The Expedition of the Greeks under Cyrus, and Retreat of the Ten Thousand, B.C. 401-400
On arriving at Tarsus, a city on the coast of Cilicia, the Greeks plainly saw that they had been deceived, and that the expedition was designed against the Persian king. Seized with alarm at the prospect of so long a march, they sent a deputation to Cyrus to ask him what his real intentions were. Cyrus replied that his design was to march against his enemy, Abrocomas, satrap of Syria, who was encamped on the banks of the Euphrates. The Greeks, though they still suspected a delusion, contented themselves with this answer in the face of their present difficulties, especially as Cyrus promised to raise their pay from one Daric to one Daric and a half a month. The whole army then marched forwards to Issus, the last town in Cilicia, seated on the gulf of the same name. Here they met the fleet, which brought them a reinforcement of 1100 Greek soldiers, thus raising the Grecian force to about 14,000 men.
Abrocomas, who commanded for the Great King in Syria and Phoenicia, alarmed at the rapid progress of Cyrus, fled before him with all his army, reported as 300,000 strong; abandoning the impregnable pass situated one day's march from Issus, and known as the Gates of Cilicia and Syria. Marching in safety through this pass, the army next reached Myriandrus, a seaport of Phoenicia. From this place Cyrus struck off into the interior, over Mount Amanus. Twelve days' march brought him to Thapsacus on the Euphrates, where for the first time he formally notified to the army that he was marching to Babylon against his brother Artaxerxes, The water happened to be very low, scarcely reaching to the breast; and Abrocomas made no attempt to dispute the passage. The army now entered upon the desert, where the Greeks were struck with the novel sights which met their view, and at once amused and exhausted themselves in the chase of the wild ass and the antelope, or in the vain pursuit of the scudding ostrich. After several days of toilsome march the army at length reached Pylae, the entrance into the cultivated plains of Babylonia, where they halted a few days to refresh themselves.
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