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This full list of the tribal contingents composing the army of Xerxes with their commanders, and the description of their equipment, not only gives us a graphic picture of that immense host, but also much new and interesting information about the inhabitants of the Persian Empire. Taken in conjunction with the list of Satrapies (iii. 90 f.) and the description of the Royal Road (v. 52 f.) it is our best authority for the ethnography of the Ancient East. The number of the peoples enumerated (including the name omitted in ch. 76 and the Sagartians, ch. 85) is sixty-one, and besides the obvious division into infantry (61-83) from forty-six nations, cavalry (84-8) from eight nations, and sailors (89-99) from twelve nations, a geographical arrangement is discernible. First, after the Medes and Persians, come the Eastern tribes from the Tigris to the Indus (62-8), secondly the Southern (69-71), thirdly the tribes of Asia Minor (72-9), and lastly the maritime peoples of the Levant (89-95).

Following Macan (ii. 167-76) we may distinguish seventeen or eighteen types of armour in the army and navy of Xerxes to be grouped in six classes.

I. (1) The Medo-Persian (ch. 61, 62; cf. ch. 80). Besides the bow and dagger this includes a short spear, and for defence a wicker shield (γέρρον) and in some cases a cuirass.

II. The Iranians rely on the bow and for hand to hand work on the dagger; they have no defensive armour. The varieties are (2) the Bactrians (ch. 64. 1 and 66), with short spears; (3) the Pactyans (ch. 67, 68; cf. ch. 85); (4) the Scythians, with axes (ch. 64. 2); and (5) the Sagartians, with lassos (ch. 85).

III. The Anatolians, whose most distinctive weapons are the small round targe and for offence the javelin, though most of them have also spear, dagger, or bow. The chief varieties are (6) the Paphlagonian (ch. 72, 73); (7) the Thraco-Bithynian (ch. 75); (8) the Moscho-Colchian (ch. 78, 79); (9) the Cilician (ch. 91; cf. 77); and (10) the Lycian (ch. 92).

IV. (11) The Assyrians (ch. 63), and (12) Egyptians (ch. 89), who have metal helmets, large shields, and quilted cuirasses, and for offence spears, daggers, and pikes or clubs. With these may perhaps be classed (13) the Phoenicians (ch. 89), though the character of their armour is eclectic.

V. (14) The Greeks (ch. 93-5) have metal helmets, greaves, and cuirasses, shields, swords, and spears. To this type the Lydians (ch. 74), Pamphylians (ch. 91), Cypriotes (ch. 90), and Carians (ch. 93) conform.

VI. The outer barbarians, ill-armed for the most part with bows. Varieties are (15) the Indians (ch. 65; cf. ch. 70); (16) the African Ethiopians (ch. 69); (17) the Libyans (ch. 71); and (18) the Arabians (ch. 69) riding on camels (ch. 87).

In details and arrangement this list differs from that of the Satrapies (iii. 90 f.), but is not inconsistent with it. While it is impossible to say from what source H. derived these lists (Introd., § 21), in both cases the ultimate authority must be official Persian documents such as the king's scribes prepared (ch. 100). The authority H. followed gave the names of the tribes and their commanders, and a description of their equipment, but no numbers (ch. 60). As Meyer (F. ii. 231, 232) suggests, it probably also supplied information as to the march from Celaenae to Therma (ch. 26-131), as may be seen by a comparison of the account to this point with the vague and imperfect reports of the advance through Thessaly (vii. 196, 197), and of the retreat of Xerxes (viii. 113-20, 126-9) and of Artabazus (ix. 89). H. himself added notes (often erroneous) on the origin and early history of the peoples enumerated (cf. ch. 61. 2, 3, 62. 1, 74. 1, 75. 2), as he does in the case of the Greeks (viii. 43 f., 72, 73). He supplied numbers from conjecture (vii. 184 f.) or tradition (vii. 89); he inserted conversations of Xerxes with Artabanus and Demaratus, intended to explain the character and purpose of the great invasion; but there is no reason to suppose that he used any literary source except the Persae of Aeschylus, or drew much from the list of the host of Darius engraved at Byzantium (iv. 87), or the picture of it dedicated by Mandrocles in the Heraeum at Samos (iv. 88).

τιάρας (Att. τιάρα; i. 132. 1): a Persian word meaning a soft felt or cotton hat projecting at the top a little in front, as seen in the Persian sculptures at Persepolis.

ἀπαγέας: opposed to πεπηγώς (ch. 64. 2, 70. 2), unstiffened, soft. τιάρα ἐπτυγμένη καὶ προβάλλουσα εἰς τὸ μέτωπον, Schol. Arist. Av. 487. Only the king wore it stiff (Xen. Anab. ii. 5. 23; Arrian, Anab. iii. 25. 3).

κιθῶνας χειριδωτοὺς ποικίλους, ‘sleeved tunics of many colours’ can hardly be the same as cuirasses, nor can the words λεπίδος . . . ἰχθυοειδέος well refer to mere ornaments on a tunic. Hence it seems necessary to distinguish the tunic and the corselet as is done elsewhere (ix. 22. 2 ἐντὸς θώρηκα εἶχε χρύσεον λεπιδωτόν, κατύπερθε δὲ τοῦ θώρηκος κιθῶνα φοινίκεον ἐνεδεδύκεε: cf. i. 135; viii. 113. 2; and Strabo 734 θώραξ δ᾽ ἐστιν αὐτοῖς φολιδωτός . . . χιτὼν δὲ χειριδωτός: Xen. Cyr. vii. 1. 2ὡπλισμένοι δὲ πάντες ἦσαν οἱ περὶ τὸν Κῦρον τοῖς αὐτοῖς Κύρῳ ὅπλοις, χιτῶσι φοινικοῖς, θώραξι χαλχοῖς”: cf. vi. 4. 1 and Anab. i. 5. 8, 8. 6). We must then insert some words, e.g. καὶ θώρηκας. Such corselets of scale armour are represented on Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, and at Nimrud Layard found a great quantity of scales which might well be sewed on a felt or quilted linen jerkin. Not all the Persians would have such a costly panoply (cf. viii. 113. 2), but H. describes the most characteristic armour. The sleeved tunics are well shown on sculptures from Persepolis (Perrot et Chipiez, Persia, fig. 192, p. 402, E.T.), and the many colours on the archer frieze from Susa now in the Louvre (op. cit. pl. xii, p. 500).

λεπίδος, ‘made with iron scales like the scales of a fish.’

ἀναξυρίδας: cf. i. 71. 2 n.

γέρρα: cf. ix. 61. 3. Probably oval shields with holes at the side (as in the Boeotian), for some of the Persepolis guards carry shields of the kind. (See note, p. 416.) The spears represented on the monuments at Susa and Persepolis seem to be seven feet long, and the bows rather less than four feet; but the expressions ‘long’ and ‘short’ are relative to the corresponding Greek weapons.

ἐγχειρίδια: cf. ch. 54. 2 n.

No historical conclusions can be drawn from this confused jumble of myths and names. The Cephenes are a mythical people identified with the Eastern Ethiopians (Apollod. ii. 4. 3). Possibly H. means them to be Assyrians (vi. 54), and then by a further confusion connects the Assyrians with their successors in the lordship of Asia (cf. ch. 11. 4), the Medes and Persians. But the explanation of the whole matter is the likeness of the names Περσεύς and Πέρσης, which led the Greeks to make the eponymous Πέρσης son of Perseus (vii. 150. 2; cf. i. 125. 3; vii. 220. 4), and then, since Perses is related to Cepheus, to identify the Persians and the Cephenes. This genealogy is inconsistent with that given in i. 7, since Belus is grandfather (in-law) to Perseus, and Perseus great-grandfather to Heracles, and yet (in i. 7) Belus is grandson of Heracles. Cf. also vi. 54 n.

Ἀρταῖοι (a proper name; cf. 22. 2, 66. 2): derived from arta, high, noble, good. Cf. Artaxerxes (vi. 98. 3 n.), Artabanus, &c. Perhaps it is connected with Ἄριοι (E. Meyer in Pauly-Wissowa, ii. 1303). Hellanicus invented from it a region of Persia, Ἀρταία (Steph. Byz.).

αὐτοῦ. In the kingdom of Cepheus, which, however, is placed by the earlier mythographers on the coast of Palestine, or at Nineveh or Babylon, and by the later in African Ethiopia, and never, except here, in Persia.

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.4.3
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 2.5.23
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 7.1.2
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