A major work by the fourth-century b.c. Greek writer and adventurer Xenophon (ZEN-uh-phon) detailing the exploits of a Greek army stranded on the Mesopota-mian plains in the middle of the Persian Empire. In 401 b.c. Xenophon was one of ten thousand Greek troops who signed on to fight for a Persian prince named Cyrus the Younger. Cyrus's goal was to dethrone his older brother, Artaxerxes II, and to this end the prince raised a mixed army of Persians, other Mesopotamians, and Greek mercenaries. As described in the Anabasis (or March Up-Country), Cyrus led these forces from Sardis, in western Anatolia, overland to Cunaxa, about 50 miles (80 km) from Babylon. There, Artaxerxes was waiting with a larger army and a huge battle took place. Xenophon recalls the advance and charge of the Greek infantry, which terrified the Persians:
   The two lines were hardly six or seven hundred yards [549 or 640m] apart when [we] began to chant the battle hymn and moved against the enemy. ... Then altogether [we] broke into a ringing cheer [battle cry], "Eleleu, eleleu!" and all charged at the double. ... Before one shot reached them, the barbarians turned and fled. At once [we] pursued with might and main. . . . Not one Greek was hurt in this battle, except one on the left wing, said to have been shot by an arrow. (Anabasis 1.7)
   Though Xenophon and his comrades had acquitted themselves well in the battle, the main part of Cyrus's army was defeated and Cyrus himself was killed. The Greeks now found themselves marooned in the center of enemy territory and surrounded by hostile forces. Artaxerxes' officers invited the Greek commander to peace talks but then treacherously murdered him and his officers. The outraged Greek soldiers quickly elected new leaders, including Xenophon. They decided there was no other choice but to try fighting their way out of Persia. In an incredible overland trek of more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km), they weathered daunting hardships, including fending off assaults by Persian troops and fierce hill tribesmen and trudging through deep mountain snows. "A north wind blew in [our] faces," Xenophon writes, "parching everything . . . and freezing the men. ... The snow was a fathom [6 feet (1.8m)] deep, so that many animals .. . were lost, and [about thirty] soldiers, too. . . . [We] kept the fire burning all night." (Anabasis 2.5)
   Eventually, the "Ten Thousand," as they became known to Greeks everywhere, reached the shores of the Black Sea, where several Greek cities were located. A number of men sailed or hiked from there to their home cities. Xenophon's Anabasis proved important because many Greeks in the following generation sawitasa sort of manual on how to defeat "inferior" Mesopotamian troops in their own homeland; it was, therefore, one of the factors leading to the invasion and destruction of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great.

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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