Scholars hoping to find a good source for what “the Greeks” thought have often concluded that Xenophon is their man. Kenneth Dover’s magisterial Greek Popular Morality includes Xenophon as a source for popular views, while leaving out philosophers and dramatists as probable eccentrics. And since Xenophon has been regarded, ever since antiquity, as a particularly pious man, he has been seen as a particularly reliable source for standard religious views (Parker 2004; Bowden 2004). Jon Mikalson, while recognizing that Xenophon was not a “typical Athenian,” makes him a star witness for Athenian popular religion (Mikalson 1983: 12):

His writings show him far removed from the intense rationalism of Thucydides, his predecessor in history, and from the intellectual metaphysics of Plato, his fellow student of Socrates . . . He was simply, as Diogenes Laertius (2.56) characterized him centuries later, “pious, sacrifice-loving, and able to interpret sacrificial victims.”