The Iranian History 401 BC


Battle Of Cunaxa

Oct, 5, 401 BC

Iranian Stamps PersepolisCyrus the Younger decided to revolt against his brother Artaxerxes 2 Mnemon. Cyrus was Satrap of Lydia, Cappadocia and Phrygia and chief commander of Asia Minor. It's possible that queen Parysatis was behind this event. On Oct, 5, 401 BC, Cyrus reached Cunaxa 70 km north of Babylon with some 30,000 units half of which were Greek mercenaries under the Spartan general Clearchus. He also had a large force of levied troops under his second-in-command Ariaeus. Cyrus actually defeated Artaxerxes' army which was twice the size of his own army. It is possible that the retreat of the Artaxerxes army was a planned evasive maneuver after which Cyrus personally charged his brother's bodyguard and was killed by a javelin.
The Greeks were in the middle of a very large empire with no food, no employer, and no reliable friends. They offered to make their Persian ally Ariaeus king, but he refused.
According to Xenophon who was a mercenary in the Greek army, the rest of his army had to fight their way back. But the story seems to be more a legendary theatrical drama than reality. Artaxerxes 2. proved to be a great politician and had pardoned all soldiers in his brother's army but he wanted them to leave the country without plundering citizen settlements, therefore the Greek army actions were closely supervised by a regiment of Tissaphernes until one night they escaped through the mountains to the Kurdish area. They continued their way towards Armenia leaving behind plundered villages, looted buildings and raped civilians until they reached Anatolia. Xenophon's story however depicts amazing details of the geopolitical structure of the Persian Empire in those times. (Updated: Jul, 31, 2011)

English-Persian Glossary

Latest Additions to Iranian History Chronicle: