Xenophon’s Anabasis is a classic tale of high adventure aka The Warriors

Xenophon - Anabasis, also known as The Persian Expedition

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 story has regained popularity with each generation; in the more modern times, the story has been adapted into the Sol Yurik novel,  The Warriors,  as well as the movie version, and even the video game.

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.

6 comments to Xenophon’s Anabasis is a classic tale of high adventure aka The Warriors

  • Indeed, much like Sun Tzu’s ‘the Art of War’, this is yet another insightful and inspiring book that has themes and subtle undertones that are highly deserving of any military leader’s consideration. Beyond the heroism and bravery displayed by these warriors, in the face of quickly erroding leadership (you had mentioned that Cyrus himself was killed, along with other generals….if I recall correctly, the Spartan General Clearchus was also in that mix…), these men were also mercenaries–in a way, I could see this fact alone causing an even greater challenge for leadership. The reason I say I feel this could be a serious challenge is because, “mercenaries” are typically drive by material gain or compensation. In the face of insurmountable odds, as they had to navigate across intense unforgiving deserts and snow-capped mountains, I think this whole story embodies a true testament of Xenophon’s leadership abilities. Honestly, it can be difficult enough just leading Soldiers who AREN’T “in it” for the money….I can’t imagine the challenges that were faced by the remaining leaders.

  • Chris

    I feel like I have heard about this text in the past, though I am not sure. Still, going off what you said about it, it sounds very interesting in the least. I always enjoy tales from the Greek mythos. They just bring to mind such vivid imagery, in part because of the art we have from Greece; as well as the depiction in many artistic mediums even in the modern day. Sounds like an interesting story!

  • John

    I have always enjoyed books and information regarding Greek Culture. I feel this will be a good read and I will be delving into this soon enough.

  • Matt Slyce

    Xenophon’s Anabasis sounds very interesting. This is the first time I heard of this book, although I am not into war and violence books, but I am definitely into books about strategies and survival… and basing from this site’s review and comments, I think this is one book that I would surely enjoy! Thanks, people!

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  • coledenton909

    This Xenophon story really gets me curious. I have a tendency to like this type of plot with ancient warriors and legends. This is the first I am hearing of this title and sounds like a must read. Stories like these usually give us a picture of courage and determination in the face of danger. Interesting!

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