Xenophon’s Anabasis, A Classic Text on Mercenary Warfare

Xenophon's Anabasis, A Classic Text on Mercenary Warfare

Xenophon’s Anabasis, A Classic Text on Mercenary Warfare

Xenophon (c. 430 – 354 BC), was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary and student of Socrates. His book “Anabasis” is the story of Ten Thousand Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger, who intended to seize the throne of Persia in 401 BC. Xenophon was one of the Greek mercenaries and gives a firsthand account of their expedition.  Cyrus was killed, rendering the expedition a failure. Stranded deep in Persia, the 10,000 Greek mercenaries had to march north towards the Black Sea and the security of its Greek shoreline cities without supplies. The mercenaries had to fight their way northwards through Corduene and Armenia, making ad hoc decisions about their leadership, tactics while constantly fighting the Persian army and hostile natives.

Even though this book was written over two thousand years ago there are many lessons on leadership etc. that are still relevant in today’s world. I tell my students the everything has happened before, so we should learn from history and others mistakes. Xenophon’s Anabasis is a classic and must read for anyone interested in mercenary warfare. Since the Greek mercenaries adventure over 2000 years ago many others in this chosen profession have encountered the same problems and challenges as they did and I expect many will in the future!!


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