Cyrus and his military training
Cyrus took on himself a three-fold task: to bring the physical strength of his men to the highest pitch, to teach them tactics, and to rouse their spirit for martial deeds. He asked Cyaxares for a body of assistants whose duty it should be to provide each of his soldiers with all they could possibly need, thus leaving the men themselves free for the art of war. He had learnt, he thought, that success, in whatever sphere, was only to be won by refusing to attempt a multitude of tasks and concentrating the mind on one.
Thus in the military training itself he gave up the practice with bow and javelin, leaving his men to perfect themselves in the use of sabre, shield, and corslet, accustoming them from the very first to the thought that they must close with the enemy, or confess themselves worthless as fellow-combatants; a harsh conclusion for those who knew that they were only protected in order to fight on behalf of their protectors. And further, being convinced that wherever the feeling of emulation can be roused, there the eagerness to excel is greatest, he instituted competitions for everything in which he thought his soldiers should be trained. The private soldier was challenged to prove himself prompt to obey, anxious to work, eager for danger, and yet ever mindful of discipline, an expert in the science of war, an artist in the conduct of his arms, and a lover of honour in all things. The petty officer commanding a squad of five was not only to equal the leading private, he must also do what he could to bring his men to the same perfection; the captain of ten must do the same for his ten, and the company’s captain for the company, while the commander of the whole regiment, himself above reproach, must take the utmost care with the officers under him so that they in their turn should see that their subordinates were perfect in all their duties. For prizes, Cyrus announced that the brigadier in command of the finest regiment should be raised to the rank of general, the captain of the finest company should be made a brigadier, the captain of the finest squad of ten captain of a company, and the captain of the best five a captain of ten, while the best soldiers from the ranks should become captains of five themselves. Every one of these officers had the privilege of being served by those beneath him, and various other honours also, suited to their several grades, while ampler hopes were offered for any nobler exploits. (24) Finally prizes were announced to be won by a regiment or a company or a squad taken as a whole, by those who proved themselves most loyal to their leaders and most zealous in the practice of their duty. These prizes, of course, were such as to be suitable for men taken in the mass.
Such were the orders of the Persian leader, and such the exercises of the Persian troops. For their quarters, he arranged that a separate shelter should be assigned to every brigadier, and that it should be large enough for the whole regiment he commanded; a regiment consisting of 100 men. Thus they were encamped by regiments, and in the mere fact of common quarters there was this advantage, Cyrus thought, for the coming struggle, that the men saw they were all treated alike, and therefore no one could pretend that he was slighted, and no one sink to the confession that he was a worse man than his neighbours when it came to facing the foe. Moreover the life in common would help the men to know each other, and it is only by such knowledge, as a rule, that a common conscience is engendered; those who live apart, unknowing and unknown, seem far more apt for mischief, like those who skulk in the dark. Cyrus thought the common life would lead to the happiest results in the discipline of the regiments. By this system all the officers—brigadiers, company-captains, captains of the squads—could keep their men in as perfect order as if they were marching before them in single file. Such precision in the ranks would do most to guard against disorder and re-establish order if ever it were broken; just as when timbers and stones have to be fitted together it is easy enough to put them into place, wherever they chance to lie, provided only that they are marked so as to leave no doubt where each belongs. And finally, he felt, there was the fact that those who live together are the less likely to desert one another; even the wild animals, Cyrus knew, who are reared together suffer terribly from loneliness when they are severed from each other.
Cyropaedia The Education Of Cyrus – Xenophon
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