The tract "On the Athenian State," preserved among his writings, is not from his hand, but the work of an earlier writer. With the sudden rise of the Theban power, and consequent depression of Sparta, he and other settlers around Skillus were driven out by the Eleans, and he lost his country-seat, with all its agreeable diversions.
Having thus become an exile, Xenophon was allowed by the Lacedæmonians to settle at Skillûs, one of the villages of Triphylia, near Olympia in Peloponnesus, which they had recently emancipated from the Eleians.
This money Xenophon invested in the purchase of lands at Skillûs, to be consecrated in permanence to the goddess; having previously consulted her by sacrifice to ascertain her approval of the site contemplated, which site was recommended to him by its resemblance in certain points to that of the Ephesian temple.
The interesting description which he himself gives of his residence at Skillûs implies a state of things not present and continuing, but past and gone; other testimonies too, though confused and contradictory, seem to show that the Lacedæmonian settlement at Skillûs lasted no longer than the power of Lacedæmon was adequate to maintain it.
In his retreat at Skillus he composed a series of "Dialogues," in what is termed the Socratic vein; "Memorials" of his great master, a tract on household "Economy," another on a "Symposium," or feast, one called "Hiero," or on the Greek tyrant, and an account of the "Laconian Polity," which he had so long admired and known. The tract on "Hunting" also speaks the experience at Skillus.
Residing hard by on his own property, allotted to him by the Lacedæmonians, Xenophon superintended this estate as steward for the goddess; looking perhaps to the sanctity of her name for protection from disturbance by the Eleians, who viewed with a jealous eye the Lacedæmonians at Skillûs, and protested against the peace and convention promoted by Athens after the battle of Leuktra, because it recognized that place, along with the townships of Triphylia, as having the right of self-government.
In the next place, a daily thoroughfare such as the Isthmus, must have been far more suitable for the collecting of historical evidence than Skillus, where the crowd came by only once in four years. And then his grown-up sons could find something more serious to do than hunting deer, boars, and hares in the glades of Elis.