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Thence he marched two stages, ten parasangs, to the Psarus river, the width of which was three plethra. From there he marched one stage, five parasangs, to the Pyramus river, the width of which was a stadium.1 From there he marched two stages, fifteen parasangs, to Issus, the last city in Cilicia, a place situated on the sea, and large and prosperous. [2] There they remained three days; and the ships from Peloponnesus2 arrived to meet Cyrus, thirty-five in number, with Pythagoras the Lacedaemonian as admiral in command of them. They had been guided from Ephesus to Issus by Tamos the Egyptian, who was at the head of another fleet of twenty-five ships belonging to Cyrus—these latter being the ships with which Tamos had besieged Miletus, at the time when it was friendly to Tissaphernes,3 and had supported Cyrus in his war upon Tissaphernes. [3] Cheirisophus the Lacedaemonian also arrived with this fleet, coming in response to Cyrus' summons,4 together with seven hundred hoplites, over whom he continued to hold command in the army of Cyrus. And the ships lay at anchor alongside Cyrus' tent. It was at Issus also that the Greek mercenaries who had been in the service of Abrocomas—four hundred hoplites—joined Cyrus, after deserting Abrocomas, and so bore a share in his expedition against the King. [4]

Thence he marched one stage, five parasangs, to the Gates between Cilicia and Syria. These Gates consisted of two walls; the one on the hither, or Cilician, side was held by Syennesis and a garrison of Cilicians, while the one on the farther, the Syrian, side was reported to be guarded by a garrison of the King's troops. And in the space between these walls flows a river named the Carsus, a plethrum in width. The entire distance from one wall to the other was three stadia; and it was not possible to effect a passage by force, for the pass was narrow, the walls reached down to the sea, and above the pass were precipitous rocks, while, besides, there were towers upon both the walls. [5] It was because of this pass that Cyrus had sent for the fleet, in order that he might disembark hoplites between and beyond the walls and thus overpower the enemy if they should be keeping guard at the Syrian Gates—and that was precisely what Cyrus supposed Abrocomas would do, for he had a large army. Abrocomas, however, did not do so, but as soon as he heard that Cyrus was in Cilicia, he turned about in his journey from Phoenicia5 and marched off to join the King, with an army, so the report ran, of three hundred thousand men. [6]

Thence Cyrus marched one stage, five parasangs, to Myriandus, a city on the sea coast, inhabited by Phoenicians; it was a trading place, and many merchant ships were lying at anchor there. There he remained seven days; [7] and Xenias the Arcadian and Pasion the Megarian embarked upon a ship, put on board their most valuable effects, and sailed away; they were moved to do this, as most people thought, by a feeling of jealous pride, because their soldiers had gone over to Clearchus6 with the intention of going back to Greece again instead of proceeding against the King, and Cyrus had allowed Clearchus to keep them. After they had disappeared, a report went round that Cyrus was pursuing them with warships; and while some people prayed that they might be captured, because, as they said, they were cowards, yet others felt pity for them if they should be caught. [8]

Cyrus, however, called the generals together and said: “Xenias and Pasion have deserted us. But let them, nevertheless, know full well that they have not escaped from me—either by stealth, for I know in what direction they have gone, or by speed, for I have men-of-war with which I can overtake their craft. But for my part, I swear by the gods that I shall not pursue them, nor shall anyone say about me that I use a man so long as he is with me and then, when he wants to leave me, seize him and maltreat him and despoil him of his possessions. Nay, let them go, with the knowledge that their behaviour toward us is worse than ours toward them. To be sure, I have their wives and children under guard in Tralles,7 but I shall not deprive them of these, either, for they shall receive them back because of their former excellence in my service.” [9] Such were his words; as for the Greeks, even those who had been somewhat despondent in regard to the upward march, when they heard of the magnanimity of Cyrus they continued on their way with greater satisfaction and eagerness.

After this Cyrus marched four stages, twenty parasangs, to the Chalus river, which is a plethrum in width and full of large, tame fish; these fish the Syrians regarded as gods, and they would not allow anyone to harm them, or the doves, either.8 And the villages in which the troops encamped belonged to Parysatis, for they had been given her for girdle-money.9 [10] From there Cyrus marched five stages, thirty parasangs, to the sources of the Dardas river, the width of which is a plethrum. There was the palace of Belesys, the late ruler of Syria, and a very large and beautiful park containing all the products of the seasons. But Cyrus cut down the park and burned the palace. [11] Thence he marched three stages, fifteen parasangs, to the Euphrates river, the width of which was four stadia; and on the river was situated a large and prosperous city named Thapsacus. There he remained five days. And Cyrus summoned the generals of the Greeks and told them that the march was to be to Babylon, against the Great King; he directed them, accordingly, to explain this to the soldiers and try to persuade them to follow. [12] So the generals called an assembly and made this announcement; and the soldiers were angry with the generals, and said that they had known about this for a long time, but had been keeping it from the troops; furthermore, they refused to go on unless they were given money,10 as were the men who made the journey with Cyrus before,11 when he went to visit his father; they had received the donation, even though they marched, not to battle, but merely because Cyrus' father summoned him. [13] All these things the generals reported back to Cyrus, and he promised that he would give every man five minas12 in silver when they reached Babylon and their pay in full until he brought the Greeks back to Ionia again.13 By these promises the greater part of the Greek army was persuaded.

But as for Menon, before it was clear what the rest of the soldiers would do, that is, whether they would follow Cyrus or not, he gathered together his own troops apart from the others and spoke as follows: [14] “Soldiers, if you will obey me, you will, without either danger or toil, be honoured by Cyrus above and beyond the rest of the troops. What, then, do I direct you to do? At this moment Cyrus is begging the Greeks to follow him against the King; my own plan, then, is that you should cross the Euphrates river before it is clear what answer the rest of the Greeks will make to Cyrus. [15] For if they vote to follow him, it is you who will get the credit for that decision because you began the crossing, and Cyrus will not only feel grateful to you, regarding you as the most zealous in his cause, but he will return the favour—and he knows how to do that if any man does; on the other hand, if the rest vote not to follow him, we shall all go back together, but you, as the only ones who were obedient, are the men he will employ, not only for garrison duty,14 but for captaincies; and whatever else you may desire, I know that you, as friends of Cyrus, will secure from him.” [16] Upon hearing these words the soldiers were persuaded, and made the crossing before the rest gave their answer. When Cyrus learned that they had crossed, he was delighted and sent Glus to the troops with this message: “Soldiers, to-day I commend you; but I shall see to it that you also shall have cause to commend me, else count me no longer Cyrus.” [17] So Menon's troops cherished high hopes and prayed that he might be successful, while to Menon himself Cyrus was said to have sent magnificent gifts besides. After so doing Cyrus proceeded to cross the river, and the rest of the army followed him, to the last man. And in the crossing no one was wetted above the breast by the water. [18] The people of Thapsacus said that this river had never been passable on foot except at this time, but only by boats; and these Abrocomas had now burned, as he marched on ahead of Cyrus, in order to prevent him from crossing. It seemed, accordingly, that here was a divine intervention, and that the river had plainly retired before Cyrus because he was destined to be king. [19]

Thence he marched through Syria nine stages, fifty parasangs, and they arrived at the Araxes river. There they found many villages full of grain and wine, and there they remained for three days and provisioned the army.

1 The stadium = 582 1/2 English feet.

2 See Xen. Anab. 1.2.21.

3 See Xen. Anab. 1.1.7.

4 See note on Xen. Anab. 1.2.21. These seven hundred hoplites under Cheirisophus had been sent by the Lacedaemonian authorities to aid Cyrus, and were the only troops in his army which stood in any official connection with any Greek state.

5 Of which Abrocomas was satrap.

6 See Xen. Anab. 1.3.7.

7 A city in Caria.

8 According to the legend, the Syrian goddess Derceto had been transformed into a fish, and her daughter, Semiramis, into a dove.

9 cp. the English “pin-money.”

10 The troops are not now asking for additional pay, as at Tarsus (Xen. Anab. 1.3.21), but for a special donation. See below.

11 See Xen. Anab. 1.1.2.

12 The Attic mina was equivalent (but see note on Xen. Anab. 1.1.9) to about 3 1 5s. or $18.00; Cyrus probably means here the Persian mina, which was worth about one-fourth more than the Attic.

13 Mercenaries were usually expected to make their own way home after a campaign had ended and did not receive pay for the time consumed by the homeward journey.

14 i.e. easy service.

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  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • Harper's, Sarus
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PARADI´SUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ALEXANDREIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), AMA´NUS
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
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