[In the preceding pages of the narrative will be found a full account, not only of the doings of the Hellenes during the advance of Cyrus till the date of the battle, but of the incidents which befell them after Cyrus’ death at the commencement of the retreat, while in company with Tissaphernes during the truce.]
After the generals had been seized, and the captains and soldiers who formed their escort had been killed, the Hellenes lay in deep perplexity — a prey to painful reflections. Here were they at the king’s gates, and on every side environing them were many hostile cities and tribes of men. Who was there now to furnish them with a market? Separated from Hellas by more than a thousand miles, they had not even a guide to point the way. Impassable rivers lay athwart their homeward route, and hemmed them in. Betrayed even by the Asiatics, at whose side they had marched with Cyrus to the attack, they were left in isolation. Without a single mounted trooper to aid them in pursuit: was it not perfectly plain that if they won a battle, their enemies would escape to a man, but if they were beaten themselves, not one soul of them would survive?
Haunted by such thoughts, and with hearts full of despair, but few of them tasted food that evening; but few of them kindled even a fire, and many never came into camp at all that night, but took their rest where each chanced to be. They could not close their eyes for very pain and yearning after their fatherlands or their parents, the wife or child whom they never expected to look upon again. Such was the plight in which each and all tried to seek repose.
Now there was in that host a certain man, an Athenian39, Xenophon, who had accompanied Cyrus, neither as a general, nor as an officer, nor yet as a private soldier, but simply on the invitation of an old friend, Proxenus. This old friend had sent to fetch him from home, promising, if he would come, to introduce him to Cyrus, “whom,” said Proxenus, “I consider to be worth my fatherland and more to me.”
Xenophon having read the letter, consulted Socrates the Athenian, whether he should accept or refuse the invitation. Socrates, who had a suspicion that the State of Athens might in some way look askance at my friendship with Cyrus, whose zealous co-operation with the Lacedaemonians against Athens in the war was not forgotten, advised Xenophon to go to Delphi and there to consult the god as to the desirability of such a journey. Xenophon went and put the question to Apollo, to which of the gods he must pray and do sacrifice, so that he might best accomplish his intended journey and return in safety, with good fortune. Then Apollo answered him: “To such and such gods must thou do sacrifice,” and when he had returned home he reported to Socrates the oracle. But he, when he heard, blamed Xenophon that he had not, in the first instance, inquired of the god, whether it were better for him to go or to stay, but had taken on himself to settle that point affirmatively, by inquiring straightway, how he might best perform the journey. “Since, however,” continued Socrates, “you did so put the question, you should do what the god enjoined.” Thus, and without further ado, Xenophon offered sacrifice to those whom the god had named, and set sail on his voyage. He overtook Proxenus and Cyrus at Sardis, when they were just ready to start on the march up country, and was at once introduced to Cyrus. Proxenus eagerly pressed him to stop — a request which Cyrus with like ardour supported, adding that as soon as the campaign was over he would send him home. The campaign referred to was understood to be against the Pisidians. That is how Xenophon came to join the expedition, deceived indeed, though not by Proxenus, who was equally in the dark with the rest of the Hellenes, not counting Clearchus, as to the intended attack upon the king. Then, though the majority were in apprehension of the journey, which was not at all to their minds, yet, for very shame of one another and Cyrus, they continued to follow him, and with the rest went Xenophon.
And now in this season of perplexity, he too, with the rest, was in sore distress, and could not sleep; but anon, getting a snatch of sleep, he had a dream. It seemed to him in a vision that there was a storm of thunder and lightning, and a bolt fell on his father’s house, and thereupon the house was all in a blaze. He sprung up in terror, and pondering the matter, decided that in part the dream was good: in that he had seen a great light from Zeus, whilst in the midst of toil and danger. But partly too he feared it, for evidently it had come from Zeus the king. And the fire kindled all around — what could that mean but that he was hemmed in by various perplexities, and so could not escape from the country of the king? The full meaning, however, is to be discovered from what happened after the dream.
This is what took place. As soon as he was fully awake, the first clear thought which came into his head was, Why am I lying here? The night advances; with the day, it is like enough, the enemy will be upon us. If we are to fall into the hands of the king, what is left us but to face the most horrible of sights, and to suffer the most fearful pains, and then to die, insulted, an ignominious death? To defend ourselves — to ward off that fate — not a hand stirs: no one is preparing, none cares; but here we lie, as though it were time to rest and take our ease. I too! what am I waiting for? a general to undertake the work? and from what city? am I waiting till I am older mysef and of riper age? older I shall never be, if today I betray myself to my enemies.
Thereupon he got up, and called together first Proxenus’s officers; and when they were met, he said: “Sleep, sirs, I cannot, nor can you, I fancy, nor lie here longer, when I see in what straits we are. Our enemy, we may be sure, did not open war upon us till he felt he had everything amply ready; yet none of us shows a corresponding anxiety to enter the lists of battle in the bravest style.
“And yet, if we yield ourselves and fall into the king’s power, need we ask what our fate will be? This man, who, when his own brother, the son of the same parents, was dead, was not content with that, but severed head and hand from the body, and nailed them to a cross. We, then, who have not even the tie of blood in our favour, but who marched against him, meaning to make a slave of him instead of a king — and to slay him if we could: what is likely to be our fate at his hands? Will he not go all lengths so that, by inflicting on us the extreme of ignominy and torture, he may rouse in the rest of mankind a terror of ever marching against him any more? There is no question but that our business is to avoid by all means getting into his clutches.
“For my part, all the while the truce lasted, I never ceased pitying ourselves and congratulating the king and those with him, as, like a helpless spectator, I surveyed the extent and quality of their territory, the plenteousness of their provisions, the multitude of their dependants, their cattle, their gold, and their apparel. And then to turn and ponder the condition of our soldiers, without part or lot in these good things, except we bought it; few, I knew, had any longer the wherewithal to buy, and yet our oath held us down, so that we could not provide ourselves otherwise than by purchase. I say, as I reasoned thus, there were times when I dreaded the truce more than I now dread war.
“Now, however, that they have abruptly ended the truce, there is an end also to their own insolence and to our suspicion. All these good things of theirs are now set as prizes for the combatants. To whichsoever of us shall prove the better men, will they fall as guerdons; and the gods themselves are the judges of the strife. The gods, who full surely will be on our side, seeing it is our enemies who have taken their names falsely; whilst we, with much to lure us, yet for our oath’s sake, and the gods who were our witnesses, sternly held aloof. So that, it seems to me, we have a right to enter upon this contest with much more heart than our foes; and further, we are possessed of bodies more capable than theirs of bearing cold and heat and labour; souls too we have, by the help of heaven, better and braver; nay, the men themselves are more vulnerable, more mortal, than ourselves, if so be the gods vouchsafe to give us victory once again.
“Howbeit, for I doubt not elsewhere similar reflections are being made, whatsoever betide, let us not, in heaven’s name, wait for others to come and challenge us to noble deeds; let us rather take the lead in stimulating the rest to valour. Show yourselves to be the bravest of officers, and among generals, the worthiest to command. For myself, if you choose to start forwards on this quest, I will follow; or, if you bid me lead you, my age shall be no excuse to stand between me and your orders. At least I am of full age, I take it, to avert misfortune from my own head.”
Such were the speaker’s words; and the officers, when they heard, all, with one exception, called upon him to put himself at their head. This was a certain Apollonides there present, who spoke in the Boeotian dialect. This man’s opinion was that it was mere nonsense for any one to pretend they could obtain safety otherwise than by an appeal to the king, if he had skill to enforce it; and at the same time he began to dilate on the difficulties. But Xenophon cut him short. “O most marvellous of men! though you have eyes to see, you do not perceive; though you have ears to hear, you do not recollect. You were present with the rest of us now here when, after the death of Cyrus, the king, vaunting himself on that occurrence, sent dictatorially to bid us lay down our arms. But when we, instead of giving up our arms, put them on and went and pitched our camp near him, his manner changed. It is hard to say what he did not do, he was so at his wit’s end, sending us embassies and begging for a truce, and furnishing provisions the while, until he had got it. Or to take the contrary instance, when just now, acting precisely on your principles, our generals and captains went, trusting to the truce, unarmed to a conference with them, what came of it? what is happening at this instant? Beaten, goaded with pricks, insulted, poor souls, they cannot even die: though death, I ween, would be very sweet. And you, who know all this, how can you say that it is mere nonsense to talk of self-defence? how can you bid us go again and try the arts of persuasion? In my opinion, sirs, we ought not to admit this fellow to the same rank with ourselves; rather ought we to deprive him of his captaincy, and load him with packs and treat him as such. The man is a disgrace to his own fatherland and the whole of Hellas, that, being a Hellene, he is what he is.”
Here Agasias the Stymphalian broke in, exclaiming: “Nay, this fellow has no connection either with Boeotia or with Hellas, none whatever. I have noted both his ears bored like a Lydian’s.” And so it was. Him then they banished. But the rest visited the ranks, and wherever a general was left, they summoned the general; where he was gone, the lieutenant-general; and where again the captain alone was left, the captain. As soon as they were all met, they seated themselves in front of the place d’armes: the assembled generals and officers, numbering about a hundred. It was nearly midnight when this took place.
Thereupon Hieronymous the Eleian, the eldest of Proxenus’s captains, commenced speaking as follows: “Generals and captains, it seemed right to us, in view of the present crisis, ourselves to assemble and to summon you, that we might advise upon some practicable course. Would you, Xenophon, repeat what you said to us?”
Thereupon Xenophon spoke as follows: “We all know only too well, that the king and Tissaphernes have seized as many of us as they could, and it is clear they are plotting to destroy the rest of us if they can. Our business is plain: it is to do all we can to avoid getting into the power of the barbarians; rather, if we can, we will get them into our power. Rely upon this then, all you who are here assembled, now is your great opportunity. The soldiers outside have their eyes fixed upon you; if they think that you are faint-hearted, they will turn cowards; but if you show them that you are making your own preparations to attack the enemy, and setting an example to the rest — follow you, be assured, they will: imitate you they will. May be, it is but right and fair that you should somewhat excel them, for you are generals, you are commanders of brigades or regiments; and if, while it was peace, you had the advantage in wealth and position, so now, when it is war, you are expected to rise superior to the common herd — to think for them, to toil for them, whenever there be need.
“At this very moment you would confer a great boon on the army, if you made it your business to appoint generals and officers to fill the places of those that are lost. For without leaders nothing good or noble, to put it concisely, was ever wrought anywhere; and in military matters this is absolutely true; for if discipline is held to be of saving virtue, the want of it has been the ruin of many ere now. Well, then! when you have appointed all the commanders necessary, it would only be opportune, I take it, if you were to summon the rest of the soldiers and speak some words of encouragement. Even now, I daresay you noticed yourselves the crestfallen air with which they came into camp, the despondency with which they fell to picket duty, so that, unless there is a change for the better, I do not know for what service they will be fit; whether by night, if need were, or even by day. The thing is to get them to turn their thoughts to what they mean to do, instead of to what they are likely to suffer. Do that, and their spirits will soon revive wonderfully. You know, I need hardly remind you, it is not numbers or strength that gives victory in war; but, heaven helping them, to one or other of two combatants it is given to dash with stouter hearts to meet the foe, and such onset, in nine cases out of ten, those others refuse to meet. This observation, also, I have laid to heart, that they, who in matters of war seek in all ways to save their lives, are just they who, as a rule, die dishonourably; whereas they who, recognising that death is the common lot and destiny of all men, strive hard to die nobly: these more frequently, as I observe, do after all attain to old age, or, at any rate, while life lasts, they spend their days more happily. This lesson let all lay to heart this day, for we are just at such a crisis of our fate. Now is the season to be brave ourselves, and to stimulate the rest by our example.”
With these words he ceased; and after him, Cheirisophus said: “Xenophon, hitherto I knew only so much of you as that you were, I heard, an Athenian, but now I must commend you for your words and for your conduct. I hope that there may be many more like you, for it would prove a public blessing.” Then turning to the officers: “And now,” said he, “let us waste no time; retire at once, I beg you, and choose leaders where you need them. After you have made your elections, come back to the middle of the camp, and bring the newly appointed officers. After that, we will there summon a general meeting of the soldiers. Let Tolmides, the herald,” he added, “be in attendance.” With these words on his lips he got up, in order that what was needful might be done at once without delay. After this the generals were chosen. These were Timasion the Dardanian, in place of Clearchus; Xanthicles, an Achaean, in place of Socrates; Cleanor, an Arcadian, in place of Agias; Philesius, an Achaean, in place of Menon; and in place of Proxenus, Xenophon the Athenian.
39 The reader should turn to Grote’s comments on the first appearance of Xenophon. He has been mentioned before, of course, more than once before; but he now steps, as the protagonist, upon the scene, and as Grote says: “It is in true Homeric vein, and in something like Homeric language, that Xenophon (to whom we owe the whole narrative of the expedition) describes his dream, or the intervention of Oneiros, sent by Zeus, from which this renovating impulse took its rise.”
By the time the new generals had been chosen, the first faint glimmer of dawn had hardly commenced, as they met in the centre of the camp, and resolved to post an advance guard and to call a general meeting of the soldiers. Now, when these had come together, Cheirisophus the Lacedaemonian first rose and spoke as follows: “Fellow-soldiers, the present posture of affairs is not pleasant, seeing that we are robbed of so many generals and captains and soldiers; and more than that, our former allies, Ariaeus and his men, have betrayed us; still, we must rise above our circumstances to prove ourselves brave men, and not give in, but try to save ourselves by glorious victory if we can; or, if not, at least to die gloriously, and never, while we have breath in our bodies, fall into the hands of our enemies. In which latter case, I fear, we shall suffer things, which I pray the gods may visit rather upon those we hate.”
At this point Cleanor the Ochomenian stood up and spoke as follows: “You see, men, the perjury and the impiety of the king. You see the faithlessness of Tissaphernes, professing that he was next-door neighbour to Hellas, and would give a good deal to save us, in confirmation of which he took an oath to us himself, he gave us the pledge of his right hand, and then, with a lie upon his lips, this same man turned round and arrested our generals. He had no reverence even for Zeus, the god of strangers; but, after entertaining Clearchus at his own board as a friend, he used his hospitality to delude and decoy his victims. And Ariaeus, whom we offered to make king, with whom we exchanged pledges not to betray each other, even this man, without a particle of fear of the gods, or respect for Cyrus in his grave, though he was most honoured by Cyrus in lifetime, even he has turned aside to the worst foes of Cyrus, and is doing his best to injure the dead man’s friends. Them may the gods requite as they deserve! But we, with these things before our eyes, will not any more be cheated and cajoled by them; we will make the best fight we can, and having made it, whatever the gods think fit to send, we will accept.”
After him Xenophon arose; he was arrayed for war in his bravest apparel40: “For,” said he to himself, “if the gods grant victory, the finest attire will match with victory best; or if I must needs die, then for one who has aspired to the noblest, it is well there should be some outward correspondence between his expectation and his end.” He began his speech as follows: “Cleanor has spoken of the perjury and faithlessness of the barbarians, and you yourselves know them only too well, I fancy. If then we are minded to enter a second time into terms of friendship with them, with the experience of what our generals, who in all confidence entrusted themselves to their power, have suffered, reason would we should feel deep despondency. If, on the other hand, we purpose to take our good swords in our hands and to inflict punishment on them for what they have done, and from this time forward will be on terms of downright war with them, then, God helping, we have many a bright hope of safety.” The words were scarcely spoken when someone sneezed41, and with one impulse the soldiers bowed in worship; and Xenophon proceeded: “I propose, sirs, since, even as we spoke of safety, an omen from Zeus the Saviour has appeared, we vow a vow to sacrifice to the Saviour thank-offerings for safe deliverance, wheresoever first we reach a friendly country; and let us couple with that vow another of individual assent, that we will offer to the rest of the gods ‘according to our ability.’ Let all those who are in favour of this proposal hold up their hands.” They all held up their hands, and there and then they vowed a vow and chanted the battle hymn. But as soon as these sacred matters were duly ended, he began once more thus: “I was saying that many and bright are the hopes we have of safety. First of all, we it is who confirm and ratify the oaths we take by heaven, but our enemies have taken false oaths and broken the truce, contrary to their solemn word. This being so, it is but natural that the gods should be opposed to our enemies, but with ourselves allied; the gods, who are able to make the great ones quickly small, and out of sore perplexity can save the little ones with ease, what time it pleases them. In the next place, let me recall to your minds the dangers of our own forefathers, that you may see and know that bravery is your heirloom, and that by the aid of the gods brave men are rescued even out of the midst of sorest straits. So was it when the Persians came, and their attendant hosts42, with a very great armament, to wipe out Athens from the face of the earth — the men of Athens had the heart to withstand them and conquered them. Then they vowed to Artemis that for every man they slew of the enemy, they would sacrifice to the goddess goats so many; and when they could not find sufficient for the slain, they resolved to offer yearly five hundred; and to this day they perform that sacrifice. And at a somewhat later date, when Xerxes assembled his countless hosts and marched upon Hellas, then43 too our fathers conquered the forefathers of our foes by land and by sea.
“And proofs of these things are yet to be seen in trophies; but the greatest witness of all is the freedom of our cities — the liberty of that land in which you were born and bred. For you call no man master or lord; you bow your heads to none save to the gods alone. Such were your forefathers, and their sons are ye. Think not I am going to say that you put to shame in any way your ancestry — far from it. Not many days since, you too were drawn up in battle face to face with these true descendants of their ancestors, and by the help of heaven you conquered them, though they many times outnumbered you. At that time, it was to win a throne for Cyrus that you showed your bravery; today, when the struggle is for your own salvation, what is more natural than that you should show yourselves braver and more zealous still. Nay, it is very meet and right that you should be more undaunted still today to face the foe. The other day, though you had not tested them, and before your eyes lay their immeasurable host, you had the heart to go against them with the spirit of your fathers. To-day you have made trial of them, and knowing that, however many times your number, they do not care to await your onset, what concern have you now to be afraid of them?
“Nor let any one suppose that herein is a point of weakness, in that Cyrus’s troops, who before were drawn up by your side, have now deserted us, for they are even worse cowards still than those we worsted. At any rate they have deserted us, and sought refuge with them. Leaders of the forlorn hope of flight — far better is it to have them brigaded with the enemy than shoulder to shoulder in our ranks. But if any of you is out of heart to think that we have no cavalry, while the enemy have many squadrons to command, lay to heart this doctrine, that ten thousand horse only equal ten thousand men upon their backs, neither less nor more. Did any one ever die in battle from the bite or kick of a horse? It is the men, the real swordsmen, who do whatever is done in battles. In fact we, on our stout shanks, are better mounted than those cavalry fellows; there they hang on to their horses’ necks in mortal dread, not only of us, but of falling off; while we, well planted upon earth, can deal far heavier blows to our assailants, and aim more steadily at who we will. There is one point, I admit, in which their cavalry have the whip-hand of us; it is safer for them than it is for us to run away.
“May be, however, you are in good heart about the fighting, but annoyed to think that Tissaphernes will not guide us any more, and that the king will not furnish us with a market any longer. Now, consider, is it better for us to have a guide like Tissaphernes, whom we know to be plotting against us, or to take our chance of the stray people whom we catch and compel to guide us, who will know that any mistake made in leading us will be a sad mistake for their own lives? Again, is it better to be buying provisions in a market of their providing, in scant measure and at high prices, without even the money to pay for them any longer; or, by right of conquest, to help ourselves, applying such measure as suits our fancy best?
“Or again, perhaps you admit that our present position is not without its advantages, but you feel sure that the rivers are a difficulty, and think that you were never more taken in than when you crossed them; if so, consider whether, after all, this is not perhaps the most foolish thing which the barbarians have done. No river is impassable throughout; whatever difficulties it may present at some distance from its source, you need only make your way up to the springhead, and there you may cross it without wetting more than your ankles. But, granted that the rivers do bar our passage, and that guides are not forthcoming, what care we? We need feel no alarm for all that. We have heard of the Mysians, a people whom we certainly cannot admit to be better than ourselves; and yet they inhabit numbers of large and prosperous cities in the king’s own country without asking leave. The Pisidians are an equally good instance, or the Lycaonians. We have seen with our own eyes how they fare: seizing fortresses down in the plains, and reaping the fruits of these men’s territory. As to us, I go so far as to assert, we ought never to have let it be seen that we were bent on getting home: at any rate, not so soon; we should have begun stocking and furnishing ourselves, as if we fully meant to settle down for life somewhere or other hereabouts. I am sure that the king would be thrice glad to give the Mysians as many guides as they like, or as many hostages as they care to demand, in return for a safe conduct out of his country; he would make carriage roads for them, and if they preferred to take their departure in coaches and four, he would not say them nay. So too, I am sure, he would be only too glad to accommodate us in the same way, if he saw us preparing to settle down here. But, perhaps, it is just as well that we did not stop; for I fear, if once we learn to live in idleness and to batten in luxury and dalliance with these tall and handsome Median and Persian women and maidens, we shall be like the Lotus-eaters44, and forget the road home altogether.
“It seems to me that it is only right, in the first instance, to make an effort to return to Hellas and to revisit our hearths and homes, if only to prove to other Hellenes that it is their own faults if they are poor and needy45, seeing it is in their power to give to those now living a pauper life at home a free passage hither, and convert them into well-to-do burghers at once. Now, sirs, is it not clear that all these good things belong to whoever has strength to hold them?
“Let us look another matter in the face. How are we to march most safely? or where blows are needed, how are we to fight to the best advantage? That is the question.
“The first thing which I recommend is to burn the wagons we have got, so that we may be free to march wherever the army needs, and not, practically, make our baggage train our general. And, next, we should throw our tents into the bonfire also: for these again are only a trouble to carry, and do not contribute one grain of good either for fighting or getting provisions. Further, let us get rid of all superfluous baggage, save only what we require for the sake of war, or meat and drink, so that as many of us as possible may be under arms, and as few as possible doing porterage. I need not remind you that, in case of defeat, the owners’ goods are not their own; but if we master our foes, we will make them our baggage bearers.
“It only rests for me to name the one thing which I look upon as the greatest of all. You see, the enemy did not dare to bring war to bear upon us until they had first seized our generals; they felt that whilst our rulers were there, and we obeyed them, they were no match for us in war; but having got hold of them, they fully expected that the consequent confusion and anarchy would prove fatal to us. What follows? This: Officers and leaders ought to be more vigilant ever than their predecessors; subordinates still more orderly and obedient to those in command now than even they were to those who are gone. And you should pass a resolution that, in case of insubordination, any one who stands by is to aid the officer in chastising the offender. So the enemy will be mightily deceived; for on this day they will behold ten thousand Clearchuses instead of one, who will not suffer one man to play the coward. And now it is high time I brought my remarks to an end, for may be the enemy will be here anon. Let those who are in favour of these proposals confirm them with all speed, that they may be realised in fact; or if any other course seem better, let not any one, even though he be a private soldier, shrink from proposing it. Our common safety is our common need.”
After this Cheirisophus spoke. He said: “If there is anything else to be done, beyond what Xenophon has mentioned, we shall be able to carry it out presently; but with regard to what he has already proposed, it seems to me the best course to vote upon the matters at once. Those who are in favour of Xenophon’s proposals, hold up their hands.” They all held them up. Xenophon rose again and said: “Listen, sirs, while I tell you what I think we have need of besides. It is clear that we must march where we can get provisions. Now, I am told there are some splendid villages not more than two miles and a half distant. I should not be surprised, then, if the enemy were to hang on our heels and dog us as we retire, like cowardly curs which rush out at the passer-by and bite him if they can, but when you turn upon them they run away. Such will be their tactics, I take it. It may be safer, then, to march in a hollow square, so as to place the baggage animals and our mob of sutlers in greater security. It will save time to make the appointments at once, and to settle who leads the square and directs the vanguard; who will take command of the two flanks, and who of the rearguard; so that, when the enemy appears, we shall not need to deliberate, but can at once set in motion the machinery in existence.
“If any one has any better plan, we need not adopt mine; but if not, suppose Cheirisophus takes the lead, as he is a Lacedaemonian, and the two eldest generals take in charge the two wings respectively, whilst Timasion and I, the two youngest, will for the present guard the rear. For the rest, we can but make experiment of this arrangement, and alter it with deliberation, as from time to time any improvement suggests itself. If any one has a better plan to propose, let him do so.” . . . No dissentient voice was heard. Accordingly he said: “Those in favour of this resolution, hold up their hands.” The resolution was carried. “And now,” said he, “it would be well to separate and carry out what we have decreed. If any of you has set his heart on seeing his friends again, let him remember to prove himself a man; there is no other way to achieve his heart’s wish. Or is mere living an object with any of you, strive to conquer; if to slay is the privilege of victory, to die is the doom of the defeated. Or perhaps to gain money and wealth is your ambition, strive again for mastery; have not conquerors the double gain of keeping what is their own, whilst they seize the possessions of the vanquished?”
40 So it is said of the Russian General Skobelef, that he had a strange custom of going into battle in his cleanest uniform, perfumed, and wearing a diamond-hilted sword, “in order that,” as he said, “he might die in his best attire.”
41 For this ancient omen see “Odyssey,” xvii. 541: “Even as she spake, and Telemachus sneezed loudly, and around the roof rung wondrously. And Penelope laughed.” . . . “Dost thou not mark how my son has sneezed a blessing on all my words?”
42 See Herod. vi. 114; the allusion is to the invasion of Greece by Datis and Artaphernes, and to their defeat at Marathon, B.C. 490. “Heredotus estimates the number of those who fell on the Persian side at 6400 men: the number of Athenian dead is accurately known, since all were collected for the last solemn obsequies — they were 192.”— Grote, “Hist. of Greece,” vol. v. p. 475.
43 Then = at Salamis, B.C. 480, and at Plataea and Mycale, B.C. 479, on the same day.
44 See “Odyssey,” ix. 94, “ever feeding on the Lotus and forgetful of returning.”
45 Here seems to be the germ — unless, indeed, the thought had been conceived above — here at any rate the first conscious expression of the colonisation scheme, of which we shall hear more below, in reference to Cotyora; the Phasis; Calpe. It appears again fifty years later in the author’s pamphlet “On Revenues,” chapters i. and vi. For the special evils of the fourth century B.C., and the growth of pauperism between B.C. 401 and 338, see Jebb, “Attic Orators,” vol i. p. 17.
The speaking was ended; they got up and retired; then they burnt the wagons and the tents, and after sharing with one another what each needed out of their various superfluities, they threw the remnant into the fire. Having done that, they proceeded to make their breakfasts. While they were breakfasting, Mithridates came with about thirty horsemen, and summoning the generals within earshot, he thus addressed them: “Men of Hellas, I have been faithful to Cyrus, as you know well, and today I am your well-wisher; indeed, I am here spending my days in great fear: if then I could see any salutory course in prospect, I should be disposed to join you with all my retainers. Please inform me, then, as to what you propose, regarding me as your friend and well-wisher, anxious only to pursue his march in your company.” The generals held council, and resolved to give the following answer, Cheirisophus acting as spokesman: “We have resolved to make our way through the country, inflicting the least possible damage, provided we are allowed a free passage homewards; but if any one tries to hinder us, he will have to fight it out with us, and we shall bring all the force in our power to bear.” Thereat Mithridates set himself to prove to them that their deliverance, except with the king’s good pleasure, was hopeless. Then the meaning of his mission was plain. He was an agent in disguise; in fact, a relation of Tissaphernes was in attendance to keep a check on his loyalty. After that, the generals resolved that it would be better to proclaim open war, without truce or herald, as long as they were in the enemy’s country; for they used to come and corrupt the soldiers, and they were even successful with one officer — Nicarchus46, an Arcadian, who went off in the night with about twenty men.
After this, they breakfasted and crossed the river Zapatas, marching in regular order, with the beasts and mob of the army in the middle. They had not advanced far on their route when Mithridates made his appearance again, with about a couple of hundred horsemen at his back, and bowmen and slingers twice as many, as nimble fellows as a man might hope to see. He approached the Hellenes as if he were friendly; but when they had got fairly to close quarters, all of a sudden some of them, whether mounted or on foot, began shooting with their bows and arrows, and another set with slings, wounding the men. The rearguard of the Hellenes suffered for a while severely without being able to retaliate, for the Cretans had a shorter range than the Persians, and at the same time, being light-armed troops, they lay cooped up within the ranks of the heavy infantry, while the javelin men again did not shoot far enough to reach the enemy’s slingers. This being so, Xenophon thought there was nothing for it but to charge, and charge they did; some of the heavy and light infantry, who were guarding the rear, with him; but for all their charging they did not catch a single man.
The dearth of cavalry told against the Hellenes; nor were their infantry able to overhaul the enemy’s infantry, with the long start they had, and considering the shortness of the race, for it was out of the question to pursue them far from the main body of the army. On the other hand, the Asiatic cavalry, even while fleeing, poured volleys of arrows behind their backs, and wounded the pursuers; while the Hellenes must fall back fighting every step of the way they had measured in the pursuit; so that by the end of that day they had not gone much more than three miles; but in the late afternoon they reached the villages.
Here there was a return of the old despondency. Cheirisophus and the eldest of the generals blamed Xenophon for leaving the main body to give chase and endangering himself thereby, while he could not damage the enemy one whit the more. Xenophon admitted that they were right in blaming him: no better proof of that was wanted than the result. “The fact is,” he added, “I was driven to pursue; it was too trying to look on and see our men suffer so badly, and be unable to retaliate. However, when we did charge, there is no denying the truth of what you say; we were not a whit more able to injure the enemy, while we had considerable difficulty in beating a retreat ourselves. Thank heaven they did not come upon us in any great force, but were only a handful of men; so that the injury they did us was not large, as it might have been; and at least it has served to show us what we need. At present the enemy shoot and sling beyond our range, so that our Cretan archers are no match for them; our hand-throwers cannot reach as far; and when we pursue, it is not possible to push the pursuit to any great distance from the main body, and within the short distance no foot-soldier, however fleet of foot, could overtake another foot-soldier who has a bow-shot the start of him. If, then, we are to exclude them from all possibility of injuring us as we march, we must get slingers as soon as possible and cavalry. I am told there are in the army some Rhodians, most of whom, they say, know how to sling, and their missile will reach even twice as far as the Persian slings (which, on account of their being loaded with stones as big as one’s fist, have a comparatively short range; but the Rhodians are skilled in the use of leaden bullets47). Suppose, then, we investigate and find out first of all who among them possess slings, and for these slings offer the owner the money value; and to another, who will plait some more, hand over the money price; and for a third, who will volunteer to be enrolled as a slinger, invent some other sort of privilege, I think we shall soon find people to come forward capable of helping us. There are horses in the army I know; some few with myself, others belonging to Clearchus’s stud, and a good many others captured from the enemy, used for carrying baggage. Let us take the pick of these, supplying their places by ordinary baggage animals, and equipping the horses for cavalry. I should not wonder if our troopers gave some annoyance to these fugitives.”
These proposals were carried, and that night two hundred slingers were enrolled, and next day as many as fifty horse and horsemen passed muster as duly qualified; buff jackets and cuirasses were provided for them, and a commandant of cavalry appointed to command — Lycius, the son of Polystratus, by name, an Athenian.
That day they remained inactive, but the next they rose earlier than usual, and set out betimes, for they had a ravine to cross, where they feared the enemy might attack them in the act of crossing. When they were across, Mithridates appeared again with one thousand horse, and archers and slingers to the number of four thousand. This whole body he had got by request from Tissaphernes, and in return he undertook to deliver up the Hellenes to Tissaphernes. He had grown contemptuous since his late attack, when, with so small a detachment, he had done, as he thought, a good deal of mischief, without the slightest loss to himself.
When the Hellenes were not only right across, but had got about a mile from the ravine, Mithridates also crossed with his forces. An order had been passed down the lines, what light infantry and what heavy infantry were to take part in the pursuit; and the cavalry were instructed to follow up the pursuit with confidence, as a considerable support was in their rear. So, when Mithridates had come up with them, and they were well within arrow and sling shot, the bugle sounded the signal to the Hellenes; and immediately the detachment under orders rushed to close quarters, and the cavalry charged. There the enemy preferred not to wait, but fled towards the ravine. In this pursuit the Asiatics lost several of their infantry killed, and of their cavalry as many as eighteen were taken prisoners in the ravine. As to those who were slain the Hellenes, acting upon impulse, mutilated their bodies, by way of impressing their enemy with as frightful an image as possible.
So fared the foe and so fell back; but the Hellenes, continuing their march in safety for the rest of that day, reached the river Tigris. Here they came upon a large deserted city, the name of which was Larissa48: a place inhabited by the Medes in days of old; the breadth of its walls was twenty-five feet, and the height of them a hundred, and the circuit of the whole two parasangs. It was built of clay-bricks, supported on a stone basis twenty feet high. This city the king of the Persians49 besieged, what time the Persians strove to snatch their empire from the Medes, but he could in no wise take it; then a cloud hid the face of the sun and blotted out the light thereof, until the inhabitants were gone out of the city, and so it was taken. By the side of this city there was a stone pyramid in breadth a hundred feet, and in height two hundred feet; in it were many of the barbarians who had fled for refuge from the neighbouring villages.
From this place they marched one stage of six parasangs to a great deserted fortress [which lay over against the city], and the name of that city was Mespila50. The Medes once dwelt in it. The basement was made of polished stone full of shells; fifty feet was the breadth of it, and fifty feet the height; and on this basement was reared a wall of brick, the breadth whereof was fifty feet and the height thereof four hundred; and the circuit of the wall was six parasangs. Hither, as the story goes, Medea51, the king’s wife, betook herself in flight what time the Medes lost their empire at the hands of the Persians. To this city also the king of the Pesians laid siege, but could not take it either by length of days or strength of hand. But Zeus sent amazement on the inhabitants thereof, and so it was taken.
From this place they marched one stage — four parasangs. But, while still on this stage, Tissaphernes made his appearance. He had with him his own cavalry and a force belonging to Orontas, who had the king’s daughter to wife; and there were, moreover, with them the Asiatics whom Cyrus had taken with him on his march up; together with those whom the king’s brother had brought as a reinforcement to the king; besides those whom Tissaphernes himself had received as a gift from the king, so that the armament appeared to be very great. When they were close, he halted some of his regiments at the rear and wheeled others into position on either flank, but hesitated to attack, having no mind apparently to run any risks, and contenting himself with an order to his slingers to sling and his archers to shoot. But when the Rhodian slingers and the bowmen52, posted at intervals, retaliated, and every shot told (for with the utmost pains to miss it would have been hard to do so under the circumstanecs), then Tissaphernes with all speed retired out of range, the other regiments following suit; and for the rest of the day the one party advanced and the other followed. But now the Asiatics had ceased to be dangerous with their sharpshooting. For the Rhodians could reach further than the Persian slingers, or, indeed, than most of the bowmen. The Persian bows are of great size, so that the Cretans found the arrows which were picked up serviceable, and persevered in using their enemies’ arrows, and practised shooting with them, letting them fly upwards to a great height53. There were also plenty of bowstrings found in the villages — and lead, which they turned to account for their slings. As a result of this day, then, the Hellenes chancing upon some villages had no sooner encamped than the barbarians fell back, having had distinctly the worst of it in the skirmishing.
The next day was a day of inaction: they halted and took in supplies, as there was much corn in the villages; but on the day following, the march was continued through the plain (of the Tigris), and Tissaphernes still hung on their skirts with his skirmishers. And now it was that the Hellenes discovered the defect of marching in a square with an enemy following. As a matter of necessity, whenever the wings of an army so disposed draw together, either where a road narrows, or hills close in, or a bridge has to be crossed, the heavy infantry cannot help being squeezed out of their ranks, and march with difficulty, partly from actual pressure, and partly from the general confusion that ensues. Or, supposing the wings are again extended, the troops have hardly recovered from their former distress before they are pulled asunder, and there is a wide space between the wings, and the men concerned lose confidence in themselves, especially with an enemy close behind. What happened, when a bridge had to be crossed or other passage effected, was, that each unit of the force pressed on in anxiety to get over first, and at these moments it was easy for the enemy to make an attack. The generals accordingly, having recognised the defect, set about curing it. To do so, they made six lochi, or divisions of a hundred men apiece, each of which had its own set of captains and under-officers in command of half and quarter companies. It was the duty of these new companies, during a march, whenever the flanks needed to close in, to fall back to the rear, so as to disencumber the wings. This they did by wheeling clear of them. When the sides of the oblong again extended, they filled up the interstices, if the gap were narrow, by columns of companies, if broader, by columns of half-companies, or, if broader still, by columns of quarter-companies, so that the space between was always filled up. If again it were necessary to effect a passage by bridge or otherwise, there was no confusion, the several companies crossing in turns; or, if the occasion arose to form in line of battle, these companies came up to the front and fell in54.
In this way they advanced four stages, but ere the fifth was completed, they came in sight of a palace of some sort, with villages clustered round it; they could further see that the road leading to this place pursued its course over high undulating hillocks, the spur of the mountain range, under which lay the village. These knolls were a welcome sight to the Hellenes, naturally enough, as the enemy were cavalry. However, when they had issued from the plain and ascended the first crest, and were in the act of descending it so as to mount the next, at this juncture the barbarians came upon them. From the high ground down the sheer steep they poured a volley of darts, slingstones, and arrows, which they discharged “under the lash55,” wounding many, until they got the better of the Hellenic light troops, and drove them for shelter behind the heavy infantry, so that this day that arm was altogether useless, huddling in the mob of sutlers, both slingers and archers alike.
But when the Hellenes, being so pressed, made an attempt to pursue, they could barely scale to the summit, being heavy-armed troops, while the enemy as lightly sprung away; and they suffered similarly in retiring to join the rest of the army. And then, on the second hill, the whole had to be gone through again; so that when it came to the third hillock, they determined not to move the main body of troops from their position until they had brought up a squadron of light infantry from the right flank of the square to a point on the mountain range. When this detachment were once posted above their pursuers, the latter desisted from attacking the main body in its descent, for fear of being cut off and finding themselves between two assailants. Thus the rest of the day they moved on in two divisions: one set keeping to the road by the hillocks, the other marching parallel on the higher level along the mountains; and thus they reached the villages and appointed eight surgeons to attend to the many wounded.
Here they halted three days for the sake of the wounded chiefly, while a further inducement was the plentiful supply of provisions which they found, wheat and wine, and large stores of barley laid up for horses. These supplies had been collected by the ruling satrap of the country. On the fourth day they began their descent into the plain; but when Tissaphernes overtook them, necessity taught them to camp in the first village they caught sight of, and give over the attempt of marching and fighting simultaneously, as so many were hors de combat, being either on the list of wounded themselves, or else engaged in carrying the wounded, or laden with the heavy arms of those so occupied. But when they were once encamped, and the barbarians, advancing upon the village, made an attempt to harass them with their sharp-shooters, the superiority of the Hellenes was pronounced. To sustain a running fight with an enemy constantly attacking was one thing; to keep him at arm’s length from a fixed base of action another: and the difference was much in their favour.
But when it was late afternoon, the time had come for the enemy to withdraw, since the habit of the barbarian was never to encamp within seven or eight miles of the Hellenic camp. This he did in apprehension of a night attack, for a Persian army is good for nothing at night. Their horses are haltered, and, as a rule, hobbled as well, to prevent their escaping, as they might if loose; so that, if any alarm occurs, the trooper has to saddle and bridle his horse, and then he must put on his own cuirass, and then mount — all which performances are difficult at night and in the midst of confusion. For this reason they always encamped at a distance from the Hellenes.
When the Hellenes perceived that they were preparing to retire, and that the order was being given, the herald’s cry, “Pack up for starting,” might be heard before the enemy was fairly out of earshot. For a while the Asiatics paused, as if unwilling to be gone; but as night closed in, off they went, for it did not suit their notions of expediency to set off on a march and arrive by night. And now, when the Hellenes saw that they were really and clearly gone, they too broke up their camp and pursued their march till they had traversed seven and a half miles. Thus the distance between the two armies grew to be so great, that the next day the enemy did not appear at all, nor yet on the third day; but on the fourth the barbarians had pushed on by a forced night march and occupied a commanding position on the right, where the Hellenes had to pass. It was a narrow mountain spur56 overhanging the descent into the plain.
But when Cheirisophus saw that this ridge was occupied, he summoned Xenophon from the rear, bidding him at the same time to bring up peltasts to the front. That Xenophon hesitated to do, for Tissaphernes and his whole army were coming up and were well within sight. Galloping up to the front himself, he asked: “Why do you summon me?” The other answered him: “The reason is plain; look yonder; this crest which overhangs our descent has been occupied. There is no passing, until we have dislodged these fellows; why have you not brought up the light infantry?” Xenophon explained: he had not thought it desirable to leave the rear unprotected, with an enemy appearing in the field of view. “However, it is time,” he added, “to decide how we are to dislodge these fellows from the crest.” At this moment his eye fell on the peak of the mountain, rising immediately above their army, and he could see an approach leading from it to the crest in question where the enemy lay. He exclaimed: “The best thing we can do, Cheirisophus, is to make a dash at the height itself, and with what speed we may. If we take it, the party in command of the road will never be able to stop. If you like, stay in command of the army, and I will go; or, if you prefer, do you go to the mountain, and I will stay here.”—“I leave it to you,” Cheirisophus answered, “to choose which you like best.” Xenophon remarking, “I am the younger,” elected to go; but he stipulated for a detachment from the front to accompany him, since it was a long way to fetch up troops from the rear. Accordingly Cheirisophus furnished him with the light infantry from the front, reoccupying their place by those from the centre. He also gave him, to form part of the detachment, the three hundred of the picked corps57 under his own command at the head of the square.
They set out from the low ground with all the haste imaginable. But the enemy in position on the crest no sooner perceived their advance upon the summit of the pass than they themselves set off full tilt in a rival race for the summit too. Hoarse were the shouts of the Hellenic troops as the men cheered their companions forwards, and hoarse the answering shouts from the troops of Tissaphernes, urging on theirs. Xenophon, mounted on his charger, rode beside his men, and roused their ardour the while. “Now for it, brave sirs; bethink you that this race is for Hellas! — now or never! — to find your boys, your wives; one small effort, and the rest of the march we shall pursue in peace, without ever a blow to strike; now for it.” But Soteridas the Sicyonian said: “We are not on equal terms, Xenophon; you are mounted on a horse; I can hardly get along with my shield to carry;” and he, on hearing the reproach, leapt from his horse. In another instant he had pushed Soteridas from the ranks, snatched from him his shield, and begun marching as quickly as he might under the circumstances, having his horseman’s cuirass to carry as well, so that he was sore pressed; but he continued to cheer on the troops: exhorting those in front to lead on and the men toiling behind to follow up58. Soteridas was not spared by the rest of the men. They gave him blows, they pelted him, they showered him with abuse, till they compelled him to take back his shield and march on; and the other, remounting, led them on horseback as long as the footing held; but when the ground became too steep, he left his horse and pressed forward on foot, and so they found themselves on the summit before the enemy.
48 Larissa, on the side of the modern Nimrud (the south-west corner, as is commonly supposed, of Nineveh). The name is said to mean “citadel,” and is given to various Greek cities (of which several occur in Xenophon).
49 I.e. Cyrus the Great.
50 Opposite Mosul, the north-west portion of the ancient Nineveh, about eighteen miles above Larissa. The circuit of Nineveh is said to have been about fifty-six miles. It was overthrown by Cyrus in B.C. 558.
51 The wife of Astyages, the last king of Media. Some think “the wall of Media” should be “Medea’s wall,” constructed in the period of Queen Nitocris, B.C. 560.
52 The best MSS read Skuthai, Scythians; if this is correct, it is only the technical name for “archers.” Cf. Arrian, “Tact.” ii. 13. The police at Athens were technically so called, as being composed of Scythian slaves. Cf. Aristoph. “Thesm.” 1017.
53 I.e., in practising, in order to get the maximum range they let fly the arrows, not horizontally, but up into the air. Sir W. Raleigh (Hist. of the World, III. x. 8) says that Xenophon “trained his archers to short compass, who had been accustomed to the point blank,” but this is surely not Xenophon’s meaning.
54 In the passage above I have translated lokhoi companies, and, as usual, lokhagoi captains. The half company is technically called a pentecostys, and a quarter company an enomoty, and the officers in charge of them respectively penteconter and enomotarch. These would be equivalent nearly to our subalterns and sergeants, and in the evolutions described would act as guides and markers in charge of their sections. Grote thinks there were six companies formed on each flank — twelve in all. See “Hist. of Greece,” vol. ix. p. 123, note (1st ed.)
55 I.e. the Persian leaders were seen flogging their men to the attack. Cf. Herod. vii. 22. 3.
56 Lit. “a mere nail tip.”
57 Some think that these three hundred are three of the detached companies described above; others, that they were a picked corps in attendance on the commander-inchief.
58 Some MSS. “and the men behind to pass him by, as he could but ill keep up the pace.”
There and then the barbarians turned and fled as best they might, and the Hellenes held the summit, while the troops with Tissaphernes and Ariaeus turned aside and disappeared by another road. The main body with Cheirisophus made its way down into the plain and encamped in a village filled with good things of divers sorts. Nor did this village stand alone; there were others not a few in this plain of the Tigris equally overflowing with plenty. It was now afternoon; and all of a sudden the enemy came in sight on the plain, and succeeded in cutting down some of the Hellenes belonging to parties who were scattered over the flat land in quest of spoil. Indeed, many herds of cattle had been caught whilst being conveyed across to the other side of the river. And now Tissaphernes and his troops made an attempt to burn the villages, and some of the Hellenes were disposed to take the matter deeply to heart, being apprehensive that they might not know where to get provisions if the enemy burnt the villages.
Cheirisophus and his men were returning from their sally of defence when Xenophon and his party descended, and the latter rode along the ranks as the rescuing party came up, and greeted them thus: “Do you not see, men of Hellas, they admit that the country is now ours; what they stipulated against our doing when they made the treaty, viz. that we were not to fire the king’s country, they are now themselves doing — setting fire to it as if it were not their own. But we will be even with them; if they leave provisions for themselves anywhere, there also shall they see us marching;” and, turning to Cheirisophus, he added: “But it strikes me, we should sally forth against these incendiaries and protect our country.” Cheirisophus retorted: “That is not quite my view; I say, let us do a little burning ourselves, and they will cease all the quicker.”
When they had got back to the villages, while the rest were busy about provisions, the generals and officers met: and here there was deep despondency. For on the one side were exceedingly high mountains; on the other a river of such depth that they failed to reach the bottom with their spears. In the midst of their perplexities, a Rhodian came up with a proposal, as follows: “I am ready, sirs to carry you across, four thousand heavy infantry at a time; if you will furnish me with what I need and give me a talent into the bargain for my pains.” When asked, “What shall you need?” he replied: “Two thousand wine-skins. I see there are plenty of sheep and goats and asses. They have only to be flayed, and their skins inflated, and they will readily give us a passage. I shall want also the straps which you use for the baggage animals. With these I shall couple the skins to one another; then I shall moor each skin by attaching stones and letting them down like anchors into the water. Then I shall carry them across, and when I have fastened the links at both ends, I shall place layers of wood on them and a coating of earth on the top of that. You will see in a minute that there’s no danger of your drowning, for every skin will be able to support a couple of men without sinking, and the wood and earth will prevent your slipping off.”
The generals thought it a pretty invention enough, but its realisation impracticable, for on the other side were masses of cavalry posted and ready to bar the passage; who, to begin with, would not suffer the first detachment of crossers to carry out any item of the programme.
Under these circumstances, the next day they turned right about face, and began retracing their steps in the direction of Babylon to the unburnt villages, having previously set fire to those they left, so that the enemy did not ride up to them, but stood and stared, all agape to see in what direction the Hellenes would betake themselves and what they were minded to do. Here, again, while the rest of the soldiers were busy about provisions, the generals and officers met in council, and after collecting the prisoners together, submitted them to a cross-examination touching the whole country round, the names, and so forth, of each district.
The prisoners informed them that the regions south, through which they had come, belonged to the district towards Babylon and Media; the road east led to Susa and Ecbatana, where the king is said to spend summer and spring; crossing the river, the road west led to Lydia and Ionia; and the part through the mountains facing towards the Great Bear, led, they said, to the Carduchians59. They were a people, so said the prisoners, dwelling up on the hills, addicted to war, and not subject to the king; so much so that once, when a royal army one hundred and twenty thousand strong had invaded them, not a man came back, owing to the intricacies of the country. Occasionally, however, they made truce or treaty with the satrap in the plain, and, for the nonce, there would be intercourse: “they will come in and out amongst us,” “and we will go in and out amongst them,” said the captives.
After hearing these statements, the generals seated apart those who claimed to have any special knowledge of the country in any direction; they put them to sit apart without making it clear which particular route they intended to take. Finally the resolution to which they came was that they must force a passage through the hills into the territory of the Kurds; since, according to what their informants told them, when they had once passed these, they would find themselves in Armenia — the rich and large territory governed by Orontas; and from Armenia, it would be easy to proceed in any direction whatever. Thereupon they offered sacrifice, so as to be ready to start on the march as soon as the right moment appeared to have arrived. Their chief fear was that the high pass over the mountains must be occupied in advance: and a general order was issued, that after supper every one should get his kit together for starting, and repose, in readiness to follow as soon as the word of command was given.
59 See Dr. Kiepert, “Man. Anc. Geog. (Mr. G. A. Macmillan) iv. 47. The Karduchians or Kurds belong by speech to the Iranian stock, forming in fact their farthest outpost to the west, little given to agriculture, but chiefly to the breeding of cattle. Their name, pronounced Kardu by the ancient Syrians and Assyrians, Kordu by the Armenians (plural Kordukh), first appears in its narrower sense in western literature in the pages of the eye-witness Xenophon as Kardoukhoi. Later writers knew of a small kingdom here at the time of the Roman occupation, ruled by native princes, who after Tigranes II (about 80 B.C.) recognised the overlordship of the Armenian king. Later it became a province of the Sassanid kingdom, and as such was in 297 A.D. handed over among the regiones transtigritanae to the Roman empire, but in 364 was again ceded to Persia.
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