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Last Updated on November 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 507

Loyalty and Treachery in War

Though they are initially opposed to fighting Artaxerxes, the soldiers and generals of the Ten Thousand demonstrate loyalty to Cyrus after his death. Remaining devoted to Cyrus’s cause, the generals refuse to surrender to Artaxerxes and offer to make Ariaeus, Cyrus’s second-in-command, king in his stead. The generals also display their loyalty to their soldiers when they work alongside them, humbling themselves, and discipline them for their own good, as Xenophon does when he strikes his men to keep them moving and prevent their freezing to death. 

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Despite the loyalty they demonstrate, the leaders and soldiers of the Greek army are deceived and betrayed many times throughout their journey, battle, and retreat. Though he doesn’t necessarily betray his soldiers, Cyrus leads them through deception: he only succeeds in gathering an army by lying that they will be fighting Tissaphernes, not Artaxerxes. Additionally, Clearchus’s loyalty to Cyrus is questionable—while he doesn’t blatantly turn against Cyrus, Clearchus disobeys his command to charge at Artaxerxes in battle. 

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Latest answer posted August 10, 2020, 6:23 pm (UTC)

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The most prominent traitorous figure in Anabasis is Tissaphernes, who offers to escort the Ten Thousand home, only to massacre their officers at a meeting and send their generals to Artaxerxes for execution. After this treachery, two other generals betray the army: Ariaeus, whom the army had hoped to make king of Persia after Cyrus dies, is found to have been in league with Tissaphernes, and Mithridates, an ally of Tissaphernes, pretends to wish to retreat with them but later attacks them. Finally, they learn that the ruler of West Armenia, who had promised them safe passage, planned to attack them, and they are forced to launch a preemptive attack against him.

The Nature of Good Leadership

Xenophon displays the great value the Greek soldiers place on good leadership in his eulogies to Cyrus and the generals killed by Tissaphernes in the chapters after their deaths. The characteristics the Greeks value in great leaders are evident in these chapters: Xenophon praises, for example, Cyrus’s self-control, modesty, faithfulness, honesty, appreciation for devotion and sacrifice, and generosity. Because of these traits, Xenophon writes of Cyrus that “no one . . . was ever so beloved” and that many men in allegiance to Artaxerxes switched sides and devoted themselves to Cyrus instead. 

Xenophon himself also demonstrates the characteristics of a great leader. Though he at times draws criticism from his soldiers, Xenophon is so respected as a leader that he is asked to assume authority over the entire army and become its commander-in-chief. Despite his status as a general, Xenophon displays humility when he admits that any man, even a “private soldier,” might have a better idea than his and encourages others to speak up. After he justifies his disciplinary measures to his critics, the army also respects Xenophon for his care for his soldiers: he only struck his men when they were endangering others or themselves. This discipline, he explains, is the same that parents give their children and demonstrates care for his soldiers’ well-being.

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