Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 1 – The Attempt of Cyrus

The Persian Expedition (Anabasis) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 1 – The Attempt of Cyrus

Chapter 1 – Cyrus Builds Up His Army

  • Darius & Parysatis’s sons (1- Artaxerxes, 2 – Cyrus)
    • Darius was dying & Cyrus had to be sent for. He came with Persian friend, Tissaphernes & Greek underling Xenias with 300 Hoplites
    • Darius died. Tissaphernes made Artaxerxes believe that Cyrus was plotting against him. Artaxerxes arrest Cyrus to execute him.
    • Parysatis got a stay of execution & sent him back to his satrapy
    • Cyrus made sure he’d never be arrested again & would be king. He curried favor with locals to make them loyal, & gathered Greek friends in secrecy
      • Friends from the Peloponnese joined because Tissaphernes was thinking of attacking Ionian (Greek cities under Persian control). They joined Cyrus in besieging Miletus (a city under Tissaphernes). Cyrus told Artaxerxes that this was his territory & was taking it
      • Cyrus’s friends:
        • Clearchus from Sparta got money to fight Thracians & clear out the Hellespont.
        • Aristrippus from Thessaly commanded 4000 troops
        • Proxenus from Boetia brought troops, along with Sophaenetus & Socrates of Aechea
      • They would look they were going to fight a pesky tribe in the area & wouldn’t attract suspicion to the King

Chapter 2 – The March From Sardis to Tarsus

  • Cyrus appeared to clear out Pisidians with his Greek armies. All the forces were to assemble at Sardis, with thousands of men
    • Tissaphernes suspected this was more than about Pisidians. He warned the king to take counter measures
  • Cyrus & co. marched through Lydia & through Phrygia, & met up in Colossae with Menon, & others, adding more men
    • Clearchus joined with 2000 men. Sosis from Syracuse & Sophaenetus showed up with 1000+ men. All totaling 11000 men. They marched to Peltae & celebrated Greek festivals & then on through several cities
  • At Cayster Plain, he met Epyaxa, the wife of the King of Cilicia. Cyrus was said to have a thing going on with her. She also gave him some money
    • They went on from Thymbrion to Tyriaeon, where Cyrus showed Epyaxa how well-discipline, well-trained & well-equipped his armies were. The locals were terrified
    • They went to the last city in Phrygia, Iconium. Once they went through Cappadocia, they were in enemy territory, & Cyrus executed a Persian noble, Megaphernes
    • Epyaxa was there to help his route through Cilicia. The army was afraid of passages being blocked by the King, Syennesis. The King had abandoned the area because of the news of a large army & navy in the vicinity
    • The army marched through to Tarsus, finding the city abandoned. 100 men were lost on the way & men took to looting grief
      • Epyaxa was able to convince Syennesis it was in his interest to allow Cyrus to stay. He even gave Cyrus money & jewels

Chapter 3 – Clearchus Deals with a Mutiny

  • Cyrus’s army refused to go further. They suspected he was after his brother. They didn’t sign up for that
    • Clearchus tried to force his men to go on. They nearly killed him. He spoke to them weepily: Cyrus was his friend when no one else was. The war in Thrace was for Greek settlers. But he understood if they didn’t want this war. He had either to keep Cyrus’s friendship & give them up, or break his word & go off with them. He would not force their will. He would go along with them. The soldiers were happy he wasn’t going stick by Cyrus no matter what
    • Cyrus was anxious & wanted to speak to Clearchus but he refused Clearchus sent a message to his that everything would work out, but he refused to meet with Cyrus
    • Clearchus addressed his men: Obviously Cyrus didn’t see them as his men any longer. Clearchus didn’t want to see him because he was ashamed as his friend. The Greeks had their own problems though. How were they going to get out of there safely? What about supplies? Cyrus is a dangerous enemy but a good friend. Did anyone have any ideas?
      • Some wanted to go home ASAP. Some wanted Cyrus’s help to return to a friendly territory. Maybe they should ask the Cilicians for help
    • Clearchus didn’t want to lead an expedition like that. But he’d be happy to follow along
      • One man said it’d be silly to ask Cyrus for help. He might even sabotage our escape. They should ask want Cyrus’s plans for them were.
      • If it was more of the same, or more dangerous, we should ask for our release, or for more money
      • Clearchus asked Cyrus about his plans. Cyrus wanted to go after Abrocomas, satrap of Syria, 12 days away. He promised them a 50% raise

Chapter 4 – Through the Syrian Gates & Across the Euphrates

  • They marched to Issus, the last city in Cilicia, on the sea. There were 35 Peloponnesian ships led by Spartan, Pythagoras. The ships carried many commanders & more Greek soldiers
  • They marched 15 days to the Gates of Cilicia & Syria. A fort help by Abrocomas had 600 soldiers, with no easy way in. It was surrendered by cliffs. Cyrus asked his fleet to find a way. But Abrocomas ran off to the King with 3000 men when he heard Cyrus was coming
    • Cyrus took the Phoenician city, Myriandrus. Xenias & Pasion took ships with lots of goodies. Cyrus didn’t want to chase them because it would look bad. Plus he had their families hostage in Tralles. This endeared him to those who remained
    • Many of the cities here belonged to his mother, Parysatis. They marched to the governor’s palace in the Dards & burned it. They were headed for Babylon. The soldiers were angry. They wanted more money. Cyrus promised a bonus once they got to Babylon
      • Menon gave a speech: It’s clear that Cyrus intends to fight the king. Before he begs you, you should show him loyalty & I’ll guarantee he’ll be more grateful than if you kept raising a fuss. Cyrus appreciates loyalty & dependability
        • The men crossed the Euphrates & Cyrus expressed his gratitude to Menon.
        • The river was so low that they didn’t need the pontoons that Abrocomas had burnt

Chapter 5 – The Arabian Desert, Quarrel between Menon & Clearchus

  • They marched through the Arabian desert. The ground was completely flat. These were shrubs, reeds & plenty of animal life – wild asses, ostriches, bustards & gazelles
    • The cavalry hunted these animals. The asses were faster than the horses & had to be hunted in teams. No one caught an ostrich but the bustards were tasty
    • They went to the deserted city of Corsote & loaded up on food & moved on along the Euphrates to the “Gates”
    • Some of the baggage animals died of hunger because there was no grass to eat. The locals had already ground up most of the grain & sold it off to Babylon. The soldiers had  to live entirely on meat. The marches were designed to stay near water & find food
    • Sometimes wagons got stuck in the mud. Cyrus ordered the fancy purple-wearing nobles to get out & help push
    • Cyrus was moving as quickly as possible & only stopped to load up on food & other necessities. The faster they moved, the less time the king had to prepare
  • There was a city on the other side of the Euphrates called Charmande. Soldiers made rafts to carry across supplies bought there: tents, food, booze
  • The soldiers of Clearchus & Menon began to fight. Clearchus thought Menon’s man was in the wrong & had him beaten. The man told his group what had happened. When Clearchus was out & passed by Menon’s camp, Menon’s men threw an axe, stones & nearly killed Clearchus.
    • Clearchus ran off & prepared his men in an offensive position. Proxenus intervened begging them not to fight
    • Cyrus came up & spoke: This is crazy. If you start fighting, I’ll be done for. & I guarantee you won’t be far behind. We have real enemies out there. Let’s not start adding more

Chapter 6 – Cyrus Deals with a Traitor

  • They ran across fresh hoof prints & horse shit. About 2000 cavalry came & burnt any food or useful material
  • Orontas, a noble relative of the King. He had been scheming against Cyrus. He wanted 1000 horseman to ambush those doing scorched earth & put on end to all this inconvenience
    • Cyrus liked the idea. But Orontas sent off a letter saying he was taking as many of Cyrus’s horses as he could. The letter carrier gave the letter to Cyrus. Cyrus arrested him & asked Persian & Greek commanders to advise him
      • Cyrus: This man was supposed to be my lieutenant appointed by my father. He made war on me & we stopped fighting. I tried to bring him back into the fold & then I find this letter. What have I ever done to him? Nothing. Did I do something to merit betrayal? After we reconciled, why did he deceive me again? I can never trust him again

Chapter 7 – Cyrus Prepares for Battle, But the King Retreats

  • After a while, Cyrus divided the armies in 3: Left was Menon’s men. Right was was Clearchus’s men. Center was Cyrus’s men.
  • Deserters from the King’s army informed Cyrus about his plans. Cyrus asked the Greeks on how to fight: You Greeks will be doing most of the fighting. You’re better & more numerous than my natives. But know that the enemy’s numbers are great. They will shout at you but you should be able to resist if you stand your ground
    • Gaulites of Samos: The men say that you’re promising a lot because we’re in a tight spot. They think you’ll forget your promises when the battle is over
    • Cyrus: This land is my father’s empire. My brother’s friends are satraps. If we win, I’ll need new satraps & I’ll appoint my Greek friends. I’ll also give you each a gold bonus
      • This charmed the Greeks. Clearchus was wondering if Cyrus’s brother would fight. Cyrus said he wouldn’t be able to get power without fighting for it
  • The Greek forces were about 13000. Cyrus’s native men were 100000.
    • The enemy were 1200000, 6000 cavalry & 600 scythed chariots. The generals were Abrocomas, Tissaphernes, Gobrias & Arbraces, each with 200000. Abrocomas was late – only 900000 actually showed up
    • Cyrus marched one day expecting a battle but found a giant ditch in the way, 30 feet wide, 18 feet deep, going 36 miles to the Media Wall. This was an obstacle, delaying the battle, allowing the King to retreat. A soothsayer had told him all this long in advance
      • Cyrus thought the King wouldn’t fight & so he proceeded with less caution. He was one of the first to cross the ditch

Chapter 8 – The Battle of Cunaxa &  the Death of Cyrus

  • By mid-morning, they had arrived at the planned stopping point when he was warned that the King’s army was approaching. Cyrus strapped on his armor, took his weapons & gave orders for all to do the same
    • They all got into the positions agreed upon earlier. Cyrus went to battle without a helmet
    • They waited a couple of hours until they saw dust rising over the plain. The cavalry were coming, led by Tissaphernes. Then soldiers with wicker & wooden shield (maybe Egyptians). Cavalry & archers arrived. Scythed chariots planned to cut through the ranks
    • Cyrus was wrong. The enemy didn’t shout but approached silently. Cyrus said to aim for the center where the King probably was. If they won, the whole campaign would be over. Clearchus did not want to be drawn out because they’d be surrounded
    • Cyrus rode up to look at the enemy. Xenophon asked for orders. Cyrus said the omens & sacrifices were good. The watchword was “Zeus the Deliverer & Victory”. Cyrus rode to set up in position
  • The armies were 600-800 yards apart. Greeks sang as paean as the enemy approached. The phalanges moved in waves. They banged their shields to scare the horses
    • The Persians began to run away. The Greeks moved forward slowly, keeping ranks. Persian chariots had mild success but very little Greek casualties
  • Cyrus kept his personal guard of 600 cavalry to watch the King. Persian commanders are usually in the middle of the troops to have a better view & to be able to communicate better. The king was not in the exact center but on Cyrus’s left wing. Since no frontal attack came, he made a right out flanking movement
    • He took his 600 men & broke through the King’s screen & killed 6000 men. The group lost cohesion & he was isolate. But he saw the King & pushed toward him. He jumped on him & struck him through his breastplate. In attacking, Cyrus caught a javelin in the eye & died. It’s said his servant Artapatas, whom Cyrus Cyrus gave a golden scimitar fore his loyalty, killed himself on Cyrus’s body. That, or the King had him killed there

Chapter 9 – The Character of Cyrus

  • Cyrus was worthy of being King. He had learned good behavior in his father’s court. Boys saw people being honored or disgraced & learn how to command & obey
    • He was a better listener than even his obsequious inferiors. He loved horses, archery & javelin throwing. His hunting skills were great because he learned to take risks. People thought he was lucky because he avoided death several times
    • He’d been sent to Lydia, Phrygia & Cappodocia as a satrap. There he’d learned to keep his word. These cities & men under his rule trusted him. When he was at war with Tissaphernes, the cities, except Miletus, chose him. The Milesians were afraid because he wouldn’t give up the exiled government. But once you were his friend he’d never sell you out, no matter what
    • He repaid all favors or evil actions with interest. He never allowed criminals or evil doers to mock his authority. Punishments were often harsh but that kept things in order
    • He rewarded military bravery & skill. Cowards were worthy of being slaves
    • Those who lived in accordance with his standards for just lived prosperously. Good service in his army paid better than simple wages. All good work was rewarded.
    • His administration improved the land & made a profit. People didn’t hide wealth because he wasn’t jealous of it.
    • He always did favors for friends because they always did so for him. He wanted to share fine things with others
  • Xenophon had never known any man better liked or known to be as reliable as Cyrus. The only man to betray him to the King was Orontas. But many left the king to go to him
    • When he died, the others fought for him, except Ariaeus, we fled when he’d heard Cyrus died

Chapter 10 – After the Battle

  • The King cut off Cyrus’s head & right hand. Ariaeus & his men ran off as quickly as possible.
    • He took Cyrus’s mistress. The Greeks saved another & killed many looters
    • The Greeks pursued as if they’d won. Persians looted as if they’d won. The King heard the Greeks were wiping out his army & dropped the looting & went back to fight
    • The King took his men past the Greek left wing. Tissaphernes met up with the King at the Greek camp. They planned to encircle them. The Greeks sang the paean & charged the natives, who ran away. They stopped at the hill & the natives doubled back because they saw the king’s standard at the top of the hill
  • As the sun was setting, the Greeks stopped & wondered about Cyrus. They headed back to camp to find it plundered. They had no food left at all.

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