The notion of violence (bia, hybris) in Xenophon's work

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The paper considers the notion of violence (bia, hybris) in Xenophon's historiographical work, making also a comparison with the complex of Xenophon's writings. Xenophon considers negatively the open violence (bia) of those in power (individual or states) and the exercise of their roles in inappropriate forms (hybris), not only on an ethical basis, but also in the perspective of the political opportunity. Several cases show that the use of violence carries with itself political weakness (this is the case, for example, of the Thirty Tyrants); good rulers like Agesilaos and Jason, though able to practice violence, show to prefer mildness and persuasion. Moreover, those who practice violence are exposed to a justified reaction: violent and arrogant behaviors, in fact, not only produce a bad ethical and political judgment, but also expose themselves to military punitive interventions that exactly in the violent practices find their justification. Indeed, in the destiny of the states (as it is the case of Athens, defeated in the Peloponnesian War) it is possible to recognize the divine punishment of violence exerted by the stronger over the weaker. Opposed to the nomos and to the virtues of moderation and equilibrium in the exercise of power, violence is part of the forms of degeneration of political relations and constitutes a factor with significantly negative consequences on the relationship between rulers and ruled, between hegemonic powers and subdued states, without however even benefit those who practice it.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteXenophon on violence
EditorA. Kapellos
Numero di pagine13
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2019

Serie di pubblicazioni



  • Senofonte
  • Violence (bia. hybris)
  • Violenza (bia, hybris)
  • Xenophon


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