Xenophon in Seven Volumes Vol 4; Marchant, E. C. (Edgar Cardew), 1864-1960, translator; Marchant, E. C. (Edgar Cardew), 1864-1960, editor

Again, when someone had been chosen a leader of cavalry, I remember that Socrates conversed with him in the following manner:Young man, he said, can you tell us why you hankered after a cavalry command? I presume it was not to be first of the cavalry in the charge; for that privilege belongs to the mounted archers; at any rate they ride ahead of their commanders even.True.Nor was it to get yourself known either. Even madmen are known to everyone.True again.

But perhaps you think you can hand over the cavalry in better condition to the state when you retire, and can do something for the good of the state as a cavalry leader, in case there is any occasion to employ that arm?Yes, certainly, said he.Yes, said Socrates, and no doubt it is a fine thing if you can do that. The command, I presume, for which you have been chosen, is the command of horses and riders.Indeed it is.

Come then, tell us first how you propose to improve the horses.Oh, but I don’t think that is my business. Every man must look after his own horse.

Then if some of your men appear on parade with their horses ailing or suffering from bad feet or sore legs, others with underfed animals that can’t go the pace, others with restive brutes that won’t keep in line, others with such bad kickers that it is impossible to line them up at all, what will you be able to make of your cavalry? how will you be able to do the state any good with a command like that?I am much obliged to you, he replied, and I will try to look after the horses carefully.

Won’t you also try to improve the men? said Socrates.I will.Then will you first train them to mount better?Oh yes, I must, so that if anyone is thrown he may have a better chance of saving himself.

Further, when there is some danger before you, will you order them to draw the enemy into the sandy ground where your manoeuvres are held, or will you try to carry out your training in the kind of country that the enemy occupy?Oh yes, that is the better way.

And again, will you pay much attention to bringing down as many of the enemy as possible without dismounting?Oh yes, that too is the better way.Have you thought of fostering a keen spirit among the men and hatred of the enemy, so as to make them more gallant in action?Well, at any rate, I will try to do so now.

And have you considered how to make the men obey you? Because without that horses and men, however good and gallant, are of no use.True, but what is the best way of encouraging them to obey, Socrates?

Well, I suppose you know that under all conditions human beings are most willing to obey those whom they believe to be the best.[*](Cyropaedia III. i. 20.) Thus in sickness they most readily obey the doctor, on board ship the pilot, on a farm the farmer, whom they think to be most skilled in his business.Yes, certainly.Then it is likely that in horsemanship too, one who clearly knows best what ought to be done will most easily gain the obedience of the others.

If then, Socrates, I am plainly the best horseman among them, will that suffice to gain their obedience?Yes, if you also show them that it will be safer and more honourable for them to obey you.How, then, shall I show that?Well, it’s far easier than if you had to show them that bad is better than good and more profitable.

Do you mean that in addition to his other duties a cavalry leader must take care to be a good speaker?Did you suppose that a commander of cavalry should be mum? Did you never reflect that all the best we learned according to custom — the learning, I mean, that teaches us how to live — we learned by means of words, and that every other good lesson to be learned is learned by means of words; that the best teachers rely most on the spoken word and those with the deepest knowledge of the greatest subjects are the best talkers?

Did you never reflect that, whenever one chorus is selected from the citizens of this state — for instance, the chorus that is sent to Delos — no choir from any other place can compare with it, and no state can collect so goodly a company?True.

And yet the reason is that Athenians excel all others not so much in singing or in stature or in strength, as in love of honour, which is the strongest incentive to deeds of honour and renown.True again.

Then don’t you think that if one took the same pains with our cavalry, they too would greatly excel others in arms and horses and discipline and readiness to face the enemy, if they thought that they would win glory and honour by it?I expect so.

Don’t hesitate then, but try to encourage this keenness among the men: both you and your fellow-citizens will benefit by the results of your efforts.Most certainly I will try.