The following is the book The Retreat of the Ten Thousand (1891?) by Carl Witt (1815-1891) and translated by Frances Younghusband. More information.
- The Great King
- The Persian Empire
- The Rival Brothers
- On the March
- The Princess Epyaxa
- Negotiations at Tarsus
- From Tarsus to Myriandus
- The Crossing of the Euphrates
- In the Desert
- The Treachery of Orontes
- The King Approaches
- Before the Battle
- The Battle of Cunaxa
- The Treaty with Ariaeus
- The Treaty with the Great King
- The Defection of Ariaeus
- A Conference with Tissaphernes
- The Treachery of Tissaphernes
- Election of Officers
- Xenophon Addresses the Troops
- Annoyed by Mithridates
- Harassed by Tissaphernes
- The Last of Tissaphernes
- The River or the Mountains?
- The Carduchians
- Seizing a Pass
- A Long Day’s Fighting
- The Crossing of the Kentrites
- The Satrap Tiribazus
- An Armenian Winter
- Armenian Villages
- The Taochians
- The Sea! The Sea!
- The Macronians and the Colchians
- The Games at Trebizond
- The Afterlife of Xenophon
Miss Younghusband kindly insists that I should write a preface to her new volume, and I cannot refuse. It contains a translation by her hand from the German of Professor C. Witt’s version of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand. Such a book ought, I think, no less than its predecessors The Myths of Hellas, The Tale of Troy, and The Wanderings of Ulysses to become a favorite with those youthful readers to whom it is primarily addressed. Indeed, considering the nature of the history, older persons may perhaps find an interest in it.
The original Greek narrative, on which Professor Witt has based his version, is, of course, the well-known Anabasis of Xenophon, which is one of the most fascinating books in the world. And I agree with the translator in hoping that some of those who read the story for the first time in English will be led to study Greek sufficiently to read it again and again in the language of Xenophon himself.
That remarkable personage, who in spite of his Spartan leanings was a thorough Athenian at heart, found himself on a sudden called upon to play the part of a leader: and played it to perfection. But if he deserved well of his countrymen and fellow soldiers by his service in the field, he has deserved still better of all later generations by the vigor, not of his sword, but of his pen.
Perhaps we owe it to his Socratic training that whilst the memories were still fresh he sat down to describe the exploits of the Ten Thousand in a style admirably suited to the narrative and produced a masterpiece. I do not think there is a dull page in the book.
The incidents, albeit they took place in the broad noonday of Grecian history, are as thrilling as any tale told by the poets in the divine dawn of the highly gifted Hellenic race. The men themselves who play so noble a part are evidently true descendants of the Homeric heroes. If they have fits of black despondency, the cloud is soon dispelled when there is need for action, and by a sense of their own dignity. The spirit of their forefathers, who fought and won at Marathon and Salamis and Plataeae, has entered into them. They enter the lists of battle with the same gaiety. They confront death with similar equanimity. Buoyancy is the distinctive note of the Anabasis.
But there is another side to the matter. These Xenophontine soldiers are also true enfants du siècle. They bear the impress of their own half century markedly, and it was an age not by any means entirely heroic. It had its painful and prosaic side.
“Nothing,” a famous Frenchman, M. Henri Taine, has remarked in one of his essays entitled Xénophon, “is more singular than this Greek army, which is a kind of roving commonwealth, deliberating and acting, fighting and voting; an epitome of Athens set adrift in the center of Asia; there are the same sacrifices, the same assemblies, the same party strifes, the same outbursts of violence; today at peace and tomorrow at war; now on land and again on shipboard; every successive incident serves but to evoke the energy and awaken the poetry latent in their souls.”
How does this happen? It is due, I think, to the Ten Thousand to admit: it was so because, in spite of personal defects, they were true to themselves. “The Greeks,” as the aged Egyptian priest exclaimed to Solon, in another context, “are always children.”
This something childlike — this glory had not as yet in the year 400 B.C. faded into the light of common day. But as M. Taine adds concerning the writing itself, “The beauty of style transcends even the interest of the story,” and we may well imagine that a less capable writer than Xenophon (Sophaenetus for instance) would have robbed the narrative and the actors alike of half their splendor.
And what of Xenophon himself? There is much to be said on that topic. But it is “another story.” In this he must speak for himself.
H[enry] G[raham] Dakyns (1838-1911)
Buy a copy!
After the death of the old Persian king, his two sons fight for the throne. One of them, the young prince Cyrus, has a powerful weapon at his disposal: a mercenary army of 13,000 Greek soldiers, which will certainly ensure his victory on the battlefield against the new king, his older brother Artaxerxes.
And this Greek army proves invincible in the battle of Cunaxa. However, something unexpected and terrible happens despite the victory. Now, the Greek army finds itself in the midst of a hostile country, thousands of miles and kilometers away from Greece, constantly harassed by all kinds of enemies. Will they be able to return home alive and well?
📚 Check some more of the other books, ebooks, audiobooks, etc., that I’m publishing! CLASSICSNESS.com.
Source of the text, etc.
The scanned book is available on Archive.org. I at LatinFromScratch.com have proofread, edited, etc., the OCR version. Minor changes have been made, but, in general, every spelling, word, sentence, paragraph, etc., is as in the original (however, most changes are about having more paragraphs for a more effortless reading experience, and occasionally some old-fashioned spellings such as to-morrow → tomorrow).
The original author is German philologist Carl Witt (1815-1891); the translator appears as Frances Younghusband, who might be Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) according to this; on the other hand, here they refer to Miss Younghusband, her, etc., so it might be a different person (a woman, even!!) of whom nothing can be found (but could it be this one?). The preface is by Henry Graham Dakyns (1838-1911).