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Cyrus was thus employed; but when the1 Armenian king heard from the envoy the message of Cyrus, he was alarmed, for he knew that he was doing wrong in witholding the tribute due and in failing to send the troops, and he was afraid most of all because he saw that he was sure to be detected in the act of beginning to build his palace in such a way as to render it strong enough for armed resistance. [2]

Disturbed by the consciousness of all these faults, he sent around and collected his forces, and at the same time he sent away to the mountains his younger son, Sabaris, and the women, both his queen and his son's wife, and his daughters. And he sent along with them his most valuable jewels and chattels and gave them an escort. At the same time he sent scouts to spy out what Cyrus was doing, while he went on assigning positions in his service to the Armenians as they came in to him. Presently still others arrived with the news that the man himself was quite near. [3] Then he no longer had the courage to join battle with him but retreated. When the Armenians saw him act thus, they dispersed at once, each to his own possessions, wishing to get their belongings out of the way.

And when Cyrus saw the plain full of men running about and driving away, he sent secretly to say that he had no quarrel with any who remained; but he declared that if he caught any one trying to get away, he should treat him as an enemy. Accordingly, the most of them remained, but some retreated with the king. [4]

Now as those with the women in charge went2 forward they came upon the forces in the mountain. At once they raised a cry and as they tried to escape many of them were caught. And finally the young prince and the wives and daughters were captured and all the treasure that happened to be in the train.

When the king himself learned what was going on, he was in a quandary which way to turn and took refuge upon a certain hill. [5] And when Cyrus saw3 this he surrounded the hill with the troops he had with him and sent orders to Chrysantas to leave a guard upon the mountains and come. Thus Cyrus's army was being brought together.

Then he sent a herald to the Armenian to ask him the following question: “Tell me, king of Armenia,” he said, “whether you prefer to remain there and fight against hunger and thirst, or to come down into the plain and fight it out with us?”

The Armenian answered that he had no wish to fight against either. [6] Again Cyrus sent to him and asked: “Why then do you sit there and refuse to come down?”

“Because,” he answered, “I am in a quandary what to do.”

“But,” said Cyrus, “there is no occasion whatever for that; for you are free to come down for trial.”

“And who,” said he, “will be my judge?”

“He, to be sure, to whom God has given the power to deal with you as he will, even without a trial.”

Then the Armenian, recognizing the exigency of his case, came down. And Cyrus received both the king and all that belonged to him into the midst and set his camp round them, for by this time he had all his forces together. [7]

Now at this juncture Tigranes, the king's elder son, returned from a journey abroad. He it was who had been Cyrus's companion once on a hunt; and when he heard what had occurred, he came at once, just as he was, to Cyrus. And when he saw his father and mother and brothers and sisters and his own wife all made prisoners, he wept, as might be expected. [8]

But Cyrus, when he looked upon him, showed him no token of friendship, but merely remarked: “You have come just in time to attend your father's trial.”

And immediately he called together the officers of4 both the Medes and the Persians and all the Armenian nobles who were present. And the women who were there in their carriages he did not exclude but permitted them to attend. [9]

When everything was in order, he began his examination: “King of Armenia,” said he, “I advise you in the first place in this trial to tell the truth, that you may be guiltless of that offence which is hated more cordially than any other. For let me assure you that being caught in a barefaced lie stands most seriously in the way of a man's receiving any mercy. In the next place,” said he, “your children and your wives here and also the Armenians present are cognizant of everything that you have done; and if they hear you telling anything else than the facts, they will think that you are actually condemning your own self to suffer the extreme penalty, if ever I discover the truth.”

“Well, Cyrus,” said he, “ask what you will, and be assured that I will tell the truth, let happen what will as a result of it.” [10]

“Tell me then,” said the other, “did you ever have a war with Astyages, my mother's father, and with the rest of the Medes?”

“Yes,” he answered, “I did.”

“And when you were conquered by him, did you agree to pay tribute and to join his army, wherever he should command you to go, and to own no forts?”

“Those are the facts.”

“Why, then, have you now failed to pay the tribute and to send the troops, and why have you been building forts?”

“I longed for liberty; for it seemed to me to be a glorious thing both to be free myself and to bequeath liberty to my children.” [11]

“You are right,” said Cyrus; “it is a noble thing to fight that one may never be in danger of becoming a slave. But if any one has been conquered in war or in any other way reduced to servitude and is then caught attempting to rob his masters of himself, are you the first man to reward him as an honest man and one who does right, or do you punish him as a malefactor if you catch him?”

“I punish him,” said he; “for you will not let me5 tell a lie.” [12]

“Answer each of these questions explicitly then,” said Cyrus; “if any one happens to be an officer under you and does wrong, do you permit him to continue in office or do you put another in his place?”

“I put another in his place.”

“And what if he has great possessions—do you allow him to continue rich, or do you make him poor?”

“I confiscate all that he may happen to possess,” said he.

“And if you find out that he is trying to desert to the enemy, what do you do?”

“I put him to death,” said he; “I may as well confess, for why should I convict myself of lying and be put him to death for that, instead of telling the truth?” [13]

Then his son, when he heard this, stripped off his turban and rent his garments, and the women cried aloud and tore their cheeks, as if it were all over with their father and they were already lost. But Cyrus bade them be silent and said: “Very well, king of Armenia; so that is your idea of justice; in accordance with it, then, what do you advise us to do?”

Then the Armenian was silent, for he was in a quandary whether to advise Cyrus to put him to death or to propose to him a course opposite to that which he admitted he himself always took. [14] But6 his son Tigranes put a question to Cyrus, saying: “Tell me, Cyrus, since my father seems to be in doubt, may I advise you in regard to him what I think the best course for you?”

Now Cyrus had observed when Tigranes used to go hunting with him that there was a certain philosopher with him who was an object of admiration to Tigranes; consequently he was very eager to hear what he would say. So he bade him express his opinion with confidence. [15]

“Well,” said Tigranes, “if you approve either of my father's theory or his practice, then I advise you by all means to imitate him. But if you think he has done wrong throughout, I advise you not to imitate him.”

“Well then,” said Cyrus, “if I should do what is right, I should surely not be imitating the one who does wrong.”

“That is true,” said he.

“Then, according to your reasoning, your father must be punished, if indeed it is right that the one who does wrong should be punished.”

“Which do you think is better for you, Cyrus, to mete out your punishments to your benefit or to your own injury?”

“In the latter case, at least,” said he, “I should be punishing myself.” [16]

“Aye, but you would be doing yourself a great injury,” said Tigranes, “if you should put your friends to death just at the time when it was of the greatest advantage to you to have them.”

“How,” said Cyrus, “could men be of the greatest advantage to me just at the time when they were caught doing wrong?”

“They would be, I think, if at that time they7 should become discreet. For it seems to me to be true, Cyrus,” said he, “that without discretion there is no advantage at all in any other virtue; for what,” he continued, “could one do with a strong man or a brave man, or what with a rich man or a man of power in the state if he lacked discretion? But every friend is useful and every servant good, if he be endowed with discretion.” [17]

“Do you mean to say, then,” Cyrus answered, “that in one day's time your father has become discreet when he was indiscreet before?”

“Yes,” said he, “I do, indeed.”

“By that you mean to say that discretion is an affection of the soul, as sorrow is, and not an acquisition.8 For I do not suppose that a man could instantly pass from being indiscreet to being discreet, if indeed the one who is to be discreet must first have become wise.” [18]

“What, have you never observed, Cyrus,” said he, “that when a man indiscreetly ventures to fight a stronger man than himself and has been worsted, he is instantly cured of his indiscretion toward that particular man? And again,” he continued, “have you never seen how when one state is in arms against another it is at once willing, when defeated, to submit to the victor instead of continuing the fight?” [19]

“To what defeat of your father's do you refer,” said Cyrus, “that you are so confident that he has been brought to discretion by it?”

“Why that, by Zeus,” Tigranes answered, “which9 he is conscious of having sustained, inasmuch as when he aimed at securing liberty he has become more of a slave than ever, and as he has not been able to accomplish a single thing of all that he thought he should effect by secrecy or by surprise or by actual force. And he knows that when you desired to outwit him, you did it as effectually as one could do who set out to deceive men blind or deaf or deprived of all their senses; and when you thought you ought to act secretly, you acted with such secrecy that the fortified places which he thought he had provided for his own safety you had secretly turned into prisons for him in advance. And so much did you surpass him in dispatch, that you came from a distance with a large army before he could muster the forces he had at home.” [20]

“Well,” said Cyrus, “do you really think that such a defeat is adequate to make men discreet—I mean, when they find out that others are their superiors?”

“Yes,” said Tigranes, “much more than when they are defeated in combat. For the one who is overcome by strength sometimes conceives the idea that, if he trains his body, he may renew the combat. Even cities too, when captured, think that by taking on new allies they might renew the fight. But if people are convinced that others are superior to themselves, they are often ready even without compulsion to submit to them.” [21]

“You seem to think,” said the other, “that the insolent do not recognize those more discreet than they, that thieves do not recognize the truthful, and wrong-doers those who do right. Do you not know,” he continued, “that even now your father has played false and has not kept his agreement with us, although he knew that we have not been violating any of the agreements made by Astyages?” [22]

“Yes; but neither do I mean that simply recognizing their superiors makes people discreet, unless they are punished by those superiors, as my father now is.”

“But,” said Cyrus, “your father has not yet suffered the least harm; but he is afraid, to be sure, that he will suffer the worst.” [23]

“Do you think, then,” said Tigranes, “that10 anything breaks a man's spirit sooner than object fear? Do you not know that those who are beaten with the sword, which is considered the most potent instrument of correction, are nevertheless ready to fight the same enemy again; but when people really fear anyone very much, then they cannot look him in the face, even when he tries to cheer them?”

“You mean to say,” said he, “that fear is a heavier punishment to men than real correction.” [24]

“And you,” said he, “know that what I say is true; for you are aware that, on the one hand, those who are afraid that they are to be exiled from their native land, and those who on the eve of battle are afraid that they shall be defeated, and those who fear slavery or bondage, all such can neither eat nor sleep for fear; whereas those who are already in exile or already defeated or already in slavery can sometimes eat and sleep better than those enjoying a happier lot. [25] And from the following considerations it is still clearer what a burden fear is: some, for fear that they will be caught and put to death, in terror take their own lives before their time—some by hurling themselves over a precipice, other by hanging themselves, others by cutting their own throats; so does fear crush down the soul more than all other terrors. As for my father,” he added, “in what a state of mind do you think he is? For he is in dread not only for himself, but also for me, for his wife, and for all of his children.” [26]

“Well,” answered Cyrus, “it is not at all unlikely, I suppose, that he is for the moment in such a state of mind. However, it seems to me that we expect of a man who is insolent in success and abject in failure that, when set on his feet once more, he will again wax arrogant and again cause more trouble.” [27]

“Well, by Zeus, Cyrus,” said he, “our wrong-doing11 does, no doubt, give you cause to distrust us; but you may build forts in our country and occupy the strongholds already built and take whatever else you wish as security. And yet,” he added, “you will not find us very much aggrieved by your doing so; for we shall remember that we are to blame for it all. But if you hand over our government to some one of those who have done no wrong and yet show that you distrust them, see to it lest they regard you as no friend, in spite of your favours to them. But if again, on your guard against incurring their hatred, you fail to place a check upon them to keep them from rebellion, see to it lest you need to bring them to discretion even more than you did in our case just now.” [28]

“Nay, by the gods,” said he, “I do not think I should like to employ servants that I knew served me only from compulsion. But if I had servants who I thought assisted me, as in duty bound, out of goodwill and friendship toward me, I think I should be better satisfied with them when they did wrong than with others who disliked me, when they performed all their tasks faithfully but from compulsion.”

To this Tigranes replied: “From whom could you ever get such friendship as you now can from us?”

“From those, I presume,” said he, “who have never been my enemies, if I would do them such favours as you now bid me do you.” [29]

“But, Cyrus,” said he, “as things now are,12 could you find any one to whom you could do as great favours as you can to my father? For example, if you grant any one of those who have done you no wrong his life, what gratitude do you think he will feel toward you for that? And again, who will love you for not depriving him of his wife and children more than he who thinks that it would serve him right to lose them? And do you know of any one who would be more grieved than we, not to have the throne of Armenia? Well, then,” he added, “it is evident that he who would be most grieved not to be king, would also be most grateful for receiving the throne.” [30]

And it you care at all to leave matters here in as little confusion as possible when you go away, consider whether you think the country would be more tranquil under the beginning of a new administration than if the one we are used to should continue. And if you care to take with you as large an army as possible, who do you think would be in a better position to organize the troops properly than he who has often employed them? And if you need money also, who do you think could supply it better than he who knows and commands all the sources of supply? My good Cyrus,” he added, “beware lest in casting us aside you do yourself a greater injury than any harm my father has been able to do you.”

Thus he spoke. [31] And Cyrus was more than pleased at hearing him, for he thought that everything that he had promised Cyaxares to do was in course of accomplishment; for he remembered having told him that he would make the Armenian more his friend than he was before.

“Tell me, king of Armenia,” he therefore asked,13 “if I yield to you in this matter, how large an army will you send with me and how much money will you contribute to the war?” [32]

“I have nothing to propose more simple or more fair, Cyrus,” the Armenian replied to this, “than for me to show you all the forces I have and for you, when you have seen them, to take as many as you see fit, leaving the rest here to protect the country. And in the same way in regard to the money, it is proper for me to show you all that I have, and for you to decide for yourself and take as much as you please and to leave as much as you please.” [33]

“Come then,” said Cyrus, “tell me how large your forces are and how much money you have.”

“Well,” the Armenian then answered, “there are about eight thousand cavalry and about forty thousand infantry. And the property,” said he, “including the treasures that my father left me, amounts, when reduced to cash, to more than three thousand talents.” [34]

And without hesitation, Cyrus replied: “Send14 with me then,” said he, “only half the army, since your neighbours, the Chaldaeans, are at war with you. And of the money, instead of the fifty talents which you used to pay as tribute, pay Cyaxares double that sum because you are in arrears with your payments. And lend me personally a hundred more,” said he; “and I promise you that if God prospers me, I will in return for your loan either do you other favours worth more than that amount or at least pay you back the money, if I can; but if I cannot, I may seem insolvent, I suppose, but I should not justly be accounted dishonest.” [35]

“For heaven's sake, Cyrus,” said the Armenian, “do not talk that way. If you do, you will make me lose heart. But consider,” said he, “that what you leave here is no less yours than what you take away.”

“Very well,” said Cyrus; “now how much money would you give to get your wife back?”

“As much as I could,” said he.

“And how much to get your children?”

“For these also,” said he, “as much as I could.”

“Well then,” said Cyrus, “that makes already twice as much as you have. [36] And you, Tigranes,” said he, “tell me how much you would pay to get your wife back?”

Now it happened that he was newly married and loved his wife very dearly.

“I would give my life, Cyrus,” said he, “to keep her from slavery.” [37]

“Well then,” said he, “take her back; she is15 your own. For I, for my part, do not consider that she has been made a prisoner of war at all, since you never ran away from us. And you too, king of Armenia, may take back your wife and children without paying any ransom for them, that they may know that they return to you free men and women. And now,” said he, “stay and have dinner with us; and when you have dined you may drive away wherever you have a mind to go.” So they stayed. [38]

And after dinner, as the party was breaking up,16 Cyrus asked: “Tell me, Tigranes, where is the man who used to hunt with us? You seemed to admire him very much.”

“Ah,” he replied, “did not my father here have him put to death?”

“What wrong did he find him doing?”

“He said that he was corrupting me. And yet, Cyrus,” said he, “he was so noble and so good that when he was about to be put to death, he called me to him and said: ‘Be not angry with your father, Tigranes, for putting me to death; for he does it, not from any spirit of malice, but from ignorance, and when men do wrong from ignorance, I believe they do it quite against their will.” [39]

“Poor man!” Cyrus exclaimed on hearing this.

Here the Armenian king interrupted: “Do not men who discover strangers in intercourse with their wives kill them, not on the ground that they make their wives more inclined to folly, but in the belief that they alienate from them their wives' affections—for this reason they treat them as enemies. So I was jealous of him because I thought that he made my son regard him more highly than he did me.” [40]

“Well, by the gods, king of Armenia,” said Cyrus, “your sin seems human; and you, Tigranes, must forgive your father.”

Then when they had thus conversed and showed their friendly feelings toward one another, as was natural after a reconciliation, they entered their carriages and drove away with their wives, happy. [41]

And when they got home they talked, one of17 Cyrus's wisdom, another of his strength, another of his gentleness, and still another of his beauty and his commanding presence.

Then Tigranes asked his wife: “Tell me, my Armenian princess,” said he, “did you, too, think Cyrus handsome?”

“Why, by Zeus,” said she, “I did not look at him.”

“At whom, then?” asked Tigranes.

“At him, by Zeus, who said that he would give his life to keep me from servitude.”

Then as might be expected after such experiences, they went to rest together. [42]

And on the following day the Armenian king sent guest-presents to Cyrus and all his army, and he commanded those of his men who were to take the field to present themselves on the third day; and he paid Cyrus double the sum of money that he had named. But Cyrus accepted only the amount specified and returned the rest. Then he asked which of the two was to go in command of the forces, the king himself or his son. They both answered at the same instant, the father saying: “Whichever you command”; and the son: “I will never leave you,18 Cyrus, not even if I have to accompany you as a camp-follower.” [43]

And Cyrus, laughing, said: “How much would you take to have your wife told that you were a camp-follower?”

“Why,” said he, “she will not need to be told anything about it; for I shall take her with me, so that she will be in a position to see whatever I do.”

“Then,” said he, “it may be high time for you to be getting your things together.”

“Be sure,” said he, “that we shall be here with everything brought together that my father gives us.”

And when the soldiers had received their presents they went to bed.

1 The Armenians hear of Cyrus's approach

2 Chrysantas captures the train of fugitives

3 The king entrapped

4 The court martial of the king

5 The king convicts himself

6 Tigranes pleads his father's case

7 The acquisition of discretion

8 Xenophon makes Cyrus apparently accept the Socratic doctrine that wisdom and the other virtues are matters for learning, the results of study and practice—not a mood, like sorrow, anger, or any other emotion.

9 How the king of Armenia learned discretion

10 Fear of harm worse than the reality

11 Tigranes discusses plans for adjustment

12 He argues for the continuance of his father's reign

13 Cyrus takes a conciliatory attitude

14 His demands

15 His generosity

16 A Socrates in Armenia

17 Armenian appreciation of Cyrus

18 Tigranes joins Cyrus's army

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  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HARMAMAXA
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter V
    • Smith's Bio, Arsa'cidae
    • Smith's Bio, Tigra'nes
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