Education Of Cyrus Essay

Decent Essays
The Education of Cyrus is Xenophon’s account of the development and ascendency of Cyrus, a young boy who soon become King of Persia, and also a depiction of Persia and her people. Aristotle’s Politics, on the other hand, is a philosophical work, aimed at dissecting the “political life” and determining how human beings should organize themselves politically. Yet, at their core, both books are respectfully critical of the political life. The following will assess two apparent paradoxes that appear to plague the political life: 1) with respect to Cyrus, the balancing of the noble and the good and 2) with respect to Aristotle, the struggle between broad political participation and a virtuous government.
At the heart of the Education of Cyrus
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The example on page 91 of the Politics can be applied to Persia. Cyrus, the most virtuous of all, ruled Persia, which is something Aristotle would support: the most virtuous and best should rule. Yet, Cyrus’ empire soon becomes a oligarchy as his sons take rule and solely value the goods, not the noble. This fall from nobility and their “dissension” eventually led to “cities and nations immediately [revolting] and everything [taking] a turn for the worse” (Xenophon 273). While the application of Aristotle’s scenario on page 91 does not perfectly fit this account, the revolting of the cities and nations can be viewed as similar to the uprising of the multitude over the oligarchs. What is clear, however, is that the abandonment of real, honest and true virtue in both cases leads to the ignoble and avaricious ruling class falling at the hands of the discontent and downtrodden many.
What one can take away from both the implicit and explicit criticisms given by Xenophon and Aristotle is that political life is incredibly messy and problematic and, moreover, the best regime, the telos of political life, may not be unattainable. Both works indicate that virtue must be a main component of the regime, yet it appears human beings have difficulty remaining virtuous in the face of 1) material wealth and 2) the allure of
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