Now when Cyrus had returned, as before1
narrated, he is said to have spent one more year in the class of boys in Persia
. And at first the boys were inclined to make fun of him, saying that he had come back after having learned to live a life of luxurious ease among the Medes. But when they saw him eating and drinking with no less relish than they themselves, and, if there ever was feasting at any celebration, freely giving away a part of his own share rather than asking for more; and when, in addition to this, they saw him surpassing them in other things as well, then again his comrades began to have proper respect for him.
And when he had passed through this discipline and had now entered the class of the youths, among these in turn he had the reputation of being the best both in attending to duty and in endurance, in respect toward his elders and in obedience to the officers.
In the course of time Astyages died in Media, and Cyaxares, the son of Astyages and brother of Cyrus's mother, succeeded to the Median throne.
At that time the king of Assyria had subjugated2
, a very large nation, and had made the king of Arabia
his vassal; he already had Hyrcania
under his dominion and was closely besetting Bactria
. So he thought that if he should break the power of the Medes, he should easily obtain dominion over all the nations round about; for he considered the Medes the strongest of the neighbouring tribes.
Accordingly, he sent around to all those under his sway and to Croesus, the king of Lydia
, to the king of Cappadocia
; to both Phrygias, to Paphlagonia
, and Cilicia
; and to a certain extent also he misrepresented the Medes and Persians, for he said that they were great, powerful nations, that they had intermarried with each other, and were united in common interests, and that unless some one attacked them first and broke their power, they would be likely to make war upon each one of the nations singly and subjugate them. Some, then, entered into an alliance with him because they actually believed what he said; others, because they were bribed with gifts and money, for he had great wealth.
Now when Cyaxares heard of the plot and of3
the warlike preparations of the nations allied against him, without delay he made what counter preparations4
he could himself and also sent to Persia
both to the general assembly and to his brother-in-law, Cambyses, who was king of Persia
. And he sent word to Cyrus, too, asking him to try to come as commander of the men, in case the Persian state should send any troops. For Cyrus had by this time completed his ten years among the youths also and was now in the class of mature men.
So Cyrus accepted the invitation, and the elders in council chose him commander of the expedition to Media. And they further permitted him to choose two hundred peers5
to accompany him, and to each one of the two hundred peers in turn they gave authority to choose four more, these also from the peers. That made a thousand. And each one of the thousand in their turn they bade choose in addition from the common people of the Persians ten targeteers, ten slingers, and ten bowmen. That made ten thousand bowmen, ten thousand targeteers, and ten thousand slingers—not counting the original thousand. So large was the army given to Cyrus.
Now as soon as he was chosen, his first act was to consult the gods; and not till he had sacrificed and the omens were propitious, did he proceed to choose his two hundred men. And when these also had chosen each his four, he called them all together and then addressed them for the first time as follows:
“My friends, I have chosen you not because I6
now see your worth for the first time, but because I have observed that from your boyhood on you have been zealously following out all that the state considers right and abstaining altogether from all that it regards as wrong. As for myself, I wish to make known to you why I have not hesitated to assume this office and why I have invited you to join me.
“I have come to realize that our forefathers were no whit worse than we. At any rate, they also spent their time in practising what are considered the works of virtue. However, what they gained by being what they were, either for the commonwealth of the Persians or for themselves, I can by no means discover.
And yet I think that no virtue is practised by men except with the aim that the good, by being such, may have something more than the bad; and I believe that those who abstain from present pleasures do this not that they may never enjoy themselves, but by this self-restraint they prepare themselves to have many times greater enjoyment in time to come. And those who are eager to become able speakers study oratory, not that they may never cease from speaking eloquently, but in the hope that by their eloquence they may persuade men and accomplish great good. And those also who practice military science undergo this labour, not that they may never cease from fighting, but because they think that by gaining proficiency in the arts of war they will secure great wealth and happiness and honour both for themselves and for their country.
“But when men go through all this toil7
and then allow themselves to become old and feeble before they reap any fruit of their labours, they seem to me at least to be like a man who, anxious to become a good farmer, should sow and plant well but, when harvest time came, should permit his crop to fall back again to the ground ungathered. And again, if an athlete after long training and after getting himself in condition to win a victory should then persist in refusing to compete, not even he, I ween, would rightly be considered guiltless of folly.
But, fellow-soldiers, let us not make this mistake; but, conscious that from our boyhood on we have practised what is good and honourable, let us go against the enemy, who, I am sure, are too untrained to contend against us. For those men are not yet valiant warriors, who, however skilful in the use of bow or spear and in horsemanship, are still found wanting if it is ever necessary to suffer hardship; such persons are mere tiros when it comes to hardships. Nor are those men valiant warriors, who are found wanting when it is necessary to keep awake; but these also are mere tiros in the face of sleep. Nor yet are those men valiant warriors, who have these qualifications but have not been taught how they ought to treat comrades and how to treat enemies, but it is evident that they also are unacquainted with the most important branches of education.
“Now you, I take it, could make use of8
the night just as others do of the day; and you consider toil the guide to a happy life; hunger you use regularly as a sauce, and you endure drinking plain water more readily than lions do, while you have stored up in your souls that best of all possessions and the one most suitable to war: I mean, you enjoy praise more than anything else; and lovers of praise must for this reason gladly undergo every sort of hardship and every sort of danger.
“Now if I say this concerning you while I believe the contrary to be true, I deceive myself utterly. For if any of these qualities shall fail to be forthcoming in you, the loss will fall on me. But I feel confident, you see, both from my own experience and from your good-will toward me and from the ignorance of the enemy that these sanguine hopes will not deceive me. So let us set out with good heart, since we are free from the suspicion of even seeming to aim unjustly at other men's possessions. For, as it is, the enemy are coming, aggressors in wrong, and our friends are calling us to their assistance. What, then, is more justifiable than to defend oneself, or what more noble than to assist one's friends?
“This, moreover, will, I think, strengthen your confidence: I have not neglected the gods as we embark upon this expedition. For you have been with me enough to know that not only in great things but also in small I always try to begin with the approval of the gods.
“What more need I add?” he said in closing. “Choose you your men and get them together, and when you have made the necessary preparations come on to Media. As for myself, I will first return to my father and then go on ahead of you, to learn as soon as possible what the plans of the enemy are and to make what preparations I may require, in order that with God's help we may make as good a fight as possible.”
They, for their part, proceeded to do as he had said.