Cyropaedia, by Xenophon


[C.1] Thus they talked together, and thus they journeyed on until they reached the frontier, and there a good omen met them: an eagle swept into view on the right, and went before them as though to lead the way, and they prayed the gods and heroes of the land to show them favour and grant them safe entry, and then they crossed the boundary. And when they were across, they prayed once more that the gods of Media might receive them graciously, and when they had done this they embraced each other, as father and son will, and Cambyses turned back to his own city, but Cyrus went forward again, to his uncle Cyaxares in the land of Media. [2] And when his journey was done and he was face to face with him and they had greeted each other as kinsmen may, then Cyaxares asked the prince how great an armament he had brought with him? And Cyrus answered, “I have 30,000 with me, men who have served with you before as mercenaries; and more are coming on behind, fresh troops, from the Peers of Persia.”

“How many of those?” asked Cyaxares. [3] And Cyrus answered, “Their numbers will not please you, but remember these Peers of ours, though they are few, find it easy to rule the rest of the Persians, who are many. But now,” he added, “have you any need of us at all? Perhaps it was only a false alarm that troubled you, and the enemy are not advancing?”

“Indeed they are,” said the other, “and in full force.”

[4] “How do you know?” asked Cyrus.

“Because,” said he, “many deserters come to us, and all of them, in one fashion or another, tell the same tale.”

“Then we must give battle?” said Cyrus.

“Needs must,” Cyaxares replied.

“Well,” answered Cyrus, “but you have not told me yet how great their power is, or our own either. I want to hear, if you can tell me, so that we may make our plans.”

“Listen, then,” said Cyaxares. [5] “Croesus the Lydian is coming, we hear, with 10,000 horse and more than 40,000 archers and targeteers. Artamas the governor of Greater Phrygia is bringing, they say, 8000 horse, and lancers and targeteers also, 40,000 strong. Then there is Aribaius the king of Cappadocia with 6000 horse and 30,000 archers and targeteers. And Aragdus the Arabian with 10,000 horse, a hundred chariots, and innumerable slingers. As for the Hellenes who dwell in Asia, it is not clear as yet whether they will send a following or not. But the Phrygians from the Hellespont, we are told, are mustering in the Caystrian plain under Gabaidus, 6000 horse and 40,000 targeteers. Word has been sent to the Carians, Cilicians, and Paphlagonians, but it is said they will not rise; the Lord of Assyria and Babylon will himself, I believe, bring not less than 20,000 horse, and I make no doubt as many as 200 chariots, and thousands upon thousands of men on foot; such at least has been his custom whenever he invaded us before.”

[6] Cyrus answered: “Then you reckon the numbers of the enemy to be, in all, something like 60,000 horse and 200,000 archers and targeteers. And what do you take your own to be?”

“Well,” he answered, “we ourselves can furnish over 10,000 horse and perhaps, considering the state of the country, as many as 60,000 archers and targeteers. And from our neighbours, the Armenians,” he added, “we look to get 4000 horse and 20,000 foot.”

“I see,” said Cyrus, “you reckon our cavalry at less than a third of the enemy’s, and our infantry at less than half.”

[7] “Ah,” said Cyaxares, “and perhaps you feel that the force you are bringing from Persia is very small?”

“We will consider that later on,” answered Cyrus, “and see then if we require more men or not. Tell me first the methods of fighting that the different troops adopt.”

“They are much the same for all,” answered Cyaxares, “that is to say, their men and ours alike are armed with bows and javelins.”

“Well,” replied Cyrus, “if such arms are used, skirmishing at long range must be the order of the day.” “True,” said the other. [8] “And in that case,” went on Cyrus, “the victory is in the hands of the larger force; for even if the same numbers fall on either side, the few would be exhausted long before the many.” “If that be so,” cried Cyaxares, “there is nothing left for us but to send to Persia, and make them see that if disaster falls on Media it will fall on Persia next, and beg them for a larger force.” “Ah, but,” said Cyrus, “you must remember that even if every single Persian were to come at once, we could not outnumber our enemies.” [9] “But,” said the other, “can you see anything else to be done?” “For my part,” answered Cyrus, “if I could have my way, I would arm every Persian who is coming here in precisely the same fashion as our Peers at home, that is to say, with a corslet for the breast, a shield for the left arm, and a sword or battle-axe for the right hand. If you will give us these you will make it quite safe for us to close with the enemy, and our foes will find that flight is far pleasanter than defence. But we Persians,” he added, “will deal with those who do stand firm, leaving the fugitives to you and to your cavalry, who must give them no time to rally and no time to escape.”

[10] That was the counsel of Cyrus, and Cyaxares approved it. He thought no more of sending for a larger force, but set about preparing the equipment he had been asked for, and all was in readiness just about the time when the Peers arrived from Persia at the head of their own troops. [11] Then, so says the story, Cyrus called the Peers together and spoke to them as follows: “Men of Persia, my friends and comrades, when I looked at you first and saw the arms you bore and how you were all on fire to meet the enemy, hand to hand, and when I remembered that your squires are only equipped for fighting on the outskirts of the field, I confess my mind misgave me. Few and forlorn they will be, I said to myself, swallowed up in a host of enemies; no good can come of it. But today you are here, and your men behind you, stalwart and stout of limb, and tomorrow they shall have armour like our own. None could find fault with their thews and sinews, and as for their spirit, it is for us to see it does not fail. A leader must not only have a stout heart himself; he must see to it that his followers are as valiant as he.”

[12] Thus Cyrus spoke, and the Peers were well satisfied at his words, feeling that on the day of battle they would have more to help them in the struggle. [13] And one of them said, “Perhaps it will seem strange if I ask Cyrus to speak in our stead to our fellow-combatants when they receive their arms, and yet I know well that the words of him who has the greatest power for weal or woe sink deepest into the listener’s heart. His very gifts, though they should be less than the gifts of equals, are valued more. These new comrades of ours,” he went on, “would rather be addressed by Cyrus himself than by us, and now that they are to take their place among the Peers their title will seem to them far more secure if it is given them by the king’s own son and our general-inchief. Not that we have not still our own duties left. We are bound to do our best in every way to rouse the spirit of our men. Shall we not gain ourselves by all they gain in valour?”

[14] So it came about that Cyrus had the new armour placed before him and summoned a general meeting of the Persian soldiery, and spoke to them as follows:

[15] “Men of Persia, born and bred in the same land as ourselves, whose limbs are as stout and as strong as our own, your hearts should be as brave. I know they are; and yet at home in the land of our fathers you did not share our rights; not that we drove you out ourselves, but you were banished by the compulsion that lay upon you to find your livelihood for yourselves. Now from this day forward, with heaven’s help, it shall be my care to provide it for you; and now, if so you will, you have it in your power to take the armour that we wear ourselves, face the same perils and win the same honours, if so be you make any glorious deed your own. [16] In former days you were trained, like ourselves, in the use of bow and javelin, and if you were at all inferior to us in skill, that was not to be wondered at; you had not the same leisure for practice as we; but now in this new accoutrement we shall have no pre-eminence at all. Each of us will wear a corslet fitted to his breast and carry a shield on his left arm of the type to which we are all accustomed, and in his right hand a sabre or a battle-axe. With these we shall smite the enemy before us, and need have no fear that we shall miss the mark. [17] How can we differ from one another with these arms? There can be no difference except in daring. And daring you may foster in your hearts as much as we in ours. What greater right have we than you to love victory and follow after her, victory who wins for us and preserves to us all things that are beautiful and good? Why should you, any more than we, be found lacking in that power which takes the goods of weaklings and bestows them on the strong?”

[18] He ended: “Now you have heard all. There lie your weapons; let him who chooses take them up and write his name with the brigadier in the same roll as ours. And if a man prefers to remain a mercenary, let him do so; he carries the arms of a servant.”

[19] Thus spoke Cyrus; and the Persians, every man of them, felt they would be ashamed for the rest of their days, and deservedly, if they drew back now, when they were offered equal honour in return for equal toil. One and all they inscribed their names and took up the new arms.

[20] And now in the interval, before the enemy were actually at hand, but while rumour said they were advancing, Cyrus took on himself a three-fold task: to bring the physical strength of his men to the highest pitch, to teach them tactics, and to rouse their spirit for martial deeds. [21] He asked Cyaxares for a body of assistants whose duty it should be to provide each of his soldiers with all they could possibly need, thus leaving the men themselves free for the art of war. He had learnt, he thought, that success, in whatever sphere, was only to be won by refusing to attempt a multitude of tasks and concentrating the mind on one.

Thus in the military training itself he gave up the practice with bow and javelin, leaving his men to perfect themselves in the use of sabre, shield, and corslet, accustoming them from the very first to the thought that they must close with the enemy, or confess themselves worthless as fellow-combatants; a harsh conclusion for those who knew that they were only protected in order to fight on behalf of their protectors. [22] And further, being convinced that wherever the feeling of emulation can be roused, there the eagerness to excel is greatest, he instituted competitions for everything in which he thought his soldiers should be trained. The private soldier was challenged to prove himself prompt to obey, anxious to work, eager for danger, and yet ever mindful of discipline, an expert in the science of war, an artist in the conduct of his arms, and a lover of honour in all things. The petty officer commanding a squad of five was not only to equal the leading private, he must also do what he could to bring his men to the same perfection; the captain of ten must do the same for his ten, and the company’s captain for the company, while the commander of the whole regiment, himself above reproach, must take the utmost care with the officers under him so that they in their turn should see that their subordinates were perfect in all their duties. [23] For prizes, Cyrus announced that the brigadier in command of the finest regiment should be raised to the rank of general, the captain of the finest company should be made a brigadier, the captain of the finest squad of ten captain of a company, and the captain of the best five a captain of ten, while the best soldiers from the ranks should become captains of five themselves. Every one of these officers had the privilege of being served by those beneath him, and various other honours also, suited to their several grades, while ampler hopes were offered for any nobler exploits. [24] Finally prizes were announced to be won by a regiment or a company or a squad taken as a whole, by those who proved themselves most loyal to their leaders and most zealous in the practice of their duty. These prizes, of course, were such as to be suitable for men taken in the mass.

Such were the orders of the Persian leader, and such the exercises of the Persian troops. [25] For their quarters, he arranged that a separate shelter should be assigned to every brigadier, and that it should be large enough for the whole regiment he commanded; a regiment consisting of 100 men. Thus they were encamped by regiments, and in the mere fact of common quarters there was this advantage, Cyrus thought, for the coming struggle, that the men saw they were all treated alike, and therefore no one could pretend that he was slighted, and no one sink to the confession that he was a worse man than his neighbours when it came to facing the foe. Moreover the life in common would help the men to know each other, and it is only by such knowledge, as a rule, that a common conscience is engendered; those who live apart, unknowing and unknown, seem far more apt for mischief, like those who skulk in the dark. [26] Cyrus thought the common life would lead to the happiest results in the discipline of the regiments. By this system all the officers — brigadiers, company-captains, captains of the squads — could keep their men in as perfect order as if they were marching before them in single file. [27] Such precision in the ranks would do most to guard against disorder and re-establish order if ever it were broken; just as when timbers and stones have to be fitted together it is easy enough to put them into place, wherever they chance to lie, provided only that they are marked so as to leave no doubt where each belongs. [28] And finally, he felt, there was the fact that those who live together are the less likely to desert one another; even the wild animals, Cyrus knew, who are reared together suffer terribly from loneliness when they are severed from each other.

[29] There was a further matter, to which he gave much care; he wished no man to take his meal at morning or at night till he had sweated for it. He would lead the men out to hunt, or invent games for them, or if there was work to be done, he would so conduct it that they did not leave it without sweat. He believed this regimen gave them zest for their food, was good for their health, and increased their powers of toil; and the toil itself was a blessed means for making the men more gentle towards each other; just as horses that work together grow gentle, and will stand quietly side by side. Moreover the knowledge of having gone through a common training would increase tenfold the courage with which they met the foe.

[30] Cyrus had his own quarters built to hold all the guests he might think it well to entertain, and, as a rule, he would invite such of the brigadiers as the occasion seemed to call for, but sometimes he would send for the company-captains and the officers in command of the smaller squads, and even the private soldiers were summoned to his board, and from time to time a squad of five, or of ten, or an entire company, or even a whole regiment, or he would give a special invitation by way of honour to any one whom he knew had undertaken some work he had at heart himself. In every case there was no distinction whatever between the meats for himself and for his guests. [31] Further he always insisted that the army servants should share and share alike with the soldiers in everything, for he held that those who did such service for the army were as much to be honoured as heralds or ambassadors. They were bound, he said, to be loyal and intelligent, alive to all a soldier’s needs, active, swift, unhesitating, and withal cool and imperturbable. Nor was that all; he was convinced that they ought also to possess those qualities which are thought to be peculiar to what we call “the better classes,” and yet never despise their work, but feel that everything their commander laid upon them must be fit for them to do.

[C.2] It was the constant aim of Cyrus whenever he and his soldiers messed together, that the talk should be lively and full of grace, and at the same time do the listeners good. Thus one day he brought the conversation round to the following theme:—

“Do you think, gentlemen,” said he, “that our new comrades appear somewhat deficient in certain respects simply because they have not been educated in the same fashion as ourselves? Or will they show themselves our equals in daily life and on the field of battle when the time comes to meet the foe?”

[2] Hystaspas took up the challenge:—“What sort of warriors they will prove I do not pretend to know, but this I do say, in private life some of them are cross-grained fellows enough. Only the other day,” he went on, “Cyaxares sent a present of sacrificial meat to every regiment. There was flesh enough for three courses apiece or more, and the attendant had handed round the first, beginning with myself. So when he came in again, I told him to begin at the other end of the board, and serve the company in that order. [3] But I was greeted by a yell from the centre: one of these men who was sitting there bawled out, ‘Equality indeed! There’s not much of it here, if we who sit in the middle are never served first at all!’ It nettled me that they should fancy themselves treated worse than we, so I called him up at once and made him sit beside me. And I am bound to say he obeyed that order with the most exemplary alacrity. But when the dish came round to us, we found, not unnaturally, since we were the last to be served, that only a few scraps were left. At this my man fell into the deepest dudgeon, and made no attempt to conceal it, muttering to himself, ‘Just like my ill-luck! To be invited here just now and never before!’ [4] I tried to comfort him. ‘Never mind,’ I said, ‘presently the servant will begin again with us, and then you will help yourself first and you can take the biggest piece.’ Just then the third course, and, as it proved, the last, came round, and so the poor fellow took his helping, but as he did so it struck him that the piece he had chosen first was too small, and he put it back, meaning to pick out another. But the carver, thinking he had changed his mind and did not want any more, passed on to the next man before he had time to secure his second slice. [5] At this our friend took his loss so hard that he only made matters worse: his third course was clean gone, and now in his rage and his bad luck he somehow managed to overset the gravy, which was all that remained to him. The captain next to us seeing how matters stood rubbed his hands with glee and went into peals of laughter. And,” said Hystaspas, “I took refuge in a fit of coughing myself, for really I could not have controlled my laughter. There, Cyrus,” said he, “that is a specimen of our new comrades, as nearly as I can draw his portrait.”

[6] The description, as may be guessed, was greeted with shouts of laughter, and then another brigadier took up the word: “Well, Cyrus,” said he, “our friend here has certainly met with an absolute boor: my own experience is somewhat different. You remember the admonitions you gave us when you dismissed the regiments, and how you bade each of us instruct his own men in the lessons we had learnt from you. Well, I, like the rest of us, went off at once and set about instructing one of the companies under me. I posted the captain in front with a fine young fellow behind him, and after them the others in the order I thought best; I took my stand facing them all, and waited, with my eyes fixed on the captain, until I thought the right moment had come, and then I gave the order to advance. [7] And what must my fine fellow do but get in front of the captain and march off ahead of the whole troop. I cried out, ‘You, sir, what are you doing?’ ‘Advancing as you ordered.’ ‘I never ordered you to advance alone,’ I retorted, ‘the order was given to the whole company.’ At which he turned right round and addressed the ranks: ‘Don’t you hear the officer abusing you? The orders are for all to advance!’ Whereupon the rest of them marched right past their captain and up to me. [8] Of course the captain called them back, and they began to grumble and growl: ‘Which of the two are we to obey? One tells us to advance, the other won’t let us move.’

“Well, I had to take the whole matter very quietly and begin again from the beginning, posting the company as they were, and explaining that no one in the rear was to move until the front rank man led off: all they had to do was to follow the man in front. [9] As I was speaking, up came a friend of mine; he was going off to Persia, and had come to ask me for a letter I had written home. So I turned to the captain who happened to know where I had left the letter lying, and bade him fetch it for me. Off he ran, and off ran my young fellow at his heels, breast-plate, battle-axe, and all. The rest of the company thought they were bound to follow suit, joined in the race, and brought my letter back in style. That is how my company, you see, carries out your instructions to the full.”

[10] He paused, and the listeners laughed to their hearts’ content, as well as they might, over the triumphant entry of the letter under its armed escort. Then Cyrus spoke:

“Now heaven be praised! A fine set they are, these new friends of ours, a most rare race! So grateful are they for any little act of courtesy, you may win a hundred hearts by a dish of meat! And so docile, some of them must needs obey an order before they have understood it! For my part I can only pray to be blest with an army like them all.”

[11] Thus he joined in the mirth, but he turned the laughter to the praise of his new recruits.

Then one of the company, a brigadier called Aglaïtadas, a somewhat sour-tempered man, turned to him and said:

“Cyrus, do you really think the tales they tell are true?”

“Certainly,” he answered, “why should they say what is false?”

“Why,” repeated the other, “simply to raise a laugh, and make a brag like the impostors that they are.” [12] But Cyrus cut him short, “Hush! hush! You must not use such ugly names. Let me tell you what an impostor is. He is a man who claims to be wealthier or braver than he is in fact, and who undertakes what he can never carry out, and all this for the sake of gain. But he who contrives mirth for his friends, not for his own profit, or his hearers’ loss, or to injure any man, surely, if we must needs give him a name, we ought to call him a man of taste and breeding and a messenger of wit.”

[13] Such was the defence of Cyrus in behalf of the merrymakers. And the officer who had begun the jest turned to Aglaïtadas and said:

“Just think, my dear sir, if we had tried to make you weep! What fault you would have found with us! Suppose we had been like the ballad-singers and story-tellers who put in lamentable tales in the hope of reducing their audience to tears! What would you have said about us then? Why, even now, when you know we only wish to amuse you, not to make you suffer, you must needs hold us up to shame.”

[14] “And is not the shame justified?” Aglaïtadas replied. “The man who sets himself to make his fellows laugh does far less for them than he who makes them weep. If you will but think, you will admit that what I say is true. It is through tears our fathers teach self-control unto their sons, and our tutors sound learning to their scholars, and the laws themselves lead the grown man to righteousness by putting him to sit in the place of penitence. But your mirth-makers, can you say they benefit the body or edify the soul? Can smiles make a man a better master or a better citizen? Can he learn economy or statesmanship from a grin?”

[15] But Hystaspas answered back:

“Take my advice, Aglaïtadas, pluck up heart and spend this precious gift of yours on your enemies: make them sit in the seat of the sorrowful, and fling away on us, your friends, that vile and worthless laughter. You must have an ample store of it in reserve: it cannot be said you have squandered it on yourself, or ever wasted a smile on friend or foreigner if you could help it. So you have no excuse to be niggardly now, and cannot refuse us a smile.”

“I see,” said Aglaïtadas, “you are trying to get a laugh out of me, are you not?”

But the brigadier interposed, “Then he is a fool for his pains, my friend: one might strike fire out of you, perhaps, but not a laugh, not a laugh.”

[16] At this sally all the others shouted with glee, and even Aglaïtadas could not help himself: he smiled.

And Cyrus, seeing the sombre face light up said:

“Brigadier, you are very wrong to corrupt so virtuous a man, luring him to laughter, and that too when he is the sworn foe of gaiety.”

So they talked and jested. [17] And then Chrysantas began on another theme.

[18] “Cyrus,” he said, “and gentlemen all, I cannot help seeing that within our ranks are men of every kind, some better and some worse, and yet if anything is won every man will claim an equal share. Now to my mind nothing is more unfair than that the base man and the good should be held of equal account.”

“Perhaps it would be best, gentlemen,” said Cyrus in answer, “to bring the matter before the army in council and put it to them, whether, if God grant us success, we should let all share and share alike, or distribute the rewards and honours in proportion to the deserts of each.”

[19] “But why,” asked Chrysantas, “why discuss the point? Why not simply issue a general order that you intend to do this? Was not that enough in the case of the competitions?”

“Doubtless,” Cyrus answered, “but this case is different. The troops, I take it, will feel that all they win by their services on the campaign should belong to them in common: but they hold that the actual command of the expedition was mine by right even before we left home, so that I was fully entitled, on their view, to appoint umpires and judges at my own will.”

[20] “And do you really expect,” asked Chrysantas, “that the mass of the army will pass a resolution giving up the right of all to an equal share in order that the best men should receive the most?”

“Yes, I do,” said Cyrus, “partly because we shall be there to argue for that course, but chiefly because it would seem too base to deny that he who works the hardest and does most for the common good deserves the highest recompense. Even the worst of men must admit that the brave should gain the most.”

[21] It was, however, as much for the sake of the Peers themselves as for any other reason that Cyrus wished the resolution to be passed. They would prove all the better men, he thought, if they too were to be judged by their deeds and rewarded accordingly. And this was the right moment, he felt, to raise the question and put it to the vote, now when the Peers were disposed to resent being put on a level with the common people. In the end it was agreed by all the company that the question should be raised, and that every one who claimed to call himself a man was bound to argue in its favour.

[22] And on that one of the brigadiers smiled to himself and said: “I know at least one son of the soil who will be ready to agree that the principle of share and share alike should not be followed everywhere.”

“And who is he?” another asked.

“Well,” said the first, “he is a member of our quarters, I can tell you that, and he is always hunting after the lion’s share of every single thing.”

“What? Of everything?” said a third. “Of work as well?” “Oh, no!” said the first, “you have caught me there. I was wrong to say so much, I must confess. When it comes to work, I must admit, he is quite ready to go short: he will give up his own share of that, without a murmur, to any man whatever.”

[23] “For my part, gentlemen,” said Cyrus, “I hold that all such idlers ought to be turned out of the army, that is, if we are ever to cultivate obedience and energy in our men. The bulk of our soldiers, I take it, are of the type to follow a given lead: they will seek after nobleness and valour if their leaders are valiant and noble, but after baseness if these are base. [24] And we know that only too often the worthless will find more friends than the good. Vice, passing lightly along her path of pleasure, wins the hearts of thousands with her gifts; but Virtue, toiling up the steep ascent, has little skill to snare the souls of men and draw them after her, when all the while their comrades are calling to them on the easy downward way. [25] It is true there are degrees, and where the evil springs only from sloth and lethargy, I look on the creatures as mere drones, only injuring the hive by what they cost: but there are others, backward in toil and forward in greed, and these are the captains in villainy: for not seldom can they show that rascality has its advantages. Such as they must be removed, cut out from among us, root and branch. [26] And I would not have you fill their places from our fellow-citizens alone, but, just as you choose your horses from the best stocks, wherever you find them, not limiting yourselves to the national breed, so you have all mankind before you, and you should choose those, and those only, who will increase your power and add to your honour. Let me clinch my argument by examples: no chariot can travel fast if the horses in the team are slow, or run straight if they will not be ruled; no house can stand firm if the household is evil: better empty walls than traitors who will bring it to the ground.

[27] “And be sure, my friends,” he added, “the removal of the bad means a benefit beyond the sheer relief that they are taken away and will trouble us no more: those who are left and were ripe for contagion are purified, and those who were worthy will cleave to virtue all the closer when they see the dishonour that falls on wickedness.”

[28] So Cyrus spoke, and his words won the praise of all his friends, and they set themselves to do as he advised.

But after that Cyrus began to jest again. His eye fell on a certain captain who had chosen for his comrade at the feast a great hairy lad, a veritable monster of ugliness, and Cyrus called to the captain by name: “How now, Sambulas? Have you adopted the Hellenic fashion too? And will you roam the world together, you and the lad who sits beside you, because there is none so fair as he?” “By heaven,” answered Sambulas, “you are not far wrong. It is bliss to me to feast my eyes upon him.” [29] At that all the guests turned and looked on the young man’s face, but when they saw how ugly it was, they could not help laughing outright. “Heavens, Sambulas, tell us the valiant deed that knit your souls together! How has he drawn you to himself?” [30] “Listen then,” he answered, “and I will tell you the whole truth. Every time I call him, morning, noon, or night, he comes to me; never yet has he excused himself, never been too busy to attend; and he comes at a run, he does not walk. Whatever I have bidden him do, he has always done it, and at the top of his speed. He has made all the petty captains under him the very models of industry; he shows them, not by word but deed, what they ought to be.” [31] “And so,” said another, “for all these virtues you give him, I take it, the kiss of kinship?” But the ugly lad broke out: “Not he! He has no great love for work. And to kiss me, if it came to that, would mean more effort than all his exercises.”

[C.3] So the hours passed in the general’s tent, from grave to gay, until at last the third libation was poured out, and the company bent in prayer to the gods —“Grant us all that is good”— and so broke up, and went away to sleep.

But the next day Cyrus assembled the soldiers in full conclave, and spoke to them: [2] “My men,” he said, “my friends, the day of struggle is at hand, and the enemy are near. The prizes of victory, if victory is to be ours — and we must believe it will be ours, we must make it ours — the prizes of victory will be nothing short of the enemy himself and all that he possesses. And if the victory should be his, then, in like manner, all the goods of the vanquished must lie at the victor’s feet. [3] Therefore I would have you take this to your hearts: wherever those who have joined together for war remember that unless each and every one of them play his part with zeal nothing good can follow; there we may look for glorious success. For there nothing that ought to be done will be left undone. But if each man thinks ‘My neighbour will toil and fight, even though my own heart should fail and my own arm fall slack,’ then, believe me, disaster is at the door for each and all alike, and no man shall escape. [4] Such is the ordinance of God: those who will not work out their own salvation he gives into the hands of other men to bear rule over them. And now I call on any man here,” he added, “to stand up and say whether he believes that virtue will best be nourished among us if he who bears the greatest toil and takes the heaviest risk shall receive the highest honours. Or whether we should hold that cowardice makes no difference in the end, seeing that we all must share alike?”

[5] Thereupon Chrysantas of the Peers rose up. He was a man of understanding, but his bodily presence was weak. And now he spoke thus:

“I do not imagine, Cyrus, that you put this question with any belief that cowards ought really to receive the same share as the brave. No, you wished to make trial of us and see whether any man would dare to claim an equal part in all that his fellows win by their nobleness, though he never struck a single valiant stroke himself. [6] I myself,” he continued, “am neither fleet of foot nor stout of limb, and for aught I can do with my body, I perceive that on the day of trial neither the first place nor the second can be mine, no, nor yet the hundredth, nor even, it may be, the thousandth. But this I know right well, that if our mighty men put forth all their strength, I too shall receive such portion of our blessings as I may deserve. But if the cowards sit at ease and the good and brave are out of heart, then I fear that I shall get a portion, a larger than I care to think, of something that is no blessing but a curse.”

[7] And so spoke Chrysantas, and then Pheraulas stood up. He was a man of the people, but well known to Cyrus in the old days at home and well-beloved by him: no mean figure to look at, and in soul like a man of noble birth. Now he spoke as follows:

[8] “Cyrus, friends, and Persians, I hold to the belief that on this day we all start equal in that race where valour is the goal. I speak of what I see: we are trained on the same fare; we are held worthy of the same comradeship; we contend for the same rewards. All of us alike are told to obey our leaders, and he who obeys most frankly never fails to meet with honour at the hands of Cyrus. Valour is no longer the privilege of one class alone: it has become the fairest prize that can fall to the lot of any man. [9] And today a battle is before us where no man need teach us how to fight: we have the trick of it by nature, as a bull knows how to use his horns, or a horse his hoofs, or a dog his teeth, or a wild boar his tusks. The animals know well enough,” he added, “when and where to guard themselves: they need no master to tell them that. [10] I myself, when I was a little lad, I knew by instinct how to shield myself from the blow I saw descending: if I had nothing else, I had my two fists, and used them with all my force against my foe: no one taught me how to do it, on the contrary they beat me if they saw me clench my fists. And a knife, I remember, I never could resist: I clutched the thing whenever I caught sight of it: not a soul showed me how to hold it, only nature herself, I do aver. I did it, not because I was taught to do it, but in spite of being forbidden, like many another thing to which nature drove me, in spite of my father and mother both. Yes, and I was never tired of hacking and hewing with my knife whenever I got the chance: it did not seem merely natural, like walking or running, it was positive joy. [11] Well, today we are to fight in this same simple fashion: energy, rather than skill, is called for, and glorious it will be to match ourselves against our friends, the Peers of Persia. And let us remember that the same prizes are offered to us all, but the stakes differ: our friends give up a life of honour, the sweetest life there can be, but we escape from years of toil and ignominy, and there can be no life worse than that. [12] And what fires me most of all, my friends, and sends me into the lists most gladly, is the thought that Cyrus will be our judge: one who will give no partial verdict. I call the gods to witness when I say that he loves a valiant man as he loves his own soul: I have seen him give such an one more than he ever keeps for himself. [13] And now,” he added, “I know that our friends here pride themselves upon their breeding and what it has done for them. They have been brought up to endure hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, and yet they are aware that we too have been trained in the self-same school and by a better master than they: we were taught by Necessity, and there is no teacher so good, and none so strict. [14] How did our friends here learn their endurance? By bearing arms, weapons of war, tools that the wit of the whole human race has made as light as well could be: but Necessity drove us, my fellows and myself, to stagger under burdens so heavy that today, if I may speak for myself, these weapons of mine seem rather wings to lift me than weights to bear. [15] I for one am ready, Cyrus, to enter the lists, and, however I prove, I will ask from you no more than I deserve: I would have you believe this. And you,” he added, turning to his fellows, “you, men of the people, I would have you plunge into the battle and match yourselves with these gentlemen-warriors: the fine fellows must meet us now, for this is the people’s day.”

[16] That is what Pheraulas said, and many rose to follow him and support his views. And it was resolved that each man should be honoured according to his deserts and that Cyrus should be the judge. So the matter ended, and all was well.

[17] Now Cyrus gave a banquet and a certain brigadier was the chief guest, and his regiment with him. Cyrus had marked the officer one day when he was drilling his men; he had drawn up the ranks in two divisions, opposite each other, ready for the charge. They were all wearing corslets and carrying light shields, but half were equipped with stout staves of fennel, and half were ordered to snatch up clods of earth and do what they could with these. [18] When all were ready, the officer gave the signal and the artillery began, not without effect: the missiles fell fast on shields and corslets, on thighs and greaves. But when they came to close quarters the men of the staves had their turn: they struck at thighs and hands and legs, or, if the adversary stooped and twisted, they belaboured back and shoulders, till they put the foe to utter rout, delivering their blows with shouts of laughter and the glee of boys. Then there was an exchange of weapons, and the other side had their revenge: they took the staves in their turn, and once more the staff triumphed over the clod. [19] Cyrus was full of admiration, partly at the inventiveness of the commander, partly at the discipline of the men; it was good to see the active exercise, and the gaiety of heart, and good to know that the upshot of the battle favoured those who fought in the Persian style. In every way he was pleased, and then and there he bade them all to dinner. But at the feast many of the guests wore bandages, some on their hands, others on their legs, and Cyrus saw it and asked what had befallen them. They told him they had been bruised by the clods. [20] “At close quarters?” said he, “or at long range?” “At long range,” they answered, and all the club-bearers agreed that when it came to close quarters, they had the finest sport. But here those who had been carbonaded by that weapon broke in and protested loudly that it was anything but sport to be clubbed at short range, and in proof thereof they showed the weals on hand and neck and face. Thus they laughed at one another as soldiers will; and on the next day the whole plain was studded with combats of this type, and whenever the army had nothing more serious in hand, this sport was their delight.

[21] Another day Cyrus noticed a brigadier who was marching his regiment up from the river back to their quarters. They were advancing in single file on his left, and at the proper moment he ordered the second company to wheel round and draw up to the front alongside the first, and then the third, and then the fourth; and when the company-captains were all abreast, he passed the word along, “Companies in twos,” and the captains-of-ten came into line; and then at the right moment he gave the order, “Companies in fours,” and the captains of five wheeled round and came abreast, and when they reached the tent doors he called a halt, made them fall into single file once more, and marched the first company in first, and then the second at its heels, and the third and fourth behind them, and as he introduced them, he seated them at the table, keeping the order of their entry. What Cyrus commended was the quiet method of instruction and the care the officer showed, and it was for that he invited him and all his regiment to dinner in the royal tent.

[22] Now it chanced that another brigadier was among the guests, and he spoke up and said to Cyrus: “But will you never ask my men to dinner too? Day after day, morning and evening, whenever we come in for a meal we do just the same as they, and when the meal is over the hindmost man of the last company leads out his men with their fighting-order reversed, and the next company follows, led by their hindmost man, and then the third, and then the fourth: so that all of them, if they have to retire before an enemy, will know how to fall back in good order. And as soon as we are drawn up on the parade-ground we set off marching east, and I lead off with all my divisions behind me, in their regular order, waiting for my word. By-and-by we march west, and then the hindmost man of the last division leads the way, but they must still look to me for commands, though I am marching last: and thus they learn to obey with equal promptitude whether I am at the head or in the rear.”

[23] “Do you mean to tell me,” said Cyrus, “that this is a regular rule of yours?”

“Truly yes,” he answered, “as regular as our meals, heaven help us!”

“Then I hereby invite you all to dinner, and for three good reasons; you practice your drill in both forms, you do this morning and evening both, and by your marching and counter-marching you train your bodies and benefit your souls. And since you do it all twice over every day, it is only fair to give you dinner twice.”

[24] “Not twice in one day, I beg you!” said the officer, “unless you can furnish us with a second stomach apiece.”

And so the conversation ended for the time. But the next day Cyrus was as good as his word. He had all the regiment to dinner; and the day after he invited them again: and when the other regiments knew of it they fell to doing as they did.

[C.4] Now it chanced one day as Cyrus was holding a review, a messenger came from Cyaxares to tell him that an embassy from India had just arrived, and to bid him return with all despatch.

“And I bring with me,” said the messenger, “a suit of splendid apparel sent from Cyaxares himself: my lord wishes you to appear in all possible splendour, for the Indians will be there to see you.”

[2] At that Cyrus commanded the brigadier of the first regiment to draw up to the front with his men behind him on the left in single file, and to pass the order on to the second, and so throughout the army. Officers and men were quick to obey; so that in a trice the whole force on the field was drawn up, one hundred deep and three hundred abreast, with their officers at the head. [3] When they were in position Cyrus bade them follow his lead and off they went at a good round pace. However the road leading to the royal quarters was too narrow to let them pass with so wide a front and Cyrus sent word along the line that the first detachment, one thousand strong, should follow as they were, and then the second, and so on to the last, and as he gave the command he led on without a pause and all the detachments followed in due order, one behind the other. [4] But to prevent mistakes he sent two gallopers up to the entrance with orders to explain what should be done in case the men were at a loss. And when they reached the gates, Cyrus told the leading brigadier to draw up his regiment round the palace, twelve deep, the front rank facing the building, and this command he was to pass on to the second, and the second to the third, and so on till the last. [5] And while they saw to this he went in to Cyaxares himself, wearing his simple Persian dress without a trace of pomp. Cyaxares was well pleased at his celerity, but troubled by the plainness of his attire, and said to him, “What is the meaning of this, Cyrus? How could you show yourself in this guise to the Indians? I wished you to appear in splendour: it would have done me honour for my sister’s son to be seen in great magnificence.”

[6] But Cyrus made answer: “Should I have done you more honour if I had put on a purple robe, and bracelets for my arms, and a necklace about my neck, and so presented myself at your call after long delay? Or as now, when to show you respect I obey you with this despatch and bring you so large and fine a force, although I wear no ornament but the dust and sweat of speed, and make no display unless it be to show you these men who are as obedient to you as I am myself.” Such were the words of Cyrus, and Cyaxares felt that they were just, and so sent for the Indian ambassadors forthwith. [7] And when they entered they gave this message:— The king of the Indians bade them ask what was the cause of strife between the Assyrians and the Medes, “And when we have heard you,” they said, “our king bids us betake ourselves to the Assyrian and put the same question to him, and in the end we are to tell you both that the king of the Indians, when he has enquired into the justice of the case, will uphold the cause of him who has been wronged.”

[8] To this Cyaxares replied:

“Then take from me this answer: we do the Assyrian no wrong nor any injustice whatsoever. And now go and make inquiry of him, if you are so minded, and see what answer he will give.”

Then Cyrus, who was standing by, asked Cyaxares, “May I too say what is in my mind?” “Say on,” answered Cyaxares. Then Cyrus turned to the ambassadors: “Tell your master,” he said, “unless Cyaxares is otherwise minded, that we are ready to do this: if the Assyrian lays any injustice to our charge we choose the king of the Indians himself to be our judge, and he shall decide between us.”

[9] With that the embassy departed. And when they had gone out Cyrus turned to his uncle and began, “Cyaxares, when I came to you I had scant wealth of my own and of the little I brought with me only a fragment is left. I have spent it all on my soldiers. You may wonder at this,” he added, “when it is you who have supported them, but, believe me, the money has not been wasted: it has all been spent on gifts and rewards to the soldiers who deserved it. [10] And I am sure,” he added, “if we require good workers and good comrades in any task whatever, it is better and pleasanter to encourage them by kind speeches and kindly acts than to drive them by pains and penalties. And if it is for war that we need such trusty helpers, we can only win the men we want by every charm of word and grace of deed. For our true ally must be a friend and not a foe, one who can never envy the prosperity of his leader nor betray him in the day of disaster. [11] Such is my conviction, and such being so, I do not hide from myself the need of money. But to look to you for everything, when I know that you spend so much already, would be monstrous in my eyes. I only ask that we should take counsel together so as to prevent the failure of your funds. I am well aware that if you won great wealth, I should be able to help myself at need, especially if I used it for your own advantage. [12] Now I think you told me the other day that the king of Armenia has begun to despise you, because he hears we have an enemy, and therefore he will neither send you troops nor pay the tribute which is due.” [13] “Yes,” answered Cyaxares, “such are his tricks. And I cannot decide whether to march on him at once and try to subdue him by force, or let the matter be for the time, for fear of adding to the enemies we have.” Then Cyrus asked, “Are his dwellings strongly fortified, or could they be attacked?” And Cyaxares answered, “The actual fortifications are not very strong: I took good care of that. But he has the hill-country to which he can retire, and there for the moment lie secure, knowing that he himself is safely out of reach, with everything that he can convoy thither; unless we are prepared to carry on a siege, as my father actually did.”

[14] Thereupon Cyrus said, “Now if you are willing to send me with a moderate force of cavalry — I will not ask for many men — I believe, heaven helping me, I could compel him to send the troops and the tribute. And I even hope that in the future he may become a firmer friend that he is now.” [15] And Cyaxares said: “I think myself they are more likely to listen to you than to me. I have been told that his sons were your companions in the chase when you were lads, and possibly old habits will return and they will come over to you. Once they were in our power, everything could be done as we desire.” “Then,” said Cyrus, “this plan of ours had better be kept secret, had it not?” “No doubt,” answered Cyaxares. “In that way they would be more likely to fall into our hands, and if we attack them they would be taken unprepared.”

[16] “Listen then,” said Cyrus, “and see what you think of this. I have often hunted the marches between your country and Armenia with all my men, and sometimes I have taken horsemen with me from our comrades here.” “I see,” said Cyaxares, “and if you chose to do the like again it would seem only natural, but if your force was obviously larger than usual, suspicion would arise at once.” [17] “But it is possible,” said Cyrus, “to frame a pretext which would find credit with us and with them too, if any rumour reached them. We might give out that I intend to hold a splendid hunt and I might ask you openly for a troop of horse.”

“Admirable!” said Cyaxares. “And I shall refuse to give you more than a certain number, my reason being that I wish to visit the outposts on the Syrian side. And as a matter of fact,” he added, “I do wish to see them and put them in as strong a state as possible. Then, as soon as you have started with your men, and marched, let us say, for a couple of days, I could send you a good round number of horse and foot from my own detachment. And when you have them at your back, you could advance at once, and I will follow with the rest of my men as near you as I may, close enough to appear in time of need.”

[18] Accordingly, Cyaxares proceeded to muster horse and foot for his own march, and sent provision-waggons forward to meet him on the road. Meanwhile Cyrus offered sacrifice for the success of his expedition and found an opportunity to ask Cyaxares for a troop of his junior cavalry. But Cyaxares would only spare a few, though many wished to go. Soon afterwards he started for the outposts himself with all his horse and foot, and then Cyrus found the omens favourable for his enterprise, and led his soldiers out as though he meant to hunt. [19] He was scarcely on his way when a hare started up at their feet, and an eagle, flying on the right, saw the creature as it fled, swooped down and struck it, bore it aloft in its talons to a cliff hard by, and did its will upon it there. The omen pleased Cyrus well, and he bowed in worship to Zeus the King, and said to his company, “This shall be a right noble hunt, my friends, if God so will.”

[20] When he came to the borders he began the hunt in his usual way, the mass of horse and foot going on ahead in rows like reapers, beating out the game, with picked men posted at intervals to receive the animals and give them chase. And thus they took great numbers of boars and stags and antelopes and wild-asses: even to this day wild-asses are plentiful in those parts. [21] But when the chase was over, Cyrus had touched the frontier of the Armenian land, and there he made the evening meal. The next day he hunted till he reached the mountains which were his goal. And there he halted again and made the evening meal. At this point he knew that the army from Cyaxares was advancing, and he sent secretly to them and bade them keep about eight miles off, and take their evening meal where they were, since that would make for secrecy. And when their meal was over he told them to send their officers to him, and after supper he called his own brigadiers together and addressed them thus:

[22] “My friends, in old days the Armenian was a faithful ally and subject of Cyaxares, but now when he sees an enemy against us, he assumes contempt: he neither sends the troops nor pays the tribute. He is the game we have come to catch, if catch we can. And this, I think, is the way. You, Chrysantas,” said he, “will sleep for a few hours, and then take half the Persians with you, make for the hill country, and seize the heights which we hear are his places of refuge when alarmed. I will give you guides. [23] The hills, they tell us, are covered with trees and scrub, so that we may hope you will escape unseen: still you might send a handful of scouts ahead of you, disguised as a band of robbers. If they should come across any Armenians they can either make them prisoners and prevent them from spreading the news, or at least scare them out of the way, so that they will not realise the whole of your force, and only take measures against a pack of thieves. [24] That is your task, Chrysantas, and now for mine. At break of day I shall take half the foot and all the cavalry and march along the level straight to the king’s residence. If he resists, we must fight, if he retreats along the plain we must run him down, if he makes for the mountains, why then,” said Cyrus, “it will be your business to see that none of your visitors escape. [25] Think of it as a hunt: we down below are the beaters rounding up the game, and you are the men at the nets: only bear in mind that the earths must all be stopped before the game is up, and the men at the traps must be hidden, or they will turn back the flying quarry. [26] One last word, Chrysantas: you must not behave now as I have known you do in your passion for the chase: you must not sit up the whole night long without a wink of sleep, you must let all your men have the modicum of rest that they cannot do without. [27] Nor must you — just because you scour the hills in the hunt without a guide, following the lead of the quarry and that alone, checking and changing course wherever it leads you — you must not now plunge into the wildest paths: you must tell your guides to take you by the easiest road unless it is much the longest. [28] In war, they say, the easiest way is the quickest. And once more, because you can race up a mountain yourself you are not to lead on your men at the double; suit your pace to the strength of all. [29] Indeed, it were no bad thing if some of your best and bravest were to fall behind here and there and cheer the laggards on: and it would quicken the pace of all, when the column has gone ahead, to see them racing back to their places past the marching files.”

[30] Chrysantas listened, and his heart beat high at the trust reposed in him. He took the guides, and gave the necessary orders for those who were to march with him, and then he lay down to rest. And when all his men had had the sleep he thought sufficient he set out for the hills. [31] Day dawned, and Cyrus sent a messenger to the Armenian with these words: “Cyrus bids you see to it that you bring your tribute and troops without delay.” “And if he asks you where Cyrus is, tell the truth and say I am on the frontier. And if he asks whether I am advancing myself, tell the truth again and say that you do not know. And if he enquires how many we are, bid him send some one with you to find out.”

[32] Having so charged the messenger he sent him on forthwith, holding this to be more courteous than to attack without warning. Then he drew up his troops himself in the order best suited for marching, and, if necessary, for fighting, and so set forth. The soldiers had orders that not a soul was to be wronged, and if they met any Armenians they were to bid them to have no fear, but open a market wherever they wished, and sell meat or drink as they chose.


C1.5. Is this historical, i.e. quasi-historical? Are any of the names real or all invented to give verisimilitude?

C1.13. Any touch of the sycophancy of the future in it? As in modern Germany, a touch of that involved in the system of royalty.

C1.15. The raw material is good, but not worked up. Important for the conception of Hellenic democracy (cf. § 17). Daring, courage, virtue — there is no monopoly of these things.

C1.21. (Cf. below VIII. C2.5) Worthy of Adam Smith. Xenophon has bump of economy strongly developed; he resembles J. P.[*] in that respect. The economic methodism, the mosaic interbedding, the architectonic structure of it all, a part and parcel of Xenophon’s genius. Was Alexander’s army a highly-organised, spiritually and materially built-up, vitalised machine of this sort? What light does Arrian, that younger Xenophon, throw upon it?

[* “J. P.” = John Percival, Bishop of Hereford (the writer of the Introduction to this volume), at the time the notes were written Headmaster of Clifton College. — F.M.S.]

C1.25. Camaraderie encouraged and developed through a sense of equality and fraternity, the life au grand jour in common, producing a common consciousness (cf. Comte and J. P.; Epaminondas and the Sacred Band at Thebes).

C2. Contrast of subject enlivening the style — light concrete as a foil to the last drier abstract detail. Humorous also, with a dramatising and development of the characters, Shakespeare-wise — Hystaspas, and the rest. Aglaïtadas, a type of educator we know well (cf. Eccles. “Cocker not a child”), grim, dry person with no sense of humour. Xenophon’s own humour shines out.

C2.12. The term given to the two stories {eis tagathon}. T. E. B.[*] could do it, or Socrates, without dullness or seeming to preach. There is a crispness in the voice which is anti-pedantic.

[* “T. E. B.” = T. E. Brown, the Manx poet, at that time a colleague of Mr. Dakyns at Clifton. — F.M.S.]

C2.19. Cyrus recognises the ideal principle of co-operation and collective ownership. Xenophon, Economist, ahead of the moderns.

C2.26. Xenophon’s breadth of view: virtue is not confined to citizens, but we have the pick of the whole world. Cosmopolitan Hellenism.

C3.4. Xenophon’s theory of rule (cf. Ruskin): a right, inalienable, God-bestowed, of the virtuous; subjection an inevitable consequence on lack of self-discipline.

C3.5, init. Is this a carelessness, or what? Chrysantas has been introduced before, but here he is described as if stepping on the stage for the first time. The sentence itself suggests the mould for the New Testament narrative.

C3.7. Pheraulas, and of him we shall hear much. A sharp contrast to Chrysantas, the Peer, with his pointed plebeian similes. His speech important again for Xenophon’s sympathetic knowledge of children and also of the hard-working poor.

C3.10. How true to nature this. Cannot one see the little boy doubling his little fists, a knife in his pocket, possibly a ball of string?

C3.11. Is there a touch of flunkeyism in this? Not so; it is the clear-sighted scientific Greek, that is all.

C3.14. Very Scotch all this.

C3.21-22. Locus classicus for regimental marching tactics. Qy.: Are any of these tactical improvements by Xenophon himself?

[C3.21. The “regiment” of a hundred men was divided into four “companies” of twenty-five, to each of these one company-captain and twenty-four men, viz.: twenty privates, two captains-of-ten, and two captains-of-five, the two captains of ten having also especial charge over the two remaining squads of five. A condensed diagram may make the little manœuvre clear. An X represents one group of five plus its captain, either a captain-of-five or a captain-of-ten. A C represents a company-captain.

  First position--One long column. All in single file.

  Second position--Four columns. Single file for each company.

  Third position--Eight columns. Double files.

  Fourth position--Sixteen columns. Quadruple files.

    C      C   C       C     C          C       C
    X      X   X  ->  X X   X X  ->  X X X X X X X X
    X  ->  X   X      X X   X X
    X      X   X
    X      X   X

C4.15. Cyaxares means to kidnap them, doesn’t he? That is not quite Cyrus’ method. If so, it contrasts Cyaxares and Cyrus again.

C4.17. Cyaxares the old fox improves upon the plan.

C4.30, init. It is these touches which give the thrilling subjective feeling to the writings of Xenophon, or, rather, thus his nerves tingle, just as the external touches give a sense of objective health (e.g. above, C1.29).

C4.32. All this is entirely modern, never yet excelled, I imagine.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02