The fictionalization of authority in the Cyropaedia of Xenophon
Authors: Emerson Cerdas
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This article aims to analyze Xenophon’s proem to Cyropaedia and to demonstrate its narrator absorbing elements of the historiographic discourse since he had the intention of telling the life of Cyrus with verisimilitude. A number of elements seems to define a reading pattern in which the narrator denies the fictionality of the text. Broadly speaking, when historians wrote proems they claimed these texts to be thematic but they also sought to justify their choices and, above all, to establish research and analysis criteria so as to strengthen the suitability and authority over the narrated facts. Since Cyrus’ life was a well-known topic for Xenophon’s readers during the 4th century BC, it seems to us that this strategy does not intend to mislead the reader to the truth of the narrated facts, for they would easily recognize their fictionality, but to gain authority over Xenophon’s moral and ethical reflections that are exemplified in Cyrus’ life. It will become even more evident in the analysis of the preface in which the narrator, under the guise of the historian, leaves traces that point out to ruptures in the historiographical conventions, indicating then the fictional character of the narrative. It is, therefore, a complex proem that inaugurates a new modality among prose texts of Antiquity – a fictional narrative that pretends to be true.