|© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE||Last updated December 5, 1998|
|Plato and his dialogues : Home - Biography - Works - History of interpretation - New hypotheses - Map of dialogues : table version or non tabular version. Tools : Index of persons and locations - Detailed and synoptic chronologies - Maps of Ancient Greek World. Site information : About the author.|
This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Cyrus the Younger is the Persian prince for whom fought the Ten Thousand Greek
soldiers, whose story is told by Xenophon, one of
their generals, in the Anabasis.
He was the second son of Darius II. In 407,
his father named him Satrap of the Ionian provinces in replacement of Tissaphernes,
whose policy of frequent change of alliances between Sparta
and Athens in the ongoing Peloponesian War was
not to his taste (Tissaphernes had lately been convinced by Alcibiades
to switch side and support Athens). Cyrus, following
his father's orders, definitely opted for Sparta
and his financial support played a decisive role in bringing about the ultimate
victory of Sparta (Xenophon,
1, 4, 3 ; 1,
5, 1-9 ; 2,
1, 13-15 ; see also Thucydides, 2,
When Darius II died in 404, Artaxerxes II, his first-born son, succeeded him. Despite warnings by Tissaphernes that Cyrus was plotting against him, Artaxerxes was convinced by his mother Parysatis, who prefered Cyrus, to spare the life of his brother and let him go back in his Satrapy. Yet, from there, Cyrus kept plotting to overthrow his brother and started building an army of Greek soldiers for that purpose (Xenophon, Anabasis, 1, 1). With this army, in 401, he walked toward Babylon and his brother, which he met in battle at Cunaxa, along the Euphrates, about 100 miles northwest of Babylon. The Greeks won the battle, but Cyrus was killed in trying to kill his brother (Anabasis, 1, 8). Most of Xenophon' Anabasis is the story of the trip back of the Greek army in a hostile land after the death of Cyrus at Cunaxa, a trip of more than a thousand miles through Armenia and along the shores of the Black Sea.
The story of the struggle between Cyrus and Artaxerxes is also found by Plutarch in the first part of his Life of Artaxerxes. Xenophon draws a probably idealized portrait of Cyrus in book II, chapter 9 of the Anabasis.
One of the commanding generals of the Greek troops of Cyrus was Meno, staged by Plato in the dialogue that bears his name. He commanded the contingent sent by Aristippus of Thessalia (or of Larissa, the capital of Thessalia, Meno, 70a-c). According to Xenophon, he was a most despicable man, always ready to flatter the strong man of the moment, always plotting against his fellow generals, interested only in his own wealth. The portrait that Xenophon draws of him at Anabasis, II, 6, 21-29 is worth reading to illuminate Plato's dialogue. Other places where Meno is seen in action are Anabasis, I, 4, 13-17 ; II, 5, 27-42.