Xenophon leading his Ten Thousand through Persia to the Black Sea. 19th century illustration.
Anabasis ( // ; Greek : Ἀνάβασις [anábasis] ; an "expedition up from") is the most famous book of the Ancient Greek professional soldier and writer Xenophon. The seven-tome book of the Anabasis was composed around the year 370 BC, and, in translation, Anabasis is rendered as The March of the Ten Thousand and as The March Up Country. The narration of the journey is Xenophon's best known work, and "one of the great adventures in human history".
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.
Xenophon of Athens was an ancient Greek philosopher, historian, soldier, mercenary, and student of Socrates. As a soldier, Xenophon became commander of the Ten Thousand at about 30, with noted military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge saying of him, “the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior.” He established the precedent for many logistical operations and was among the first to use flanking maneuvers, feints and attacks in depth. He was among the greatest commanders of antiquity. As a historian, Xenophon is known for recording the history of his time, the late-5th and early-4th centuries BC, in such works as the Hellenica, which covered the final seven years and the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, thus representing a thematic continuation of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.
Xenophon, in his Hellenica , did not cover the retreat of Cyrus but instead referred the reader to the Anabasis by "Themistogenes of Syracuse"—the tenth-century Suda also describes Anabasis as being the work of Themistogenes, "preserved among the works of Xenophon", in the entry Θεμιστογενεης. (Θεμιστογένης, Συρακούσιος, ἱστορικός. Κύρου ἀνάβασιν, ἥτις ἐν τοῖς Ξενοφῶντος φέρεται: καὶ ἄλλα τινὰ περὶ τῆς ἑαυτοῦ πατρίδος. J.S. Watson in his Remarks on the Authorship of Anabasis refers to the various interpretations of the word φέρεται which give rise to different interpretations, and different problems. ) Aside from these two references, there is no authority for there being a contemporary Anabasis written by "Themistogenes of Syracuse", and indeed no mention of such a person in any other context.
The Suda or Souda is a large 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Soudas (Σούδας) or Souidas (Σουίδας). It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often derived from medieval Christian compilers. The derivation is probably from the Byzantine Greek word souda, meaning "fortress" or "stronghold", with the alternate name, Suidas, stemming from an error made by Eustathius, who mistook the title for the author's name.
By the end of the first century, Plutarch had said, in his Glory of the Athenians , that Xenophon had attributed Anabasis to a third party in order to distance himself as a subject, from himself as a writer. While the attribution to Themistogenes has been raised many times, the view of most scholars aligns substantially with that of Plutarch, and certainly that all the volumes are written by Xenophon.
Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.
Xenophon accompanied the Ten Thousand, a large army of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger, who intended to seize the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes II. Though Cyrus' mixed army fought to a tactical victory at Cunaxa in Babylon (401 BC), Cyrus was killed, rendering the actions of the Greeks irrelevant and the expedition a failure.
A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. Beginning in the 20th century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.
Cyrus the Younger, son of Darius II of Persia and Parysatis, was a Persian prince and general, Satrap of Lydia and Ionia from 408 to 401 BC. His birth date is unknown, but he died in 401 BC after a failed battle to oust his elder brother, Artaxerxes II, from the Persian throne.
The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.
Stranded deep in Persia, the Spartan general Clearchus and the other Greek senior officers were then killed or captured by treachery on the part of the Persian satrap Tissaphernes. Xenophon, one of three remaining leaders elected by the soldiers, played an instrumental role in encouraging the 10,000 to march north across foodless deserts and snow-filled mountain passes, towards the Black Sea and the comparative security of its Greek shoreline cities. Now abandoned in northern Mesopotamia, without supplies other than what they could obtain by force or diplomacy, the 10,000 had to fight their way northwards through Corduene and Armenia, making ad hoc decisions about their leadership, tactics, provender and destiny, while the King's army and hostile natives barred their way and attacked their flanks.
Sparta was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. In antiquity the city-state was known as Lacedaemon, while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.
Clearchus or Clearch, the son of Rhamphias, was a Spartan general and mercenary, noted for his service under Cyrus the Younger.
Satraps were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to the king, though with considerable autonomy; and the word also came to suggest tyranny, or ostentatious splendour.
Ultimately this "marching republic" managed to reach the shores of the Black Sea at Trabzon (Trebizond), a destination they greeted with their famous cry of exultation on the mountain of Theches (now Madur) in Hyssos (now Sürmene): " Thálatta, thálatta ", "The sea, the sea!". "The sea" meant that they were at last among Greek cities but it was not the end of their journey, which included a period fighting for Seuthes II of Thrace and ended with their recruitment into the army of the Spartan general Thibron. Xenophon related this story in Anabasis in a simple and direct manner.
Trabzon, historically known as Trebizond, is a city on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Persia in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetian and Genoese merchants paid visits to Trebizond during the medieval period and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric. Both republics had merchant colonies within the city - Leonkastron and the former 'Venetian castle - that played a role to Trebizond similar to the one Galata played to Constantinople. Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond between 1204 and 1461. During the early modern period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, again became a focal point of trade to Persia and the Caucasus.
Madur, in Antiquity known as Theches, is a mountain in Sürmene, Turkey.
Sürmene is a town and a district of Trabzon Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. In ancient times nearby was the town of Hyssus or Hyssos and Issiporto.
The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. While the journey of Cyrus is an anabasis from Ionia on the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea, to the interior of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, most of Xenophon's narrative is taken up with the return march of Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, from the interior of Babylon to the coast of the Black Sea. Socrates makes a cameo appearance, when Xenophon asks whether he ought to accompany the expedition. The short episode demonstrates the reverence of Socrates for the Oracle of Delphi.
Xenophon's account of the exploit resounded through Greece, where, two generations later, some surmise, it may have inspired Philip of Macedon to believe that a lean and disciplined Hellene army might be relied upon to defeat a Persian army many times its size.
Besides military history, the Anabasis has found use as a tool for the teaching of classical philosophy; the principles of leadership and government exhibited by the army can be seen as exemplifying Socratic philosophy.
Traditionally Anabasis is one of the first unabridged texts studied by students of classical Greek, because of its clear and unadorned style; similar to Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico for Latin students. Perhaps not coincidentally, they are both autobiographical tales of military adventure, told in the third person.
Xenophon's book inspired multiple literary and audio-visual works, both non-fiction and fiction.
Non-fiction books inspired by Anabasis include:
The Anabasis of Alexander , by the Greek historian Arrian (86 – after 146 AD), is a history of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, specifically his conquest of the Persian Empire between 334 and 323 BC.
Shane Brennan's memoir In the Tracks of the Ten Thousand: A Journey on Foot through Turkey, Syria and Iraq (2005) recounts his 2000 journey to re-trace the steps of the Ten Thousand.
The cry of Xenophon's soldiers when they meet the sea is mentioned by the narrator of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), when their expedition discovers an underground ocean. The famous cry also provides the title of Iris Murdoch's Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sea, the Sea (1978).
Other fictional works inspired by Anabasis include:
Harold Coyle's novel The Ten Thousand (1993) shows the bulk of the US Forces in modern Europe fighting their way across and out of Germany, instead of laying down their weapons, after the Germans steal nuclear weapons that are being removed from Ukraine. The operational concept for the novel was based on Xenophon's account of the Ten Thousand.
Paul Davies' novella Grace: A Story (1996) is a fantasy that details the progress of Xenophon's army through Armenia to Trabzon.
Michael Curtis Ford's novel The Ten Thousand (2001) is a fictional account of this group's exploits.
Jaroslav Hašek's dark comedy novel, The Good Soldier Švejk (1921–1923), uses the term in describing Švejk's efforts to find his way back to his regiment.
John G. Hemry's The Lost Fleet series is partially inspired by Xenophon's Anabasis.
Paul Kearney's novel The Ten Thousand (2008) is loosely based on the historical events, taking place in a fantasy world named Kuf, where 10,000 Macht mercenaries are hired to fight on the behalf of a prince trying to usurp the throne of the Assurian Empire. When he dies in battle, the Macht have to march home overland through hostile territory.
Valerio Massimo Manfredi's novel The Lost Army (2008) is a fictional account of Xenophon's march with the Ten Thousand.
Michael G. Thomas' series Star Legions is closely based on the work, with the series set far in the future.
Sol Yurick's novel The Warriors (1965) borrows characters and events from Anabasis. It was adapted as a 1979 cult film, directed by Walter Hill.
The first three novels of David Weber and John Ringo's science fiction series Empire of Man— March Upcountry (2001), March to the Sea (2001), and March to the Stars (2003)—are modeled after Anabasis.
Conn Iggulden's historic novel The Falcon of Sparta is based extensively on the work.
Historie reveals that Eumenes wanted a copy of the story, but when he got it, it is in ruined library, and easily destroyed.
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This article concerns the period 409 BC – 400 BC.
This decade witnessed the continuing decline of the Achaemenid Empire, fierce warfare amongst the Greek city-states during the Peloponnesian War, the ongoing Warring States period in Zhou dynasty China, and the closing years of the Olmec civilization in modern-day Mexico.
Year 401 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Potitus, Cossus, Camillus, Ambustus, Mamercinus and Iullus. The denomination 401 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Tissaphernes was a Persian soldier and statesman, Satrap of Lydia. He was a grandson of Hydarnes, one of the six conspirators who had supported the rise of Darius the Great.
The Battle of Cunaxa was fought in 401 BC between Cyrus the Younger and his elder brother Arsaces, who had inherited the Persian throne as Artaxerxes II in 404 BC. The great battle of the revolt of Cyrus took place 70 km north of Babylon, at Cunaxa, on the left bank of the Euphrates. The main source is Xenophon, a Greek soldier who participated in the fighting.
Anabasis is an expedition from a coastline up into the interior of a country. Anabase and Anabasis may also refer to:
The Ten Thousand was a force of mercenary units, mainly Greek, employed by Cyrus the Younger to attempt to wrest the throne of the Persian Empire from his brother, Artaxerxes II. Their march to the Battle of Cunaxa and back to Greece was recorded by Xenophon in his work The Anabasis.
Thálatta! Thálatta! was the shouting of joy when the roaming 10,000 Greeks saw Euxeinos Pontos from Mount Theches (Θήχης) in Trebizond, after participating in Cyrus the Younger's failed march against the Persian Empire in the year 401 BC. The mountain was only a five-day march away from the friendly coastal city Trapezus. The story is told by Xenophon in his Anabasis.
Meno, son of Alexidemus, was an ancient Thessalian political figure. Probably from Pharsalus, he is famous both for the eponymous dialogue written by Plato and his role as one of the generals leading different contingents of Greek mercenaries in Xenophon's Anabasis.
Ariaeus was a Persian general who fought alongside Cyrus the Younger at the Battle of Cunaxa and later was involved in the assassination of Tissaphernes.
Socrates was a Greek mercenary general from Achaea who traveled to Persia to fight at the Battle of Cunaxa. Xenophon describes him as brave in war and a reliable friend. Socrates was summoned by Cyrus, with whom he was already connected, to bring as many troops as he could muster under the pretense that Cyrus intended to attack Tissaphernes. Socrates had previously been besieging Miletus alongside Pasion the Megarian. Socrates brought Cyrus about 500 Hoplites. Socrates and the other troops were only later told that Cyrus intended to seize the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes. Socrates fought at the Battle of Cunaxa and the Greek forces were able to drive the Persians into retreat, but Cyrus and his force faced heavy casualties and Cyrus himself was killed in battle.
Xenias of Arcadia was a Parrhasian general who commanded mercenaries in the service of Cyrus the Younger. In 405 BC, he accompanied Cyrus to court along with 300 men, after he had been summoned there by his father, Darius Nothus. After the return of Cyrus to western Asia, Xenias commanded several garrisons for him in Ionia, and with the greater portion of these troops, 4,000 hoplites, he joined the prince in his expedition against Artaxerxes II, leaving behind only a sufficient number of men to guard the citadels. At Tarsus a large body of his soldiers and of those of Pasion of Megara deserted and joined Clearchus of Sparta. Cyrus having afterwards allowed the latter to retain them, Xenias and Pasion abandoned the army at Myriandrus, and sailed away to Greece.
Proxenus of Boeotia was a disciple of Gorgias and a friend of Xenophon. He came from the city of Thebes in Boeotia. Being connected by the ties of hospitality with the Cyrus the younger, the latter engaged him in his service. He came to Sardes at the head of 1,500 heavy armed, and 500 light armed soldiers It was at his invitation that Xenophon was induced to enter the service of Cyrus. He was one of the four ill-fated generals whom Clearchus of Sparta persuaded to accompany him to Tissaphernes. He was seized with the rest, and taken to the king of Persia, and afterwards put to death. Xenophon speaks of him as a man whose ambition was under the influence of strict probity, and who was especially anxious to secure the affections of his soldiers, so that while the well-disposed readily obeyed him, he failed to inspire the rest with a wholesome fear of his authority. He was 30 years of age at the time of his death. He also had intentions of following a political career, as mentioned by Xenophon.
Tim Rood is a Professor of Greek Literature at the University of Oxford, where he is Fellow and Tutor at St. Hugh's College. His research is principally concerned with the literary techniques of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.
Cheirisophus was a Spartan general who fought with the Ten Thousand under Cyrus the Younger. Cheirisophus was sent by the Spartan ephors with 700 heavily armed men to aid Cyrus the Younger in his expedition against his brother Artaxerxes in 401 BC. He joined Cyrus on his march at Issus in Cilicia. After the Battle of Cunaxa, Clearchus sent Cheirisophus with a delegation to the Persian general Ariaeus to make an offer of placing him on the Persian throne, an offer which Ariaeus declined.
Prokles was a descendant of the exiled Spartan king Demaratus, and ruler of Pergamon in Asia Minor under the Achaemenid Empire. He was a brother of Eurysthenes, with whom he was a joint ruler.