nor rejects either the Persian or media model completely and is capable of forming though his establishment a hierarchy of dependence on him. He is capable of establishing a new system, a system which functions as a tyranny but with willing subjects: "We are different from slaves (Cyrus says to his friends) in that slaves serve their masters unwillingly, but for us, if indeed we think we are free (eleutheroi), it is necessary to do everything willingly which we think it is worthwhile to do." (8.1.4). The relationship then, between them is not one in which the individuals are forced to be ruled by him, but rather in which they desire or need to be ruled by him. Hence, each subject is granted a personal relationship given that the elimination of the law creates an intimacy of personal friendship. In there exists than a desire for the relationship, as opposed to through fear. The existing structure is set on its head by its preference for rule of the willing in which the subjects self-regulate and rather than viewing Cyrus as a ruler. Through his granting them some benefit, they feel the desire to be ruled by him, in that he even proceeds to judge them on the grounds of their own moral standards; and becomes in this a benefactor, not only to the people who are pleased that the individual who is ruling them has fallen, but also by the leadership who can be pleased in that they have been benefited by him, even if it is only by the withholding of something rather than by granting them some benefit.
Indeed, Cyrus' ideal constitution is a meritocracy where the best people are given the highest rewards, and the lazy and wicked must be weeded out. (2.2.22-5).
Despite this Cyrus rejects completely the democratic notion that all should have the same rewards (2.2.18-21)
Because of hierarchical rewards for excellence, despite equality of opportunity, Cyrus's system revolts against the most basic tenets of democratic theorizing and democratic equality. Cyrus creates a system of hierarchies of which he is the most worthy individual as the ruler of the group, as is explicated by Chryrsantas in his name: " The just as you feel that it is right to rule over those that are beneath you, let us similarly obey those whom it is seeming to obey" (8.1.4) This proposes that not only made by his father who suggests with Cyrus that prudence is not a trait which one can pretend to have obtained because this he claims: "device but for a moment" (1.6.22). Thus, one cannot as Cyrus question would suggests pretend prudence for the most easy means for which one can gain reputation for being prudent is to be prudent. As necessarily the best man, presides as ruler (1.6.22) Excellence is achieved through constant training and practice and not necessarily a product of wealth, social class or nationality. But what remains clear throughout is that one must have access to this education and must never slide into complacency despite success. This renders the position of leadership one which seemingly devoid of gratification and hence perhaps undesirable to the general public who would prefer to have leisure and goods then honor and nobility and praise.
The difficulty which this conglomeration of Persian and the median model creates is that it does not lend itself to the passage of time. It is dependent on the charisma and character and prudence of a single individual. Upon Cyrus's deathbed he notes to his son that the legitimacy of his rule is not one which is established through civic relations, benefactions, and gift giving which bind together the state "As for you, Cambyses, you must also know that it is not the golden sceptre that maintains your empire; but faithful friends are a king's sceptre, and the truest and surest one..." ( 8.7.13). Therefore he is not fully of transferring power from himself to his son, because this willing obedience was the central pillar of Cyrus' success and security as a ruler and cannot be reestablished by the preceding generations. Additionally Cyrus's success, outside of being a product of his benefactions, is a product of his character, one which has to be wiser, stronger and braver than anyone else in order to inspire obedience in those whom follow him as expressed within the advice from Cyrus father to him; "You are saying, father, that for having obedient subjects, nothing is more effectual than to seem to be more prudent than they." (1.6.22-6) Cyrus transcends humanity and therein is capable of exploiting the flaws of the human psyche. But he ultimately fails due to his mortality; namely that his rule or leadership must once more be reestablished through a claim to leadership from someone else that will undoubtable fall short of this achievement, by the mere act of not being him. Infact this generosity is something which can only be granted through the king "For it is not possible in Persia to have such things unless the king gives them" (8.2.8)
In that people serve him willingly and are not forced toward obedience, "We are different from slaves (Cyrus says to his friends) in that slaves serve their masters unwillingly, but for us, if indeed we think we are free (eleutheroi), it is necessary to do everything willingly which we think it is worthwhile to do." ( 8.1.4)
In this Cyrus his actions is capable of proclaiming himself this wise man and thereby the individual capable of making this decision. The written law is therefore bypassed for his absolute word, which he himself asserts: "Be assured that as long as I am just am praised by human beings because I seem to be so, I shall never forget this but will try to hour you in return." (1.4.8) He is incapable, however, of transcending the fragility of virtue, a fragility that comes about as a result of his own desire to be loved and is also a byproduct of the Persian education. With the selection of transferring the claim to virtue as one
The true qualities of the Persian education do not, however, reveal themselves to be good, because in Persia Cyrus' behavior is required rather than adored, while with his grandfather he was admired for his gift-giving in Persia. Therein his restrain and ability to give gifts is something which at the age of 12 he realizes as being only possible under the circumstances that one has goods to give. In his appeal to power he appeals to each individuals sensibility and personal gain while simultaneously satisfying the gains of all individuals (1.5.8)
The appeal to the virtuous and the good is problematic because it necessitates a democracy still within Cyrus' own system that individuals exist on the bottom however it is successful in one key area in that it allows for Cyrus to establish himself as a manifestation of the law and plays on both the human and the human-animal nature in order to establish a system of leadership in which all are dependent and willing to gratify him through the negation between two existing forms of government in which Cyrus selects his favorite elements of each to create what is in fact the education system of Cyrus that is based not only on the virtues of the individuals , the term education is not only the dualistic education of Cyrus himself but also the education of people into subservient animals, as well as the education of the reader thus creating something that is through Xenophon's narrative truly admirable an individual who is capable of avoiding the pitfalls of both governments with the exception of death a thing which revelatory of not only his humanness but also of the profoundness of Cyrus's mythos of an individual capable of experiencing the human condition in order to exploit it.
The relations between animal and man, are clearly ones in which Cyrus is only individual capable of exploiting this tendency though too is subject to this human urge and is forced to discipline himself so as that he will not be in contact with this element of human nature which could cause him to be forced into a position of gratitude in which he becomes the animal. Hence, his refusal to be beside the most beautiful woman in the world. Thus Cyrus's power lies in his ability to understand his own nature of other beings, and reveal one which is granted through his relationship with agency to power which not granted to others.