Cyrus the Younger

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Cyrus (Kuruš) the Younger, son of Darius II of Persia (Dārayavahuš) and Parysatis, was a Persian prince and general. The time of his birth is unknown, but he died in 401 B.C. The history of Cyrus and of the retreat of the Greeks is told by Xenophon in his Anabasis. Another account, probably from Sophaenetus of Stymphalus, was used by Ephorus. Further information is contained in the excerpts from Ctesias by Photius; also Plutarch’s lives of Artaxerxes II and Lysander. These are the only sources of information for Cyrus the Younger.

According to Xenophon, Cyrus the Younger was born after the accession of his father in 424 BC. In 408 BC, after the victories of Alcibiades, Darius II decided to continue the war against Athens and give strong support to the Spartans. He sent Cyrus the Younger into Asia Minor, as satrap of Lydia and Phrygia Major with Cappadocia, and commander of the Persian troops, "which gather into the field of Castolos", i.e. of the army of the district of Asia Minor.

In the Spartan general Lysander, Cyrus found a man who was willing to help him; as Lysander himself hoped to become absolute ruler of Greece, by the aid of the Persian prince. So Cyrus put all his means at the disposal of Lysander in the Peloponnesian War, but denied them to his successor Callicratidas.

At the same time Darius fell ill and called his son to his deathbed; Cyrus handed over all his treasures to Lysander and went to Susa. After the accession of Artaxerxes II in 404 BC, Tissaphernes (Ciθrafarna) denounced the plans of Cyrus against his brother but, by the intercession of Parysatis, was pardoned and sent back to his satrapy.

Lysander won the battle of Aegospotami and Sparta became more influential in the Greek world. Cyrus managed to gather a large army by beginning a quarrel with Tissaphernes, satrap of Caria, about the Ionian towns; he also pretended to prepare an expedition against the Pisidians, a mountainous tribe in the Taurus, which was never obedient to the Empire.

In the spring of 401 BC, Cyrus united all his forces into the group now called the "Ten Thousand" and advanced from Sardis, without announcing the object of his expedition. By dexterous management and large promises he overcame the scruples of the Greek troops against the length and danger of the war; a Spartan fleet of thirty-five triremes sent to Cilicia opened the passes of the Amanus into Syria and conveyed to him a Spartan detachment of 700 men under Cheirisophus. The king had only been warned at the last moment by Tissaphernes and gathered an army in haste; Cyrus advanced into Babylonia, before he met with an enemy. In October 401 BC, the battle of Cunaxa ensued. Cyrus had 10,400 Greek hoplites and 2,500 peltasts, and an Asiatic army of approximately 10,000 under the command of Ariaeus.

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