Mediterranean Hegemon of Ancient Greece

Chapter 17: Dances with wolves

Chapter 17: Dances with wolves

Just as Davos started preparing for his field hospital, the Persian envoy came to the Greek camp, this time the envoy was the Persian general that was most familiar to the mercenary leaders, the satrap of Asia Minor, Tissaphernes. He brought with him the hope that the Greeks would be able to return home safely. He was willing to convey to the Persian king that the mercenary leaders were unwilling to fight and just wanted to go home.

The mercenary leaders welcomed him with pleasure.

After Tissaphernes left, the mercenary leaders saw hope for a peaceful settlement and were eagerly awaiting for his return.

After anxiously waiting for two days, Tissaphernes once again came to the Greek camp and read out the latest decree of the Persian king to the mercenary leaders. The king has accepted the apology of the mercenary, despite the opposition of many ministers, he decided to let the Greek mercenary return to Greece under the leadership of Tissaphernes and had agreed to provide a market for the Greeks to solve their problem with supplies on their way home. At the same time, the Greeks must abide by the local order and destruction or looting along the way is not allowed…

The leaders certainly couldn’t ask for more. They soon reached an agreement with Tissaphernes and both sides swear an oath in the name of their God. Tissaphernes then warned the leaders to patiently wait, while he report back to the king and to make arrangements for their return.

Soon after Tissaphernes left, the news spread throughout the camp and the soldiers cheered.

Davos still did not relax his vigilance. Although he heard what Xenophon said last time, he realized that there were many differences between the actual situation of Persia and his own guessed based on Chinese history.

Just yesterday, Xenophon visited again and had finally adjusted his mood after a few days, he wanted to talk with Davos about the democracy of city-states. Davos did not want to remain entangled on this issue, and had instead skillfully led the topic to the local customs of the Greek city-states.

Most of the time, it was Xenophon who talk incessantly, while Davos listens attentively. In between, Davos asked about Tissaphernes, so Xenophon said something about Tissaphernes that he had heard from Proxenus, which made Davos remember them deeply.

When Tissaphernes served as the satrap of Asia Minor, it was during the time of the Peloponnesian War. Tissaphernes chose to form an alliance with Sparta and had wanted to use the strength of Sparta against Athens in order to restore Persian rule over the Greek city-state on the Ionian coast, while Sparta would receive funding to build an enormous fleet capable of fighting Athens. It wasn’t long after he stopped his promised financial support to Sparta, which cause the Spartans to protest to the then Persian king, Darius II[1], Darius then appointed his second son, Cyrus the Younger, to serve as the military commander throughout the western Persian region and to fully support Sparta against Athens.

Tissaphernes was relieved of his military power, but he seemed to not care. He got along very well with Cyrus the Younger and they soon became friends. But when the new king Artaxerxes came to power and Cyrus the Younger went to the capital to attend the grand ceremony of his big brother’s ascension, Tissaphernes told the new king that Cyrus the Younger wanted to rebel, which resulted in the arrest of the Cyrus the Younger, he had only gotten released after the repeated pleading of the Queen Mother.

After Tissaphernes returned to Asia Minor, he started opposing Cyrus the Younger on everything. So when Cyrus the Younger started his rebellion, the first thing he wanted to do was to capture him and as a result, he ran away long ago and showed up in the king’s army. When the left wing of the king’s army got crushed by the Greek’s hoplite, Tissaphernes dared to lead the cavalry around the hoplite and attack the Greek’s rear troops. Although he failed, his courage and determination naturally stood out among a group of defeated generals, so he was able to negotiate a truce with the Greek troops as the Persian envoy on behalf of the king, which obviously shown the king’s favor of him.

What Davos heard about Tissaphernes was heard by Xenophon from Proxenus, and most of what Proxenus knows came from Cyrus the Younger, regardless of whether he liked or disliked Tissaphernes, but the fact was true. Therefore, after analyzing, Davos believes that Tissaphernes was a typical politician who was accustomed in deception, he is good at judging the situation and daring to grab the opportunity. It is hard to expect such a person to keep his promise!

When Davos told Xenophon about this concern, Xenophon sighed and said: “Proxenus was very clear about it and they won’t relax their vigilance against Tissaphernes, but we may not be able to go home unless we gave up fighting the Persian King. Euphrates and Tigris rivers alone can cause us enormous trouble and we can’t smoothly cross such a wide river in front of the enemy. Another huge problem is that there isn’t enough food. Once we go “collecting” food, the scattered soldiers can be easily attacked by the enemy…

You see, the Persian king has a huge advantage that if he really want to destroy us, it is absolutely unnecessary to give us supplies and let Tissaphernes swear an oath in the name of their God on his behalf, because if he breaks the oath in the future, he won’t only be laughed at by Persians and Greeks, but they will get abandoned by the Persian gods, unless he wants to become a king without faith as soon he ascended! Therefore, we can only believe in them and can only cooperate with them to guarantee our safe return home!”

Davos saw that what Xenophon has said is more like persuading himself and sighed. The Greek mercenaries were in a disadvantaged position, so even if they were given “poison”, they had to swallow it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Day by day, Davos’ field hospital had begun to take shape, and after they carefully took care and treated the 12 wounded, 7 of them have significantly gotten better.

For most of the time, Davos learned Greek from Xenophon and entrusted Mersis, who had went out to buy, to bring back several pieces of linen and cut it into slender strips and using his legs, began to experiment on how to wrap it. At the same time, he pulled his teammates to train with him and learn combat skills so that he can unify his mind and body memory.

Because of Asistes recovery and the event where Menon’s troops protested, his relationship with Antonios became closer and he visited Antonios many times and asked him about his experience on commanding the hoplite and formation…and in order for him to understand the skill in using a Kopis. He also studied from the Peltast troops to gain an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of this units.

The success of the field hospital made Davos’ reputation as “God’s favored” deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, and his modesty and eagerness to learn also won the favor of everyone. There are only few people who couldn’t recognize him anymore as he walk throughout Menon’s camp.

As time went by, the Persians haven’t appeared, uneasiness and suspicion have gradually enveloped the entire Greek camp. Davos used his busy days to dilute his worries and his inability to change the predicament of the Greek mercenaries, so he could only change himself and enrich his experience as much as possible.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

After more than 20 days of waiting, Tissaphernes finally arrived with his army and accompanied by the satrap of Armenia, Orontes[2] and his army.

The Greek mercenary leaders, who were anxiously waiting for a long time, had led the troops and set foot on their journey home without any suspicion.

But at the beginning of the march, the situation change. The troops of Ariaeus who was originally warm and intimate with the Greek mercenaries, began to march with the Persian army and not only marching together, but they also camp together. Over the past 20 days, the Persians were not idle, they have sent the relatives and friends of Ariaeus and the other generals to Ariaeus camp, and by promising to not held them accountable, they finally manage to persuade the generals of Cyrus the Younger.

This undoubtedly increased the suspicion of the Greek mercenaries, who were far behind the Persian army, they acted alone with their own guides. At dusk, the Greek troops and the Persians were 5 km apart, guarding each other as if they treat each other as their enemy,

Tissaphernes did indeed fulfill his promise to provide markets for the Greeks every day. Of course, the mercenaries have to pay for it themselves.

Menon had also tried to retaliate against Davos by giving Hielos’ squad less food, but Mersis opposed it. Previously, Mersis was very reluctant when Davos asked him to leave 2 Egyptian slaves.

Who knew that not long after, Davos gave him a Chinese massage with the trained Egyptian slave and he became addicted to it. He then went to the field hospital every day to ask for a massage and shamelessly said that it was the slave who owed him and they are paying off their debt. He was still hoping that after they return to Greece, he would make Davos teach this unique technique to him and buy * then his brothel will be overcrowded. Therefore, not only will he not offend Davos, but will also try to satisfy most of Davos’ demands.

[1] Darius II was king of the Persian Empire from 423 BC to 404 or 405 BC and the father of Artaxerxes II and Cyrus the Younger.

[2] Orontes as an Armenian ruler of the Orontid Dynasty who ruled as satrap of the Achaemenid Empire between 401 BC – 344 BC.

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