Page images

rous nations, victorious over all obstacles in their way, and over all the dangers which either concealed fraud or open force reduced them to undergo.

This retreat, in the opinion of the best judges and most experienced in the art of war, is the boldest and best conducted exploit to be found in ancient history, and is deemed a perfect model in its kind. Happily for us, it is described to the most minute circumstance by an historian, who was not only eye witness of the facts he relates, but the first mover, the soul of this great enterprise. I shall only abridge it, and abstract its most material circumstances; but I cannot omit advising young persons, who make arms their profession, to consult the original, of which there is a good translation extant in French, though far short of the admirable beauties of the text. It is very difficult to meet with a more able master than Xenophon in the art of war, to whom may be well applied here what Homer says of Phenix the governor of Achilles, " that he was equally capable of forming his pupil for eloquence or arms."

Μυθων τε ρητηρ εμεναι, αρακτηρα τε εργαν:



We have already said that young Cyrus," son of Darius Nothus and Parysatis, saw with pain his elder brother Artaxerxes upon the throne, and that at the

" Iliad. X. ver. 443. w A. M. 3600. Ant. J. C. 404. Diod. I. xiv. p. 243—249, et 252. Justin. I. v. c. 11. Xenophon de Cyri Exped. l. i. p. 243-248.

very time the latter was taking possession of it, he had attempted to deprive him of his crown and life together. Artaxerxes was not insensible of what he had to fear from a brother of his enterprising and ambitious spirit, but could not refuse pardoning him to the prayers and tears of his mother Parysatis, who doated upon this youngest son. He removed him therefore into Asia to his government; confiding to him, contrary to all the rules of policy, an absolute authority over the provinces left him by the will of the king his father.

As soon as he arrived there, his thoughts were solely intent upon revenging the supposed affront he had received from his brother, and to dethrone him.' He received all that came from the court with great favour and affability, to induce them insensibly to quit the king's party, and adhere to him. He gained also the hearts of the barbarians under his government, familiarizing himself with them, and mingling with the common soldiery, though without forgetting the dignity of their general ; these he formed by various exercises for the trade of war. He applied particularly in secret to raise from several parts, and upon different pretexts, a body of Grecian troops, upon whom he relied much more than upon those of the barbarians. Clearchus retired to his court after having been banished from Sparta, and was of great service to him, being an able, experienced, and valiant captain. 'At the same time several cities in the provinces of Tissaphernes revolted from their obedience in favour of Cyrus. This incident, which was not an effect of chance, but of the secret practices of that prince, gave birth to a war between them. Cyrus, under the pretence of arming against Tissaphernes, assembled troops openly, and, to amuse the court the more speciously, sent grievous complaints to the king against that gov. ernor, demanding his protection and aid in the most submissive manner. Artaxerxes was deceived by these appearances, and believed that all Cyrus's preparations regarded only Tissaphernes, and continued quiet, from the assurance of having nothing to apprehend for himself.

* A. M. 3601. Ant J. C. 403. Y A. M. 3602. Ant. J. C. 402.

Cyrus knew well how to improve the imprudent security and indolence of his brother, which some people conceived the effect of his goodness and humanity. And indeed in the beginning of his reign he seemed to imitate the virtues of the first Artaxerxes, whose name he bore ; for he demeaned himself with great mildness and affability to such as approached him ; he honoured and rewarded magnificently all those whose services had merited favour; when he passed sentence to punish, it was without either outrage or insult; and when he made presents, it was with a gracious air, and such obliging circumstances as infinitely exalted their value, and implied that he was never better pleased than when he had an opportunity of doing good to his subjects. To all these excellent qualities it had been very necessary for him to have added one no less royal, and which would have put him upon his guard against the enterprises of a brother, whose character he ought to have known; I mean a

z Plut. in Artax. p. 1013.

wise foresight, that penetrates the future, and renders a prince attentive to prevent or frustrate whatever may disturb the tranquillity of the state.

The emissaries of Cyrus at the court were perpetually dispersing reports and opinions amongst the people, to prepare their minds for the intended change and revolt. They talked that the state required a king of Cyrus's character ; a king, magnificent, liberal, who loved war, and showered his favours upon those that served him ; and that it was necessary for the grandeur of the empire to have a prince upon the throne, fired with ambition and valor for the support and augmentation of its glory.

The young prince lost no time on his side, and hast. ened the execution of his great design. then twenty three years old at most. After the important services he had done the Lacedemonians, without which they had never obtained the victories that had made them masters of Greece, he thought he might safely open himself to them. He therefore imparted to them the present situation of his affairs, and the end he had in view ; convinced that such a confi. dence could not but incline them the more in his favour.

In the letter he wrote them, he spoke of himself in very magnificent terms. He told them he had a greater and more royal heart than his brother ; that he was better versed in philosophy and the knowledge of the Magi, and that he could drink more wine without

He was

• A. M. 3603. Ant. J. C. 401. • By the knowledge of the Magi, amongst the Persians, was meant the science of religion and government. VOL. 3.


being disordered in his senses ; a very meritorious quality amongst the barbarians, but not so proper to recommend him to the opinion of those he wrote to. The Lacedemonians sent orders to their fleet to join that of the prince immediately, and to obey the commands of Tamos his admiral in all things, but without the least mention of Artaxerxes, or seeming in any manner privy to his design. They thought that precaution necessary for their justification with Artaxerxes, in case affairs should happen to terminate in his favour.

The troops of Cyrus, according to the review afterwards made, consisted of thirteen thousand Greeks, which were the flower and chief force of his army, and of one hundred thousand regular men of the barbarous nations. Clearchus, the Lacedemonian, commanded all the Peloponnesian troops, except the Acheans, who had Socrates of Achaia for their leader. The Beotians were under Proxenes the Theban, and the Thessalians under Menon. a The barbarians had Persian generals, of whom the chief was Arieus. The feet consisted of thirty five ships under Pythagoras the Lacedemonian, and of twenty five commanded by Tamos the Egyptian, admiral of the whole fleet. It followed the land army, coasting along near the shore.

Cyrus had opened his design only to Clearchus of all the Greeks, foreseeing aright that the length and boldness of the enterprise could not fail of discouraging and disgusting the officers as well as soldiers. He made it his sole application to gain their affections dur

c Quærentes apud Cyrum gratiam ; et apud Artaxerxem, si vicisset, veniæ patrocinia, cum nihil adversus cum aperte decrevissent. Justin. 1: V. c. 11,

« Xenoph. Cyri Exped. 1. i. p. 252.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »