Xenophon on the Psychology of Supreme Political Ambition

  • American Political Science Review, February 2017, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/s0003055416000721

Ambition in Ancient Philosophy

What is it about?

Using Xenophon's historical novel about the empire-builder Cyrus the Great, this articles explores a Socratic philosopher's thoughts on the psychological gifts and drives and that go to make up supreme political ambition.

Why is it important?

High ambition is an important and under-studied force in politics.


Lorraine Pangle
University of Texas at Austin Perry-Castaneda Library

This article sheds light on things that are at work in all of us, though they are most visible in rare individuals like Cyrus the Great. I found that Xenophon made especially interesting and surprising suggestions on the connection between ambition and piety.

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The following have contributed to this page: Lorraine Pangle