Varro (according to Petrarch) was “the third great light of Rome”—after Vergil and Cicero—and certainly Rome's greatest scholar. Though the great bulk of his work survives only in fragments, the quotations and paraphrases that those fragments preserve make his influence on subsequent writers evident: much of later Latin literature, from the Aeneid of Vergil down to St. Augustine's City of God, would look very different had they been unable to draw upon his learning. His writings covered nearly every branch of inquiry: history, geography, rhetoric, law, philosophy, music, medicine, architecture, religion, and more.Marcus Terentius Varro, (116–27bce), was born at Reate, in the Sabine territory (see sabini) NE of Rome. After studying at Rome with L. Aelius, the first true scholar of Latin literature and antiquities, and at Athens with the Academic philosopher Antiochus of Ascalon, Varro began a public career that brought him to the praetorship and, ultimately, to service on the Pompeian side (see .
Xenophon (c. 430–c. 353 bce) came from a wealthy Athenian background and in his youth associated with Socrates. Participation in Cyrus’s unsuccessful rebellion in 401 and mercenary service with Spartan armies in Anatolia in 399–394 bce was followed by exile and prolonged residence near Olympia. Although there was a reconciliation with the Athenian state after 371, he may never have returned to live there permanently. In exile Xenophon became a writer, producing historical narratives, Socratic literature, technical treatises, an encomium of Agesilaus, a dialogue on tyranny, an analysis of Spartan success and failure, and a pamphlet on Athenian political economy. Many of these are the earliest (surviving) examples of particular genres or unusual variants on existing genres. Common to this extraordinarily diverse range of works are a didactic inclination, an intimate relationship with the author’s personal experiences combined with a variable authorial persona, use of the past as a way of talking about the present, a belief that purely practical pursuits have a moral component because they have social implications, and a style of exposition designed for engaged and informed readers who will ask questions of an apparently straightforward text while being prepared to be unsettled or wryly amused by the answers. The topic most persistently addressed by Xenophon’s oeuvre is leadership, broadly conceived—a task that demands special personal qualities, requires persistent careful effort, and, thanks to the unpredictability of events and of human behaviour, can rarely be pursued with prolonged and continuous success.