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The Medo-Persian Ceremonial: Xenophon, Cyrus and the King's Body
Azoulay V.
in Xenophon and his world : Papers from a Conference held in Liverpool in July 1999, C. J. Tuplin (Ed.) (2004) 147-173 - http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00269947
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Vincent Azoulay ()1
1 :  Phéacie - Phéacie [Pratiques culturelles dans les sociétés grecque et romaine]
Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne – Université Paris VII - Paris Diderot : EA3521
2, rue Vivienne 75002 Paris
The Medo-Persian Ceremonial: Xenophon, Cyrus and the King's Body

The Cyropaedia is a long text involving many different approaches; and yet there is a major split in the work: the taking of Babylon which, at the end of Book 7, marks the end of Cyrus' military conquest. Indeed, while throughout the first part, the young conqueror was at the head of a kind of "travelling Republic" and was deliberately rejecting the slightest display of luxury, the circumstances turn to be entirely different with the defeat and the fall of the enemy capital town. Cyrus settles down in the palace under Hestia's patronage. The last conquests are swiftly reported in just a few sentences. And then, a crucial pattern appears, the development of which gives a framework to the whole beginning of Book 8: the notion that the sovereign must be very parsimonious and cautious in his public appearances. From then on, the conqueror decides to wear the Median dress, as well as shoes with thick soles, and to make up his eyes.
For a long time, scholars have been puzzled by this adoption of Eastern pomp – apparently praised by Xenophon. In order to elude the questions raised by this part of the text, some doubts have sometimes been expressed as to its authenticity. Some interpreters have also avoided the problem by assuming that Xenophon mentioned this episode in order to suggest that he was himself keeping his hero at a distance for moral reasons. I will assume here that this adoption of a foreign ceremonial by Xenophon's hero has a political meaning, and not a moral one. The adoption of Eastern pomp is a new governmental technê, which is related to Cyrus' settling in his palace; it is also linked to his wish to deal with issues of imperial deportment and of territorial security and no longer with military problems.
For Xenophon, the problem is to find a good and exact balance between what is required by the ruling of such a huge empire – which obliges the ruler to resort to luxurious pomp – and those requirements imposed by the ruling of his own body – and, especially, the necessary inner asceticism of a good leader.

Sciences de l'Homme et Société/Histoire

Xenophon and his world : Papers from a Conference held in Liverpool in July 1999
Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart
C. J. Tuplin
Historia Einzelschriften

Xenophon – Cyropaedia – court – pomp – pompè – ceremonial – Persia – Achaemenid Empire – Persian – Cyrus – Media – trikster – Agesilaus – Ischomachus – Oeconomicus – procession – homotimoi – Sardanapalus – Cambyse – Herodotus – ponos – truphè – truphê – luxury – Babylone – semnos – semnotès – semnotês
Sardanapale; Cyropédie; court; pompe; Médie; Achéménide; Perse; Ischomaque; Cambyse; Hérodote; luxe; Babylone