So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do. — Benjamin Franklin

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Retreat of the Ten Thousand

Xenophon's advice pleased the Greeks. It was far better, they thought, to make the glorious attempt to return home, than basely to surrender their arms, and become the subjects of a foreign king.

They therefore said they would elect a leader, and all chose Xenophon to fill this difficult office. He, however, consented to accept it only upon condition that each soldier would pledge his word of honor to obey him; for he knew that the least disobedience would hinder success, and that in union alone lay strength. The soldiers understood this too, and not only swore to obey him, but even promised not to quarrel among themselves.

So the little army began its homeward march, tramping bravely over sandy wastes and along rocky pathways. When they came to a river too deep to be crossed by fording, they followed it up toward its source until they could find a suitable place to get over it; and, as they had neither money nor provisions, they were obliged to seize all their food on the way.

The Greeks not only had to overcome countless natural obstacles, but were also compelled to keep up a continual warfare with the Persians who pursued them. Every morning Xenophon had to draw up his little army in the form of a square, to keep the enemy at bay.

They would fight thus until nearly nightfall, when the Persians always retreated, to camp at a distance from the men they feared. Instead of allowing his weary soldiers to sit down and rest, Xenophon would then give orders to march onward. So they tramped in the twilight until it was too dark or they were too tired to proceed any farther.

After a hasty supper, the Greeks flung themselves down to rest on the hard ground, under the light of the stars; but even these slumbers were cut short by Xenophon's call at early dawn. Long before the lazy Persians were awake, these men were again marching onward; and when the mounted enemy overtook them once more, and compelled them to halt and fight, they were several miles nearer home.

As the Greeks passed though the wild mountain gorges they were further hindered by the neighboring people, who tried to stop them by rolling trunks of trees and rocks down upon them. Although some were wounded and others killed, the little army pressed forward, and, after a march of about a thousand miles, they came at last within sight of the sea.

You may imagine what a joyful shout arose, and how lovingly they gazed upon the blue waters which washed the shores of their native land also.

But although Xenophon and his men had come to the sea, their troubles were not yet ended; for, as they had no money to pay their passage, none of the captains would take them on board.

Instead of embarking, therefore, and resting their weary limbs while the wind wafted them home, they were forced to tramp along the seashore. They were no longer in great danger, but were tired and discontented, and now for the first time they began to forget their promise to obey Xenophon.

To obtain money enough to pay their passage to Greece, they took several small towns along their way, and robbed them. Then, hearing that there was a new expedition on foot to free the Ionian cities from the Persian yoke, they suddenly decided not to return home, but to go and help them.

Xenophon therefore led them to Pergamus, where he gave them over to their new leader. There were still ten thousand left out of the eleven thousand men that Cyrus had hired, and Xenophon had cause to feel proud of having brought them across the enemy's territory with so little loss.

After bidding them farewell, Xenophon returned home, and wrote down an account of this famous Retreat of the Ten Thousand in a book called the Anabasis. This account is so interesting that people begin to read it as soon as they know a little Greek, and thus learn all about the fighting and marching of those brave men.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province