Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 2 – The Greeks are Isolated

Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 2 – The Greeks are Isolated

Chapter 1 – The King’s Messenger

  • The Greek generals met up with no clue where Cyrus was & nobody to tell them. They decided to pack up & move toward where they thought he’d end up
    • Finally, they were told Cyrus was dead & Ariaeus had headed toward the agreed-upon meeting place. If no one was going to meet him, he was going back to Ionia
    • Clearchus: We’re sad that Cyrus is dead but we’ve defeated the King & there would be no opposition to us. We’ll put Ariaeus on the throne
  • The King & Tissaphernes sent a messenger along with a Greek mercenary, Pralinus, who was an expert in drilling & infantry tactics. The Persians were claiming victory & ordered the Greeks to surrender their arms
    • This pissed the Greeks off. They were thinking they’d won. They said they’d rather die than surrender their arms. Was this out of friendship? Or Right of Conquest? If it’s out of conquest, why don’t they come & take them from the Greeks? If the Greeks were to make an agreement in friendship, what would they get in return?
    • Phalinus explained that since Cyrus was killed, the king thinks he’s won. Who’s left to challenge him for the throne? Plus, you’re surrounded by his forces. You can’t fight your way out
    • A Greek, Theopompus, explained: We have 2 things – our weapons & our courage. If we keep our weapons, our courage can probably help us fight through. If we give them up, we’ll also lose our courage. Let’s keep both
    • Phalinus agreed but he said that they were crazy if they thought they could fight through the enormous army of the King
    • Some even suggested working for the king if he went on an expedition to Egypt
    • Clearchus asked Phalinus what he would in their shoes. Maybe because he was Greek, he’d point out Persian flaws
      • Phalinus: Don’t surrender your arms. If you have a slim chance to beat the King, you’ll need them. You won’t do a thing without them
      • Clearchus told him to tell the King: If the King wants, we can be valuable to him with our arms. If he won’t be friendly, they’ll need them to fight him
      • Phalinus told them as it is, there’s a truce if they remain where they are. If they move forwards or backwards, the truce will be broken

Chapter 2 – The Greeks Join Ariaeus

  • Ariaeus sent back some messengers who said a bunch of Persian big wigs wouldn’t put up with him as the King. But if the Greeks wanted to join him on the way back, they’d better come that night
    • Clearchus spoke to the generals & captains: The Tigris separates us from the King. We can’t get there without boats & we have none. We can’t stay because we can’t get supplies. But I think going with Cyrus’s friends is best. After a meal, we’ll pack up & join them
    • Miltocythes from Thrace deserted to the King with 300+ men
    • The Greeks marched on to meet with Ariaeus. They swore an oath to be allies. Natives swore to lead the Greeks back without trickery. They made a sacrifice on it
    • They discussed their next move. Going back the way they came would mean starvation. There was a longer route but it was well supplied. They ought to move as quickly as possible from the King. Once 2-3 days ahead, they’ll be safer. His army is larger & therefore slower
    • Animals in the distance looked like the King’s cap but ended up just being a pasture of animals grazing
    • Clearchus wanted to move & not appear to be running away but his men were tired. They made camp where the King had been earlier

Chapter 3 – The Greeks Sign a Treaty with Tissaphernes

  • The King was afraid of the Greeks & since they weren’t going to surrender arms, he wanted to discuss terms
    • Clearchus spoke with the heralds. The army happened to be in formation. He said Greeks don’t talk terms without having eaten breakfast. Either the King feeds the Greek army or he gets a battle. The messengers relayed the information & brought them to get supplies
    • Clearchus wanted a truce but wanted to buy time before getting it in case it wasn’t given & they rested. The army mached in formation even under a truce. Men not keeping up were beaten. When the equipment got stuck in the mud, he helped, to show he was a hard worker. Ditches showed that a trip back home would be hard
    • They were able to get good & even exotic supplies. They stayed 3 days, relaying messages to the Persians
    • Tissaphernes met with them. He told them they were in luck. He was able to get the King to agree to their safe passage. He asked why you all were here. If you give a decent answer, he’ll let you free
    • Clearchus explained: They didn’t want war with Persia to begin with. But Cyrus hired them for one reason & then kept changing the reason why they were fighting. Now that Cyrus was dead, they had no aims for power in Persia. They just wanted to go home. If they were messed with along the way, they would defend themselves
    • Tissaphernes took this message back. They waited 3 days to hear something from him. He came back saying that he had to convince many people to go along with it but he could guarantee their safe passage & the ability to get supplies along the way
      • The Greeks agrees. Tissaphernes went to relay the message & the Greeks waited

Chapter 4 – The March Begins with Mutual Suspicion

  • They waited more than 20 days to hear from Tissaphernes
    • Soldiers were getting antsy. The King might be assembling a bigger army to fight them. Maybe he’s making ditches & fortifications to block the route home
    • Clearchus: I’m also nervous. But moving would be considered a declaration of war by violating the truce. Then we’d really be in a bad way – no supplies or food, & Ariaeus would abandon us. We don’t know the way home & how to cross rivers & mountains. We have no cavalry to see the road & enemies ahead. If we fight, & even if we win, we would still have a long march home. If we lose, we’d be done for. Why would the King be friend with us if he means to destroy us?
  • Tissaphernes showed up with his army, Orontas & his army. The Greeks were suspicious of the meeting. They were marching alongside the Greeks on their way back. They camped 3 miles apart, only causing suspicions to grow
    • After marching parallel to each other for several days, fights broke out
    • They had to climb over the Wall of Media, made out of burnt Bitumen bricks, stretching 60 miles long near Babylon.
    • They passed over canals & over the Tigris river, near the city of Sittace
    • While out for a walk with Xenophon, Proxenus was approached by a man, with a message from Ariaeus & Artaozus to be careful from an attack from the native army.
      • “Post a guard on the Tigris bridge. Tissaphernes might destroy the bridge to trap you between the canal & the river
      • Proxenus reported this to Clearchus, who was alarmed but also confused. If an attack on them was successful, why burn a bridge? If the attack wasn’t successful, they were protected from any further attack. Why would they block their own escape?
      • The Greeks were sure the Persians didn’t want them between the canal & the river to march northwards unimpeded, where there was a lot of supplies
      • They woke up the next day & crossed the bridge without any obstruction, up along to where the Physus river met the Tigris at the city of Opis.
      • Cyrus’s & Artaxerxes’s illegitimate brother met them on the way from Susa & Ecbatana to fight for the King. He was amazed at the Greek army’s form & equipment
      • They marched through Media to a city called Caenae where there many supplies: bread, cheese & wine

Chapter 5 – Tissaphernes’ Treachery

  • At the Zapatas River, the suspicion remained but there was no evidence of treachery
    • Clearchus decided to speak with Tissaphernes to stop suspicions before they turned to violence. He told Tissaphernes that they felt like they were being watched like an enemy. But they didn’t see any signs of hostility. Maybe they could put aside misunderstandings.
      • “We swore oaths of peace. We should reaffirm them. Help from you would be fantastic. We have no reason to fight you since you are our benefactors. We could be of great value fighting your many enemies”
    • Tissaphernes liked what he heard. If Clearchus was planning to harm him, he would harm himself. If the Persians wanted to destroy them, they would have to deal with retaliation. Plus, most of the inhabitants of the flatlands would be favorable to the Greeks. But they’d never be able to pass through the mountains unharmed, without supplies.
      • “Why would we want not to destroy you when we so clearly can? We may actually want you to help fight our enemies but that is up to the King entirely. We can point out those who were trying to turn us against you through lies. We’d like you to do the same”
    • Clearchus was to bring his generals to see them. Thinking he was on good terms with Tissaphernes. He was going to punish those he thought were spreading lies – he suspected Menon
    • Soldiers warned him not to take the generals to Tissaphernes but Clearchus insisted in bringing 5 generals & 20 captains. 200 soldiers were brought to get provisions
    • The generals entered Tissaphernes’s tent, were seized & those waiting outside were slaughtered. Persia cavalry rode to kill all Greeks they found. Niarchus the Acadian escaped with his intestines in his hands to tell the others.
    • The Greeks armed themselves. All remaining leaders gathered to find out what happened: Cleanor, Sophaenetus, & Xenophon ran out to see
    • Ariaeus spoke: Clearchus has been found guilty of perjury & breaking the truce. He’s dead. Proxenus & Menon turned him in. The King demands you surrender your arms. They belonged to Cyrus, servant of the King
    • The Greeks said the Persians broke their oath & killed the men they swore it to. They are now enemies
    • Xenophon: If Clearchus broke the oath, he got what he deserved. But Proxenus & Menon should be returned because they helped you
    • The Persians left without replying

Chapter 6 – Characters of the Five Generals

  • Clearchus – a real soldier & devoted to war. He was a part of the whole Peloponnesian War. Afterwards he pushed for war against Thrace. He’d been condemned to death & lived in exile. Cyrus employed him to raise an army. He fought Trace & joined Cyrus to fight another war.
    • He preferred the hard life of war to the easy life of peace. He focused on strategy & leadership, & was able to impress others with his toughness. His punishments were harsh but only for the army’s discipline. He had a great deal of confidence in front of the enemy & got obedience out of all those beneath him.
  • Proxenus, the Boetian – was educated by Protagoras of Leontini. He thought he’d learned enough to command an army, so he joined Cyrus’s crew to get a name, money & power. He only wanted these things by fair means
    • He wanted to be popular but didn’t command much fear. He was lavish in praise for those who did good deeds & not at all for those who did bad deeds.
  • Menon, the Thessalian – was after money. He wanted to be a general to get higher pay & honors, in order to milk it for money money. He wanted to be influential to avoid punishment for past misdeeds. Shortcuts for ambitions were lies & deceit. To be honest, to him, was to be simple-minded. He had no affection for anyone & no friends. He was more interested in the property of “friends” because it was unguarded. He had no respect for honest men because they were easily deceived. He felt he was being kind to those he used & tricked. He lived under the King for a whole year before being put to death
  • Agias the Arcadian & Socrates the Achaeun also were killed. They were brave men & loyal to friends. Both were 35 years old.

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