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

Once on seeing Nicomachides returning from the elections, he asked, Who have been chosen generals, Nicomachides?Isn’t it like the Athenians? replied he; they haven’t chosen me after all the hard work I have done, since I was called up, in the command of company or regiment, though I have been so often wounded in action (and here he uncovered and showed his scars); yet they have chosen Antisthenes, who has never served in a marching regiment nor distinguished himself in the cavalry and understands nothing but money-making.

Isn’t that a recommendation, said Socrates, supposing he proves capable of supplying the men’s needs?Why, retorted Nicomachides, merchants too are capable of making money, but that doesn’t make them fit to command an army.

But, cried Socrates, Antisthenes also is eager for victory, and that is a good point in a general.[*](Cyropaedia I. vi. 18.) Whenever he has been choragus, you know, his choir has always won.No doubt, said Nicomachides, but there is no analogy between the handling of a choir and of an army.

But, you see, said Socrates, though Antisthenes knows nothing about music or choir training, he showed himself capable of finding the best experts in these.In the army too, then, said Nicomachides, he will find other to command for him, and others to do the fighting.

And therefore, said Socrates, if he finds out and prefers the best men in warfare as in choir training it is likely that he will be victorious in that too; and probably he will be more ready to spend on winning a battle with the whole state than on winning a choral competition with his tribe.

Do you mean to say, Socrates, that the man who succeeds with a chorus will also succeed with an army?I mean that, whatever a man controls, if he knows what he wants and can get it he will be a good controller, whether he control a chorus, an estate, a city or an army.

Really, Socrates, cried Nicomachides, I should never have thought to hear you say that a good business man would make a good general.Come then, let us review the duties of each that we may know whether they are the same or different.By all means.

Is it not the duty of both to make their subordinates willing and obedient?Decidedly.And to put the right man in the right place?[*](Cyropaedia I. vi. 20.)That is so.I suppose, moreover, that both should punish the bad and reward the good.Yes, certainly.

Of course both will do well to win the goodwill of those under them?That is so.Do you think that it is to the interest of both to attract allies and helpers?Yes, certainly.And should not both be able to keep what they have got?They should indeed.And should not both be strenuous and industrious in their own work?[*](ibid. 8.)

All these are common to both; but fighting is not.But surely both are bound to find enemies?Oh yes, they are.Then is it not important for both to get the better of them?

Undoubtedly; but you don’t say how business capacity will help when it comes to fighting.That is just where it will be most helpful. For the good business man, through his knowledge that nothing profits or pays like a victory in the field, and nothing is so utterly unprofitable and entails such heavy loss as a defeat, will be eager to seek and furnish all aids to victory, careful to consider and avoid what leads to defeat, prompt to engage the enemy if he sees he is strong enough to win, and, above all, will avoid an engagement when he is not ready.

Don’t look down on business men, Nicomachides. For the management of private concerns differs only in point of number from that of public affairs. In other respects they are much alike, and particularly in this, that neither can be carried on without men, and the men employed in private and public transactions are the same. For those who take charge of public affairs employ just the same men when they attend to their own; and those who understand how to employ them are successful directors of public and private concerns, and those who do not, fail in both.