Beyond the Boundaries of Fantasia: An ancient imagining of the future of leadership

Step Four: Analyzing Cyrus' experiences at his grandfather's royal court in Media (1:30)

After completing his early education in the Persian agoge, Cyrus travels with his mother Mandane to the court of her father, the king Astyages, in Media. At this time Persia is subject to the Medan empire.

Listening for Leadership

Xenophon's Education of Cyrus, Book One, Chapters 3-5, Translation by Walter Miller

(1.3.1) Such was the education that Cyrus received until he was twelve years old or a little more; and he showed himself superior to all the other boys of his age both in mastering his tasks quickly and in doing everything in a thorough and manly fashion. It was at this period of his life that Astyages sent for his daughter and her son; for he was eager to see him, as he had heard from time to time that the child was a handsome boy of rare promise. Accordingly, Mandane herself went to her father and took her son Cyrus with her.

(1.3.2) As soon as she arrived and Cyrus had recognized in Astyages his mother's father, being naturally an affectionate boy he at once kissed him, just as a person who had long lived with another and long loved him would do. Then he noticed that his grandfather was adorned with pencillings beneath his eyes, with rouge rubbed on his face, and with a wig of false hair—the common Median fashion. For all this is Median, and so are their purple tunics, and their mantles, the necklaces about their necks, and the bracelets on their wrists, while the Persians at home even to this day have much plainer clothing and a more frugal way of life. So, observing his grandfather's adornment and staring at him, he said: “Oh mother, how handsome my grandfather is!” And when his mother asked him which he thought more handsome, his father or his grandfather, Cyrus answered at once: “Of the Persians, mother, my father is much the handsomest; but of the Medes, as far as I have seen them either on the streets or at court, my grandfather here is the handsomest by far.”

(1.3.3) Then his grandfather kissed him in return and gave him a beautiful dress to wear and, as a mark of royal favour, adorned him with necklaces and bracelets; and if he went out for a ride anywhere, he took the boy along upon a horse with a gold-studded bridle, just as he himself was accustomed to go. And as Cyrus was a boy fond of beautiful things and eager for distinction, he was pleased with his dress and greatly delighted at learning to ride; for in Persia, on account of its being difficult to breed horses and to practise horsemanship because it is a mountainous country, it was a very rare thing even to see a horse.

(1.3.4) And then again, when Astyages dined with his daughter and Cyrus, he set before him dainty side-dishes and all sorts of sauces and meats, for he wished the boy to enjoy his dinner as much as possible, in order that he might be less likely to feel homesick. And Cyrus, they say, observed: “How much trouble you have at your dinner, grandfather, if you have to reach out your hands to all these dishes and taste of all these different kinds of food!”

“Why so?” said Astyages. “Really now, don't you think this dinner much finer than your Persian dinners?”

“No, grandfather,” Cyrus replied to this; “but the road to satiety is much more simple and direct in our country than with you; for bread and meat take us there; but you, though you make for the same goal as we, go wandering through many a maze, up and down, and only arrive at last at the point that we long since have reached.”

(1.3.5) “But, my boy,” said Astyages, “we do not object to this wandering about; and you also,” he added, “if you taste, will see that it is pleasant.”

“But, grandfather,” said Cyrus, “I observe that even you are disgusted with these viands.”

“And by what, pray, do you judge, my boy,” asked Astyages, “that you say this?”

“Because,” said he, “I observe that when you touch bread, you do not wipe your hand on anything; but when you touch any of these other things you at once cleanse your hand upon your napkin, as if you were exceedingly displeased that it had become soiled with them.”

(1.3.6) “Well then, my boy,” Astyages replied to this, “if that is your judgment, at least regale yourself with meat, that you may go back home a strong young man.” And as he said this, he placed before him an abundance of meat of both wild and domestic animals.

And when Cyrus saw that there was a great quantity of meat, he said: “And do you really mean to give me all this meat, grandfather, to dispose of as I please?”

“Yes, by Zeus,” said he, “I do.”

(1.3.7) Thereupon Cyrus took some of the meat and proceeded to distribute it among his grandfather's servants, saying to them in turn: “I give this to you, because you take so much pains to teach me to ride; to you, because you gave me a spear, for at present this is all I have to give; to you, because you serve my grandfather so well; and to you, because you are respectful to my mother.” He kept on thus, while he was distributing all the meat that he had received.

(1.3.8) “But,” said Astyages, “are you not going to give any to Sacas, my cupbearer, whom I like best of all?” Now Sacas, it seems, chanced to be a handsome fellow who had the office of introducing to Astyages those who had business with him and of keeping out those whom he thought it not expedient to admit.

And Cyrus asked pertly, as a boy might do who was not yet at all shy, “Pray, grandfather, why do you like this fellow so much?”

And Astyages replied with a jest: “Do you not see,” said he, “how nicely and gracefully he pours the wine?” Now the cupbearers of those kings perform their office with fine airs; they pour in the wine with neatness and then present the goblet, conveying it with three fingers, and offer it in such a way as to place it most conveniently in the grasp of the one who is to drink.

(1.3.9) “Well, grandfather,” said he, “bid Sacas give me the cup, that I also may deftly pour for you to drink and thus win your favour, if I can.”

And he bade him give it. And Cyrus took the cup and rinsed it out well, exactly as he had often seen Sacas do, and then he brought and presented the goblet to his grandfather, assuming an expression somehow so grave and important, that he made his mother and Astyages laugh heartily. And Cyrus himself also with a laugh sprang up into his grandfather's lap and kissing him said: “Ah, Sacas, you are done for; I shall turn you out of your office; for in other ways,” said he, “I shall play the cupbearer better than you and besides I shall not drink up the wine myself.”

Now, it is a well known fact that the king's cupbearers, when they proffer the cup, draw off some of it with the ladle, pour it into their left hand, and swallow it down—so that, if they should put poison in, they may not profit by it.

(1.3.10) Thereupon Astyages said in jest: “And why, pray, Cyrus, did you imitate Sacas in everything else but did not sip any of the wine?”

“Because, by Zeus,” said he, “I was afraid that poison had been mixed in the bowl. And I had reason to be afraid; for when you entertained your friends on your birthday, I discovered beyond a doubt that he had poured poison into your company's drink.”

“And how, pray,” said he, “did you discover that, my son?”

“Because, by Zeus,” said he, “I saw that you were unsteady both in mind and in body. For in the first place you yourselves kept doing what you never allow us boys to do; for instance, you kept shouting, all at the same time, and none of you heard anything that the others were saying; and you fell to singing, and in a most ridiculous manner at that, and though you did not hear the singer, you swore that he sang most excellently; and though each one of you kept telling stories of his own strength, yet if you stood up to dance, to say nothing of dancing in time, why, you could not even stand up straight. And all of you quite forgot—you, that you were king; and the rest, that you were their sovereign. It was then that I also for my part discovered, and for the first time, that what you were practising was your boasted ‘equal freedom of speech’; at any rate, never were any of you silent.”

(1.3.11) “But, my boy,” Astyages said, “does not your father get drunk, when he drinks?”

“No, by Zeus,” said he.

“Well, how does he manage it?”

“He just quenches his thirst and thus suffers no further harm; for he has, I trow, grandfather, no Sacas to pour wine for him.”

“But why in the world, my son,” said his mother, “are you so set against Sacas?”

“Because, by Zeus,” Cyrus replied, “I don't like him; for oftentimes, when I am eager to run in to see my grandfather, this miserable scoundrel keeps me out. But,” he added, “I beg of you, grandfather, allow me for just three days to rule over him.”

“And how would you rule over him?” said Astyages.

“I would stand at the door,” Cyrus replied, “just as he does, and then when he wished to come in to luncheon, I would say, ‘You cannot interview the luncheon yet; for it is engaged with certain persons.”And then when he came to dinner, I would say, ‘It is at the bath.’ And if he were very eager to eat, I would say, ‘It is with the ladies.’ And I would keep that up until I tormented him, just as he torments me by keeping me away from you.”

(1.3.12) Such amusement he furnished them at dinner; and during the day, if he saw that his grandfather or his uncle needed anything, it was difficult for any one else to get ahead of him in supplying the need; for Cyrus was most happy to do them any service that he could.

(1.3.13) But when Mandane was making preparations to go back to her husband, Astyages asked her to leave Cyrus behind. And she answered that she desired to do her father's pleasure in everything, but she thought it hard to leave the boy behind against his will.

Then Astyages said to Cyrus:

(1.3.14) “My boy, if you will stay with me, in the first place Sacas shall not control your admission to me, but it shall be in your power to come in to see me whenever you please, and I shall be the more obliged to you the oftener you come to me. And in the second place you shall use my horses and everything else you will; and when you go back home, you shall take with you any of them that you desire. And besides, at dinner you shall go whatever way you please to what seems to you to be temperance. And then, I present to you the animals that are now in the park and I will collect others of every description, and as soon as you learn to ride, you shall hunt and slay them with bow and spear, just as grown-up men do. I will also find some children to be your playfellows; and if you wish anything else, just mention it to me, and you shall not fail to receive it.”

(1.3.15) When Astyages had said this, his mother asked1 Cyrus whether he wished to stay or go. And he did not hesitate but said at once that he wished to stay. And when he was asked again by his mother why he wished to stay, he is said to have answered: “Because at home, mother, I am and have the reputation of being the best of those of my years both in throwing the spear and in shooting with the bow; but here I know that I am inferior to my fellows in horsemanship. And let me tell you, mother,” said he, “this vexes me exceedingly. But if you leave me here and I learn to ride, I think you will find, when I come back to Persia, that I shall easily surpass the boys over there who are good at exercises on foot, and when I come again to Media, I shall try to be a help to my grandfather by being the best of good horsemen.”

And his mother said,

(1.3.16) “My boy, how will you learn justice here, while your teachers are over there?”

“Why, mother,” Cyrus answered, “that is one thing that I understand thoroughly.”

“How so?” said Mandane.

“Because,” said he, “my teacher appointed me, on the ground that I was already thoroughly versed in justice, to decide cases for others also. And so, in one case,” said he, “I once got a flogging for not deciding correctly.

(1.3.17) The case was like this: a big boy with a little tunic, finding a little boy with a big tunic on, took it off him and put his own tunic on him, while he himself put on the other's. So, when I tried their case, I decided that it was better for them both that each should keep the tunic that fitted him. And thereupon the master flogged me, saying that when I was a judge of a good fit, I should do as I had done; but when it was my duty to decide whose tunic it was, I had this question, he said, to consider—whose title was the rightful one; whether it was right that he who took it away by force should keep it, or that he who had had it made for himself or had bought it should own it. And since, he said, what is lawful is right and what is unlawful is wrong, he bade the judge always render his verdict on the side of the law. It is in this way, mother, you see, that I already have a thorough understanding of justice in all its bearings; and,” he added, “if I do require anything more, my grandfather here will teach me that.”

(1.3.18) “Yes, my son,” said she; “but at your grandfather's court they do not recognize the same principles of justice as they do in Persia. For he has made himself master of everything in Media, but in Persia equality of rights is considered justice. And your father is the first one to do what is ordered by the State and to accept what is decreed, and his standard is not his will but the law. Mind, therefore, that you be not flogged within an inch of your life, when you come home, if you return with a knowledge acquired from your grandfather here of the principles not of kingship but of tyranny, one principle of which is that it is right for one to have more than all.”

“But your father, at least,” said Cyrus, “is more shrewd at teaching people to have less than to have more, mother. Why, do you not see,” he went on, “that he has taught all the Medes to have less than himself? So never fear that your father, at any rate, will turn either me or anybody else out trained under him to have too much.”

(1.4.1) In this way Cyrus often chattered on. At last, however, his mother went away, but Cyrus remained behind and grew up in Media. Soon he had become so intimately associated with other boys of his own years that he was on easy terms with them. And soon he had won their father's hearts by visiting them and showing that he loved their sons; so that, if they desired any favour of the king, they bade their sons ask Cyrus to secure it for them. And Cyrus, because of his kindness of heart and his desire for popularity, made every effort to secure for the boys whatever they asked.

(1.4.2) And Astyages could not refuse any favour that Cyrus asked of him. And this was natural; for, when his grandfather fell sick, Cyrus never left him nor ceased to weep but plainly showed to all that he greatly feared that his grandfather might die. For even at night, if Astyages wanted anything, Cyrus was the first to discover it and with greater alacrity than any one else he would jump up to perform whatever service he thought would give him pleasure, so that he won Astyages's heart completely.

(1.4.3) He was, perhaps, too talkative, partly on account of his education, because he had always been required by his teacher to render an account of what he was doing and to obtain an account from others whenever he was judge; and partly also because of his natural curiosity, he was habitually putting many questions to those about him why things were thus and so; and because of his alertness of mind he readily answered questions that others put to him; so that from all these causes his talkativeness grew upon him. But it was not unpleasant; for just as in the body, in the case of those who have attained their growth although they are still young, there yet appears that freshness which betrays their lack of years, so also in Cyrus's case his talkativeness disclosed not impertinence but nai+vete/ and an affectionate disposition, so that one would be better pleased to hear still more from his lips than to sit by and have him keep silent.

(1.4.4) But as he advanced in stature and in years to the time of attaining youth's estate, he then came to use fewer words, his voice was more subdued, and he became so bashful that he actually blushed whenever he met his elders; and that puppy-like manner of breaking in upon anybody and everybody alike he no longer exhibited with so much forwardness. So he became more quiet, to be sure, but in social intercourse altogether charming. The boys liked him, too; for in all the contests in which those of the same age are wont often to engage with one another he did not challenge his mates to those in which he knew he was superior, but he proposed precisely those exercises in which he knew he was not their equal, saying that he would do better than they; and he would at once take the lead, jumping up upon the horses to contend on horseback either in archery or in throwing the spear, although he was not yet a good rider, and when he was beaten he laughed at himself most heartily.

(1.4.5) And as he did not shirk being beaten and take refuge in refusing to do that in which he was beaten, but persevered in attempting to do better next time, he speedily became the equal of his fellows in horsemanship and soon on account of his love for the sport he surpassed them; and before long he had exhausted the supply of animals in the park by hunting and shooting and killing them, so that Astyages was no longer able to collect animals for him. And when Cyrus saw that notwithstanding his desire to do so, the king was unable to provide him with many animals alive, he said to him: “Why should you take the trouble, grandfather, to get animals for me? If you will only send me out with my uncle to hunt, I shall consider that all the animals I see were bred for me.”

(1.4.6) But though he was exceedingly eager to go out hunting, he could no longer coax for it as he used to do when he was a boy, but he became more diffident in his approaches. And in the very matter for which he found fault with Sacas before, namely that he would not admit him to his grandfather—he himself now became a Sacas unto himself; for he would not go in unless he saw that it was a proper time, and he asked Sacas by all means to let him know when it was convenient. And so Sacas now came to love him dearly, as did all the rest.

(1.4.7) However, when Astyages realized that he was exceedingly eager to hunt out in the wilds, he let him go out with his uncle and he sent along some older men on horseback to look after him, to keep him away from dangerous places and guard him against wild beasts, in case any should appear. Cyrus, therefore, eagerly inquired of those who attended him what animals one ought not to approach and what animals one might pursue without fear. And they told him that bears and boars and lions and leopards had killed many who came close to them, but that deer and gazelles and wild sheep and wild asses were harmless. And they said this also, that one must be on one's guard against dangerous places no less than against wild beasts; for many riders had been thrown over precipices, horses and all.

(1.4.8) All these lessons Cyrus eagerly learned. But when he saw a deer spring out from under cover, he forgot everything that he had heard and gave chase, seeing nothing but the direction in which it was making. And somehow his horse in taking a leap fell upon its knees and almost threw him over its head. However, Cyrus managed, with some difficulty, to keep his seat, and his horse got up. And when he came to level ground, he threw his spear and brought down the deer—a fine, large quarry. And he, of course, was greatly delighted; but the guards rode up and scolded him and told him into what danger he had gone and declared that they would tell of him. Now Cyrus stood there, for he had dismounted, and was vexed at being spoken to in this way. But when he heard a halloo, he sprang upon his horse like one possessed and when he saw a boar rushing straight toward him, he rode to meet him and aiming well he struck the boar between the eyes and brought him down.

(1.4.9) This time, however, his uncle also reproved him, for he had witnessed his foolhardiness. But for all his scolding, Cyrus nevertheless asked his permission to carry home and present to his grandfather all the game that he had taken himself. And his uncle, they say, replied: “But if he finds out that you have been giving chase, he will chide not only you but me also for allowing you to do so.”

“And if he choose,” said Cyrus, “let him flog me, provided only I may give him the game. And you, uncle,” said he, “may punish me in any way you please—only grant me this favour.”

And finally Cyaxares said, though with reluctance: “Do as you wish; for now it looks as if it were you who are our king.”

(1.4.10) So Cyrus carried the animals in and gave them to his grandfather, saying that he had himself taken this game for him. As for the hunting spears, though he did not show them to him, he laid them down all blood-stained where he thought his grandfather would see them. And then Astyages said: “Well, my boy, I am glad to accept what you offer me; however, I do not need any of these things enough for you to risk your life for them.”

“Well then, grandfather,” said Cyrus, “if you do not need them, please give them to me, that I may divide them among my boy friends.”

“All right, my boy,” said Astyages, “take both this and of the rest of the game as much as you wish and give it to whom you will.”

(1.4.11) So Cyrus received it and took it away and proceeded to distribute it among the boys, saying as he did so: “What tomfoolery it was, fellows, when we used to hunt the animals in the park. To me at least, it seems just like hunting animals that were tied up. For, in the first place, they were in a small space; besides, they were lean and mangy; and one of them was lame and another maimed. But the animals out on the mountains and the plains—how fine they looked, and large and sleek! And the deer leaped up skyward as if on wings, and the boars came charging at once, as they say brave men do in battle. And by reason of their bulk it was quite impossible to miss them. And to me at least,” said he, “these seem really more beautiful, when dead, than those pent up creatures, when alive. But say,” said he, “would not your fathers let you go out hunting, too?”

“Aye, and readily,” they said, “if Astyages should give the word.”

(1.4.12) “Whom, then, could we find to speak about it to Astyages?” said Cyrus.

“Why,” said they, “who would be better able to to gain his consent than you yourself?”

“No, by Zeus,” said he, “not I; I do not know what sort of fellow I have become; for I cannot speak to my grandfather or even look up at him any more, as I used to do. And if I keep on at this rate,” said he, “I fear I shall become a mere dolt and ninny. But when I was a little fellow, I was thought ready enough to chatter.”

“That's bad news you're giving us,” answered the boys, “if you are not going to be able to act for us in case of need, and we shall have to ask somebody else to do your part.”

(1.4.13) And Cyrus was nettled at hearing this and went away without a word; and when he had summoned up his courage to make the venture, he went in, after he had laid his plans how he might with the least annoyance broach the subject to his grandfather and accomplish for himself and the other boys what they desired. Accordingly, he began as follows: “Tell me, grandfather,” said he, “if one of your servants runs away and you catch him again, what will you do to him?”

“What else,” said he, “but put him in chains and make him work?”

“But if he comes back again of his own accord, what will you do?”

“What,” said he, “but flog him to prevent his doing it again, and then treat him as before?”

“It may be high time, then,” said Cyrus, “for you to be making ready to flog me; for I am planning to run away from you and take my comrades out hunting.”

“You have done well to tell me in advance,” said Astyages; “for now,” he went on, “I forbid you to stir from the palace. For it would be a nice thing, if, for the sake of a few morsels of meat, I should play the careless herdsman and lose my daughter her son.”

(1.4.14) When Cyrus heard this, he obeyed and stayed at home; he said nothing, but continued downcast and sulky. However, when Astyages saw that he was exceedingly disappointed, wishing to give him pleasure, he took him out to hunt; he had got the boys together, and a large number of men both on foot and on horseback, and when he had driven the wild animals out into country where riding was practicable, he instituted a great hunt. And as he was present himself, he gave the royal command that no one should throw a spear before Cyrus had his fill of hunting. But Cyrus would not permit him to interfere, but said: “If you wish me to enjoy the hunt, grandfather, let all my comrades give chase and strive to outdo one another, and each do his very best.”

(1.4.15) Thereupon, Astyages gave his consent and from his position he watched them rushing in rivalry upon the beasts and vying eagerly with one another in giving chase and in throwing the spear. And he was pleased to see that Cyrus was unable to keep silence for delight, but, like a well-bred hound, gave tongue whenever he came near an animal and urged on each of his companions by name. And the king was delighted to see him laugh at one and praise another without the least bit of jealousy. At length, then, Astyages went home with a large amount of game; and he was so pleased with that chase, that thenceforth he always went out with Cyrus when it was possible, and he took along with him not only many others but, for Cyrus's sake, the boys as well.

Thus Cyrus passed most of his time, contriving some pleasure and good for all, but responsible for nothing unpleasant to any one.

(1.4.16) But when Cyrus was about fifteen or sixteen years old, the son of the Assyrian king, on the eve of his marriage, desired in person to get the game for that occasion. Now, hearing that on the frontiers of Assyria and Media there was plenty of game that because of the war had not been hunted, he desired to go out thither. Accordingly, that he might hunt without danger, he took along a large force of cavalry and targeteers, who were to drive the game out of the thickets for him into country that was open and suitable for riding. And when he arrived where their frontier-forts and the garrison were, there he dined, planning to hunt early on the following day.

(1.4.17) And now when evening had come, the relief-corps for the former garrison came from the city, both horse and foot. He thought, therefore, that he had a large army at hand; for the two garrisons were there together and he himself had come with a large force of cavalry and infantry. Accordingly, he decided that it was best to make a foray into the Median territory and he thought that thus the exploit of the hunt would appear more brilliant and that the number of animals captured would be immense. And so, rising early, he led his army out; the infantry he left together at the frontier, while he himself, riding up with the horse to the outposts of the Medes, took his stand there with most of his bravest men about him, to prevent the Median guards from coming to the rescue against those who were scouring the country; and he sent out the proper men in divisions, some in one direction, some in another, to scour the country, with orders to capture whatever they came upon and bring it to him.

So they were engaged in these operations.

(1.4.18) But when word was brought to Astyages that there were enemies in the country, he himself sallied forth to the frontier in person with his body-guard, and likewise his son with the knights that happened to be at hand marched out, while he gave directions to all the others also to come out to his assistance. But when they saw a large number of Assyrian troops drawn up and their cavalry standing still, the Medes also came to a halt.

When Cyrus saw the rest marching out with all speed, he put on his armour then for the first time and started out, too; this was an opportunity that he had thought would never come—so eager was he to don his arms; and the armour that his grandfather had had made to order for him was very beautiful and fitted him well. Thus equipped he rode up on his horse. And though Astyages wondered at whose order he had come, he nevertheless told the lad to come and stay by his side.

(1.4.19) And when Cyrus saw many horsemen over against them, he asked: “Say, grandfather,” said he, “are those men enemies who sit there quietly upon their horses?”

“Yes, indeed, they are,” said he.

“Are those enemies, too,” said Cyrus, “who are riding up and down?”

“Yes, they are enemies, too.”

“Well then, by Zeus, grandfather,” said he, “at any rate, they are a sorry looking lot on a sorry lot of nags who are raiding our belongings. Why, some of us ought to charge upon them.”

“But don't you see, my son,” said the king, “what a dense array of cavalry is standing there in line? If we charge upon those over there, these in turn will cut us off; while as for us, the main body of our forces has not yet come.”

“But if you stay here,” said Cyrus, “and take up the reinforcements that are coming to join us, these fellows will be afraid and will not stir, while the raiders will drop their booty, just as soon as they see some of us charging on them.”

(1.4.20) It seemed to Astyages that there was something in Cyrus's suggestion, when he said this. And while he wondered that the boy was so shrewd and wide-awake, he ordered his son to take a division of the cavalry and charge upon those who were carrying off the spoil. “And if,” said he, “these others make a move against you, I will charge upon them, so that they will be forced to turn their attention to us.”

So then Cyaxares took some of the most powerful horses and men and advanced. And when Cyrus saw them starting, he rushed off and soon took the lead, while Cyaxares followed after, and the rest also were not left behind. And when the foragers saw them approaching, they straightway let go their booty and took to flight.

(1.4.21) But Cyrus and his followers tried to cut them off, and those whom they caught they at once struck down, Cyrus taking the lead; and they pursued hard after those who succeeded in getting past, and they did not give up but took some of them prisoners.

As a well-bred but untrained hound rushes recklessly upon a boar, so Cyrus rushed on, with regard for nothing but to strike down every one he overtook and reckless of anything else.

The enemy, however, when they saw their comrades hard pressed, advanced their column in the hope that the Medes would give up the pursuit on seeing them push forward.

(1.4.22) But none the more did Cyrus give over, but in his battle-joy he called to his uncle and continued the pursuit; and pressing on he put the enemy to headlong flight, and Cyaxares did not fail to follow, partly perhaps not to be shamed before his father; and the rest likewise followed, for under such circumstances they were more eager for the pursuit, even those who were not so very brave in the face of the enemy.

But when Astyages saw them pursuing recklessly and the enemy advancing in good order to meet them, he was afraid that something might happen to his son and Cyrus, if they fell in disorder upon the enemy in readiness for battle, and straightway he advanced upon the foe.

(1.4.23) Now the enemy on their part, when they saw the Medes advance, halted, some with spears poised, others with bows drawn, expecting that the other side would also halt, as soon as they came within bow-shot, just as they were accustomed generally to do; for it was their habit to advance only so far against each other, when they came into closest quarters, and to skirmish with missiles, oftentimes till evening. But when they saw their comrades rushing in flight toward them, and Cyrus and his followers bearing down close upon them, and Astyages with his cavalry getting already within bow-shot, they broke and fled with all their might from the Medes who followed hard after them.

The Medes caught up with many of them; and those whom they overtook they smote, both men and horses; and the fallen they slew. Nor did they stop, until they came up with the Assyrian infantry. Then, however, fearing lest some greater force might be lying in ambush, they came to a halt.

(1.4.24) Then Astyages marched back, greatly rejoicing over the victory of his cavalry but not knowing what to say of Cyrus; for though he realized that his grandson was responsible for the outcome, yet he recognized also that he was frenzied with daring. And of this there was further evidence; for, as the rest made their way homeward, he did nothing but ride around alone and gloat upon the slain, and only with difficulty did those who were detailed to do so succeed in dragging him away and taking him to Astyages; and as he came, he set his escort well before him, for he saw that his grandfather's face was angry because of his gloating upon them.

(1.4.25) Such was his life in Media; and Cyrus was not only on the tongues of all the rest both in story and in song, but Astyages also, while he had esteemed him before, was now highly delighted with him. And Cambyses, Cyrus's father, was pleased to learn this. But when he heard that Cyrus was already performing a man's deeds, he summoned him home to complete the regular curriculum in Persia. And Cyrus also, we are told, said then that he wished to go home, in order that his father might not feel any displeasure nor the state be disposed to criticise; and Astyages, too, thought it expedient to send him home.

So he let him go and not only gave him the horses that he desired to take, but he packed up many other things for him because of his love for him and also because he cherished high hopes that his grandson would be a man able both to help his friends and to give trouble to his enemies. And everybody, both boys and men, young and old, and Astyages himself, escorted him on horseback as he went, and they say that there was no one who turned back without tears.

(1.4.26) And Cyrus also, it is said, departed very tearfully. And they say that he distributed as presents among his young friends many of the things that Astyages had given to him; and finally he took off the Median robe which he had on and gave it to one whom he loved very dearly. It is said, however, that those who received and accepted his presents carried them to Astyages, and Astyages received them and returned them to Cyrus; but Cyrus sent them back again to Media with this message: “If you wish me ever to come back to you again, grandfather, without having to be ashamed, permit those to whom I have given anything to keep it.” And when Astyages heard this, he did as Cyrus's letter bade.

(1.4.27) Now, if we may relate a sentimental story, we are told that when Cyrus was going away and they were taking leave of one another, his kinsmen bade him good-bye, after the Persian custom, with a kiss upon his lips. And that custom has survived, for so the Persians do even to this day. Now a certain Median gentleman, very noble, had for some considerable time been struck with Cyrus's beauty, and when he saw the boy's kinsmen kissing him, he hung back. But when the rest were gone, he came up to Cyrus and said: “Am I the only one of your kinsmen, Cyrus, whom you do not recognize as such?”

“What,” said Cyrus, “do you mean to say that you, too, are a kinsman?”

“Certainly,” said he.

“That is the reason, then, it seems,” said Cyrus, “why you used to stare at me; for if I am not mistaken, I have often noticed you doing so.”

“Yes,” said he, “for though I was always desirous of coming to you, by the gods I was too bashful.”

“Well, you ought not to have been—at any rate, if you were my kinsman,” said Cyrus; and at the same time he went up and kissed him.

(1.4.28) And when he had been given the kiss, the Mede asked: “Really, is it a custom in Persia to kiss one's kinsfolk?”

“Certainly,” said he; “at least, when they see one another after a time of separation, or when they part from one another.”

“It may be time, then, for you to kiss me once again,” said the Mede; “for, as you see, I am parting from you now.”

And so Cyrus kissed him good-bye again and went on his way. But they had not yet gone far, when the Mede came back with his horse in a lather. And when Cyrus saw him he said: “Why, how now? Did you forget something that you intended to say?”

“No, by Zeus,” said he, “but I have come back after a time of separation.”

“By Zeus, cousin,” said Cyrus, “a pretty short time.”

“Short, is it?” said the Mede; “don't you know, Cyrus,” said he, “that even the time it takes me to wink seems an eternity to me, because during that time I do not see you, who are so handsome?”

Then Cyrus laughed through his tears and bade him go and be of good cheer, for in a little while he would come back to them, so that he might soon look at him—without winking, if he chose.

(1.5.1) Now when Cyrus had returned, as before narrated, he is said to have spent one more year in the class of boys in Persia. And at first the boys were inclined to make fun of him, saying that he had come back after having learned to live a life of luxurious ease among the Medes. But when they saw him eating and drinking with no less relish than they themselves, and, if there ever was feasting at any celebration, freely giving away a part of his own share rather than asking for more; and when, in addition to this, they saw him surpassing them in other things as well, then again his comrades began to have proper respect for him.

And when he had passed through this discipline and had now entered the class of the youths, among these in turn he had the reputation of being the best both in attending to duty and in endurance, in respect toward his elders and in obedience to the officers.

(1.5.2) In the course of time Astyages died in Media, and Cyaxares, the son of Astyages and brother of Cyrus's mother, succeeded to the Median throne.

At that time the king of Assyria had subjugated all Syria, a very large nation, and had made the king of Arabia his vassal; he already had Hyrcania under his dominion and was closely besetting Bactria. So he thought that if he should break the power of the Medes, he should easily obtain dominion over all the nations round about; for he considered the Medes the strongest of the neighbouring tribes.

(1.5.3) Accordingly, he sent around to all those under his sway and to Croesus, the king of Lydia, to the king of Cappadocia; to both Phrygias, to Paphlagonia, India, Caria, and Cilicia; and to a certain extent also he misrepresented the Medes and Persians, for he said that they were great, powerful nations, that they had intermarried with each other, and were united in common interests, and that unless some one attacked them first and broke their power, they would be likely to make war upon each one of the nations singly and subjugate them. Some, then, entered into an alliance with him because they actually believed what he said; others, because they were bribed with gifts and money, for he had great wealth.

(1.5.4) Now when Cyaxares heard of the plot and of the warlike preparations of the nations allied against him, without delay he made what counter preparations he could himself and also sent to Persia both to the general assembly and to his brother-in-law, Cambyses, who was king of Persia. And he sent word to Cyrus, too, asking him to try to come as commander of the men, in case the Persian state should send any troops. For Cyrus had by this time completed his ten years among the youths also and was now in the class of mature men.

(1.5.5) So Cyrus accepted the invitation, and the elders in council chose him commander of the expedition to Media. And they further permitted him to choose two hundred peers to accompany him, and to each one of the two hundred peers in turn they gave authority to choose four more, these also from the peers. That made a thousand. And each one of the thousand in their turn they bade choose in addition from the common people of the Persians ten targeteers, ten slingers, and ten bowmen. That made ten thousand bowmen, ten thousand targeteers, and ten thousand slingers—not counting the original thousand. So large was the army given to Cyrus.

(1.5.6) Now as soon as he was chosen, his first act was to consult the gods; and not till he had sacrificed and the omens were propitious, did he proceed to choose his two hundred men. And when these also had chosen each his four, he called them all together and then addressed them for the first time as follows:

(1.5.7) “My friends, I have chosen you not because I now see your worth for the first time, but because I have observed that from your boyhood on you have been zealously following out all that the state considers right and abstaining altogether from all that it regards as wrong. As for myself, I wish to make known to you why I have not hesitated to assume this office and why I have invited you to join me.

(1.5.8) “I have come to realize that our forefathers were no whit worse than we. At any rate, they also spent their time in practising what are considered the works of virtue. However, what they gained by being what they were, either for the commonwealth of the Persians or for themselves, I can by no means discover.

(1.5.9) And yet I think that no virtue is practised by men except with the aim that the good, by being such, may have something more than the bad; and I believe that those who abstain from present pleasures do this not that they may never enjoy themselves, but by this self-restraint they prepare themselves to have many times greater enjoyment in time to come. And those who are eager to become able speakers study oratory, not that they may never cease from speaking eloquently, but in the hope that by their eloquence they may persuade men and accomplish great good. And those also who practice military science undergo this labour, not that they may never cease from fighting, but because they think that by gaining proficiency in the arts of war they will secure great wealth and happiness and honour both for themselves and for their country.

(1.5.10) “But when men go through all this toil and then allow themselves to become old and feeble before they reap any fruit of their labours, they seem to me at least to be like a man who, anxious to become a good farmer, should sow and plant well but, when harvest time came, should permit his crop to fall back again to the ground ungathered. And again, if an athlete after long training and after getting himself in condition to win a victory should then persist in refusing to compete, not even he, I ween, would rightly be considered guiltless of folly.

(1.5.11) But, fellow-soldiers, let us not make this mistake; but, conscious that from our boyhood on we have practised what is good and honourable, let us go against the enemy, who, I am sure, are too untrained to contend against us. For those men are not yet valiant warriors, who, however skilful in the use of bow or spear and in horsemanship, are still found wanting if it is ever necessary to suffer hardship; such persons are mere tiros when it comes to hardships. Nor are those men valiant warriors, who are found wanting when it is necessary to keep awake; but these also are mere tiros in the face of sleep. Nor yet are those men valiant warriors, who have these qualifications but have not been taught how they ought to treat comrades and how to treat enemies, but it is evident that they also are unacquainted with the most important branches of education.

(1.5.12) “Now you, I take it, could make use of the night just as others do of the day; and you consider toil the guide to a happy life; hunger you use regularly as a sauce, and you endure drinking plain water more readily than lions do, while you have stored up in your souls that best of all possessions and the one most suitable to war: I mean, you enjoy praise more than anything else; and lovers of praise must for this reason gladly undergo every sort of hardship and every sort of danger.

(1.5.13) “Now if I say this concerning you while I believe the contrary to be true, I deceive myself utterly. For if any of these qualities shall fail to be forthcoming in you, the loss will fall on me. But I feel confident, you see, both from my own experience and from your good-will toward me and from the ignorance of the enemy that these sanguine hopes will not deceive me. So let us set out with good heart, since we are free from the suspicion of even seeming to aim unjustly at other men's possessions. For, as it is, the enemy are coming, aggressors in wrong, and our friends are calling us to their assistance. What, then, is more justifiable than to defend oneself, or what more noble than to assist one's friends?

(1.5.14) “This, moreover, will, I think, strengthen your confidence: I have not neglected the gods as we embark upon this expedition. For you have been with me enough to know that not only in great things but also in small I always try to begin with the approval of the gods.

“What more need I add?” he said in closing. “Choose you your men and get them together, and when you have made the necessary preparations come on to Media. As for myself, I will first return to my father and then go on ahead of you, to learn as soon as possible what the plans of the enemy are and to make what preparations I may require, in order that with God's help we may make as good a fight as possible.”

They, for their part, proceeded to do as he had said.

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