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It was now about full-market time1 and the stopping-place where Cyrus was intending to halt had been almost reached, when Pategyas, a trusty Persian of Cyrus' staff, came into sight, riding at full speed, with his horse in a sweat, and at once shouted out to everyone he met, in the barbarian tongue and in Greek, that the King was approaching with a large army, all ready for battle. [2] Then ensued great confusion; for the thought of the Greeks, and of all the rest in fact, was that he would fall upon them immediately, while they were in disorder; [3] and Cyrus leaped down from his chariot, put on his breastplate, and then, mounting his horse, took his spears in his hands and passed the word to all the others to arm themselves and get into their places, every man of them. [4] Thereupon they proceeded in great haste to take their places, Clearchus occupying the right end of the Greek wing,2 close to the Euphrates river, Proxenus next to him, and the others beyond Proxenus, while Menon and his army took the left end of the Greek wing. [5] As for the barbarians, Paphlagonian horsemen to the number of a thousand took station beside Clearchus on the right wing, as did the Greek peltasts, on the left was Ariaeus, Cyrus' lieutenant, with the rest of the barbarian army, [6] and in the centre Cyrus and his horsemen, about six hundred in number. These troopers were armed with breastplates and thigh-pieces and, all of them except Cyrus, with helmets—Cyrus, however, went into the battle with his head unprotected. [In fact, it is said of the Persians in general that they venture all the perils of war with their heads unprotected.] [7] And all their horses [with Cyrus] had frontlets and breast-pieces; and the men carried, besides their other weapons, Greek sabres. [8]

And now it was midday, and the enemy were not yet in sight; but when afternoon was coming on, there was seen a rising dust, which appeared at first like a white cloud, but some time later like a kind of blackness in the plain, extending over a great distance. As the enemy came nearer and nearer, there were presently flashes of bronze here and there, and spears and the hostile ranks began to come into sight. [9] There were horsemen in white cuirasses on the left wing of the enemy, under the command, it was reported, of Tissaphernes; next to them were troops with wicker shields and, farther on, hoplites with wooden shields which reached to their feet, these latter being Egyptians, people said; and then more horsemen and more bowmen. All these troops were marching in national divisions, each nation in a solid square. [10] In front of them were the so-called scythe-bearing chariots, at some distance from one another; and the scythes they carried reached out sideways from the axles and were also set under the chariot bodies, pointing towards the ground, so as to cut to pieces whatever they met; the intention, then, was that they should drive into the ranks of the Greeks and cut the troops to pieces. [11] As for the statement, however, which Cyrus made when he called the Greeks together and urged them to hold out against the shouting of the barbarians, he proved to be mistaken in this point; for they came on, not with shouting, but in the utmost silence and quietness, with equal step and slowly. [12]

At this moment Cyrus rode along the line, attended only by Pigres, his interpreter, and three or four others, and shouted to Clearchus to lead his army against the enemy's centre, for the reason that the King was stationed there; “and if,” he said, “we are victorious there, our whole task is accomplished.” [13] Clearchus, however, since he saw the compact body at the enemy's centre and heard from Cyrus that the King was beyond his left wing (for the King was so superior in numbers that, although occupying the centre of his own line, he was beyond Cyrus' left wing), was unwilling to draw the right wing away from the river, for fear that he might be turned on both flanks; and he told Cyrus, in reply, that he was taking care to make everything go well. [14]

At this critical time the King's army was advancing evenly, while the Greek force, still remaining in the same place, was forming its line from those who were still coming up. And Cyrus, riding along at some distance from his army, was taking a survey, looking in either direction, both at his enemies and his friends. [15] Then Xenophon,3 an Athenian, seeing him from the Greek army, approached so as to meet him and asked if he had any orders to give; and Cyrus pulled up his horse and bade Xenophon tell everybody that the sacrificial victims and omens were all favourable. [16] While saying this he heard a noise running through the ranks, and asked what the noise was. Xenophon replied that the watchword was now passing along for the second time.4 And Cyrus wondered who had given it out, and asked what the watchword was. Xenophon replied “Zeus Saviour and Victory.” [17] And upon hearing this Cyrus said, “Well, I accept it, and so let it be.” After he had said these words he rode back to his own position.

At length the opposing lines were not three or four stadia apart, and then the Greeks struck up the paean and began to advance against the enemy. [18] And when, as they proceeded, a part of the phalanx billowed out, those who were thus left behind began to run; at the same moment they all set up the sort of war-cry which they raise to Enyalius,5 and all alike began running. It is also reported that some of them clashed their shields against their spears, thereby frightening the enemy's horses. [19] And before an arrow reached them, the barbarians broke and fled. Thereupon the Greeks pursued with all their might, but shouted meanwhile to one another not to run at a headlong pace, but to keep their ranks in the pursuit. [20] As for the enemy's chariots, some of them plunged through the lines of their own troops, others, however, through the Greek lines, but without charioteers. And whenever the Greeks saw them coming, they would open a gap for their passage; one fellow, to be sure, was caught, like a befuddled man on a race-course, yet it was said that even he was not hurt in the least, nor, for that matter, did any other single man among the Greeks get any hurt whatever in this battle, save that some one on the left wing was reported to have been hit by an arrow. [21]

When Cyrus saw that the Greeks were victorious over the division opposite them and were in pursuit, although he was pleased and was already being saluted with homage as King by his attendants, he nevertheless was not induced to join the pursuit, but, keeping in close formation the six hundred horsemen of his troop, he was watching to see what the King would do. For he knew that the King held the centre of the Persian army; [22] in fact, all the generals of the barbarians hold their own centre when they are in command, for they think that this is the safest position, namely, with their forces on either side of them, and also that if they want to pass along an order, the army will get it in half the time; [23] so in this instance the King held the centre of the army under his command, but still he found himself beyond the left wing of Cyrus. Since, then, there was no one in his front to give battle to him or to the troops drawn up before him, he proceeded to wheel round his line with the intention of encircling the enemy. [24]

Thereupon Cyrus, seized with fear lest he might get in the rear of the Greek troops and cut them to pieces, charged to meet him; and attacking with his six hundred, he was victorious over the forces stationed in front of the King and put to flight the six thousand,6 slaying with his own hand, it is said, their commander Artagerses. [25] But when they turned to flight, Cyrus' six hundred, setting out in pursuit, became scattered also, and only a very few were left about him, chiefly his so-called table companions. [26] While attended by these only, he caught sight of the King and the compact body around him; and on the instant he lost control of himself and, with the cry “I see the man,” rushed upon him and struck him in the breast and wounded him through his breastplate—as Ctesias7 the physician says, adding also that he himself healed the wound. [27]

While Cyrus was delivering his stroke, however, some one hit him a hard blow under the eye with a javelin; and then followed a struggle between the King and Cyrus and the attendants who supported each of them. The number that fell on the King's side is stated by Ctesias, who was with him; on the other side, Cyrus himself was killed and eight of the noblest of his attendants lay dead upon him. [28] Of Artapates, the one among Cyrus' chamberlains who was his most faithful follower, it is told that when he saw Cyrus fallen, he leaped down from his horse and threw his arms about him. [29] And one report is that the King ordered someone to slay him upon the body of Cyrus, while others say that he drew his dagger and slew himself with his own hand; for he had a dagger of gold, and he also wore a necklace and bracelets and all the other ornaments that the noblest Persians wear; for he had been honoured by Cyrus because of his affection and fidelity.

1 i.e. the middle of the forenoon.

2 i.e. the Greek army as a whole constituted the right wing of Cyrus' entire army, his Persian troops forming the centre and the left wing. Clearchus and Menon, then, occupy the right and left wings, respectively, of the Greek contingent.

3 The author. He always speaks of himself in the third person.

4 i.e. back again, from the last man to the first.

5 i.e. Ares.

6 See Xen. Anab. 1.7.11.

7 See note on Xen. Anab. 1.7.11.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 1186
  • Cross-references to this page (7):
    • Harper's, Ariaeus
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DIES
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PERIMERI´DIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PHA´LERAE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TE´SSERA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CUNAXA
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
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