If you were to offer a thirsty man all wisdom, you would not please him more than if you gave him a drink. — Sophocles

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Defeat of Cyrus

It was at the close of the Peloponnesian War that Darius II., King of Persia, died, leaving two sons, Artaxerxes and Cyrus. These two heirs could not agree which should reign. Artaxerxes claimed the throne because he was the elder, and Cyrus because he was the first son born after their father had become king; for in Persia it was the custom for a ruler to choose as his successor a son born after he had taken possession of the throne.

The quarrel between the two brothers daily became more bitter; and when Artaxerxes made himself king by force, Cyrus swore that he would compel him to give up his place again.

To oust his brother from the throne, Cyrus collected an army in Asia Minor; and, as he could not secure enough Persian solders, he hired a body of eleven thousand Greeks commanded by a Spartan named Clearchus.

This Greek army was only a small part of Cyrus' force; but he expected great things from it, as the Persians had already found out to their cost that the Greeks were very good fighters.

After a long march, the armies of both brothers met at Cunaxa; and there was a terrible battle, in the midst of which Cyrus was killed. Of course, his death ended the quarrel, and the Persians all surrendered.

But the Greeks continued fighting bravely, until Artaxerxes sent them word that his brother was dead, and that he would have them guided safely back to their own country if they would lay down their arms.

The Greeks, believing him, immediately stopped fighting; and their officers accepted an invitation to enter the Persian camp, and be present at the council of all the generals.

Their trust was sadly misplaced, however; for no sooner had the Greek officers entered the tent than they were surrounded and slain. The Persian king then sent a message to the Greek troops, saying that their leaders were all dead, and summoning them to give up their arms and to swear to obey him in all things.

This message filled the hearts of the Greeks with rage and despair. What were they to do? Their chiefs were dead, they were in a strange country surrounded by enemies, and their own home lay eight months' journey away.

They had no leaders, no money or provisions, and no guides to show them the way back across the burning sands, deep rivers, and over mountains. They had nothing, in short, but the armor on their backs and the weapons in their hands.

As they did not even know the language of the country, they could not ask their way; and as they were surrounded by enemies, they must be constantly on their guard lest they should be surprised and taken prisoners or killed. They were indeed in a sorry plight; and no wonder that they all fancied they would never see their homes again. When night came on, they flung themselves down upon the ground without having eaten any supper. Their hearts were so heavy, however, that they could not sleep, but tossed and moaned in their despair.

In this army there was a pupil of Socrates, called Xenophon. He was a good and brave man. Instead of bewailing his bad luck, as the others did, he tried to think of some plan by which the army might yet be saved, and brought back to Greece.

His night of deep thought was not in vain; and as soon as morning dawned he called his companions together, and begged them to listen to him, as he had found a way of saving them from slavery or death.

Then he explained to them, that, if they were only united and willing, they could form a compact body, and, under a leader of their own choosing, could beat a safe retreat toward the sea.



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