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
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
 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
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
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.