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On the following day Cyrus gave the envoy the commission of which he had spoken and sent him on his way; and the Armenian king and the Chaldeans sent along those who they thought would be most competent to co-operate and to say what was appropriate concerning Cyrus.

Then he manned the fort with a competent garrison,1 supplied it with all things necessary, and left in command a Mede who he thought would be most acceptable to Cyaxares; and then he departed, taking with him not only the army which he had brought with him but also the reinforcements that he had received from the Armenians, and about four thousand Chaldaeans, who considered themselves actually better than all the rest put together. [2]

And when he came down into the inhabited part of the country, not one of the Armenians remained indoors, but all, both men and women, in their joy at the restoration of peace, came forth to meet him, each one carrying or bringing whatever he had of value. And their king did not disapprove, for he thought that Cyrus would thus be all the better pleased at receiving honour from all. And finally also the queen with her daughters and her younger son came up to him bringing not only the money which before Cyrus had refused to take, but other gifts as well. [3]

And when he saw it Cyrus said: “You shall not make me go about doing good for pay! No, good queen; take back home with you this money which you bring; and do not give it to the king again to bury, but with it get your son as fine an outfit as possible and send him to the army; and with what is left get both for yourself and your husband, your daughters and your sons, anything the possession of which will enable you to adorn yourselves more handsomely and spend your days more happily. But let it suffice,” he added, “to bury in the earth only our bodies, when the end shall come to each.” [4]

Thus he spoke and rode past her. And the king of Armenia escorted him on his way, as did all the rest of the people, proclaiming him again and again their benefactor, their valiant hero. And this they continued to do until he had quitted their borders. And as there was now peace at home, the king increased the contingent of troops that he sent with him. [5]

Thus Cyrus departed, not only enriched with the ready money that he had received, but also having secured by his conduct far larger funds in reserve, to draw upon in time of need.

That night he encamped upon the frontier, and the next day he sent the army and the money to Cyaxares; for he was near by, as he had promised to be. But Cyrus himself went hunting with Tigranes and the best of his Persians, wherever they came across game, and he was delighted with the sport. [6]

Now when he came back to Media he gave to2 each of his captains as much of the money as he thought sufficient, so that they in turn might be able to reward any of the men under them with whose conduct they were pleased; for he thought that if each one made his division worthy of commendation, he would find the whole army in fine condition. And whenever he himself saw anywhere anything calculated to improve his army, he always procured it and distributed it in presents from time to time among the most deserving; for he thought that everything that his army had that was beautiful and fine was an adornment to himself. [7]

And when he was about to distribute a portion of what he had received, he took his place in the midst of the captains, lieutenants, and all whom he was about to reward, and spoke to this effect: “My friends, there seems now to be a kind of gladness in our hearts, both because some degree of prosperity has come to us and because we have the means of rewarding those whom we will and of receiving rewards, each according to his deserts. [8] But let us be sure to remember to what kind of conduct these blessings are due; for if you will consider, you will find that it is this—watching when occasion demanded, undergoing toil, making due haste, and never yielding to the enemy. Accordingly, we must in future also be brave men, knowing that obedience, perseverance, and the endurance of toil and danger at the critical time bring the great pleasures and the great blessings.” [9]

Cyrus now saw that his soldiers were in good3 physical condition to endure the fatigue of military service, that their hearts were disposed to regard the enemy with contempt, that they were skilled each in the exercise adapted to his kind of armour, and that they were all well disciplined to obey the officers; accordingly, he was eager to undertake some move against the enemy at once, for he knew that generals often find some even of their best laid plans brought to naught through delay. [10]

And he further observed that, because they were so eager to excel in those exercises in which they vied with one another, many of the soldiers were even jealous of one another; for this reason also he wished to lead them into the enemy's country as soon as possible. For he knew that common dangers make comrades kindly disposed toward one another, and that in the midst of such dangers there is no jealousy of those who wear decorations on their armour or of those who are striving for glory; on the contrary, soldiers praise and love their fellows even more, because they recognize in them co-workers for the common good. [11]

Accordingly, he first completely armed his4 forces and marshalled them in the best and most imposing order possible; then he called together the generals, colonels, captains, and lieutenants; for these had been exempted from enrolment in the lines of the regular battalions; and even when it was necessary for any of them to report to the commander-in-chief or to transmit any order, no part of the army was left without a commanding officer, for the sergeants and corporals kept in proper order the divisions from which the superior officers had gone. [12]

And when the staff-officers5 had come together, he conducted them along the ranks, showed them in what good order everything was and pointed out to them the special strength of each contingent of the auxiliaries. And when he had filled them with an eager desire for immediate action, he bade them them go to their own several divisions and tell their men what he had told them and try to inspire in them all a desire to begin the campaign, for he wished them all to start out in the best of spirits; and early in the morning they were to meet him at Cyaxares's gates. [13] Thereupon they all went their way and proceeded so to do. At daybreak on the following day the staff-officers presented themselves at the gates of the king. So Cyrus went in with them to Cyaxares and began to speak as follows:

“I am sure, Cyaxares,” said he, “that you have6 this long time been thinking no less than we of the proposition that I am going to lay before you; but perhaps you hesitate to broach the subject for fear it should be thought that you speak of an expedition from here because you are embarrassed at having to maintain us. [14] Therefore, since you do not say anything, I will speak both for you and for ourselves. We are all agreed that, inasmuch as we are quite ready, it is best not to sit down here in a friendly country and wait till the enemy have invaded your territory before we begin to fight, but to go as quickly as possible into the enemy's country. [15] For now, while we are in your country, we do your people's property much injury quite against our will; but if we go into the enemy's country, we shall do injury to theirs with all our hearts. [16]

“In the second place, you support us now at great expense; whereas, if we take the field, we shall get our support from the enemy's country. [17] And then again, if we were likely to be in any greater danger there than here, we should, perhaps, have to choose the safer course. But their numbers will be the same, whether we wait here or whether we go and meet them in their own territory. And our numbers in the fight will be just the same, whether we engage them as they come hither or whether we go against them to join battle. [18] We shall, however, find the courage of our soldiers much better and stronger, if we assume the offensive and show that we are not unwilling to face the foe; and they will be much more afraid of us, when they hear that we do not sit down at home and cower in fear of them, but that, when we hear that they are coming, we advance to meet them to join battle as soon as possible, and do not wait until our country is ravaged, but take the initiative and devastate theirs. [19] And surely,” he added, “if we make them more afraid and ourselves more courageous, I think it would be a great gain to us and it would, as I reckon it, lessen the danger under such circumstances for us and increase it for the enemy. And my father always says, and so do you, and all the rest agree, that battles are decided more by men's souls than by the strength of their bodies.” [20]

Thus he spoke; and Cyaxares answered: “Do7 not let yourselves imagine, Cyrus and the rest of you Persians, that I am embarrassed at having to support you. As for invading the enemy's country at once, however, I too consider that the better plan from every point of view.”

“Well then,” said Cyrus, “since we are agreed, let us make ready and, as soon as ever the gods give us their sanction, let us march out without a moment's delay.” [21]

Hereupon they gave the soldiers the word to make ready to break camp. And Cyrus proceeded to sacrifice first to Sovereign Zeus and then to the rest of the gods; and he besought them to lead his army with their grace and favour and to be their mighty defenders and helpers and counsellors for the common good. [22] And he called also upon the heroes who dwelt in Media and were its guardians.

And when the sacrifice was found to be favourable8 and his army was assembled at the frontier, then amid favourable auspices he crossed into the enemy's country. And as soon as he had crossed the boundary, there again he made propitiatory offerings to Earth with libations and sought with sacrifices to win the favour of the gods and heroes that dwelt in Assyria. And when he had done this he sacrificed again to Zeus, the god of his fathers; and of the other divinities that were brought to his attention he neglected not one. [23]

And when these rites were duly performed, they at once led the infantry forward a short distance and pitched camp, while with the cavalry they made a raid and got possession of a large quantity of every sort of booty. And thenceforward they shifted their camp from time to time, kept provisions supplied in abundance, and ravaged the country, while they awaited the enemy's approach. [24]

And when rumours came that the enemy were advancing and no longer ten days' march away, then Cyrus said: “Now, Cyaxares, is the time for us to go to meet them and not to let either the enemy or our own men suppose that we fail to advance against them out of fear, but let us make it clear that we are not going to fight against our will.” [25]

As Cyaxares agreed to this, they advanced9 in battle order each day as far as they thought proper. Their dinner they always prepared by day-light, and at night they never lighted a fire in camp. They did, however, keep fires burning in front of the camp, in order that if any one approached in the dark, they might see him by the light of the fire but not be seen. And frequently also they kept fires burning in the rear of the camp for the purpose of deceiving the enemy; and so sometimes the enemy's scouts fell into the hands of the pickets; for because the fires were behind, they supposed themselves to be still far in front of the camp. [26]

Then, when the two armies were near each10 other, the Assyrians and their allies drew a ditch around their camp, as even to this day the barbarian kings do whenever they go into camp; and they throw up such entrenchments with ease because of the multitude of hands at their command. They take this precaution because they know that cavalry troops—especially barbarian cavalry—are at night prone to confusion and hard to manage. [27] For they keep their horses hobbled at the mangers, and if any enemy should make an attack, it is a difficult task to loose the horses in the darkness, it is difficult to bridle them, difficult to saddle them, difficult to put on a coat of mail, and utterly impossible to mount and ride through camp. For all these reasons and also because they think that if they are behind fortifications they are in a position to choose their time for fighting, the Assyrians and the rest of the barbarians throw up breastworks. [28]

With such tactics the armies were approaching each other; but when, as they advanced, they were only about a parasang apart, the Assyrians encamped in the manner described in a place surrounded, indeed, by a ditch, but open to view. Cyrus, on the other hand, encamped in a place as much out of sight as possible, keeping under cover behind the hills and villages, for he thought that if all one's equipment for war flashes suddenly into view, it inspires more terror in the enemy. And that night each side stationed advance guards, as was proper, and went to rest. [29]

And on the following day the Assyrian king11 and Croesus and the other commanders let their troops rest within the entrenchments; but Cyrus and Cyaxares awaited them in battle array, ready to fight if the enemy should come on. But when it was evident that the enemy would not come out from behind their breastworks nor accept battle that day, Cyaxares called Cyrus and the staff officers besides and spoke as follows: [30] “Men,” said he, “I propose to march up to those fellows' breastworks, drawn up just as we are now, and show them that we are eager to fight. For,” said he, “if we do that and they do not come out against us, our men will come back to camp more full of courage, and the enemy seeing our daring will be more frightened.” [31]

Such was his proposal. But Cyrus said: “No, by the gods, Cyaxares, let us not do that; never! For if we march out and show ourselves, as you suggest, the enemy will see us marching up but will have no fear, for they know that they are secure against any injury; and when we withdraw without having accomplished anything, they will furthermore see that our numbers are inferior to their own and despise us; and to-morrow they will come out with much stouter hearts. [32] But as matters stand now,” said he, “as they know that we are here but do not see us, you may be sure that they do not despise us but inquire anxiously what in the world this means, and I am positive that they are talking about us all the time. But when they come out, then we must show ourselves and at once engage them hand to hand, when we shall have them where we have long since been wishing to have them.” [33]

When Cyrus had thus spoken, Cyaxares and the rest agreed with him. And then, when they had dined and stationed their sentinels and lighted many fires in front of the outposts, they went to rest. [34]

Early on the following day Cyrus crowned12 himself with a garland and prepared to sacrifice, and sent word to the rest of the peers to attend the service with chaplets on their heads. And when the sacrifice was concluded, Cyrus called them together and said: “Men, the gods announce, as the soothsayers say and also as I interpret it, that there is to be a battle; through the omens of the sacrifice they grant us victory and promise us no loss. [35]

Now I should be ashamed indeed to suggest to you how you ought to conduct yourselves at such a time; for I know that you understand what you have to do, that you have practised it, and have been continually hearing of it just as I have, so that you might properly even teach others. But if you happen not to have had this other matter called to your attention, listen. [36]

“Those whom we recently took as our comrades and whom we are trying to make like ourselves—these men we must remind of the conditions on which we have been maintained by Cyaxares, what we have been in training for, why we have invited them to join us, and what it is in which they said they would gladly be our rivals. [37] And remind them also that this day will prove what each one is worth. For when people are late in learning anything, it is not surprising that some of them actually need a monitor; and we may be content if they manage even with the help of a suggestion to prove themselves valiant. [38] And in doing this, you will at the same time be getting a proof of yourselves also. For he who on such an occasion can make others more valiant would naturally also gain the consciousness that he is himself a thoroughly valiant man; he, on the other hand, who keeps all to himself the admonition to such conduct and rests satisfied with that might properly consider himself but half valiant. [39]

The reason why I do not speak to them but bid you do so is that so they may try to please you, for you are in touch with them, each in his own division. And remember this, that if in their eyes you prove yourselves courageous, you will teach not only your comrades but many others also, not by precept merely but by example, to be courageous.” [40] In concluding, he told them to go with their chaplets on and take luncheon and when they had poured the libation to go, still wearing the chaplets, to their posts.

And when they had gone away, he called in the13 officers of the rear-guard and gave them the following instructions: [41] “Men of Persia, you also have now taken your places among the peers, and you have been selected for your positions because you are considered in every way equal to the bravest, and by virtue of your years even more discreet than they. And so you occupy a place not at all less honourable than that of our front-rank men. For as you are behind, you can observe those who are valiant and by exhorting them make them still more valiant; and if any one should be inclined to hang back and you should see it, you would not permit it. [42]

And because of your years and because of the weight of your armour it is more to your advantage than to any others' that we should be victorious. And if those in front call to you and bid you follow, obey them and see that you be not outdone by them even in this respect but give them a counter cheer to lead on faster against the enemy. Now go and get your luncheon and then go with your chaplets on your heads with the others to your posts.” [43]

Thus Cyrus and his men were occupied; and the Assyrians, when they had lunched, came out boldly and bravely drew up in line. And the king in person rode along in his chariot and marshalled the lines and exhorted them as follows: [44] “Men of14 Assyria, now is the time for you to be brave men; for the struggle now impending is one for your lives, for the land in which you were born, for the homes in which you were bred, for your wives and children and all the blessings you enjoy. For if you are victorious, you will have possession of all that, as before; but if you are defeated, be well assured that you will surrender it all to the enemy. [45] Therefore, as you desire victory, stand and fight; for it would be folly for men who desire to win a battle to turn their backs and offer to the enemy the side of their body that is without eyes or hands or weapons; and any one who wishes to live would be a fool if he tried to run away, when he knows that it is the victors who save their lives, while those who try to run away are more likely to meet their death than those who stand their ground. And if any one desires wealth, he also is foolish if he submits to defeat. For who does not know that the victors not only save what is their own but take in addition the property of the vanquished, while the vanquished throw both themselves and all they have away?” Thus the Assyrian was occupied; [46]

and Cyaxares15 sent to Cyrus to say that now was the time to advance upon the enemy. “For,” said he, “although those outside the fortifications are as yet but few, they will become many while we are advancing; let us therefore not wait until their numbers are more than our own, but let us go while yet we think we could defeat them easily.” [47]

“But, Cyaxares,” Cyrus answered, “if it is16 not more than half of them that are defeated, you may rest assured that they will say that we attacked only a few because we were afraid of their main body, and they will maintain that they have not been defeated; the result will be that you will find another battle necessary; and then they may perhaps plan better than they have now in delivering themselves so completely to our disposal that we may fight as many or as few of them as we please.” [48]

The messengers received this answer and were gone. And at this juncture Chrysantas, the Persian, and certain other peers came up with some deserters. And Cyrus, as a matter of course, asked the deserters what was going on among the enemy; and they said that the troops were already coming out under arms and that the king was out in person marshalling them and addressing them with many earnest words of exhortation as they came out in succession. So, they said, those reported who heard him. [49]

“How would it do, Cyrus,” Chrysantas then17 asked, “for you to get your men together, too, while yet you may, and exhort them, and see if you also might make your soldiers better men.” [50]

“Do not let the exhortations of the Assyrian trouble you in the least, Chrysantas,” Cyrus answered; “for no speech of admonition can be so fine that it will all at once make those who hear it good men if they are not good already; it would surely not make archers good if they had not had previous practice in shooting; neither could it make lancers good, nor horsemen; it cannot even make men able to endure bodily labour, unless they have been trained to it before.” [51]

“But, Cyrus,” answered Chrysantas, “it is really enough if you make their souls better with your words of exhortation.”

“Do you really think,” returned Cyrus, “that one word spoken could all at once fill with a sense of honour the souls of those who hear, or keep them from actions that would be wrong, and convince them that for the sake of praise they must undergo every toil and every danger? Could it impress the idea indelibly upon their minds that it is better to die in battle than to save one's life by running away? [52]

And,” he continued, “if such sentiments are to be imprinted on men's hearts and to be abiding, is it not necessary in the first place that laws be already in existence such that by them a life of freedom and honour shall be provided for the good, but that upon the bad shall be imposed a life of humiliation and misery which would not be worth living? [53]

“And then again, I think, there must be, in addition to the laws, teachers and officers to show them the right way, to teach them and accustom them to do as they are taught, until it becomes a part of their nature to consider the good and honourable men as really the most happy, and to look upon the bad and the disreputable as the most wretched of all people. For such ought to be the feelings of those who are going to show the victory of training over fear in the presence of the enemy. [54] But if, when soldiers are about to go armed into battle, when many forget even the lessons oft learned of old, if then any one by an oratorical flourish can then and there make men warlike, it would be the easiest thing under heaven both to learn and to teach the greatest virtue in the world. [55] For even in the case of those whom we have kept and trained among ourselves, I, for my part, should not trust even them to be steadfast, if I did not see you also before me, who will be an example to them of what they ought to be and who will be able to prompt them if they forget anything. But I should be surprised, Chrysantas, if a word well spoken would help those wholly untrained in excellence to the attainment of manly worth any more than a song well sung would help those untrained in music to high attainments in music.” [56]

Thus they conversed. And again Cyaxares sent18 to Cyrus to say that he was making a serious mistake to delay instead of leading as soon as possible against the enemy. And then Cyrus answered the messengers saying: “Very well; but I want him to know that there are not yet as many of them outside the breastworks as we ought to have; and tell him this in the presence of all. Nevertheless, since he thinks best, I will lead on at once.” [57]

When he had said this, he prayed to the gods19 and led out his army. And as soon as he began to advance, he led on at a double-quick pace and they followed in good order, for they understood marching in line and had practised it; moreover, they followed courageously, because they were in eager rivalry with one another and because their bodies were in thorough training and because the front-rank men were all officers; and they followed gladly, because they were intelligent men; for they had become convinced by long instruction that the easiest and safest way was to meet the enemy hand to hand—especially if that enemy were made up of bowmen, spearmen, and cavalry. [58]

While they were still out of range, Cyrus passed the watchword, Zeus our Helper and our Guide. And when the watchword came back and was delivered again to him, Cyrus himself began the usual paean, and they all devoutly joined with a loud voice in the singing, for in the performance of such service the God-fearing have less fear of men. [59] And when the paean was ended, the peers marched on cheerily <,well-disciplined>, looking toward one another, calling by name to comrades beside them and behind them, and often saying: “On, friends,” “On, brave fellows;” thus they encouraged one another to the charge. And those behind, hearing them, in their turn cheered the front line to lead them bravely on. So Cyrus's army was filled with enthusiasm, ambition, strength, courage, exhortation, self-control, obedience; and this, I think, is the most formidable thing an enemy has to face. [60]

But when the main body of the Persians began20 to get close to them, those of the Assyrians who dismounted from their chariots and fought in front of their army remounted their chariots and gradually drew back to their own main body, while the bowmen, spearmen, and slingers let fly their missiles long before they could reach the enemy. [61] And when the Persians, charging on, set foot upon the missiles that had been discharged, Cyrus shouted, “Bravest of men, now let each press on and distinguish himself and pass the word to the others to come on faster.” And they passed it on; and under the impulse of their enthusiasm, courage, and eagerness to close with the enemy some broke into a run, and the whole phalanx also followed at a run. [62]

And even Cyrus himself, forgetting to proceed at a walk, led them on at a run and shouted as he ran: “Who will follow? Who is brave? Who will be the first to lay low his man?”

And those who heard him shouted with the same words, and the cry passed through all the ranks as he had started it: “Who will follow? Who is brave?” [63]

In such spirit the Persians rushed to the21 encounter, and the enemy could not longer stand their ground but turned and fled back into their entrenchments. [64] And the Persians on their part, following them up to the gates, mowed many of them down as they were pushing and shoving one another; and upon some who fell into the ditches they leaped down and slew them, both men and horses; for some of the chariots were forced in their flight to plunge into the ditches. [65] And when the Median cavalry saw this, they also charged upon the enemy's cavalry; but the latter gave way, like the rest. Then followed a pursuit of horses and men and slaughter of both. [66]

And those of the Assyrians inside the fort who22 stood upon the rampart of the breastworks neither had the presence of mind to shoot arrows or hurl spears at the enemy who were mowing down their ranks, nor had they the strength to do so because of the awful spectacle and their own panic fear. And presently, discovering that some of the Persians had cut their way through to the gates in the embankment, they turned away even from the inner rampart of the breastworks. [67] And the women of the Assyrians and their allies, seeing the men in flight even inside the camp, raised a cry and ran panic-stricken, both those who had children and the younger women as well, while they rent their garments, tore their cheeks, and begged all whom they met not to run away and leave them but to defend both them and their children and themselves as well. [68]

Then even the kings themselves with their most trusty followers took their stand at the gates, mounted upon the ramparts, and both fought in person and encouraged the rest to fight. [69]

But when Cyrus realized what was going on, he23 feared lest his men, even if they did force their way in, might be worsted by superior numbers, for his own men were but few; so he gave orders to retreat still facing the foe, until they were out of range. [70]

Then one might have seen the ideal discipline of the peers; for they themselves obeyed at once and at once passed on the word to the rest. And when they were out of range, they halted in their regular positions, for they knew much more accurately than a chorus, each the spot where he should stand.

1 Cyrus's departure from Armenia

2 Rewards for the meritorious

3 Cyrus thinks of invading the enemy's country

4 He rouses his army to take the offensive

5 οἱ ἐπικαίριοι are literally “the most timely,” “the most important,” “the chief officers.” It is consistently rendered by “staff-officers” in this translation, though the word may be applied to all who are in authority, whether military or civil.

6 He lays his plan before Cyaxares

7 Cyaxares approves

8 Cyrus invades Assyria

9 Cyrus and Cyaxares advance to meet the foe

10 A barbarian encampment

11 Cyrus and Cyaxares await an attack

12 Cyrus offers sacrifice and exhorts the peers

13 He exhorts also the rear-guard officers

14 The king of Assyria exhorts his troops

15 Cyaxares proposes an immediate attack

16 Cyrus wisely counsels delay

17 The value of exhortations to valour

18 Cyaxares orders a charge

19 The charge of the Persians

20 The Assyrians fail to withstand the charge

21 They flee into their entrenchments

22 The panic in the camp

23 Cyrus orders a retreat

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