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In such conversation they arrived at the Persian1 frontier. And when an eagle appeared upon their right and flew on ahead of them, they prayed to the gods and heroes who watch over the land of Persia to conduct them on with grace and favour, and then proceeded to cross the frontier. And when they had crossed, they prayed again to the tutelary gods of the Median land to receive them with grace and favour; and when they had finished their devotions, they embraced one another, as was natural, and the father went back again to Persia, while Cyrus went on to Cyaxares in Media. [2]

And when he arrived there, first they embraced2 one another, as was natural, and then Cyaxares asked Cyrus how large the army was that he was bringing.

“Thirty thousand,” he answered, “of such as have come to you before as mercenaries; but others also, of the peers, who have never before left their country, are coming.”

“About how many?” asked Cyaxares. [3]

“The number,” said Cyrus, “would give you no pleasure, if you were to hear it; but bear this in mind, that though the so-called peers are few, they easily rule the rest of the Persians, many though they be. But,” he added, “are you in any need of them, or was it a false alarm, and are the enemy not coming?”

“Yes, by Zeus,” said he, “they are coming and in great numbers, too.” [4]

“How is this so certain?”

“Because,” said he, “many have come from there, and though one tells the story one way and another another, they all say the same thing.”

“We shall have to fight those men, then?”

“Aye,” said he; “we must of necessity.”

“Well then,” said Cyrus, “won't you please tell me, if you know, how great the forces are that are coming against us; and tell me of our own as well, so that with full information about both we may lay our plans accordingly, how best to enter the conflict.”

“Listen then,” said Cyaxares. [5] “Croesus, the3 king of Lydia, is said to be coming at the head of 10,000 horsemen and more than 40,000 peltasts and bowmen. And they say that Artacamas, the king of Greater Phrygia, is coming at the head of 8000 horse and not fewer than 40,000 lancers and peltasts; and Aribaeus, the king of Cappadocia, has 6000 horse and not fewer than 30,000 bowmen and peltasts; while the Arabian, Aragdus, has about 10,000 horsemen, about 100 chariots of war, and a great host of slingers. As for the Greeks who dwell in Asia, however, no definite information is as yet received whether they are in the coalition or not. But the contingent from Phrygia on the Hellespont, under Gabaedus, has arrived at Cay+stru-Pedium, it is said, to the number of 6000 horse and 10,000 peltasts.The Carians, however, and Cilicians and Paphlagonians, they say, have not joined the expedition, although they have been invited to do so. But the Assyrians, both those from Babylon and those from the rest of Assyria, will bring, I think, not fewer than 20,000 horse and not fewer, I am sure, than 200 war-chariots, and a vast number of infantry, I suppose; at any rate, they used to have as many as that whenever they invaded our country.” [6]

“You mean to say,” said Cyrus, “that the enemy have 60,000 horse and more than 200,000 peltasts and bowmen. And at how many, pray, do you estimate the number of your own forces?”

“There are,” said he, “of the Medes more than 10,000 horse; and the peltasts and bowmen might be, from a country like ours, some 60,000; while from our neighbours, the Armenians, we shall get 4000 horse and 20,000 foot.”

“That is to say,” said Cyrus, “we have less than one-fourth as many horsemen as the enemy and about half as many foot-soldiers.” [7]

“Tell me, then,” said Cyaxares, “do you not consider the Persian force small which you say you are bringing?”

“Yes,” said Cyrus; “but we will consider later4 whether we need more men or not. Now tell me,” he went on, “what each party's method of fighting is.”

“About the same with all,” said Cyaxares; “for there are bowmen and spearmen both on their side and on ours.”

“Well then,” said Cyrus, “as their arms are of that sort, we must fight at long range.” [8]

“Yes,” said Cyaxares, “that will be necessary.”

“In that case, then, the victory will be with the side that has the greater numbers; for the few would be wounded and killed off by the many sooner than the many by the few.”

“If that is so, Cyrus, then what better plan could any one think of than to send to Persia to inform them that if anything happens to the Medes, the danger will extend to the Persians, and at the same time to ask for a larger army?”

“Why,” said Cyrus, “let me assure you that even though all the Persians were to come, we should not surpass the enemy in point of numbers.” [9]

“What better plan do you see than this?”

“If I were you,” said Cyrus, “I should as quickly5 as possible have armour made for all the Persians who are coming here just like that of the so-called peers who are coming from our country—that is, a corselet to wear about the breast, a small shield upon the left arm, and a scimitar or sabre in the right hand. And if you provide these weapons, you will make it the safest procedure for us to fight at close quarters with the enemy, while for the enemy flight will prove preferable to standing their ground. And it is for us,” he continued, “to range ourselves against those who hold their ground, while those of them who run away we propose to leave to you and the cavalry, that they may have no chance to stand their ground or to turn back.” [10]

Thus Cyrus spoke. And to Cyaxares it seemed that he spoke to the point; and he no longer talked of sending for reinforcements, but he set about procuring the arms as suggested. And they were almost ready when the Persian peers came with the army from Persia. [11]

Thereupon Cyrus is said to have called the6 peers together and said: “My friends: When I saw you thus equipped and ready in heart to grapple with the enemy in a hand-to-hand encounter, and when I observed that those Persians who follow you are so armed as to do their fighting standing as far off as possible, I was afraid lest, few in number and unaccompanied by others to support you, you might fall in with a large division of the enemy and come to some harm. Now then,” said he, “you have brought with you men blameless in bodily strength; and they are to have arms like ours; but to steel their hearts is our task; for it is not the whole duty of an officer to show himself valiant, but he must also take care that his men be as valiant as possible.” [12]

Thus he spoke. And they were all delighted, for they thought they were going into battle with more to support them. And one of them also spoke as follows: [13] “Now,” he began, “it will perhaps sound strange if I advise Cyrus to say something on our behalf, when those who are to fight along with us receive their arms. But I venture the suggestion, for I know that when men have most power to do both good and ill, then their words also are the most likely to sink deep into the hearts of the hearers. And if such persons give presents, even though the gifts be of less worth than those given by equals, still the recipients value them more highly. And now,” said he, “our Persian comrades will be more highly pleased to be exhorted by Cyrus than by us; and when they have taken their place among the peers they will feel that they hold this honour with more security because conferred by their prince and their general than if the same honour were bestowed by us. However, our co-operation must not be wanting, but in every way and by all means we must steel the hearts of our men. For the braver these men are, the more to our advantage it will be.” [14]

Accordingly, Cyrus had the arms brought in and arranged to view, and calling all the Persian soldiers together he spoke as follows: [15] “Fellow-citizens7 of Persia, you were born and bred upon the same soil as we; the bodies you have are no whit inferior to ours, and it is not likely that you have hearts in the least less brave than our own. In spite of this, in our own country you did not enjoy equal privileges with us, but because you were obliged to earn your own livelihood. Now, however, with the help of the gods, I shall see to it that you are provided with the necessaries of life; and you are permitted, if you wish, to receive arms like ours, to face the same danger as we, and, if any fair success crowns our enterprise, to be counted worthy of an equal share with us. [16]

“Now, up to this time you have been bowmen and lancers, and so have we; and if you were not quite our equals in the use of these arms, there is nothing surprising about that; for you had not the leisure to practise with them that we had. But with this equipment we shall have no advantage over you. In any case, every man will have a corselet fitted to his breast, upon his left arm a shield, such as we have all been accustomed to carry, and in his right hand a sabre or scimitar with which, you see, we must strike those opposed to us at such close range that we need not fear to miss our aim when we strike. [17] In this armour, then, how could any one of us have the advantage over another except in courage? And this it is proper for you to cherish in your hearts no less than we. For why is it more proper for us than for you to desire victory, which gains and keeps safe all things beautiful and all things good? And what reason is there that we, any more than you, should desire that superiority in arms which gives to the victors all the belongings of the vanquished? [18]

“You have heard all,” he said in conclusion. “You see your arms; whosoever will, let him take them and have his name enrolled with the captain in the same companies with us. But whosoever is satisfied to be in the position of a mercenary, let him remain in the armour of the hired soldiery.”

Thus he spoke. [19] And when the Persians heard8 it, they thought that if they were unwilling to accept, when invited to share the same toils and enjoy the same rewards, they should deserve to live in want through all time. And so they were all enrolled and all took up the arms. [20]

And while the enemy were said to be9 approaching but had not yet come, Cyrus tried to develop the physical strength of his men, to teach them tactics, and to steel their hearts for war. [21]

And first of all he received quartermasters from Cyaxares and commanded them to furnish ready made for each of the soldiers a liberal supply of everything that he needed. And when he had provided for this, he had left them nothing to do but to practise the arts of war, for he thought he had observed that those became best in any given thing who gave up paying attention to many things and devoted themselves to that alone. So, in the drill itself he relieved them of even the practice with bow and spear and left them only the drill with sword and shield and breastplate. And so he at once brought home to them the conviction that they must go into a hand-to-hand encounter with the enemy or else admit that as allies they were good for nothing. But such an admission is hard for those who know that they are being maintained for no other purpose than to fight for those who maintain them. [22]

And as, in addition to this, he had further10 observed that people are much more willing to practise those things in which they have rivalry among themselves, he appointed contests for them in everything that he knew it was important for soldiers to practise. What he proposed was as follows: to the private soldier, that he show himself obedient to the officers, ready for hardship, eager for danger but subject to good discipline, familiar with the duties required of a soldier, neat in the care of his equipment, and ambitious about all such matters; to the corporal, that, besides being himself like the good private, he make his squad of five a model, as far as possible; to the sergeant, that he do likewise with his squad of ten, and the lieutenant with his platoon11; and to the captain, that he be unexceptionable himself and see to it that the officers under him get those whom they command to do their duty. [23]

As rewards, moreover, he offered the following:12 in the case of captains, those who were thought to have got their companies into the best condition should be made colonels; of the lieutenants, those who were thought to have put their platoons into the best condition should be advanced to the rank of captains; of the sergeants, those who were the most meritorious should be promoted to the rank of lieutenant; in the same way, the best of the corporals should be promoted to the rank of sergeants; and finally of the privates, the best should be advanced to the rank of corporal. Moreover, all these officers not only had a right to claim the respect of their subordinates, but other distinctions also appropriate to each office followed in course. And to those who should deserve praise still greater hopes were held out, in case in time to come any greater good fortune should befall. [24] Besides, he offered prizes of victory to whole companies and to whole platoons and to squads of ten and of five likewise, if they showed themselves implicitly obedient to the officers and very ready in performing the afore mentioned duties. And the prizes of victory for these divisions were just such as were appropriate to groups of men.

Such, then, were the competitions appointed, and the army began to train for them. [25]

Then, he had tents made for them—in number,13 as many as there were captains; in size, large enough to accommodate each a company. A company, moreover, was composed of a hundred men. Accordingly, they lived in tents each company by itself; for Cyrus thought that in occupying tents together they had the following advantages for the coming conflict: They saw one another provided for in the same way, and there could be no possible pretext of unjust discrimination that could lead any one to allow himself to prove less brave than another in the face of the enemy. And he thought that if they tented together it would help them to get acquainted with one another. And in getting acquainted with one another, he thought, a feeling of considerateness was more likely to be engendered in them all, while those who are unacquainted seem somehow more indifferent—like people when they are in the dark. [26]

He thought also that their tenting together helped them not a little to gain a perfect acquaintance with their positions. For the captains had the companies under them in as perfect order as when a company was marching single file, and the lieutenants their platoons, and the sergeants and corporals their squads in the same way. [27] He thought, moreover, that such perfect acquaintance with their places in the line was exceedingly helpful both to prevent their being thrown into confusion and to restore order sooner in case they should be thrown into confusion; just as in the case of stones and timbers which must be fitted together, it is possible to fit them together readily, no matter in how great confusion they may chance to have been thrown down, if they have the guide-marks to make it plain in what place each of them belongs. [28] And finally, he thought that comradeship would be encouraged by their messing together and that they would be less likely to desert one another; for he had often observed that even animals that were fed together had a marvellous yearning for one another, if any one separated them. [29]

Cyrus also took care that they should never14 come to luncheon or to dinner unless they had had a sweat. For he would get them into a sweat by taking them out hunting; or he would contrive such sports as would make them sweat; or again, if he happened to have some business or other to attend to, he so conducted it that they should not come back without having had a sweat. For this he considered conducive to their enjoying their meals, to their health, and to their being able to endure hardships, and he thought that hardships conduced to their being more reasonable toward one another, for even horses that work together stand more quietly together. At any rate, those who are conscious that they have been well drilled are certainly more courageous in the face of the enemy. [30]

And for himself Cyrus had a tent made big15 enough to accommodate all whom he might invite to dinner. Now he usually invited as many of the captains as he thought proper, and sometimes also some of the lieutenants and sergeants and corporals; and occasionally he invited some of the privates, sometimes a squad of five together, or a squad of ten, or a platoon, or a whole company in a body. And he also used to invite individuals as a mark of honour, whenever he saw that they had done what he himself wished everybody to do. And the same dishes were always placed before those whom he invited to dinner as before himself. [31]

The quartermasters in the army he always16 allowed an equal share of everything; for he thought that it was fair to show no less regard for the purveyors of the army stores than for heralds or ambassadors. And that was reasonable, for he held that they must be trustworthy, familiar with military affairs, and intelligent, and, in addition to that, energetic, quick, resolute, steady. And still further, Cyrus knew that the quartermasters also must have the qualities which those have who are considered most efficient and that they must train themselves not to refuse any service but to consider that it is their duty to perform whatever the general might require of them.

1 Cyrus arrives in Media

2 Cyrus and Cyaxares discuss the situation

3 The probable number of the opposing forces

4 Their method of warfare

5 Proposed reorganization of the Persian commoners

6 Cyrus announces to the peers the proposed change

7 Cyrus announces the proposed reorganization to the commoners

8 The commoners accept

9 Preliminary drill

10 Competitive drill

11 The divisions of Cyrus's army were as follows: 5 men to a corporal's squad πεμπάς); officer: corporal (πεμπάδαρχος); total men: 5. 2 corporals' squads to a 1 sergeant's squad δεκάς; officer: sergeant δεκάδαρχος; total men: 10. 5 sergeants' squads to a platoon λόχος; officer: lieutenant λοχαγός; total men: 50. 2 platoons to a company τάξις; officer: captain ταξίαρχος; total men: 100. 10 companies to a 1 regiment χιλιοστύς; officer: colonel χιλίαρχος; total men: 1,000. 10 regiments to a brigade μυριοστύς; officer: general μυρίαρχος); total men: 10,000.

12 Rewards of merit

13 Tenting by companies

14 Physical culture in Cyrus's discipline

15 Cyrus's invitations

16 The quartermasters

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    • Harper's, Copis
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), COPIS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HYPE´RETES
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
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