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Book Title: Anabasis|
The author of the book: Xenophon
Edition: Harvard University Press
Date of issue: December 30th 1998
Loaded: 1725 times
Reader ratings: 6.6
ISBN 13: 9780674991019
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 688 KB
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The Persian Expedition (or The Anabasis, or The March Up Country) tells the story of an army of Greek mercenaries who ended up fighting for the losing side of a Persian civil war and must travel through hostile territory to return home. And this isn't a metter of just dialing up 10,000 Uber rides (besides, the surge fee would be enormous), they have to march through hundreds of miles of hostile territory with both natives and the Persian army seeking to block their way. They are completely on their own with no help on the way. It is, at the very least, a compelling story and has the benefit of actually happening.
This was certainly an interesting reading experience. The writing style was definitely not of the modern world. A good chunk of it was devoted to explaining the movements of the Greek forces through hostile territory. As in They marched X leagues to this new area and chilled for a bit. then marched another Y leagues to a new area. There was much food and supplies to be acquired. There were also some extended paragraphs of people (not characters mind you, all these people actually existed) giving speeches, there was little to no dialogue and everything was stated in a very matter of fact manner. While similar to other period books I read in terms of the structure, however I thought the prose didn't reach the same elevated level History of the Peloponnesian War reached.
One must keep in mind that this account comes to us from Xenophon, a Greek and eventual leader of the expedition. So we run the risk of leaning on this account too much since the source is rather biased. Xenophon comes off as a perfectly selfless and noble leader among men, almost too perfect. Everyone who opposes him is often shown as conniving and devious. Clearly salt should be taken when reading this account.
It is also important to remember the people on the other side of the story. Here is this 10,000 man strong mercenary force traveling through a hostile land and basically living off of it and any stored supplies they can capture. They are basically heavily armed locusts with a lot of military experience and no compunction against harming "barbarian" people. I imagine the story from their victims gives a very different account.
All in all this was an interesting read in so far as it gives a contemporary account of Greek culture and world view (for instance: the Greeks love sacrificing stuff to figure out the best course of action. there are even professional seers that travel with the army to interpret the results of the sacrifice. IT was like every other page it was time for another sacrifice). It was also a good illustration of just how decentralized everything was compared to modern nation states. Greek cities basically did their own thing even if they were bound (loosely) by a common culture. The Persian Empire was more a collection of kingdoms held in line by the central Persian authority's ability to punish or reward them, much different from even the Roman Empire. The past truly is a foreign country in many respects.
So while I wouldn't recommend this book in terms a pure entertainment, it was an illuminating look into the time and is worthwhile on that account.
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Read information about the authorXenophon (Ancient Greek Ξενοφῶν, Modern Greek "Ξενοφών", "Ξενοφώντας"; ca. 431 – 355 BC), son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, was a soldier, mercenary and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates. He is known for his writings on the history of his own times, preserving the sayings of Socrates, and the life of ancient Greece.
Historical and biographical works
Anabasis (or The Persian Expedition)
Socratic works and dialogues
The Cavalry General
Hunting with Dogs
Ways and Means
Constitution of Sparta
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