Cyrus or Cyrus the Younger or the Younger Cyrus
THE YOUNGER, the second of the four sons of Dareius Nothus, king of Persia, and of Parysatis, was appointed by his father commander (κάρανος
) of the maritime parts of Asia Minor, and satrap of Lydia, Phrygia, and Cappadocia. (B. C. 407.)
He carried with him a large sum of money to aid the Lacedaemonians in the Peloponnesian war, and by the address of Lysander he was induced to help them even more than his father had commissioned him to do.
The bluntness of Callicratidas caused him to withdraw his aid, but on the return of Lysander to the command it was renewed with the greatest liberality. [CALLICRATIDAS; LYSANDER; TISSAPHERNES.] There is no doubt that Cyrus was already meditating the attempt to succeed his father on the throne of Persia, and that he sought through Lysander to provide for aid from Sparta. Cyrus, indeed, betrayed his ambitious spirit, by putting to death two Persians of the blood royal, for not observing in his presence a usage which was only due to the king.
It was probably for this reason, and not only on account of his own ill health, that Dareius summoned Cyrus to his presence. (B. C. 405.)
Before leaving Sardis, Cyrus sent for Lysander and assigned to him his revenues for the prosecution of the war.
He then went to his father, attended by a body of 500 Greek mercenaries, and taking with him Tissaphernes, nominally as a mark of honour, but really for fear of what he might do in his absence.
He arrived in Media just in time to witness his father's death and the accession of his elder brother, Artaxerxes Mnemon (B. C. 404), though his mother, Parysatis, whose favourite son Cyrus was, had endeavored to persuade Dareius to appoint him as his successor, on the ground that he had been born after, but his brother Artaxerxes before, the accession of Dareius.
This attempt, of course, excited the jealousy of Artaxerxes, which was further enflamed by information from Tissaphernes, that Cyrus was plotting against his life. Artaxerxes, therefore, arrested his brother and condemned him to death; but, on the intercession of Parysatis, he spared his life and sent him back to his satrapy. Cyrus now gave himself up to the design of dethroning his brother.
By his affability and by presents, he endeavoured to corrupt those of the Persians who past between the court of Artaxerxes and his own; but he relied chiefly on a force of Greek mercenaries, which he raised on the pretext that he was in danger from the hostility of Tissaphernes. When his preparations were complete, he commenced his expedition against Babylon, giving out, however, even to his own soldiers, that he was only marching against the robbers of Pisidia. When the Greeks learnt his real purpose, they found that they were too far committed to him to draw back.
He set out from Sardis in the spring of B. C. 401, and, having marched through Phrygia and Cilicia, entered Syria through the celebrated passes near Issus, crossed the Euphrates at Thapsacus, and marched down the river to the plain of Cunaxa, 500 stadia from Babylon. Artaxerxes had been informed by Tissaphernes of his designs, and was prepared to meet him.
The numbers of the two armies are variously stated. Artaxerxes had from 400,000 to a million of men; Cyrus had about 100,000 Asiatics and 13,000 Greeks.
The battle was at first altogether in favour of Cyrus. His Greek troops on the right routed the Asiatics who were opposed to them; and he himself pressed forward in the centre against his brother, and had even wounded him, when he was killed by one of the king's body-guard. Artaxerxes caused his head and right hand to be struck off, and sought to have it believed that Cyrus had fallen by his hand. Parysatis took a cruel revenge on the suspected slayers and mutilators of her son.
The details of the expedition of Cyrus and of the events which followed his death may be read in Xenophon's Anabasis.
This attempt of an ambitious young prince to usurp his brother's throne led ultimately to the greatest results, for by it the path into the centre of the Persian empire was laid open to the Greeks, and the way was prepared for the conquests of Alexander
The character of Cyrus is drawn by Xenophon in the brightest colours.
It is enough to say that his ambition was gilded by all those brilliant qualities which win men's hearts.
(Xenophon, Xen. Hell. 1.4
4.16, 18, 21; Ctesias, Persica,
1.44, 49, Fr. li., lii., liii., liv., lvii., ed. Lion; ap. Phot. p. 42b. 10, 43, b. 10, 44, a. 14, ed. Bekker; Isocr. Panath.
39; Plut. Lys. 4, 9; Artax.
3, 6, 13-17; Diod. 13.70