From there Cyrus marched through Babylonia
three stages, twelve parasangs. On the third stage he held a review of the Greeks and the barbarians on the plain at about midnight; for he thought that at the next dawn the King would come with his army to do battle; and he ordered Clearchus to act as commander of the right wing and Menon of the left, while he himself marshalled his own troops.
On the morning following the review, at daybreak, there came deserters from the great King and brought reports to Cyrus about his army.
At this time Cyrus called together the generals and captains of the Greeks, and not only took counsel with them as to how he should fight the battle, but, for his own part, exhorted and encouraged them as follows:
“Men of Greece
, it is not because I have not barbarians enough that I have brought you hither to fight for me; but because I believe that you are braver and stronger than many barbarians, for this reason I took you also. Be sure, therefore, to be men worthy of the freedom you possess, upon the possession of which I congratulate you. For you may be certain that freedom is the thing I should choose in preference to all that I have and many times more.
And now, in order that you may know what sort of a contest it is into which you are going, I who do know will tell you. Our enemies have great numbers and they will come on with a great outcry; for the rest, however, if you can hold out against these things, I am ashamed, I assure you, to think what sorry fellows you will find the people of our country to be. But if you be men and if my undertaking turn out well, I shall make anyone among you who wishes to return home an object of envy to his friends at home upon his return, while I shall cause many of you, I imagine, to choose life with me in preference to life at home.”
Hereupon Gaulites, a Samian exile who was there and was in the confidence of Cyrus, said: “And yet, Cyrus, there are those who say that your promises are big now because you are in such a critical situation—for the danger is upon you—but that if any good fortune befall, you will fail to remember them; and some say that even if you should remember and have the will, you would not have the means to make good all your promises.”
Upon hearing these words Cyrus said: “Well, gentlemen, my father's realm extends toward the south to a region where men cannot dwell by reason of the heat, and to the north to a region where they cannot dwell by reason of the cold; and all that lies between these limits my brother's friends rule as satraps.
Now if we win the victory, we must put our friends in control of these provinces. I fear, therefore, not that I shall not have enough to give to each of my friends, if success attends us, but that I shall not have enough friends to give to. And as for you men of Greece
, I shall give each one of you a wreath of gold besides.”
When they heard these words, the officers were far more eager themselves and carried the news away with them to the other Greeks. Then some of the others also sought Cyrus' presence, demanding to know what they should have, in case of victory; and he satisfied the expectations of every one of them before dismissing them.
Now all alike who conversed with him urged him not to take part in the fighting, but to station himself in their rear. Taking this opportunity Clearchus asked Cyrus a question like this: “But do you think, Cyrus, that your brother will fight with you?” “Yes, by Zeus,” said Cyrus, “if he is really a son of Darius and Parysatis and a brother of mine, I shall not win this realm without fighting for it.”
At this time, when the troops were marshalled under arms,1
the number of the Greeks was found to be ten thousand four hundred hoplites, and two thousand five hundred peltasts,2
while the number of the barbarians under Cyrus was one hundred thousand and there were about twenty scythe-bearing chariots.
The enemy, it was reported, numbered one million two hundred thousand3
and had two hundred scythe-bearing chariots; besides, there was a troop of six thousand horsemen, under the command of Artagerses, which was stationed in front of the King himself.
And the King's army had four commanders, each at the head of three hundred thousand men, namely, Abrocomas, Tissaphernes, Gobryas, and Arbaces. But of the forces just enumerated only nine hundred thousand, with one hundred and fifty scythe-bearing chariots, were present at the battle; for Abrocomas, marching from Phoenicia
, arrived five days too late for the engagement.
Such were the reports brought to Cyrus by those who deserted from the Great King before the battle, and after the battle identical reports were made by the prisoners taken thereafter.
From there Cyrus marched one stage, three parasangs, with his whole army, Greek and barbarian alike, drawn up in line of battle; for he supposed that on that day the King would come to an engagement; for about midway of this day's march there was a deep trench, five fathoms4
in width and three fathoms in depth.
This trench extended up through the plain for a distance of twelve parasangs, reaching to the wall of Media,5
[Here also are the canals, which flow from the Tigris river; they are four in number, each a plethrum wide and exceedingly deep, and grain-carrying ships ply in them; they empty into the Euphrates
and are a parsang apart, and there are bridges over them.] and alongside the Euphrates
there was a narrow passage, not more than about twenty feet in width, between the river and the trench;
and the trench6
had been constructed by the Great King as a means of defence when he learned that Cyrus was marching against him. Accordingly Cyrus and his army went through by the passage just mentioned, and so found themselves on the inner side of the trench.
Now on that day the King did not offer battle, but tracks of both horses and men in retreat were to be seen in great numbers.
Then Cyrus summoned Silanus
, his Ambraciot soothsayer, and gave him three thousand darics; for on the eleventh day before this, while sacrificing, he had told Cyrus that the King would not fight within ten days, and Cyrus had said: “Then he will not fight at all, if he will not fight within ten days; however, if your prediction proves true, I promise you ten talents.7
” So it was this money that he then paid over, the ten days having passed.
But since the King did not appear at the trench and try to prevent the passage of Cyrus' army, both Cyrus and the rest concluded that he had given up the idea of fighting. Hence on the following day Cyrus proceeded more carelessly;
and on the third day he was making the march seated in his chariot and with only a small body of troops drawn up in line in front of him, while the greater part of the army was proceeding in disorder and many of the soldiers' arms and accoutrements were being carried in wagons and on pack-animals.