In this way, then, Cyrus came to his end, a man who was the most kingly and the most worthy to rule of all the Persians who have been born since Cyrus the Elder, as all agree who are reputed to have known Cyrus intimately.
For firstly, while he was still a boy and was being educated with his brother and the other boys, he was regarded as the best of them all in all respects.
For all the sons of the noblest Persians are educated at the King's court. There one may learn discretion and self-control in full measure, and nothing that is base can be either heard or seen.
The boys have before their eyes the spectacle of men honoured by the King and of others dishonoured; they likewise hear of them; and so from earliest boyhood they are learning how to rule and how to submit to rule.
Here, then, Cyrus was reputed to be, in the first place, the most modest of his fellows, and even more obedient to his elders than were his inferiors in rank; secondly, the most devoted to horses and the most skilful in managing horses; he was also adjudged the most eager to learn, and the most diligent in practising, military accomplishments, alike the use of the bow and of the javelin.
Then, when he was of suitable age, he was the fondest of hunting and, more than that, the fondest of incurring danger in his pursuit of wild animals. On one occasion, when a bear charged upon him, he did not take to flight, but grappled with her and was dragged from his horse; he received some injuries, the scars of which he retained, but in the end he killed the bear; and, furthermore, the man who was the first to come to his assistance he made an object of envy to many.
Again, when he was sent down1
by his father to be satrap of Lydia
, Greater Phrygia, and Cappadocia
and was also appointed commander of all the troops whose duty it is to muster in the plain of Castolus, he showed, in the first place, that he counted it of the utmost importance, when he concluded a treaty or compact with anyone or made anyone any promise, under no circumstances to prove false to his word.
It was for this reason, then, that the cities trusted him and put themselves under his protection,2
and that individuals also trusted him; and if anyone had been an enemy, when Cyrus made a treaty with him he trusted that he would suffer no harm in violation of that treaty.
Consequently, when he came to hostilities with Tissaphernes, all the cities of their own accord chose Cyrus rather than Tissaphernes, with the exception of Miletus
and the reason why the Milesians feared him was, that he would not prove false to the exiles from their city.
For he showed repeatedly, by deed as well as by word, that he would never abandon them when once he had come to be their friend, not even if they should become still fewer in number and should meet with still worse misfortune.
It was manifest also that whenever a man conferred any benefit upon Cyrus or did him any harm, he always strove to outdo him; in fact, some people used to report it as a prayer of his that he might live long enough to outdo both those who benefited and those who injured him, returning like for like.
Hence it was that he had a greater following than any other one man of our time of friends who eagerly desired to entrust to him both treasure and cities and their very bodies.
Yet, on the other hand, none could say that he permitted malefactors and wicked men to laugh at him; on the contrary, he was merciless to the last degree in punishing them, and one might often see along the travelled roads people who had lost feet or hands or eyes; thus in Cyrus' province it became possible for either Greek or barbarian, provided he were guilty of no wrongdoing, to travel fearlessly wherever he wished, carrying with him whatever it was to his interest to have.
But it was the brave in war, as all agree, whom he honoured especially. For example, he was once at war with the Pisidians and Mysians and commanded in person an expedition into their territories; and whomsoever in his army he found willing to meet dangers, these men he would not only appoint as rulers of the territory he was subduing, but would honour thereafter with other gifts also.
Thus the brave were seen to be most prosperous, while cowards were deemed fit to be their slaves. Consequently Cyrus had men in great abundance who were willing to meet danger wherever they thought that he would observe them.
As for uprightness, if a man showed that he desired to distinguish himself in that quality, Cyrus considered it all important to enable such an one to live in greater opulence than those who were greedy of unjust gain.
Hence he not only had many and various functions performed for him with fidelity, but, in particular, he secured the services of an army worthy of the name. For generals and captains who came overseas to serve him for the sake of money judged that loyal obedience to Cyrus was worth more to them than their mere monthly pay.
Again, so surely as a man performed with credit any service that he assigned him, Cyrus never let his zeal go unrewarded. In consequence, he was said to have gained the very best supporters for every undertaking.
Furthermore, whenever he saw that a man was a skilful and just administrator, not only organizing well the country over which he ruled, but producing revenues, he would never deprive such a man of territory, but would always give him more besides. The result was that they toiled with pleasure and accumulated with confidence, and, more than that, no one would conceal from Cyrus the store which he had acquired; for it was clear that he did not envy those who were frankly and openly rich, but strove to make use of the possessions of such as tried to conceal their wealth.
As to friends, all agree that he showed himself pre-eminent in his attentions to all the friends that he made and found devoted to him and adjudged to be competent co-workers in whatever he might be wishing to accomplish.
For, just as the precise object for which he thought he needed friends himself was that he might have co-workers, so he tried on his own part to be a most vigorous co-worker with his friends to secure that which he found each one of them desired.
Again, he received more gifts, I presume, than any other one man, and for many reasons; and surely he of all men distributed gifts most generously among his friends, with an eye to the tastes of each one and to whatever particular need he noted in each case.
As for all the gifts which people sent him to wear upon his person, whether intended for war or merely for show, it is reported that he said of them that his own person could not be adorned with all these things, but that in his opinion friends nobly adorned were a man's greatest ornament.
To be sure, the fact that he outdid his friends in the greatness of the benefits he conferred is nothing surprising, for the manifest reason that he had greater means than they; but that he surpassed them in solicitude and in eagerness to do favours, this in my opinion is more admirable.
For example, when Cyrus got some particularly good wine, he would often send the half-emptied jar to a friend with the message: “Cyrus says that he has not chanced upon better wine than this for a long time; so he sends it to you, and asks you to drink it up today in company with the friends you love best.”
So he would often send halves of geese and of loaves and so forth, instructing the bearer to add the message: “Cyrus enjoyed this, and therefore wants you also to take a taste of it.”
And wherever fodder was exceedingly scarce and he was able to get it for his own use because of the large number of his servants and because of his good planning, he would distribute this fodder among his friends and tell them to give it to the horses that carried their own bodies, that they might not be hungry while carrying his friends.
And whenever he was on the march and was likely to be seen by very many people, he would call his friends to him and engage them in earnest conversation, in order to show whom he honoured. Hence, as I at least conclude from what comes to my ears, no man, Greek or barbarian, has ever been loved by a greater number of people.
Here is a fact to confirm that conclusion: although Cyrus was a slave,4
no one deserted him to join the King, save that Orontas attempted to do so (and he, mark you, speedily found out that the man he imagined was faithful to him, was more devoted to Cyrus than to him); on the other hand, many went over from the King to Cyrus after the two had become enemies (these being, moreover, the men who were most highly regarded by the King), because they thought that if they were deserving, they would gain a worthier reward with Cyrus than with the King.
Furthermore, what happened to Cyrus at the end of his life is a strong indication that he was a true man himself and that he knew how to judge those who were faithful, devoted, and constant.
When he died, namely, all his bodyguard of friends and table companions died fighting in his defence, with the exception of Ariaeus; he, it chanced, was stationed on the left wing at the head of the cavalry, and when he learned that Cyrus had fallen, he took to flight with the whole army that he commanded.