Warfare > Ten Thousand

Ten Thousand


The Persian Ten Thousand, also known as the "Anabasis," refers to a famous military expedition led by the Greek mercenary general Xenophon around 401-399 BCE. The expedition is recounted in Xenophon's work "Anabasis," which provides a detailed account of the journey. Following the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BCE, many Greek soldiers found themselves unemployed and sought employment as mercenaries in the service of various Persian rulers. Around 401 BCE, Cyrus the Younger, a Persian prince and the younger brother of King Artaxerxes II, hired a large force of Greek mercenaries to aid him in his bid to overthrow his brother and seize the Persian throne. The Greek mercenaries, numbering approximately ten thousand, joined Cyrus's expedition with the promise of generous pay and rewards.

Course of the Expedition:

March to Babylon:

The expedition began with Cyrus and his Greek mercenaries marching from Sardis in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) towards Babylon, the capital of the Persian Empire.Along the way, Cyrus sought to gather support from local allies and recruit additional forces to bolster his army.

Battle of Cunaxa: The climax of the expedition occurred at the Battle of Cunaxa in 401 BCE, where Cyrus's forces clashed with those of King Artaxerxes II.Despite initial success, Cyrus was killed in battle, leading to the collapse of his army and the retreat of the Greek mercenaries.

Retreat through Asia Minor: Following Cyrus's death, the Greek mercenaries found themselves stranded deep within enemy territory without leadership or direction.Xenophon, one of the Greek officers, emerged as a key leader and strategist, guiding the mercenaries on a treacherous retreat through hostile territory.

March through the Persian Empire: The Greek mercenaries embarked on a long and arduous journey through the heart of the Persian Empire, facing numerous challenges, including harsh terrain, hostile tribes, and Persian pursuit. Xenophon's leadership and strategic acumen played a crucial role in ensuring the survival of the expedition.

Return to Greece: After months of hardship and peril, the Greek mercenaries finally reached the shores of the Black Sea, where they found refuge among friendly Greek colonies. From there, they made their way back to Greece, marking the successful conclusion of their epic journey.


The Persian Ten Thousand, as recounted in Xenophon's "Anabasis," has become one of the most celebrated military adventures in history, admired for its bravery, endurance, and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. The expedition served as a testament to the prowess of Greek mercenaries and their ability to adapt and survive in unfamiliar and hostile environments. Xenophon's account of the Anabasis has inspired generations of readers and has been studied as a classic example of military leadership, strategy, and adventure. In summary, the Persian Ten Thousand, led by Xenophon, was a remarkable military expedition that traversed the heart of the Persian Empire and back, facing numerous challenges and hardships along the way. Xenophon's "Anabasis" provides a gripping and inspirational account of this epic journey, which has left an enduring legacy in the annals of ancient Greek history.


Achaemenid Wars

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