How was Xenophon different from contemporary or nearcontemporary historians? This is ultimately an impossible question to answer, as the other historians working during his time are preserved only in fragments (cf. Brunt (1980) and Pearson (1943)). However, in a couple of places in the Hellenica he seems to betray an awareness of a set of criteria used to determine the suitability of material for inclusion in the historical record (e.g. 2.3.56, 4.8.1, 5.1.4: on the last see below, pp. 197-198), implying that he knew there were others writing a brand of history quite different from his own. Indeed, in one passage he comes right out and says that he is knowingly going against the conventions of ‘all historians’: at 7.2.1 he defends the inclusion of a lengthy excursus on the city of Phlius in the period between the battles of Leuctra and Mantinea.1 He writes,
while these things were happening, and when the Argives had fortified the Tricaranum on the heights above for attacking Phlius, and while the Sicyonians were building a wall on their border at Thyamia, then the Phliasians were especially hard pressed and were running short of provisions. Nevertheless they remained loyal in their alliance [with Sparta]. Now all writers remember great cities if they do some excellent thing; but it seems to me that if a city though small performs many and excellent deeds, then it is even more appropriate to relate them.