Xenophon and his books have been influenced by previous writings such as the Histories by Herodotus or The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, but also he has been influenced by Socrates or Plato, philosophers that influenced the Ancient Greek world profoundly, and obviously by the context that he inhabited.
Looking at the Hellenica by Xenophon, we can notice that the book seem to be divided into two parts that are different from each other. The first part is a continuation of the book written by Thucydides. Reading other historians of the time such as Athanas, who wrote the history of Sicily and seemed to have started the story from a moment where Philistus finished, or Thucydides, who wrote the events that happened in Ancient Greece and the East, and also started from the point where Herodotus had finished, shows that Xenophon was not the only historian committed to continuous history. The second part of the book is different from the first part. The latter does not seem to be influenced so much by Thucydides.
The introduction of dialogues in the Hellenica or the treatment that Thebes and the federal system established by the Boeotian League received by Xenophon, tells us of the influence that this author received by Plato and Herodotus on the dialogues, or the influence received by the autonomy of the poleis, which was a sign of prosperity and political success in the Ancient Greek world. His dialogues, influenced by Herodotus and provably Plato’s philosophical dialogues, are a continuation of the usage of this form of writing.
The concept of tyranny, which under Aristotle’s required a debate about individuals’ status to decide definitively who was a tyrant and who not, with Xenophon takes a much greater room for manoeuvre than in the fourth century. The first one to provide a definition of tyranny in history had been Herodotus. Thucydides continued the job and re defined it from a political point of view. Xenophon gives us a broader definition of the concept, including personalities that Aristotle wouldn’t have taken as examples.
Xenophon represents an important transition point in Greek historiography. The development of the role of the divine in the historiographical tradition from Herodotus to later historians of the Hellenistic and Roman periods is only intelligible through careful reading of Xenophon’s Hellenica, where the negative paradigm, sometimes paired with divine intervention, becomes the primary means of expressing condemnation of the impious.
Xenophon developed the concept of historiography. He is more interested in personalities and dramatic events rather than in the hidden qualities of the mundane. The reasons why he did that might be various. He might have been more interested in the behaviour of individuals. Aside from this, the decline of Athens and Sparta in the fourth century forced Xenophon to look for other subject-matter to the ones used by Thucydides and Herodotus. In addition, he had travelled and seen the great cities of the Near East. These cities were governed by individuals around whom a mystique had developed that could not help but stimulate one whose interests already tended toward the contemplation of the noble individual in the exercise of leadership. In the face of all this the cities of Greece in their weakened state in 365 B.C. had lost their fascination for Xenophon.
He took the work left by previous historians, philosophers, literary writers, and developed it, adapting his history to the new contexts of Ancient Greece.