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But Xenophon wrote a book about the education of Cyrus the Great, the , that became a model for leaders from the ancient world forward.

It was required reading for anyone who wanted to get into college in eighteenth-century America.

West, but a world of porous political and cultural boundaries, peopled by cosmopolitan traders and mighty armies, where the only constant was change itself.

The founders knew a lot about the great Persian king Cyrus the Great, a man who had lived at the very dawn of Greece’s so-called golden age of art, history, and literature.

Here, in the new American president, was a person who needed all the wisdom of a king, and so where better to look in search of kingly wisdom than to a genre of literature we call the “mirror for princes,” since for centuries these books had instructed princes and kings in how to rule well and wisely.

In the American revolutionary era, the 1.) Lesson 1, how do you rule over your fellow men and women?

The American president as imagined in 1787 retained many monarchical elements: the American presidency can be thought of as a non-hereditary king, retaining the British king’s powers as commander in chief, the power to pardon, and the power to bestow honors.Jefferson was in Paris, but everybody else was soon going to be assembling in Philadelphia to begin revising the Articles of Confederation into a document that became the United States Constitution.So it’s no exaggeration to say that the exploits of Cyrus the Great of Persia were on the minds of the American founders. Why was he interesting and politically useful to them?Contrary to what has been recently suggested, they were not interested at all in Cyrus as a bastion of religious tolerance and the first promoter of human rights: these are our own modern preoccupations.The founders were interested in toleration and human rights, of course, but they did not use Cyrus the Great or Xenophon’s biography of Cyrus the Great as the exempla of these ideas.

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