The Rhetoric of Leadership in Xenophon's Anabasis

Jennifer Winter

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis is a narratological and rhetorical study of the speeches made by leaders in the Anabasis as attempts at persuasion. It aims at interpreting the function of the speeches by linking a leader’s use of rhetoric to the success or failure of his leadership. This thesis closely examines how the speeches relate to the narrative and how the narrator guides the reader’s interpretation of speech, speaker and audience. It applies the rhetorical division of the three modes of persuasion, logos, ethos and pathos, to the examination of the speeches, bringing out contrasts and similarities in how different leaders respond verbally to comparable situations. This thesis proposes that Xenophon uses the speeches with three chief roles or effects in mind. Firstly, the speeches involve the reader by evoking tension, suspense and surprise. Secondly, when compared to the narrative, they characterise the speaker by illuminating the differences between real and proclaimed motives and attitudes, as well as highlighting a speaker’s intention and ability to match his words and actions. The internal audiences are also characterised. Thirdly, the speeches provide positive and negative exempla in order to teach the reader that it is not enough simply to persuade others successfully. A leader must also approach persuasion with the right moral attitude and motives, live up to his words, and benefit his audience. To demonstrate this, the speeches are analysed according to three themes: the success or failure of leaders in evoking emotions in their audiences, the narrator’s presentation of leaders verbally deceiving those on their side, and leaders using the concepts of honour and profit in their persuasion attempts. All the leaders that are scrutinised are lacking in one or more of the areas examined, except Xenophon, who is ultimately the only leader that the reader should emulate in his persuasion attempts.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Rubinstein, Lene, Supervisor
Award date7 Mar 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


  • Xenophon
  • Anabasis
  • Rhetoric
  • Speeches
  • Narratology
  • Leadership
  • Deception
  • Emotions
  • Honour
  • Profit

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