Anabasis by Xenophon
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Xenophon's Anabasis is a classic tale of high adventure. An army of 10,000 Greek warriors, far from home, find themselves in hostile territory, vastly outnumbered and in great peril. Their leader, Cyrus the Great, has been killed in battle along with a number of their other generals. They must undertake an unparalleled arduous trek and make a heroic fighting retreat to save themselves from certain death.

This true story, told by the man who became one of the leaders of the valiant band of warriors, was the stuff of legend. It is ingrained in the history of the Greeks as a cherished tale of overcoming hardship with courage and nearly superhuman endurance. Even Alexander the Great was said to have kept a copy of this book and to have often referred to it for inspiration.

Told in the third person, as were Caesar's Commentaries, the style is simple, direct and unpretentious. Students of Greek Culture often find it a pleasure to read because of its uncomplicated style of writing in addition to being exciting story that accurately describes real people, places and times. This translation, by Professor H. G. Dakyns, retains the flavor of the original and includes embedded explanatory notes to help clarify references and unfamiliar geography.


About Xenophon

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Xenophon's life and personality is better known to us, perhaps, than that of any other Greek who lived before Alexander the Great. Much of his considerable output of historical writing and essays is frankly or implicitly autobiographical. He reveals himself as one of those many Athenians and other Greeks who turned to autocratic political models, including admiration of Persia, after the excesses of the Athenian democracy led to disaster in the Peloponnesian War. He also reveals himself as much more than a literary man and a critic of his times. A gentleman adventurer and something of a professional soldier, he followed in turn the philosopher Socrates, the Persian prince Cyrus the Younger, and the Spartan king Agesilaus, all of whom he wrote about with an air of close personal knowledge. His works include the autobiographical Anabasis, an account of his service with a mercenary Greek army that marched from Mesopotamia to the Black Sea after the defeat and death of the younger Cyrus. It provides the most detailed single perspective on the military practices and military mentality of Xenophon's age. His Hellenica, by contrast, is an impersonal continuation to the end of the Peloponnesian War of the work of Thucydides and a patchy memoir that concentrates on Sparta's fortunes until the definitive end of its power in 362 b.c. Xenophon's other major works are the Cyropaedia and the rambling Socratic dialogues known as the Memorabilia. The Cyropaedia is a fictional idealization of the career of Cyrus the Great, the only great conqueror known to the Greeks before Alexander. Often regarded merely as a novel, it is a species of a priori historical reconstruction. A retrojection of the military science and political values of the day into a largely unknown Persia of the past, it is intended to explain Cyrus's success on rational principles. The Memorabilia and the Socratic Apology that comes down with them contain nothing of philosophical value but are thought by some scholars to offer a possible corrective to Plato's altogether too Platonic Socrates. Xenophon had a conventional and second-rate mind, but he is a valuable resource because of his mediocrity. He enables us to make contact with an ordinary intellect from a world that often seems dominated by geniuses.
Published May 12, 2012 by El Paso Norte Press. 227 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Law & Philosophy, Travel, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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