Chapter 2

(1) At this time a delegation arrived from the Indian [king] bringing money, and they reported to him that the Indian sent the following message: “Cyrus, I am pleased that you reported to me what you needed, and I both wish to have ties of hospitality with you and am sending you money. If you need more, send for it. The messengers I have sent have been commanded to do whatever you bid them do.”

(2) After hearing this, Cyrus said, “Then I bid the rest of your delegation to remain here where you have pitched your tents, to guard the money, and to live in the way that is most pleasant to you. But I bid three of you to go to the enemy as though you had been sent by the Indian to discuss an alliance. After learning about matters there, both what they are saying and what they are doing, report back as quickly as possible both to me and to the Indian. If you serve me well also in this, I will owe you still more gratitude for this service than because you have come and brought me money. Spies disguised as slaves are able to know and report back only as much as everyone knows, but men like you often learn even what is planned.”

(3) The Indians listened with pleasure and then were treated with hospitality by Cyrus. After making their preparations, they left on the next day, promising that after learning as much from the enemy as they possibly could, they would return as quickly as possible.

(4) As a man who was intending to do nothing minor, Cyrus prepared for the war in a magnificent manner. He did so both in other respects and in that he did not limit his care to what was decided upon by the allies. He also stirred up mutual strife among his friends in order that they would each show themselves most well armed, best at riding, best with the spear, best in archery, and most eager for labor. (5) He worked at this by leading them out on hunts and honoring those who were superior in each [skill]. When he saw rulers taking care that their own soldiers would be superior, he spurred them on by praising them and gratifying them in whatever way he was able. (6) If ever he made a sacrifice or conducted a festival, even on this occasion he made contests in all things human beings care about for the sake of war, and he gave prizes in a magnificent way to the winners. And there was great delight in the army.14

(7) Nearly as many things as Cyrus wished to have when he went on campaign had now been completed for him, except the siege engines, for the Persian cavalry was already filled out at ten thousand troops. As for the scythe-bearing chariots, the ones he himself was preparing were already filled out at one hundred, and the ones Abradatas the Susan undertook to prepare like Cyrus’ were also filled out at another one hundred. (8) And the Median chariots as well, which Cyrus had persuaded Cyaxares to transform from the Trojan and Libyan mode into the same as his own, were filled out at another one hundred. And mounted on the camels were assigned two men each, as archers. The greatest part of the army thus reached the opinion that it had already conquered completely and that the enemy was insignificant.

(9) When they were of such a disposition, the Indians whom Cyrus had sent as spies came back from the enemy. They said that Croesus had been chosen as the leader and general over all of the assembled enemies; that it had been decided by all the allied kings that each should report with his entire power, that they contribute a vast sum of money, and that they spend it both by hiring what mercenaries they could and by giving gifts to whom they ought. (10) They said also that many Thracian swordsmen had already been hired and that Egyptians were sailing in. These, they said, were as many as one hundred and twenty thousand in number, with shields reaching to their feet and large spears, such as they still have now, and swords. They said moreover that an army of Cyprians was coming; and that all the Cilicians, the Phrygians from both Phrygias, the Lycaonians, the Paphlagonians, the Cappadocians, the Arabians, the Phoenicians, and the Assyrians (along with the ruler of Babylon) had already reported; and that Ionians, Aeolians, and nearly all the Greeks dwelling in Asia had been compelled to follow along with Croesus; and that Croesus had sent to Lacedaemonia about making an alliance. (11) They said that the army was assembling by the Pactolus River; that they were about to go forward into Thymbrara, where even now they hold the assembly of the barbarians of Lower Syria who are subject to the king; and that orders had been given to all to prepare a marketplace there.

The captives too said nearly the same things as these, for Cyrus also took care to capture those from whom they were likely to learn anything. He also sent out spies disguised as though they were runaway slaves.

(12) Now when Cyrus’ army heard these reports, they got worried, as was to be expected. They went about more subdued than was their habit, they did not appear so radiant, they formed groups, and every place was full of people asking questions of one another and talking about these reports.

(13) When Cyrus perceived that fear was spreading through his army, he called together both the rulers of the armies and all those whose despondency would, he thought, do some harm, and whose enthusiasm would bring some benefit. He told his aides not to hinder it if any others who bore arms wished to stand by in order to hear the speeches. When they assembled, he spoke such things as follow: (14) “Men, allies, I called you together because I saw some of you, when the reports came from the enemy, who looked very much like human beings who were afraid. It seems to me to be amazing if any of you is afraid because the enemy is assembling, while you are yet not confident even though you see that we have now assembled in much greater numbers than when we were victorious over them, and that we have with the gods’ [help] prepared much better now than we did before. (15) By the gods, what would you have done, you who are now afraid, if some people reported that our rival was advancing equipped as we are, and if you heard, first of all, that those who conquered us previously were coming against us again, possessing in their souls the victory they gained before? And, next, that those who then made short work of the skirmishing of archers and spearmen were coming again now and with very many others similar to them? (16) Next, what if you heard that just as they conquered before by arming their infantry with heavy weapons, now their cavalry was coming against our cavalry after itself having been prepared in the same way, that is, that they had rejected both bows and spears, and that each had taken up a strong lance and formed the intention of coming up close in order to make the battle hand-to-hand? (17) Further, chariots are coming, but not those that stand still, as they used to do, turned backward as if for flight. The horses on these chariots have been clad in armor; the drivers stand in wooden turrets, covered over on all their upper parts with breastplates and helmets; and iron scythes have been fitted about the axles, since these too intend to drive directly into the ranks of those who oppose them. (18) Further still, they will attack also on camels, and one hundred horses could not endure the sight of even one of these. Further, they are coming with towers from which they will give aid to those on their side, and by shooting down from above they will prevent us from fighting against them on a level field. (19) Now if someone had reported to you that these were your enemies’ preparations, what would you have done, you who are now afraid because it has been reported that Croesus has been chosen as the enemies’ general! He was so much worse than the Syrians that while the Syrians ran away when they were defeated, Croesus ran away when he saw them defeated, instead of assisting his allies. (20) Next, as has indeed been announced, our enemies themselves do not hold that they are competent to do battle with us, and they are hiring others, in the belief that these will fight better on their behalf than would they themselves. Nevertheless, if, even though their circumstances are like this, they seem terrifying to some, while ours seem contemptible, I say, men, that we ought to send them off to the opposition, for they would help us much more by being over there than by being present here.”

(21) After Cyrus said this, Chrysantas the Persian stood up and spoke as follows: “Cyrus, do not be amazed if some of the troops get sullen-faced when they hear what is being reported, for they are so disposed not because they are afraid but because they are annoyed. Similarly, if some people wished to have lunch and thought they were going to right away, and then some task were announced that had of necessity to be finished before lunch, no one, I think, would be pleased on hearing it. In the same way, then, while thinking that we were going to be rich right away, when we heard that there is still a task remaining that needs to be done, we too became sullen-faced, not out of fear but because we would wish that it had been done already. (22) However, since we will contend not only over Syria, where there is grain in quantity, sheep, and date-bearing palms, but also over Lydia, where there is much wine, many figs, and much olive oil, and whose shore is washed by the sea, over which more good things come than anyone has ever seen—when we bear all this in mind, we are no longer annoyed. Rather, our confidence returns immediately, that we may enjoy more quickly these Lydian goods as well.” Thus he spoke, and the allies all were pleased at his speech and praised it.

(23) “It seems to me, men,” said Cyrus, “that we should go against them as quickly as possible, in order that, in the first place, we may beat them in arriving, if we are able, where their provisions are collected. Secondly, the faster we go, the less we will find them to have, and the more we will find them to lack. (24) This is what I say, but if anyone judges it to be safer or easier for us in some other way, let him teach us.”

After many concurred that it was expedient to march against their enemies as quickly as possible, and no one spoke in opposition, Cyrus then began a speech such as follows: (25) “Men, allies, the souls, bodies, and weapons that we will need to use have, with god’s [help], already been prepared for a long time. But now for the journey we need to prepare provisions for no less than twenty days both for ourselves and for as many four-footed [creatures] as we use. Upon calculation I find that the journey on which we will find no provisions will last more than fifteen days, for we have removed some of them, and our enemies have removed as much as they were able. (26) So we must prepare sufficient food, for without this we would not be able either to do battle or to live. Each must have as much wine as will suffice for us to habituate ourselves to drink water, for the part of the journey when we are without wine will be long, and even if we prepared a very great quantity of wine, it would not suffice. (27) That we may not fall into disease from suddenly going without wine, we must do the following: Let us begin directly to drink water with our food, for since we already do this, it will not be a big change. (28) Whoever eats barley bread eats a barley cake that has already been kneaded with water, and whoever eats wheat bread eats bread that has been mixed with water, and all things boiled have been prepared with water in the greatest quantity. If we only drink wine after our food, our soul, having no less [than it needs], will be refreshed. (29) Next, we must take away also our after-dinner wine until we become water drinkers without noticing it, for adjusting little by little makes every nature bear up under changes. God also teaches in this way, leading us little by little from the winter’s cold to endure intense summer heat and from the summer’s heat to the intense winter’s cold. Imitating him, we must proceed toward the point we need to reach by habituating ourselves beforehand.

(30) “Trade the burdensome weight of your blankets for provisions, for extra provisions will not be useless. Do not be afraid that you will not sleep with pleasure because you are in need of blankets. If you do not, blame me. Whoever has clothes in greater abundance, however, will be aided by them greatly in both sickness and health.

(31) “We must prepare meats and side dishes that are spicy, pungent, and salty, for these lead us to eat bread and last longest.15 When we go out into the areas not yet plundered, where it is likely that we will get grain right away, we must provide on the spot hand mills with which to make the bread, for these are the lightest of bread-making tools. (32) We must also provide the things human beings need when they are sick. Their bulk is quite small, but if such a fortune befalls us, they will be most necessary. We must also have straps, for most things, for both human beings and horses, are attached with straps. When they wear out and break, one is of necessity reduced to idleness, unless one has some extras. It is good that whoever has been taught how to smooth a lance not forget a rasp, (33) and good also to bring a file, for he who whets his spear whets in some measure his soul as well, for it is shameful to be bad after having sharpened one’s spear. We must also have extra wood for chariots and wagons, for when there are many motions, there must of necessity also be many things that fail. (34) We need to have also the most indispensable tools for all these things. Although artisans will not be present everywhere, almost everyone is competent to make what will suffice as a temporary repair. We must also have a shovel and a mattock for each wagon, and an ax and a scythe for each pack animal. These things are both useful for each in private and often beneficial for the sake of the common [enterprise].

(35) “Now as for what is needed for provisioning, you leaders of those bearing arms examine those subordinate to you. We must not neglect anything that one of them might need, for their need will become ours. As for what I order us to bring with the beasts of burden, you rulers of the baggage carriers examine them and compel whoever does not have what has been ordered to procure it. (36) Next, you rulers of the road builders have on lists from me those who have been dismissed, whether from the spearmen, the archers, or the slingers. Of these, you must compel those dismissed from the spearmen to march with a wood-cutting ax, those from the archers with a mattock, and those from the slingers with a shovel. They must march in squads with their tools in front of the wagons so that if there is any need of roadmaking, you may get to work directly, and so that if I need them at all, I may know where I may find and use them.

(37) “I will also bring smiths, carpenters, and leather cutters, all with their tools and of an age for military service. Thus, if the army has any need of such arts, nothing may be left undone. These will have been released from the formation of those who carry arms, but they will be in an assigned place. They will serve whoever wishes to pay them a wage for what they understand.

(38) “If any merchant wishes to follow along because he wishes to sell something, he may. If he is caught selling anything on the days it has been announced that we must have our own provisions, he will be deprived of everything.16 When these days have gone by, he may sell as he wishes. Whatever merchant comes to light as providing the largest market will obtain gifts and honor from both the allies and me. (39) If any of the merchants believes that he needs money for purchases, if he brings me references and sureties as a pledge that he will indeed go along with the army, let him take what money we have.

“So these are my declarations. If anyone else sees anything else needful, let him indicate it to me. (40) You go away and make preparations; I will offer sacrifices for our departure. Whenever the omens are favorable, we will indicate it.17 All must report to their leaders in the place that has been ordered and must have the things that have been specified. (41) Each of you leaders get your own order ready and then all come to me, so that you may each learn your various places.”

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!