Friday, April 5, 2013

Οι Μύριοι (The Myriad)

"The Sea!"
The Ten Thousand (Greek: Οι Μύριοι) were a group of mercenary units, mainly Greek, drawn up by Cyrus the Younger to attempt to wrest the throne of the Persian Empire from his brother, Artaxerxes II. Their march to the Battle of Cunaxa and back to Greece (401 BC-399 BC) was recorded by Xenophon (one of its leaders) in his work, The Anabasis.*

Okay, so these guys marched to a battle and then back to Greece. So how far was that? Let's take a peek at the chart, shall we?

That dashed blue line, yup that's the one, that's the route the 10,000 took. But there's more to the story... (And yes, I know the dashed line doesn't end anywhere near Greece, but they did march an awful long way, didn't they?)

From the Article on Xenophon*
Xenophon's birth date is uncertain, but most scholars agree that he was born around 430 BC near the city of Athens. (Yup, I can agree with that. I'm kind of a scholar.) Xenophon was born into the ranks of the upper classes, thus granting him access to certain privileges of the aristocracy of ancient Attica. (Of course, rich guys get all the breaks...) While a young man, Xenophon participated in the expedition led by Cyrus the Younger against his older brother, king Artaxerxes II of Persia, in 401 BC. Xenophon writes that he had asked the veteran Socrates for advice on whether to go with Cyrus, and that Socrates referred him to the divinely inspired Delphic oracle. (Eh, ask the oracle, what am I, your mother?) Xenophon's query to the oracle, however, was not whether or not to accept Cyrus' invitation, but "to which of the gods he must pray and do sacrifice, so that he might best accomplish his intended journey and return in safety, with good fortune". The oracle answered his question and told him to which gods to pray and sacrifice. When Xenophon returned to Athens and told Socrates of the oracle's advice, Socrates chastised him for asking so disingenuous a question. (Xenophon, what were you thinking dude? Messing with the Delphic oracle! How disingenuous of you!)
Under the pretext of fighting Tissaphernes, the Persian satrap of Ionia, Cyrus assembled a massive army composed of native Persian soldiers, but also a large number of Greeks. Prior to waging war against Artaxerxes, Cyrus proposed that the enemy was the Pisidians, and so the Greeks were unaware that they were to battle against the larger army of King Artaxerxes II. (Uh, who the heck is Cyrus? What happened to Xenophon? Patience my child...) At Tarsus the soldiers became aware of Cyrus's plans to depose the king, and as a result, refused to continue. (WTF Cyrus? Depose the king? Are you freakin' crazy?) However, Clearchus, a Spartan general, convinced the Greeks to continue with the expedition. (It's cool guys. Let's just go along, see what happens.) The army of Cyrus met the army of Artaxerxes II in the Battle of Cunaxa. Despite effective fighting by the Greeks, Cyrus was killed in the battle. (Geez Cyrus, go get yourself killed. Now what?) Shortly thereafter, Clearchus was invited to a peace conference, where, alongside four other generals and many captains, he was betrayed and executed. (Ouch, didn't see that coming did we Clearchus?) The mercenaries, known as the Ten Thousand, found themselves without leadership far from the sea, deep in hostile territory near the heart of Mesopotamia. (Ah crap. Damn officers, left us in the sh!t they did!) They elected new leaders, including Xenophon himself, and fought their way north through hostile Persians and Medes to Trapezus on the coast of the Black Sea. They then made their way westward back to Greece. (And why is that not shown on the map Wikipedia? Missed that little detail didn't you?) Once there, they helped Seuthes II make himself king of Thrace, before being recruited into the army of the Spartan general Thibron. 
Xenophon's book Anabasis (Greek: ἀνάβασις, literally "going up") is his record of the entire expedition against the Persians and the journey home. The Anabasis was used as a field guide by Alexander the Great during the early phases of his expedition into Persia. (Hhmm, so if the Persians invite me to a "peace conference", I should tell them to stuff it!)
From the Article on the Ten Thousand* 
The 10,000 marched inland and fought the Battle of Cunaxa and then back to Greece during the years 401 BC to 399 BC. During the battle Xenophon stated that the Greek heavy troops scattered their opposition twice; only one Greek was even wounded. (Did he state that during the battle, or was he talking about what happened afterwards?) Only after the battle did they hear that Cyrus had been killed, making their victory irrelevant and the expedition a failure. (Hey, did you guys see this. Apparently Cyrus got himself wasted. We're screwed!)
The 10,000 were in the middle of a very large empire with no food, no employer, and no reliable friends. (Maybe we should count on our unreliable friends? Oh wait, they're unreliable...) They offered to make their Persian ally Ariaeus king, (Hey Ariaeus, wanna be king?) but he refused on the grounds that he was not of royal blood (Nah, no royal blood... But thanks anyway.) and so would not find enough support among the Persians to succeed. They offered their services to Tissaphernes, a leading satrap of Artaxerxes, but he refused them, and they refused to surrender to him. Tissaphernes was left with a problem; a large army of heavy troops, which he could not defeat by frontal assault. He supplied them with food and, after a long wait, led them northwards for home, meanwhile detaching Ariaeus and his light troops from their cause. (Hey, why are we heading North? Greece is to the West. Guys, guys? Didn't anyone bring a freakin' map?)
The Greek senior officers foolishly accepted the invitation of Tissaphernes to a feast, (Nyuck, nyuck nyuck, awesome, a Feast! Par-tay!) where they were made prisoner, (Ah crap...) taken up to the king and decapitated. (What no feast? Hey, they just cut that guy's head off! Ah crap...) The Greeks then elected new officers and set out to march northwards to the Black Sea through Corduene and Armenia. (Still with the go North? Shouldn't we stop and ask for directions?)

Alright, so much for the history lesson. All of the preceding was just a really long winded way of talking about my doctor's appointment today. Well, not really just the pedometer part.

(What the heck are going on about Sarge, get to the point, would you?)

So my doctor says that's it good that I'm starting to eat better and get some exercise. (I have lost 12 pounds, if you find them, you can keep them. I still have plenty.) I told her that for exercise, I walk. She recommended that I purchase a pedometer as I should be doing 10,000 steps a day. So I told her the story of the Anabasis of Xenophon and the Ten Thousand.

Now I'm telling you. I have warned you of the way my mind works.

Once upon a time, while assigned to Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea, I was in a meeting with a number of senior sergeants. I was rather a junior sergeant at the time. Pondering, "Why am I in a meeting with a bunch of senior guys?" Then it struck me!

My shop chief (the famous TSgt Skip) had no great love for meetings. I was being set up to take his place in the future at these exceedingly boring meetings. Which I'm sure were very important to this collection of antiquated senior sergeants (my Lord, they must have all been in their late 30's and early 40's, senior sergeants? Nay! Senior citizens! Ah, to be young again.)

So there I am, Skip is watching me with that insouciant grin of his, no doubt thinking of all the extra time he'll have at his desk while I suffer through these weekly meetings. I thought that there wasn't any way out of this, not without blatantly pi$$ing Skip off. (Something which just wasn't done, not if you were smart.)

So the meeting starts, the dinosaurs are droning on about some upcoming inspection and some general who is planning on gracing our little air patch with his august presence. It was then that I saw my chance, my chance of freeing myself from these meetings and not really angering Skip. For Skip appreciated cleverness in his troops. Sometimes even at his expense!

"So, does anyone know of a General Hill?", Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) Apatosaurus asked.

"Yes, didn't he serve with Wellington in the Peninsula? Had Second Corps at Waterloo but wasn't actually at the battle." I ventured.

SMSgt Apatosaurus: *Blank Stare*

MSgt Pterodactyl: *Puzzled, but thoughtful look*

TSgt Skip: *You're going to pay for this GLARE*

Me: "A different General Hill perhaps?"

TSgt Skip: "Why don't you head back to the shop and see if they've towed our jet into the Radar Cal barn?"

Me: "Okay, Skip!" And off I went. Freed from the meeting, but that joy was tempered with the knowledge that Skip's wrath could be great.

Nope. Skip liked the look on the dinosaurs' faces when I said what I said. I had confounded them. It also turned out that the "powers that be" decided that Skip's
 shop shouldn't be at that meeting anyway. As we were all, apparently, a group of "know it all smart-a$$es" as the squadron commander put it. That was okay, the Major enjoyed our company. We'd actually buy him a beer downtown from time to time.

Anyway, that's my story of the Ten Thousand. Pretty much an entire tangential post. I have out-done myself I have.

Forgive me. It's Friday. I get goofy and giddy on Fridays.

My comments are in italics!


  1. I had an instructor for Basic Electronics at radar school who we could get to talking about flying during class.
    Talk about tangential.

  2. I like history lessons and I like the way you got yerself out of those meetings.

    ... fought their way north through hostile Persians and Medes to Trapezus on the coast of the Black Sea.

    Which is now Trabzon, and once was the home of TUSLOG Det 3-1, a miserable surveillance station operated by USAFSS in the way-back. One of those Garden Spots I lived in fear of during my time with Sneaky Service. Thanks for reminding me. (insert smiley-face thingie here)

    1. I'm still fairly talented at getting out of useless meetings. Which corporate America has so many of!

      So that's the reason the Greeks didn't stay in Trapezus!

  3. You probably should have been a history teacher, with a lecture like this one everyone would have paid attention! And, nice job of getting yourself excluded from future time wasting meetings.

    1. I think I would've enjoyed teaching history. My minor in college was history.

      It's just that there doesn't seem to be that much money in teaching history. Nor (from looking at the current state of the country) no one apparently pays much attention to history lessons.

  4. That is the best 10,000 story EVER!

    For my own 10,000 story have you ever read any John Ringo? In his series The Legacy of the Aldenata (I want to say book 2, Gust Front) he introduces a new American force called The 10,000. The cadre were the survivors of a valiant stand in DC against the vile and vicious alien invaders. Never was really sure why the 10,000 designator but just chalked it up to artistic license.

    Ok, maybe that wasn't exactly my 10,000 story but still amusing no?

    No? Bueller? Anyone?

    1. No, I haven't read any John Ringo. Sounds though like I need to add him to my list.

      Another good 10,000 story? Read "The Ten Thousand" by Harold Coyle. He's a graduate of VMI and spent 17 years in the Army. His most famous book is "Team Yankee". He is one of my favorite authors. A very knowledgeable guy when it comes to modern land warfare.

      If Harold Coyle wrote it, I'll read it. He's that good.

      Oh, and Bueller? I gave him the day off. (I think the ba$tard ran off with my muse!)

  5. Completely forgot about that book. Yep, Coyle is the man. I thought Team Yankee was better than Clancy's Red Storm Rising and Coyle didn't descend into the malaise that is Rainbow Six and the ghost writing thereof.


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