[1.1.1] The thought once occurred to us how many republics have been overthrown by people who preferred to live under any form of government other than a republican, and again, how many monarchies and how many oligarchies in times past have been abolished by the people. We reflected, moreover, how many of those individuals who have aspired to absolute power have either been deposed once for all and that right quickly; or if they have continued in power, no matter for how short a time, they are objects of wonder as having proved to be wise and happy men. Then, too, we had observed, we thought, that even in private homes some people who had rather more than the usual number of servants and some also who had only a very few were nevertheless, though nominally masters, quite unable to assert their authority over even those few.
[1.1.2] And in addition to this, we reflected that are the rulers of their horses, and that all who are called herdsmen might properly be regarded as the rulers of the animals over which they are placed in charge. Now we noticed, as we thought, that all these herds obeyed their keepers more readily than men obey their rulers. For the herds go wherever their keeper directs them and graze in those places to which he leads them and keep out of those from which he excludes them. They allow their keeper, moreover, to enjoy, just as he will, the profits that accrue from them. And then again, we have never known of a herd conspiring against its keeper, either to refuse obedience to him or to deny him the privilege of enjoying the profits that accrue. At the same time, herds are more intractable to strangers than to their rulers and those who derive profit from them. Men, however, conspire against none sooner than against those whom they see attempting to rule over them.
[1.1.3] Thus, as we meditated on this analogy, we were inclined to conclude that for man, as he is constituted, it is easier to rule over any and all other creatures than to rule over men. But when we reflected that, who reduced to obedience a vast number of men and cities and nations, we were then compelled to change our opinion and decide that to rule men might be a task neither impossible nor even difficult, if one should only go about it in an intelligent manner. At all events, we know that people obeyed Cyrus willingly, although some of them were distant from him a journey of many days, and others of many months; others, although they had never seen him, and still others who knew well that they never should see him. Nevertheless they were all willing to be his subjects.
[1.1.4] But all this is not so surprising after all, so very different was he from all other kings, both those who have inherited their thrones from their fathers and those who have gained their crowns by their own efforts; the Scythian king, for instance, would never be able to extend his rule over any other nation besides his own, although the Scythians are very numerous, but he would be well content if he could maintain himself in power over his own people; so the Thracian king with his Thracians, the Illyrian with his Illyrians, and so also all other nations, we are told. Those in Europe, at any rate, are said to be free and independent of one another even to this day. But Cyrus, finding the nations in Asia also independent in exactly the same way, started out with a little band of Persians and became the leader of the Medes by their full consent and of the Hyrcanians by theirs; he then conquered Syria, Assyria, Arabia, Cappadocia, both Phrygias, Lydia, Caria, Phoenicia, and Babylonia; he ruled also over Bactria, India, and Cilicia; and he was likewise king of the Sacians, Paphlagonians, Magadidae, and very many other nations, of which one could not even tell the names; he brought under his sway the Asiatic Greeks also; and, descending to the sea, he added both Cyprus and Egypt to his empire.
[1.1.5] He ruled over these nations, even though they did not speak the same language as he, nor one nation the same as another; for all that, he was able to cover so vast a region with the fear which he inspired, that he struck all men with terror and no one tried to withstand him; and he was able to awaken in all so lively a desire to please him, that they always wished to be guided by his will. Moreover, the tribes that he brought into subjection to himself were so many that it is a difficult matter even to travel to them all, in whatever direction one begin one’s journey from the palace, whether toward the east or the west, toward the north or the south.
[1.1.6] Believing this man to be deserving of all admiration, we have therefore investigated who he was in his origin, what natural endowments he possessed, and what sort of education he had enjoyed, that he so greatly excelled in governing men. Accordingly, what we have found out or think we know concerning him we shall now endeavour to present.
Book 1, Section 2
[1.2.1] The father of Cyrus is said to have been Cambyses, king of the Persians: this Cambyses belonged to the stock of the Persidae, and the Persidae derive their name from Perseus. His mother, it is generally agreed, was Mandane; and this Mandane was the daughter of Astyages, sometime king of the Medes. And even to this day the barbarians tell in story and in song that Cyrus was most handsome in person, most generous of heart, most devoted to learning, and most ambitious, so that he endured all sorts of labour and faced all sorts of danger for the sake of praise.
[1.2.2] Such then were the natural endowments, physical and spiritual, that he is reputed to have had; but he was educated in conformity with the laws of the Persians; and these laws appear in their care for the common weal not to start from the same point as they do in most states. For most states permit every one to train his own children just as he will, and the older people themselves to live as they please; and then they command them not to steal and not to rob, not to break into anybody’s house, not to strike a person whom they have no right to strike, not to commit adultery, not to disobey an officer, and so forth; and if a man transgress anyone one of these laws, they punish him.
[1.2.3] The Persian laws, however, begin at the beginning and take care that from the first their citizens shall not be of such a character as ever to desire anything improper or immoral; and the measures they take are as follows.They have their so-called “Free Square,” where the royal palace and other government buildings are located. The hucksters with their wares, their cries, and their vulgarities are excluded from this and relegated to another part of the city, in order that their tumult may not intrude upon the orderly life of the cultured. [1.2.4] This square, enclosing the government buildings, is divided into four parts; one of these belongs to the boys, one to the youths, another to the men of mature years, and another to those who are past the age for military service. And the laws require them to come daily to their several quarters–the boys and the full-grown men at daybreak; but the elders may come at whatever time it suits each one’s convenience, except that they must present themselves on certain specified days. But the youths pass the night also in light armour about the government buildings–all except those who are married; no inquiry is made for such, unless they be especially ordered in advance to be there, but it is not proper for them to be absent too often.
[1.2.5] Over each of these divisions there are twelve officers, for the Persians are divided into twelve tribes. To have charge of the boys, such are chosen from the ranks of the elders as seem likely to make out of the boys the best men; to have charge of the youths, such are chosen from ranks of the mature men as seem most likely on their part to develop the youths best; to preside over the mature men, those are selected who seem most likely to fit them best to execute the orders and requirements of the highest authorities2; and of the elders also chiefs are selected who act as overseers to see that those of this class also do their duty. And what duties are assigned to each age to perform we shall now set forth, that it may be better understood what pains the Persians take that their citizens may prove to be the very best.
[1.2.6] The boys go to school and spend their time in learning justice; and they say that they go there for this purpose, just as in our country they say that they go to learn to read and write. And their officers spend the greater part of the day in deciding cases for them. For, as a matter of course, boys also prefer charges against one another, just as men do, of theft, robbery, assault, cheating, slander, and other things that naturally come up; and when they discover any one committing any of these crimes, they punish him,
[1.2.7] and they punish also any one whom they find accusing another falsely. And they bring one another to trial also charged with an offence for which people hate one another most but go to law least, namely, that of ingratitude; and if they know that any one is able to return a favour and fails to do so, they punish him also severely. For they think that the ungrateful are likely to be most neglectful of their duty toward their gods, their parents, their country, and their friends; for it seems that shamelessness goes hand in hand with ingratitude; and it is that, we know, which leads the way to every moral wrong.
[1.2.8] They teach the boys self-control also; and it greatly conduces to their learning self-control that they see their elders also living temperately day by day. And they teach them likewise to obey the officers; and it greatly conduces to this also that they see their elders implicitly obeying their officers. And besides, they teach them self-restraint in eating and drinking; and it greatly conduces to this also that they see that their elders do not leave their post to satisfy their hunger until the officers dismiss them; and the same end is promoted by the fact that the boys do not eat with their mothers but with their teachers, from the time the officers so direct. Furthermore, they bring from home bread for their food, cress for a relish, and for drinking, if any one is thirsty, a cup to draw water from the river. Besides this, they learn to shoot and to throw the spear.This, then, is what the boys do until they are sixteen or seventeen years of age, and after this they are promoted from the class of boys and enrolled among the young men.
[1.2.9] Now the young men in their turn live as follows: for ten years after they are promoted from the class of boys they pass the nights, as we said before, about the government buildings. This they do for the sake of guarding the city and of developing their powers of self-control; for this time of life, it seems, demands the most watchful care. And during the day, too, they put themselves at the disposal of the authorities, if they are needed for any service to the state. Whenever it is necessary, they all remain about the public buildings. But when the king goes out hunting, he takes out half the garrison; and this he does many times a month. Those who go must take bow and arrows and, in addition to the quiver, a sabre or bill2 in its scabbard; they carry along also a light shield and two spears, on to throw, the other to use in case of necessity in a hand-to-hand encounter.
[1.2.10] They provide for such hunting out of the public treasury; and as the king is their leader in war, so he not only takes part in the hunt himself but sees to it that the others hunt, too. The state bears the expense of the hunting for the reason that the training it gives seems to be the best preparation for war itself. For it accustoms them to rise early in the morning and to endure both heat and cold, and it gives them practice in taking long tramps and runs, and they have to shoot or spear a wild beast whenever it comes in their way. And they must often whet their courage when one of the fierce beasts shows fight; for, of course, they must strike down the animal that comes to close quarters with them, and they must be on their guard against the one that threatens to attack them. In a word, it is not easy to find any quality required in war that is not required also in the chase.
[1.2.11] When they go out hunting they carry along a lunch,1 more in quantity than that of the boys, as is proper, but in other respects the same; but they would never think of lunching while they are busy with the chase. If, however, for some reason it is necessary to stay longer on account of the game or if for some other reason they wish to continue longer on the chase, then they make their dinner of this luncheon and hunt again on the following day until dinner time; and these two days they count as one, because they consume but one day’s provisions. This they do to harden themselves, in order that, if ever it is necessary in war, they may be able to do the same. Those of this age have for relish the game that they kill; if they fail to kill any, then cresses. Now, if any one thinks that they do not enjoy eating, when they have only cresses with their bread, or that they do not enjoy drinking when they drink only water, let him remember how sweet barley bread and wheaten bread taste when one is hungry, and how sweet water is to drink when one is thirsty.
[1.2.12] The divisions remaining at home, in their turn, pass their time shooting with the bow and hurling the spear and practising all the other arts that they learned when they were boys, and they continually engage in contests of this kind with one another. And there are also public contests of this sort, for which prizes are offered; and whatever division has the greatest number of the most expert, the most manly, and the best disciplined young men, the citizens praise and honour not only its present chief officer but also the one who trained them when they were boys. And of the youths who remain behind, the authorities employ any that they may need, whether for garrison duty or for arresting criminals or for hunting down robbers, or for any other service that demands strength or dispatch.Such, then, is the occupation of the youths. And when they have completed their ten years, they are promoted and enrolled in the class of the mature men.
[1.2.13] And these, in turn, for twenty-five years after the time they are there enrolled, are occupied as follows. In the first place, like the youths, they are at the disposal of the authorities, if they are needed in the interest of the commonwealth in any service that requires men who have already attained discretion and are still strong in body. But if it is necessary to make a military expedition anywhere, those who have been thus educated take the field, no longer with bow and arrows, nor yet with spears, but with what are termed “weapons for close conflict”–a corselet about their breast, a round shield upon their left arm (such as Persians are represented with in art), and in their right hands a sabre or bill. From this division also all the magistrates are selected, except the teachers of the boys.And when they have completed the five-and-twenty years, they are, as one would expect, somewhat more than fifty years of age; and then they come out and take their places among those who really are, as they are called, the “elders.”
[1.2.14] Now these elders, in their turn, no longer perform form military service outside their own country, but they remain at home and try all sorts of cases, both public and private. They try people indicted for capital offences also, and they elect all the officers. And if any one, either among the youths or among the mature men, fail in any one of the duties prescribed by law, the respective officers of thatdivision, or any one else who will, may enter complaint, and the elders, when they have heard the case, expel the guilty party; and the one who has been expelled spends the rest of his life degraded and disfranchised.
[1.2.15] Now, that the whole constitutional policy of the Persians may be more clearly set forth, I will go back a little; for now, in the light of what has already been said, it can be given in a very few words. It is said that the Persians number about one hundred and twenty thousand men2; and no one of these is by law excluded from holding offices and positions of honour, but all the Persians may send their children to the common schools of justice. Still, only those do send them who are in a position to maintain their children without work; and those who are not so situated do not. And only to such as are educated by the public teachers is it permitted to pass their young manhood in the class of the youths, while to those who have not completed this course of training it is not so permitted. And only to such among the youths as complete the course required by law is it permitted to join the class of mature men and to fill offices and places of distinction, while those who do not finish their course among the young men are not promoted to the class of the mature men. And again, those who finish their course among the mature men without blame become members of the class of elders. So, we see, the elders are made up to those who have enjoyed all honour and distinction. This is the policy by the observance of which they think that their citizens may become the best.
[1.2.16] There remains even unto this day evidence of their moderate fare and of their working off by exercise what they eat: for even to the present time it is a breach of decorum for a Persian to spit or to blow his nose or to appear afflicted with flatulence; it is a breach of decorum also to be seen going apart either to make water or for anything else of that kind. And this would not be possible for them, if they did not lead an abstemious life and throw off the moisture by hard work, so that it passes off in some other way.This, then, is what we have to say in regard to the Persians in general. Now, to fulfil the purpose with which our narrative was begun, we shall proceed to relate the history of Cyrus from his childhood on.
1,2,5,n2. I.e., a Council of Elders, under the presidency of the king.
1,2,9,n2. The oriental bill was a tool or weapon with a curved blade, shorter than a sabre and corresponding very closely to the Spanish-American machete.
1,2,11,n1. The Greeks ate but two meals a day: the first, ariston, toward midday, the other, deipnon, toward sun-down.
1,2,15,n2. This number is meant to include the nobility only, the so-called “peers” homotimoi, and not the total population of Persia.
Book 1, Section 3
[1.3.1] Such was the education that Cyrus received until he was twelve years old or a little more; and he showed himself superior to all the other boys of his age both in mastering his tasks quickly and in doing everything in a thorough and manly fashion. It was at this period of his life that Astyages sent for his daughter and her son; for he was eager to see him, as he had heard from time to time that the child was a handsome boy of rare promise. Accordingly, Mandane herself went to her father and took her son Cyrus with her.
[1.3.2] As soon as she arrived and Cyrus had recognized in Astyages his mother’s father, being naturally an affectionate boy he at once kissed him, just as a person who had long lived with another and long loved him would do. Then he noticed that his grandfather was adorned with pencillings beneath his eyes, with rouge rubbed on his face, and with a wig of false hair–the common Median fashion. For all this is Median, and so are their purple tunics, and their mantles, the necklaces about their necks, and the bracelets on their wrists, while the Persians at home even to this day have much plainer clothing and a more frugal way of life. So, observing his grandfather’s adornment and staring at him, he said: “Oh mother, how handsome my grandfather is!” And when his mother asked him which he thought more handsome, his father or his grandfather, Cyrus answered at once: “Of the Persians, mother, my father is much the handsomest; but of the Medes, as far as I have seen them either on the streets or at court, my grandfather here is the handsomest by far.”
[1.3.3] Then his grandfather kissed him in return and gave him a beautiful dress to wear and, as a mark of royal favour, adorned him with necklaces and bracelets; and if he went out for a ride anywhere, he took the boy along upon a horse with a gold-studded bridle, just as he himself was accustomed to go. And as Cyrus was a boy fond of beautiful things and eager for distinction, he was pleased with his dress and greatly delighted at learning to ride; for in Persia, on account of its being difficult to breed horses and to practise horsemanship because it is a mountainous country, it was a very rare thing even to see a horse.
[1.3.4] And then again, when Astyages dined with his daughter and Cyrus, he set before him dainty side-dishes and all sorts of sauces and meats, for he wished the boy to enjoy his dinner as much as possible, in order that he might be less likely to feel homesick. And Cyrus, they say, observed: “How much trouble you have at your dinner, grandfather, if you have to reach out your hands to all these dishes and taste of all these different kinds of food!””Why so?” said Astyages. “Really now, don’t you think this dinner much finer than your Persian dinners?””No, grandfather,” Cyrus replied to this; “but the road to satiety is much more simple and direct in our country than with you; for bread and meat take us there; but you, though you make for the same goal as we, go wandering through many a maze, up and down, and only arrive at last at the point that we long since have reached.”
[1.3.5] “But, my boy,” said Astyages, “we do not object to this wandering about; and you also,” he added, “if you taste, will see that it is pleasant.””But, grandfather,” said Cyrus, “I observe that even you are disgusted with these viands.””And by what, pray, do you judge, my boy,” asked Astyages, “that you say this?””Because,” said he, “I observe that when you touch bread, you do not wipe your hand on anything; but when you touch any of these other things you at once cleanse your hand upon your napkin, as if you were exceedingly displeased that it had become soiled with them.”
[1.3.6] “Well then, my boy,” Astyages replied to this, “if that is your judgment, at least regale yourself with meat, that you may go back home a strong young man.” And as he said this, he placed before him an abundance of meat of both wild and domestic animals.And when Cyrus saw that there was a great quantity of meat, he said: “And do you really mean to give me all this meat, grandfather, to dispose of as I please?””Yes, by Zeus,” said he, “I do.”
[1.3.7] Thereupon Cyrus took some of the meat and proceeded to distribute it among his grandfather’s servants, saying to them in turn: “I give this to you, because you take so much pains to teach me to ride; to you, because you gave me a spear, for at present this is all I have to give; to you, because you serve my grandfather so well; and to you, because you are respectful to my mother.” He kept on thus, while he was distributing all the meat that he had received.
[1.3.8] “But,” said Astyages, “are you not going to give any to Sacas, my cupbearer, whom I like best of all?” Now Sacas, it seems, chanced to be a handsome fellow who had the office of introducing to Astyages those who had business with him and of keeping out those whom he thought it not expedient to admit.And Cyrus asked pertly, as a boy might do who was not yet at all shy, “Pray, grandfather, why do you like this fellow so much?”And Astyages replied with a jest: “Do you not see,” said he, “how nicely and gracefully hpours the wine?” Now the cupbearers of those kings perform their office with fine airs; they pour in the wine with neatness and then present the goblet, conveying it with three fingers, and offer it in such a way as to place it most conveniently in the grasp of the one who is to drink.
[1.3.9] “Well, grandfather,” said he, “bid Sacas give me the cup, that I also may deftly pour for you to drink and thus win your favour, if I can.”And he bade him give it. And Cyrus took the cup and rinsed it out well, exactly as he had often seen Sacas do, and then he brought and presented the goblet to his grandfather, assuming an expression somehow so grave and important, that he made his mother and Astyages laugh heartily. And Cyrus himself also with a laugh sprang up into his grandfather’s lap and kissing him said: “Ah, Sacas, you are done for; I shall turn you out of your office; for in other ways,” said he, “I shall play the cupbearer better than you and besides I shall not drink up the wine myself.”Now, it is a well known fact that the king’s cupbearers, when they proffer the cup, draw off some of it with the ladle, pour it into their left hand, and swallow it down–so that, if they should put poison in, they may not profit by it.
[1.3.10] Thereupon Astyages said in jest: “And why, pray, Cyrus, did you imitate Sacas in everything else but did not sip any of the wine?””Because, by Zeus,” said he, “I was afraid that poison had been mixed in the bowl. And I had reason to be afraid; for when you entertained your friends on your birthday, I discovered beyond a doubt that he had poured poison into your company’s drink.””And how, pray,” said he, “did you discover that, my son?””Because, by Zeus,” said he, “I saw that you were unsteady both in mind and in body. For in the first place you yourselves kept doing what you never allow us boys to do; for instance, you kept shouting, all at the same time, and none of you heard anything that the others were saying; and you fell to singing, and in a most ridiculous manner at that, and though you did not hear the singer, you swore that he sang most excellently; and though each one of you kept telling stories of his own strength, yet if you stood up to dance, to say nothing of dancing in time, why, you could not even stand up straight. And all of you quite forgot–you, that you were king; and the rest, that you were their sovereign. It was then that I also for my part discovered, and for the first time, that what you were practising was your boasted `equal freedom of speech’; at any rate, never were any of you silent.”
[1.3.11] “But, my boy,” Astyages said, “does not your father get drunk, when he drinks?””No, by Zeus,” said he.”Well, how does he manage it?””He just quenches his thirst and thus suffers no further harm; for he has, I trow, grandfather, no Sacas to pour wine for him.””But why in the world, my son,” said his mother, “are you so set against Sacas?””Because, by Zeus,” Cyrus replied, “I don’t like him; for oftentimes, when I am eager to run in to see my grandfather, this miserable scoundrel keeps me out. But,” he added, “I beg of you, grandfather, allow me for just three days to rule over him.””And how would you rule over him?” said Astyages.”I would stand at the door,” Cyrus replied, “just as he does, and then when he wished to come in to luncheon, I would say, `You cannot interview the luncheon yet; for it is engaged with certain persons.”And then when he came to dinner, I would say, `It is at the bath.’ And if he were very eager to eat, I would say, `It is with the ladies.’ And I would keep that up until I tormented him, just as he torments me by keeping me away from you.”
[1.3.12] Such amusement he furnished them at dinner; and during the day, if he saw that his grandfather or his uncle needed anything, it was difficult for any one else to get ahead of him in supplying the need; for Cyrus was most happy to do them any service that he could.
[1.3.13] But when Mandane was making preparations to go back to her husband, Astyages asked her to leave Cyrus behind. And she answered that she desired to do her father’s pleasure in everything, but she thought it hard to leave the boy behind against his will.Then Astyages said to Cyrus:
[1.3.14] “My boy, if you will stay with me, in the first place Sacas shall not control your admission to me, but it shall be in your power to come in to see me whenever you please, and I shall be the more obliged to you the oftener you come to me. And in the second place you shall use my horses and everything else you will; and when you go back home, you shall take with you any of them that you desire. And besides, at dinner you shall go whatever way you please to what seems to you to be temperance. And then, I present to you the animals that are now in the park and I will collect others of every description, and as soon as you learn to ride, you shall hunt and slay them with bow and spear, just as grown-up men do. I will also find some children to be your playfellows; and if you wish anything else, just mention it to me, and you shall not fail to receive it.”
[1.3.15] When Astyages had said this, his mother asked Cyrus whether he wished to stay or go. And he did not hesitate but said at once that he wished to stay. And when he was asked again by his mother why he wished to stay, he is said to have answered: “Because at home, mother, I am and have the reputation of being the best of those of my years both in throwing the spear and in shooting with the bow; but here I know that I am inferior to my fellows in horsemanship. And let me tell you, mother,” said he, “this vexes me exceedingly. But if you leave me here and I learn to ride, I think you will find, when I come back to Persia, that I shall easily surpass the boys over there who are good at exercises on foot, and when I come again to Media, I shall try to be a help to my grandfather by being the best of good horsemen.”And his mother said,
[1.3.16] “My boy, how will you learn justice here, while your teachers are over there?””Why, mother,” Cyrus answered, “that is one thing that I understand thoroughly.””How so?” said Mandane.”Because,” said he, “my teacher appointed me, on the ground that I was already thoroughly versed in justice, to decide cases for others also. And so, in one case,” said he, “I once got a flogging for not deciding correctly.
[1.3.17] The case was like this: a big boy with a little tunic, finding a little boy with a big tunic on, took it off him and put his own tunic on him, while he himself put on the other’s. So, when I tried their case, I decided that it was better for them both that each should keep the tunic that fitted him. And thereupon the master flogged me, saying that when I was a judge of a good fit, I should do as I had done; but when it was my duty to decide whose tunic it was, I had this question, he said, to consider–whose title was the rightful one; whether it was right that he who took it away by force should keep it, or that he who had had it made for himself or had bought it should own it. And since, he said, what is lawful is right and what is unlawful is wrong, he bade the judge always render his verdict on the side of the law. It is in this way, mother, you see, that I already have a thorough understanding of justice in all its bearings; and,” he added, “if I do require anything more, my grandfather here will teach me that.”
[1.3.18] “Yes, my son,” said she; “but at your grandfather’s court they do not recognize the same principles of justice as they do in Persia. For he has made himself master of everything in Media, but in Persia equality of rights is considered justice. And your father is the first one to do what is ordered by the State and to accept what is decreed, and his standard is not his will but the law. Mind, therefore, that you be not flogged within an inch of your life, when you come home, if you return with a knowledge acquired from your grandfather here of the principles noof kingship but of tyranny, one principle of which is that it is right for one to have more than all.””But your father, at least,” said Cyrus, “is more shrewd at teaching people to have less than to have more, mother. Why, do you not see,” he went on, “that he has taught all the Medes to have less than himself? So never fear that your father, at any rate, will turn either me or anybody else out trained under him to have too much.”
Book 1, Section 4
[1.4.1] In this way Cyrus often chattered on. At last, however, his mother went away, but Cyrus remained behind and grew up in Media. Soon he had become so intimately associated with other boys of his own years that he was on easy terms with them. And soon he had won their father’s hearts by visiting them and showing that he loved their sons; so that, if they desired any favour of the king, they bade their sons ask Cyrus to secure it for them. And Cyrus, because of his kindness of heart and his desire for popularity, made every effort to secure for the boys whatever they asked.
[1.4.2] And Astyages could not refuse any favour that Cyrus asked of him. And this was natural; for, when his grandfather fell sick, Cyrus never left him nor ceased to weep but plainly showed to all that he greatly feared that his grandfather might die. For even at night, if Astyages wanted anything, Cyrus was the first to discover it and with greater alacrity than any one else he would jump up to perform whatever service he thought would give him pleasure, so that he won Astyages’s heart completely.
[1.4.3] He was, perhaps, too talkative, partly on account of his education, because he had always been required by his teacher to render an account of what he was doing and to obtain an account from others whenever he was judge; and partly also because of his natural curiosity, he was habitually putting many questions to those about him why things were thus and so; and because of his alertness of mind he readily answered questions that others put to him; so that from all these causes his talkativeness grew upon him. But it was not unpleasant; for just as in the body, in the case of those who have attained their growth although they are still young, there yet appears that freshness which betrays their lack of years, so also in Cyrus’s case his talkativeness disclosed not impertinence but nai+vete/ and an affectionate disposition, so that one would be better pleased to hear still more from his lips than to sit by and have him keep silent.
[1.4.4] But as he advanced in stature and in years to the time of attaining youth’s estate, he then came to use fewer words, his voice was more subdued, and he became so bashful that he actually blushed whenever he met his elders; and that puppy-like manner of breaking in upon anybody and everybody alike he no longer exhibited with so much forwardness. So he became more quiet, to be sure, but in social intercourse altogether charming. The boys liked him, too; for in all the contests in which those of the same age are wont often to engage with one another he did not challenge his mates to those in which he knew he was superior, but he proposed precisely those exercises in which he knew he was not their equal, saying that he would do better than they; and he would at once take the lead, jumping up upon the horses to contend on horseback either in archery or in throwing the spear, although he was not yet a good rider, and when he was beaten he laughed at himself most heartily.
[1.4.5] And as he did not shirk being beaten and take refuge in refusing to do that in which he was beaten, but persevered in attempting to do better next time, he speedily became the equal of his fellows in horsemanship and soon on account of his love for the sport he surpassed them; and before long he had exhausted the supply of animals in the park by hunting and shooting and killing them, so that Astyages was no longer able to collect animals for him. And when Cyrus saw that notwithstanding his desire to do so, the king was unable to provide him with many animals alive, he said to him: “Why should you take the trouble, grandfather, to get animals for me? If you will only send me out with my uncle to hunt, I shall consider that all the animals I see were bred for me.”
[1.4.6] But though he was exceedingly eager to go out hunting, he could no longer coax for it as he used to do when he was a boy, but he became more diffident in his approaches. And in the very matter for which he found fault with Sacas before, namely that he would not admit him to his grandfather–he himself now became a Sacas unto himself; for he would not go in unless he saw that it was a proper time, and he asked Sacas by all means to let him know when it was convenient. And so Sacas now came to love him dearly, as did all the rest.
[1.4.7] However, when Astyages realized that he was exceedingly eager to hunt out in the wilds, he let him go out with his uncle and he sent along some older men on horseback to look after him, to keep him away from dangerous places and guard him against wild beasts, in case any should appear. Cyrus, therefore, eagerly inquired of those who attended him what animals one ought not to approach and what animals one might pursue without fear. And they told him that bears and boars and lions and leopards had killed many who came close to them, but that deer and gazelles and wild sheep and wild asses were harmless. And they said this also, that one must be on one’s guard against dangerous places no less than against wild beasts; for many riders had been thrown over precipices, horses and all.
[1.4.8] All these lessons Cyrus eagerly learned. But when he saw a deer spring out from under cover, he forgot everything that he had heard and gave chase, seeing nothing but the direction in which it was making. And somehow his horse in taking a leap fell upon its knees and almost threw him over its head. However, Cyrus managed, with some difficulty, to keep his seat, and his horse got up. And when he came to level ground, he threw his spear and brought down the deer–a fine, large quarry. And he, of course, was greatly delighted; but the guards rode up and scolded him and told him into what danger he had gone and declared that they would tell of him. Now Cyrus stood there, for he had dismounted, and was vexed at being spoken to in this way. But when he heard a halloo, he sprang upon his horse like one possessed and when he saw a boar rushing straight toward him, he rode to meet him and aiming well he struck the boar between the eyes and brought him down.
[1.4.9] This time, however, his uncle also reproved him, for he had witnessed his foolhardiness. But for all his scolding, Cyrus nevertheless asked his permission to carry home and present to his grandfather all the game that he had taken himself. And his uncle, they say, replied: “But if he finds out that you have been giving chase, he will chide not only you but me also for allowing you to do so.””And if he choose,” said Cyrus, “let him flog me, provided only I may give him the game. And you, uncle,” said he, “may punish me in any way you please–only grant me this favour.”And finally Cyaxares said, though with reluctance: “Do as you wish; for now it looks as if it were you who are our king.”
[1.4.10] So Cyrus carried the animals in and gave them to his grandfather, saying that he had himself taken this game for him. As for the hunting spears, though he did not show them to him, he laid them down all blood-stained where he thought his grandfather would see them. And then Astyages said: “Well, my boy, I am glad to accept what you offer me; however, I do not need any of these things enough for you to risk your life for them.””Well then, grandfather,” said Cyrus, “if you do not need them, please give them to me, that I may divide them among my boy friends.””All right, my boy,” said Astyages, “take both this and of the rest of the game as much as you wish and give it to whom you will.”
[1.4.11] So Cyrus recit and took it away and proceeded to distribute it among the boys, saying as he did so: “What tomfoolery it was, fellows, when we used to hunt the animals in the park. To me at least, it seems just like hunting animals that were tied up. For, in the first place, they were in a small space; besides, they were lean and mangy; and one of them was lame and another maimed. But the animals out on the mountains and the plains–how fine they looked, and large and sleek! And the deer leaped up skyward as if on wings, and the boars came charging at once, as they say brave men do in battle. And by reason of their bulk it was quite impossible to miss them. And to me at least,” said he, “these seem really more beautiful, when dead, than those pent up creatures, when alive. But say,” said he, “would not your fathers let you go out hunting, too?””Aye, and readily,” they said, “if Astyages should give the word.”
[1.4.12] “Whom, then, could we find to speak about it to Astyages?” said Cyrus.”Why,” said they, “who would be better able to to gain his consent than you yourself?””No, by Zeus,” said he, “not I; I do not know what sort of fellow I have become; for I cannot speak to my grandfather or even look up at him any more, as I used to do. And if I keep on at this rate,” said he, “I fear I shall become a mere dolt and ninny. But when I was a little fellow, I was thought ready enough to chatter.””That’s bad news you’re giving us,” answered the boys, “if you are not going to be able to act for us in case of need, and we shall have to ask somebody else to do your part.”
[1.4.13] And Cyrus was nettled at hearing this and went away without a word; and when he had summoned up his courage to make the venture, he went in, after he had laid his plans how he might with the least annoyance broach the subject to his grandfather and accomplish for himself and the other boys what they desired. Accordingly, he began as follows: “Tell me, grandfather,” said he, “if one of your servants runs away and you catch him again, what will you do to him?””What else,” said he, “but put him in chains and make him work?””But if he comes back again of his own accord, what will you do?””What,” said he, “but flog him to prevent his doing it again, and then treat him as before?””It may be high time, then,” said Cyrus, “for you to be making ready to flog me; for I am planning to run away from you and take my comrades out hunting.””You have done well to tell me in advance,” said Astyages; “for now,” he went on, “I forbid you to stir from the palace. For it would be a nice thing, if, for the sake of a few morsels of meat, I should play the careless herdsman and lose my daughter her son.”
[1.4.14] When Cyrus heard this, he obeyed and stayed at home; he said nothing, but continued downcast and sulky. However, when Astyages saw that he was exceedingly disappointed, wishing to give him pleasure, he took him out to hunt; he had got the boys together, and a large number of men both on foot and on horseback, and when he had driven the wild animals out into country where riding was practicable, he instituted a great hunt. And as he was present himself, he gave the royal command that no one should throw a spear before Cyrus had his fill of hunting. But Cyrus would not permit him to interfere, but said: “If you wish me to enjoy the hunt, grandfather, let all my comrades give chase and strive to outdo one another, and each do his very best.”
[1.4.15] Thereupon, Astyages gave his consent and from his position he watched them rushing in rivalry upon the beasts and vying eagerly with one another in giving chase and in throwing the spear. And he was pleased to see that Cyrus was unable to keep silence for delight, but, like a well-bred hound, gave tongue whenever he came near an animal and urged on each of his companions by name. And the king was delighted to see him laugh at one and praise another without the least bit of jealousy. At length, then, Astyages went home with a large amount of game; and he was so pleased with that chase, that thenceforth he always went out with Cyrus when it was possible, and he took along with him not only many others but, for Cyrus’s sake, the boys as well.Thus Cyrus passed most of his time, contriving some pleasure and good for all, but responsible for nothing unpleasant to any one.
[1.4.16] But when Cyrus was about fifteen or sixteen years old, the son of the Assyrian king, on the eve of his marriage, desired in person to get the game for that occasion. Now, hearing that on the frontiers of Assyria and Media there was plenty of game that because of the war had not been hunted, he desired to go out thither. Accordingly, that he might hunt without danger, he took along a large force of cavalry and targeteers, who were to drive the game out of the thickets for him into country that was open and suitable for riding. And when he arrived where their frontier-forts and the garrison were, there he dined, planning to hunt early on the following day.
[1.4.17] And now when evening had come, the relief-corps for the former garrison came from the city, both horse and foot. He thought, therefore, that he had a large army at hand; for the two garrisons were there together and he himself had come with a large force of cavalry and infantry. Accordingly, he decided that it was best to make a foray into the Median territory and he thought that thus the exploit of the hunt would appear more brilliant and that the number of animals captured would be immense. And so, rising early, he led his army out; the infantry he left together at the frontier, while he himself, riding up with the horse to the outposts of the Medes, took his stand there with most of his bravest men about him, to prevent the Median guards from coming to the rescue against those who were scouring the country; and he sent out the proper men in divisions, some in one direction, some in another, to scour the country, with orders to capture whatever they came upon and bring it to him.So they were engaged in these operations.
[1.4.18] But when word was brought to Astyages that there were enemies in the country, he himself sallied forth to the frontier in person with his body-guard, and likewise his son with the knights that happened to be at hand marched out, while he gave directions to all the others also to come out to his assistance. But when they saw a large number of Assyrian troops drawn up and their cavalry standing still, the Medes also came to a halt.When Cyrus saw the rest marching out with all speed, he put on his armour then for the first time and started out, too; this was an opportunity that he had thought would never come–so eager was he to don his arms; and the armour that his grandfather had had made to order for him was very beautiful and fitted him well. Thus equipped he rode up on his horse. And though Astyages wondered at whose order he had come, he nevertheless told the lad to come and stay by his side.
[1.4.19] And when Cyrus saw many horsemen over against them, he asked: “Say, grandfather,” said he, “are those men enemies who sit there quietly upon their horses?””Yes, indeed, they are,” said he.”Are those enemies, too,” said Cyrus, “who are riding up and down?””Yes, they are enemies, too.””Well then, by Zeus, grandfather,” said he, “at any rate, they are a sorry looking lot on a sorry lot of nags who are raiding our belongings. Why, some of us ought to charge upon them.””But don’t you see, my son,” said the king, “what a dense array of cavalry is standing there in line? If we charge upon those over there, these in turn will cut us off; while as for us, the main body of our forces has not yet come.””But if you stay here,” said Cyrus, “and take up the reinforcements that are coming to join us, these fellows will be afraid and will not stir, while the raiders will drop their booty, just as soon as they see some of us charging on them.”
[1.4.20] It seemed to Astyages that there was something in Cyrus’s suggestion, when he said this. And whe wondered that the boy was so shrewd and wide-awake, he ordered his son to take a division of the cavalry and charge upon those who were carrying off the spoil. “And if,” said he, “these others make a move against you, I will charge upon them, so that they will be forced to turn their attention to us.”So then Cyaxares took some of the most powerful horses and men and advanced. And when Cyrus saw them starting, he rushed off and soon took the lead, while Cyaxares followed after, and the rest also were not left behind. And when the foragers saw them approaching, they straightway let go their booty and took to flight.
[1.4.21] But Cyrus and his followers tried to cut them off, and those whom they caught they at once struck down, Cyrus taking the lead; and they pursued hard after those who succeeded in getting past, and they did not give up but took some of them prisoners.As a well-bred but untrained hound rushes recklessly upon a boar, so Cyrus rushed on, with regard for nothing but to strike down every one he overtook and reckless of anything else.The enemy, however, when they saw their comrades hard pressed, advanced their column in the hope that the Medes would give up the pursuit on seeing them push forward.
[1.4.22] But none the more did Cyrus give over, but in his battle-joy he called to his uncle and continued the pursuit; and pressing on he put the enemy to headlong flight, and Cyaxares did not fail to follow, partly perhaps not to be shamed before his father; and the rest likewise followed, for under such circumstances they were more eager for the pursuit, even those who were not so very brave in the face of the enemy.But when Astyages saw them pursuing recklessly and the enemy advancing in good order to meet them, he was afraid that something might happen to his son and Cyrus, if they fell in disorder upon the enemy in readiness for battle, and straightway he advanced upon the foe.
[1.4.23] Now the enemy on their part, when they saw the Medes advance, halted, some with spears poised, others with bows drawn, expecting that the other side would also halt, as soon as they came within bow-shot, just as they were accustomed generally to do; for it was their habit to advance only so far against each other, when they came into closest quarters, and to skirmish with missiles, oftentimes till evening. But when they saw their comrades rushing in flight toward them, and Cyrus and his followers bearing down close upon them, and Astyages with his cavalry getting already within bow-shot, they broke and fled with all their might from the Medes who followed hard after them.The Medes caught up with many of them; and those whom they overtook they smote, both men and horses; and the fallen they slew. Nor did they stop, until they came up with the Assyrian infantry. Then, however, fearing lest some greater force might be lying in ambush, they came to a halt.
[1.4.24] Then Astyages marched back, greatly rejoicing over the victory of his cavalry but not knowing what to say of Cyrus; for though he realized that his grandson was responsible for the outcome, yet he recognized also that he was frenzied with daring. And of this there was further evidence; for, as the rest made their way homeward, he did nothing but ride around alone and gloat upon the slain, and only with difficulty did those who were detailed to do so succeed in dragging him away and taking him to Astyages; and as he came, he set his escort well before him, for he saw that his grandfather’s face was angry because of his gloating upon them.
[1.4.25] Such was his life in Media; and Cyrus was not only on the tongues of all the rest both in story and in song, but Astyages also, while he had esteemed him before, was now highly delighted with him. And Cambyses, Cyrus’s father, was pleased to learn this. But when he heard that Cyrus was already performing a man’s deeds, he summoned him home to complete the regular curriculum in Persia. And Cyrus also, we are told, said then that he wished to go home, in order that his father might not feel any displeasure nor the state be disposed to criticise; and Astyages, too, thought it expedient to send him home.So he let him go and not only gave him the horses that he desired to take, but he packed up many other things for him because of his love for him and also because he cherished high hopes that his grandson would be a man able both to help his friends and to give trouble to his enemies. And everybody, both boys and men, young and old, and Astyages himself, escorted him on horseback as he went, and they say that there was no one who turned back without tears.
[1.4.26] And Cyrus also, it is said, departed very tearfully. And they say that he distributed as presents among his young friends many of the things that Astyages had given to him; and finally he took off the Median robe which he had on and gave it to one whom he loved very dearly. It is said, however, that those who received and accepted his presents carried them to Astyages, and Astyages received them and returned them to Cyrus; but Cyrus sent them back again to Media with this message: “If you wish me ever to come back to you again, grandfather, without having to be ashamed, permit those to whom I have given anything to keep it.” And when Astyages heard this, he did as Cyrus’s letter bade.
[1.4.27] Now, if we may relate a sentimental story, we are told that when Cyrus was going away and they were taking leave of one another, his kinsmen bade him good-bye, after the Persian custom, with a kiss upon his lips. And that custom has survived, for so the Persians do even to this day. Now a certain Median gentleman, very noble, had for some considerable time been struck with Cyrus’s beauty, and when he saw the boy’s kinsmen kissing him, he hung back. But when the rest were gone, he came up to Cyrus and said: “Am I the only one of your kinsmen, Cyrus, whom you do not recognize as such?””What,” said Cyrus, “do you mean to say that you, too, are a kinsman?””Certainly,” said he.”That is the reason, then, it seems,” said Cyrus, “why you used to stare at me; for if I am not mistaken, I have often noticed you doing so.””Yes,” said he, “for though I was always desirous of coming to you, by the gods I was too bashful.””Well, you ought not to have been–at any rate, if you were my kinsman,” said Cyrus; and at the same time he went up and kissed him.
[1.4.28] And when he had been given the kiss, the Mede asked: “Really, is it a custom in Persia to kiss one’s kinsfolk?””Certainly,” said he; “at least, when they see one another after a time of separation, or when they part from one another.””It may be time, then, for you to kiss me once again,” said the Mede; “for, as you see, I am parting from you now.”And so Cyrus kissed him good-bye again and went on his way. But they had not yet gone far, when the Mede came back with his horse in a lather. And when Cyrus saw him he said: “Why, how now? Did you forget something that you intended to say?””No, by Zeus,” said he, “but I have come back after a time of separation.””By Zeus, cousin,” said Cyrus, “a pretty short time.””Short, is it?” said the Mede; “don’t you know, Cyrus,” said he, “that even the time it takes me to wink seems an eternity to me, because during that time I do not see you, who are so handsome?”Then Cyrus laughed through his tears and bade him go and be of good cheer, for in a little while he would come back to them, so that he might soon look at him–without winking, if he chose.
Book 1, Section 5
[1.5.1] Now when Cyrus had returned, as before narrated, he is said to have spent one more year in the class of boys in Persia. And at first the boys were inclined to make fun of him, saying that he had come back after having learned to live a life of luxurious ease among the Medes. But when they saw him eating and drinking with no less relish than they themselves, and, if there ever was feasting at any celebration, freely giving away a part of his own share rather than asking for more; and wh, in addition to this, they saw him surpassing them in other things as well, then again his comrades began to have proper respect for him.And when he had passed through this discipline and had now entered the class of the youths, among these in turn he had the reputation of being the best both in attending to duty and in endurance, in respect toward his elders and in obedience to the officers.
[1.5.2] In the course of time Astyages died in Media, and Cyaxares, the son of Astyages and brother of Cyrus’s mother, succeeded to the Median throne.At that time the king of Assyria had subjugated all Syria, a very large nation, and had made the king of Arabia his vassal; he already had Hyrcania under his dominion and was closely besetting Bactria. So he thought that if he should break the power of the Medes, he should easily obtain dominion over all the nations round about; for he considered the Medes the strongest of the neighbouring tribes.
[1.5.3] Accordingly, he sent around to all those under his sway and to Croesus, the king of Lydia, to the king of Cappadocia; to both Phrygias, to Paphlagonia, India, Caria, and Cilicia; and to a certain extent also he misrepresented the Medes and Persians, for he said that they were great, powerful nations, that they had intermarried with each other, and were united in common interests, and that unless some one attacked them first and broke their power, they would be likely to make war upon each one of the nations singly and subjugate them. Some, then, entered into an alliance with him because they actually believed what he said; others, because they were bribed with gifts and money, for he had great wealth.
[1.5.4] Now when Cyaxares heard of the plot and of the warlike preparations of the nations allied against him, without delay he made what counter preparations he could himself and also sent to Persia both to the general assembly and to his brother-in-law, Cambyses, who was king of Persia. And he sent word to Cyrus, too, asking him to try to come as commander of the men, in case the Persian state should send any troops. For Cyrus had by this time completed his ten years among the youths also and was now in the class of mature men.
[1.5.5] So Cyrus accepted the invitation, and the elders in council chose him commander of the expedition to Media. And they further permitted him to choose two hundred peers1 to accompany him, and to each one of the two hundred peers in turn they gave authority to choose four more, these also from the peers. That made a thousand. And each one of the thousand in their turn they bade choose in addition from the common people of the Persians ten targeteers, ten slingers, and ten bowmen. That made ten thousand bowmen, ten thousand targeteers, and ten thousand slingers–not counting the original thousand. So large was the army given to Cyrus.
[1.5.6] Now as soon as he was chosen, his first act was to consult the gods; and not till he had sacrificed and the omens were propitious, did he proceed to choose his two hundred men. And when these also had chosen each his four, he called them all together and then addressed them for the first time as follows:
[1.5.7] “My friends, I have chosen you not because I now see your worth for the first time, but because I have observed that from your boyhood on you have been zealously following out all that the state considers right and abstaining altogether from all that it regards as wrong. As for myself, I wish to make known to you why I have not hesitated to assume this office and why I have invited you to join me.
[1.5.8] “I have come to realize that our forefathers were no whit worse than we. At any rate, they also spent their time in practising what are considered the works of virtue. However, what they gained by being what they were, either for the commonwealth of the Persians or for themselves, I can by no means discover.
[1.5.9] And yet I think that no virtue is practised by men except with the aim that the good, by being such, may have something more than the bad; and I believe that those who abstain from present pleasures do this not that they may never enjoy themselves, but by this self-restraint they prepare themselves to have many times greater enjoyment in time to come. And those who are eager to become able speakers study oratory, not that they may never cease from speaking eloquently, but in the hope that by their eloquence they may persuade men and accomplish great good. And those also who practice military science undergo this labour, not that they may never cease from fighting, but because they think that by gaining proficiency in the arts of war they will secure great wealth and happiness and honour both for themselves and for their country.
[1.5.10] “But when men go through all this toil and then allow themselves to become old and feeble before they reap any fruit of their labours, they seem to me at least to be like a man who, anxious to become a good farmer, should sow and plant well but, when harvest time came, should permit his crop to fall back again to the ground ungathered. And again, if an athlete after long training and after getting himself in condition to win a victory should then persist in refusing to compete, not even he, I ween, would rightly be considered guiltless of folly.
[1.5.11] But, fellow-soldiers, let us not make this mistake; but, conscious that from our boyhood on we have practised what is good and honourable, let us go against the enemy, who, I am sure, are too untrained to contend against us. For those men are not yet valiant warriors, who, however skilful in the use of bow or spear and in horsemanship, are still found wanting if it is ever necessary to suffer hardship; such persons are mere tiros when it comes to hardships. Nor are those men valiant warriors, who are found wanting when it is necessary to keep awake; but these also are mere tiros in the face of sleep. Nor yet are those men valiant warriors, who have these qualifications but have not been taught how they ought to treat comrades and how to treat enemies, but it is evident that they also are unacquainted with the most important branches of education.
[1.5.12] “Now you, I take it, could make use of the night just as others do of the day; and you consider toil the guide to a happy life; hunger you use regularly as a sauce, and you endure drinking plain water more readily than lions do, while you have stored up in your souls that best of all possessions and the one most suitable to war: I mean, you enjoy praise more than anything else; and lovers of praise must for this reason gladly undergo every sort of hardship and every sort of danger.
[1.5.13] “Now if I say this concerning you while I believe the contrary to be true, I deceive myself utterly. For if any of these qualities shall fail to be forthcoming in you, the loss will fall on me. But I feel confident, you see, both from my own experience and from your good-will toward me and from the ignorance of the enemy that these sanguine hopes will not deceive me. So let us set out with good heart, since we are free from the suspicion of even seeming to aim unjustly at other men’s possessions. For, as it is, the enemy are coming, aggressors in wrong, and our friends are calling us to their assistance. What, then, is more justifiable than to defend oneself, or what more noble than to assist one’s friends?
[1.5.14] “This, moreover, will, I think, strengthen your confidence: I have not neglected the gods as we embark upon this expedition. For you have been with me enough to know that not only in great things but also in small I always try to begin with the approval of the gods.”What more need I add?” he said in closing. “Choose you your men and get them together, and when you have made the necessary preparations come on to Media. As for myself, I will first return to my father and then go on ahead of you, to learn as soon as possible what the plans of the enemy are and to makewhat preparations I may require, in order that with God’s help we may make as good a fight as possible.”They, for their part, proceeded to do as he had said.
1,5,5,n1. The “peers,” or “equals-in-honour,” were so called because they enjoyed equality of rights in matters of education, politics, and offices of honour and distinction. See Index, s.v.
Book 1, Section 6
[1.6.1] Now, when Cyrus had gone home and prayed to ancestral Hestia, ancestral Zeus, and the rest of the gods, he set out upon his expedition; and his father also joined in escorting him on his way. And when they were out of the house, it is said to have thundered and lightened with happy auspices for him; and when this manifestation had been made, they proceeded, without taking any further auspices, in the conviction that no one would make void the signs of the supreme god.
[1.6.2] Then, as they went on, his father began to speak to Cyrus on this wise:”My son, it is evident both from the sacrifices and from the signs from the skies that the gods are sending you forth with their grace and favour; and you yourself must recognize it, for I had you taught this art on purpose that you might not have to learn the counsels of the gods through others as interpreters, but that you yourself, both seeing what is to be seen and hearing what is to be heard, might understand; for I would not have you at the mercy of the soothsayers, in case they should wish to deceive you by saying other things than those revealed by the gods; and furthermore, if ever you should be without a soothsayer, I would not have you in doubt as to what to make of the divine revelations, but by your soothsayer’s art I would have you understand the counsels of the gods and obey them.”
[1.6.3] “Aye, father,” said Cyrus, “as you have taught me, I always try to take care, as far as I can, that the gods may be gracious unto us and willingly give us counsel; for I remember,” said he, “having once heard you say that that man would be more likely to have power with the gods, even as with men, who did not fawn upon them when he was in adversity, but remembered the gods most of all when he was in the highest prosperity. And for one’s friends also, you said, one ought always to show one’s regard in precisely the same way.”
[1.6.4] “Well, my son,” said he, “and owing to that very regard do you not come to the gods with a better heart to pray, and do you not expect more confidently to obtain what you pray for, because you feel conscious of never having neglected them?””Yes, indeed, father,” said he; “I feel toward the gods as if they were my friends.”
[1.6.5] “To be sure,” said his father; “and do you remember the conclusion which once we reached–that as people who know what the gods have granted fare better than those who do not; as people who work accomplish more than those who are idle; as people who are careful live more securely than those who are indifferent; so in this matter it seemed to us that those only who had made themselves what they ought to be had a right to ask for corresponding blessings from the gods?”
[1.6.6] “Yes, by Zeus,” said Cyrus; “I do indeed remember hearing you say so, and all the more because I could not help but agree with what you said. For I know that you always used to say that those who had not learned to ride had no right to ask the gods to give them victory in a cavalry battle; and those who did not know how to shoot had no right to ask to excel in marksmanship those who did know how; and those who did not know how to steer had no right to pray that they might save ships by taking the helm; neither had those who did not sow at all any right to pray for a fine crop, nor those who were not watchful in war to ask for preservation; for all that is contrary to the ordinances of the gods. You said, moreover, that it was quite as likely that those who prayed for what was not right should fail of success with the gods as that those who asked for what was contrary to human law should be disappointed at the hands of men.”
[1.6.7] “But, my son, have you forgotten the discussion you and I once had–that it was a great task and one worthy of a man, to do the best he could not only to prove himself a truly good and noble man but also to provide a good living both for himself and his household? And while this was a great task, still, to understand how to govern other people so that they might have all the necessaries of life in abundance and might all become what they ought to be, this seemed to us worthy of all admiration.”
[1.6.8] “Yes, by Zeus, father,” said he, “I do remember your saying this also; and I agreed with you, too, that it was an exceedingly difficult task to govern well; and now,” said he, “I hold this same opinion still, when I consider the matter and think of the principles of governing. When I look at other people, however, and observe what sort of men those are who, in spite of their character, continue to rule over them, and what sort of opponents we are going to have, it seems to me an utter disgrace to show any respect for such as they are and not to wish to go to fight them. To begin with our own friends here,” he continued, “I observe that the Medes consider it necessary for the one who governs them to surpass the governed in greater sumptuousness of fare, in the possession of more money in his palace, in longer hours of sleep, and in a more luxurious manner of life, in every respect, than the governed. But I think,” he added, “that the ruler ought to surpass those under his rule not in self-indulgence, but in taking forethought and willingly undergoing toil.”
[1.6.9] “But let me tell you, my boy,” said the other, “there are some instances in which we must wrestle not against men but against actual facts, and it is not so easy to get the better of these without trouble. For instance, you doubtless know that if your army does not receive its rations, your authority will soon come to naught.””Yes, father,” said he; “but Cyaxares says that he will furnish supplies for all who come from here, however many they be.””But, my son,” said he, “do you mean to say that you are marching out trusting to the funds at the command of Cyaxares?””Yes, I do,” said Cyrus.”But say,” said his father, “do you know how much he has?””No, by Zeus,” said Cyrus, “I know nothing about it.””And do you nevertheless trust to these uncertainties? And do you not know that you will need many things and that he must now have many other expenses?””Yes,” said Cyrus, “I do.””Well, then,” said he, “if his resources fail or if he play you false on purpose, how will your army fare?””Evidently not very well; but father,” said he, “if you have in mind any means that I might find at my own command for obtaining supplies, tell me about it, while we are still in a friendly country.”
[1.6.10] “Do you ask me, my son,” said he, “where you might yourself find means? Where might you better look to find the means of obtaining supplies than to the one who has an army? Now you are marching out from here with a force of infantry which you would not exchange, I am sure, for any other though many time as large; and you will have for cavalry to support you the Median horse, the best cavalry troops in the world. What nation, then, of those around do you suppose will refuse to serve you, both from the wish to do your side a favour, and for fear of suffering harm? And therefore in common with Cyaxares you should take care that you may never be without any of the things you need to have, and as a matter of habit, too, contrive some means of revenue. And above all I beg you to remember this: never postpone procuring supplies until want compels you to it; but when you have the greatest abundance, then take measures against want. And this is most expedient; for you will obtain more from those upon whom you make demands, if you do not seem to be in want, and besides you will thus be blameless in the eyes of your own soldiers; in this way, furthermore, you willcommand more respect from others also, and if you wish to do good or ill to any one with your forces, your soldiers will serve you better as long as they have what they need. And let me assure you that the words you say will have more more power to convince, when you can abundantly prove that you are in a position to do both good and ill.”
[1.6.11] “Well, father,” said he, “it seems to me that you are right in all you say, both on other grounds and also because not one of my soldiers will be grateful to me for that which according to the agreement he is to receive; for they know on what terms Cyaxares is having them brought as his allies. But whatever any one receives in addition to what has been agreed upon, that he will consider as a reward, and he will probably be grateful to the giver. But for a man to have an army with which he may do good to his friends and get help in return and try to punish his enemies, and for him then to neglect to make due provision for it, do you think,” said he, “that this is in any way less disgraceful than for a man to have fields and labourers to work them and after all to let his land lie idle and unprofitable? But,” he added, “I, at any rate, shall not fail to provide supplies for my men, whether in a friendly or in a hostile land–you may be certain of that.”
[1.6.12] “Well then, my boy,” said his father, “tell me, do you remember the other points which, we agreed, must not be neglected–eh?””Yes,” said he, “I remember well when I came to you for money to pay to the man who professed to have taught me to be a general; and you, while you gave it me, asked a question something like this: `Of course,’ you said, `the man to whom you are taking the pay has given you instruction in domestic economy as a part of the duties of a general, has he not? At any rate, the soldiers need provisions no whit less than the servants in your house.’ And when I told you the truth and said that he had given me no instruction whatever in this subject, you asked me further whether he had said anything to me about health or strength, inasmuch as it would be requisite for the general to take thought for these matters as well as for the conduct of his campaign.
[1.6.13] And when I said `no’ to this also, you asked me once more whether he had taught me any arts that would be the best helps in the business of war. And when I said `no’ to this as well, you put this further question, whether he had put me through any training so that I might be able to inspire my soldiers with enthusiasm, adding that in every project enthusiasm or faintheartedness made all the difference in the world. And when I shook my head in response to this likewise, you questioned me again whether he had given me any lessons to teach me how best to secure obedience on the part of an army.
[1.6.14] And when this also appeared not to have been discussed at all, you finally asked me what in the world he had been teaching me that he professed to have been teaching me generalship. And thereupon I answered, `tactics.’ And you laughed and went through it all, explaining point by point, as you asked of what conceivable use tactics could be to an army, without provisions and health, and of what use it could be without the knowledge of the arts invented for warfare and without obedience. And when you had made it clear to me that tactics was only a small part of generalship, I asked you if you could teach me any of those things, and you bade me go and talk with the men who were reputed to be masters of military science and find out how each one of those problems was to be met.
[1.6.15] Thereupon I joined myself to those who I heard were most proficient in those branches. And in regard to provisions–I was persuaded that what Cyaxares was to furnish us was enough if it should be forthcoming; and in regard to health–as I had always heard and observed that states that wished to be healthy elected a board of health, and also that generals for the sake of their soldiers took physicians out with them, so also when I was appointed to this position, I immediately took thought for this; and I think,” he added, “that you will find that I have with me men eminent in the medical profession.”Said his father in reply to this,
[1.6.16] “Yes, my son, but just as there are menders of torn garments, so also these physicians whom you mention heal us when we fall sick. But your responsibility for health will be a larger one than that: you must see to it that your army does not get sick at all.””And pray what course shall I take, father,” said he, “that I may be able to accomplish that?””In the first place, if you are going to stay for some time in the same neighbourhood, you must not neglect to find a sanitary location for your camp; and with proper attention you can not fail in this. For people are continually talking about unhealthful localities and localities that are healthful; and you may find clear witnesses to either in the physique and complexion of the inhabitants; and in the second place, it is not enough to have regard to the localities only, but tell me what means you adopt to keep well yourself.”
[1.6.17] “In the first place, by Zeus,” said Cyrus, “I try never to eat too much, for that is oppressive; and in the second place, I work off by exercise what I have eaten, for by so doing health seems more likely to endure and strength to accrue.””That, then, my son,” said he, “is the way in which you must take care of the rest also.””Yes, father,” said he; “but will the soldiers find leisure for taking physical exercise?””Nay, by Zeus,” said his father, “they not only can, but they actually must. For if an army is to do its duty, it is absolutely necessary that it never cease to contrive both evil for the enemy and good for itself. What a burden it is to support even one idle man! It is more burdensome still to support a whole household in idleness; but the worst burden of all is to support an army in idleness. For not only are the mouths in an army very numerous but the supplies they start with are exceedingly limited, and they use up most extravagantly whatever they get, so that an army must never be left idle.”
[1.6.18] “Methinks you mean, father,” said he, “that just as a lazy farmer is of no account, so also a lazy general is of no account at all.””But at any rate, as regards the energetic general,” said his father, “I can vouch for it that, unless some god do cross him, he will keep his soldiers abundantly supplied with provisions and at the same time in the best physical condition.””Yes,” said Cyrus; “but at all events, as to practice in the various warlike exercises, it seems to me, father, that by announcing contests in each one and offering prizes you would best secure practice in them, so that you would have everything prepared for use, whenever you might need it.””Quite right, my son,” said he; “for if you do that you may be sure that you will see your companies performing their proper parts like trained sets of dancers.”
[1.6.19] “In the next place,” said Cyrus, “for putting enthusiasm into the soldiers nothing seems to be more effectual than the power of inspiring men with hopes.””Yes, my son,” said he; “but that is just as if any one on a hunt should always call up his dogs with the call that he uses when he sees the quarry. For at first, to be sure, he will find them obeying him eagerly; but if he deceives them often, in the end they will not obey him when he calls, even though he really does see a wild beast. So it stands with respect to those hopes also. If any one too often raises false expectations of good things to come, eventually he can gain no credence, even when he holds forth well-grounded hopes. But, my son, you should refrain from saying what you are not perfectly sure of; by making certain others your mouthpiece, however, the desired end may be accomplished; but faith in your own words of encouragement you must keep sacred to the utmost to serve you in the greatest crises.””Yes, by Zeus, father,” saCyrus; “I think you are right in what you say, and I like your idea better.
[1.6.20] And then in regard to keeping the soldiers in a state of obedience, I think, father, that I am not inexperienced in that direction; for you instructed me in obedience from my very childhood on, compelling me to obey you. Then you surrendered me to the charge of my teachers, and they pursued the same course; and when we were in the class of young men, the officer in charge paid especial attention to this same point; and most of the laws seem to me to teach these two things above all else, to govern and to be governed. And now, when I think of it, it seems to me that in all things the chief incentive to obedience lies in this: praise and honour for the obedient, punishment and dishonour for the disobedient.”
[1.6.21] “This, my son, is the road to compulsory obedience, indeed, but there is another road, a short cut, to what is much better–namely, to willing obedience. For people are only too glad to obey the man who they believe takes wiser thought for their interests than they themselves do. And you might recognize that this is so in many instances but particularly in the case of the sick: how readily they call in those who are to prescribe what they must do; and at sea how cheerfully the passengers obey the captain; and how earnestly travellers desire not to get separated from those who they think are better acquainted with the road than they are. But when people think that they are going to get into trouble if they obey, they will neither yield very much for punishment nor will they be moved by gifts; for no one willingly accepts even a gift at the cost of trouble to himself.”
[1.6.22] “You mean to say, father, that nothing is more effectual toward keeping one’s men obedient than to seem to be wiser than they?””Yes,” said he, “that is just what I mean.””And how, pray, father, could one most quickly acquire such a reputation for oneself?””There is no shorter road, my son,” said he, “than really to be wise in those things in which you wish to seem to be wise; and when you examine concrete instances, you will realize that what I say is true. For example, if you wish to seem to be a good farmer when you are not, or a good rider, doctor, flute-player, or anything else that you are not, just think how many schemes you must invent to keep up your pretensions. And even if you should persuade any number of people to praise you, in order to give yourself a reputation, and if you should procure a fine outfit for each of your professions, you would soon be found to have practised deception; and not long after, when you were giving an exhibition of your skill, you would be shown up and convicted, too, as an impostor.”
[1.6.23] “But how could one become really wise in foreseeing that which will prove to be useful?””Obviously, my son,” said he, “by learning all that it is possible to acquire by learning, just as you learned tactics. But whatever it is not possible for man to learn, nor for human wisdom to foresee, that you may find out from the gods by the soothsayer’s art, and thus prove yourself wiser than others; and if you know anything that it would be best to have done, you would show yourself wiser than others if you should exert yourself to get that done; for it is a mark of greater wisdom in a man to strive to secure what is needful than to neglect it.”
[1.6.24] “Yes; but as to the love of one’s subjects– and this, it seems to me at least, is one of the most important questions–the same course that you would take if you wished to gain the affection of your friends leads also to that; that is, I think, you must show yourself to be their benefactor.””Yes, my son,” said he; “it is a difficult matter, however, always to be in a position to do good to whom you will; but to show that you rejoice with them if any good befall them, that you sympathize with them if any ill betide, that you are eager to help them in times of distress, that you are anxious that they be not crossed in any way, and that you try to prevent their being crossed; it is in these respects somehow that you ought rather to go hand in hand with them.
[1.6.25] And in his campaigns also, if they fall in the summer time, the general must show that he can endure the heat of the sun better than his soldiers can, and that he can endure cold better than they if it be in winter; if the way lead through difficulties, that he can endure hardships better. All this contributes to his being loved by his men.””You mean to say, father,” said he, “that in everything the general must show more endurance than his men.””Yes,” said he, “that is just what I mean; however, never fear for that, my son; for bear in mind that the same toils do not affect the general and the private in the same way, though they have the same sort of bodies; but the honour of the general’s position and the very consciousness that nothing he does escapes notice lighten the burdens for him.”
[1.6.26] “But, father, when once your soldiers had supplies and were well and able to endure toils, and when they were practised in the arts of war and ambitious to prove themselves brave, and when they were more inclined to obey than to disobey, under such circumstances do you not think it would be wise to desire to engage the enemy at the very first opportunity?””Yes, by Zeus,” said he; “at any rate, if I expected to gain some advantage by it; otherwise, for my part, the better I though myself to be and the better my followers, the more should I be on my guard, just as we try to keep other things also which we hold most precious in the greatest possible security.”
[1.6.27] “But, father, what would be the best way to gain an advantage over the enemy?””By Zeus,” said he, “this is no easy or simple question that you ask now, my son; but, let me tell you, the man who proposes to do that must be designing and cunning, wily and deceitful, a thief and a robber, overreaching the enemy at every point.””O Heracles, father,” said Cyrus with a laugh, “what a man you say I must become!””Such, my son,” he said, “that you would be at the same time the most righteous and law-abiding man in the world.”
[1.6.28] “Why then, pray, did you use to teach us the opposite of this when we were boys and youths?””Aye, by Zeus,” said he; “and so we would have you still towards your friends and fellow-citizens; but, that you might be able to hurt your enemies, do you not know that you all were learning many villainies?””No, indeed, father,” said he; “not I, at any rate.””Why,” said he, “did you learn to shoot, and why to throw the spear? Why did you learn to ensnare wild boars with nets and pitfalls, and deer with traps and toils? And why were you not used to confront lions and bears and leopards in a fair fight face to face instead of always trying to contend against them with some advantage on your side? Why, do you not know that all this is villainy and deceit and trickery and taking unfair advantage?”
[1.6.29] “Yes, by Zeus,” said he, “toward wild animals however; but if I ever even seemed to wish to deceive a man, I know that I got a good beating for it.””Yes,” said he; “for, methinks, we did not permit you to shoot at people nor to throw your spear at them; but we taught you to shoot at a mark, in order that you might not for the time at least do harm to your friends, but, in case there should ever be a war, that you might be able to aim well at men also. And we instructed you likewise to deceive and to take advantage, not in the case of men but of beasts, in order that you might not injure your friends by so doing, but, if there should ever be a war, that you might not be unpractised in these arts.”
[1.6.30] “Well then, father,” said he, “if indeed it is useful to understand both how to do good and how to do evil to men, we ought to have been taught both these branches in the case of men, too.”
[1.6.31] “Yes, my son,” said he; “it is said that in the time of our forefathers there was once a tof the boys who, it seems, used to teach them justice in the very way that you propose; to lie and not to lie, to cheat and not to cheat, to slander and not to slander, to take and not to take unfair advantage. And he drew the line between what one should do to one’s friends and what to one’s enemies. And what is more, he used to teach this: that it was right to deceive friends even, provided it were for a good end, and to steal the possessions of a friend for a good purpose.
[1.6.32] And in teaching these lessons he had also to train the boys to practise them upon one another, just as also in wrestling, the Greeks, they say, teach deception and train the boys to be able to practise it upon one another. When, therefore, some had in this way become expert both in deceiving successfully and in taking unfair advantage and perhaps also not inexpert in avarice, they did not refrain from trying to take an unfair advantage even of their friends.
[1.6.33] In consequence of that, therefore, an ordinance was passed which obtains even unto this day, simply to teach our boys, just as we teach our servants in their relations toward us, to tell the truth and not to deceive and not to take unfair advantage; and if they should act contrary to this law, the law requires their punishment, in order that, inured to such habits, they may become more refined members of society.
[1.6.34] But when they came to be as old as you are now, then it seemed to be safe to teach them that also which is lawful toward enemies; for it does not seem likely that you would break away and degenerate into savages after you had been brought up together in mutual respect. In the same way we do not discuss sexual matters in the presence of very young boys, lest in case lax discipline should give a free rein to their passions the young might indulge them to excess.”
[1.6.35] “True, by Zeus,” said he; “but seeing that I am late in learning about this art of taking advantage of others, do not neglect to teach me, father, if you can, how I may take advantage of the enemy.””Contrive, then,” said he, “as far as is in your power, with your own men in good order to catch the enemy in disorder, with your own men armed to come upon them unarmed, and with your own men awake to surprise them sleeping, and then you will catch them in an unfavourable position while you yourself are in a strong position, when they are in sight to you and while you yourself are unseen.”
[1.6.36] “And how, father,” said he, “could one catch the enemy making such mistakes?””Why, my son,” said he, “both you and the enemy must necessarily offer many such opportunities; for instance, you must both eat, and you must both sleep, and early in the morning you must almost all at the same time attend to the calls of nature, and you must make use of such roads as you find. All this you must observe, and you must be particularly watchful on the side where you know yourselves to be weaker, and you must attack the enemy above all in that quarter in which you see that they are most vulnerable.”
[1.6.37] “And is it possible to take advantage in these ways only,” said Cyrus, “or in other ways also?””Aye, far more in other ways, my son,” said he; “for in these particulars all men, as a rule, take strict precautions; for they know that they must. But those whose business it is to deceive the enemy can catch them off their guard by inspiring them with over-confidence; and, by offering them the opportunity of pursuit, can get them into disorder; and, by leading them on into unfavourable ground by pretended flight, can there turn and attack them.
[1.6.38] However, my son,” he continued, “since you are desirous of learning all these matters, you must not only utilize what you may learn from others, but you must yourself also be an inventor of stratagems against the enemy, just as musicians render not only those compositions which they have learned but try to compose others also that are new. Now if in music that which is new and fresh wins applause, new stratagems in warfare also win far greater applause, for such can deceive the enemy even more successfully.
[1.6.39] “And if you, my son,” he went on, “should do nothing more than apply to your dealings with men the tricks that you used to practise so constantly in dealing with small game, do you not think that you would make a very considerable advance in the art of taking advantage of the enemy? For you used to get up in the coldest winter weather and go out before daylight to catch birds, and before the birds were astir you had your snares laid ready for them and the ground disturbed had been made exactly like the ground undisturbed; and your decoy birds had been so trained as to serve your purposes and to deceive the birds of the same species, while you yourself would lie in hiding so as to see them but not to be seen by them; and you had practised drawing your nets before the birds could escape.
[1.6.40] And again, to catch the hare–because he feeds in the night and hides in the daytime–you used to breed dogs that would find him out by the scent. And because he ran so fast, when he was found, you used to have other dogs trained to catch him by coursing. And in case he escaped even these, you used to find out the runs and the places where hares take refuge and may be caught, and there you would spread out your nets so as to be hardly visible, and the hare in his headlong flight would plunge into them and entangle himself. And lest he escape even from that, you used to station men to watch for what might happen and to pounce upon him suddenly from a place near by. And you yourself from behind shouting with a cry that kept right up with the hare would frighten him so that he would lose his wits and be taken; those in front, on the other hand, you had instructed to keep silent and made them lie concealed in ambush.
[1.6.41] “As I said before, then, if you would employ such schemes on men also, I am inclined to think that you would not come short of any enemy in the world. But if it is ever necessary–as it may well be–to join battle in the open field, in plain sight, with both armies in full array, why, in such a case, my son, the advantages that have been long since secured are of much avail; by that I mean, if your soldiers are physically in good training, if their hearts are well steeled and the arts of war well studied.
[1.6.42] Besides, you must remember well that all those from whom you expect obedience to you will, on their part, expect you to take thought for them. So never be careless, but think out at night what your men are to do for you when day comes, and in the daytime think out how the arrangements for the night may best be made.
[1.6.43] But how you ought to draw up an army in battle array, or how you ought to lead it by day or by night, by narrow ways or broad, over mountains or plains, or how you should pitch camp, or how station your sentinels by night or by day, or how you should advance against the enemy or retreat before them, or how you should lead past a hostile city, or how attack a fortification or withdraw from it, or how you should cross ravines or rivers, or how you should protect yourself against cavalry or spearmen or bowmen, and if the enemy should suddenly come in sight while you are leading on in column, how you should form and take your stand against them, and if they should come in sight from any other quarter than in front as you are marching in phalanx, how you should form and face them, or how any one might best find out the enemy’s plans or how the enemy might be least likely to learn his–why should I tell you all these things? For what I, for my part, know, you have often heard; and if any one else had a reputation for understanding anything of that kind, you never neglected to get information from him, nor have you been uninstructed. I think, then, that you should turn this knowledge to account according to circumstances, as each item of it may appear serviceable to you.
[1.6.44] “Learn this les, too, from me, my son,” said he; “it is the most important thing of all: never go into any danger either to yourself or to your army contrary to the omens or the auspices, and bear in mind that men choose lines of action by conjecture and do not know in the least from which of them success will come.
[1.6.45] But you may derive this lesson from the facts of history; for many, and men, too, who seemed most wise, have ere now persuaded states to take up arms against others, and the states thus persuaded to attack have been destroyed. And many have made many others great, both individuals and states; and when they have exalted them, they have suffered the most grievous wrongs at their hands. And many who might have treated people as friends and done them favours and received favours from them, have received their just deserts from these very people because they preferred to treat them like slaves rather than as friends. Many, too, not satisfied to live contentedly in the enjoyment of their own proper share, have lost even that which they had, because they have desired to be lords of everything; and many, when they have gained the much coveted wealth, have been ruined by it.
[1.6.46] So we see that mere human wisdom does not know how to choose what is best any more than if any one were to cast lots and do as the lot fell. But the gods, my son, the eternal gods, know all things, both what has been and what is and what shall come to pass as a result of each present or past event; and if men consult them, they reveal to those to whom they are propitious what they ought to do and what they ought not to do. But if they are not willing to give counsel to everybody, that is not surprising; for they are under no compulsion to care for any one unless they will.”