Aezanis, Temple of Zeus, 117-138 AD 
History/Classics 310
Athenian Empire: 480-404 B.C.



 Book List  
 Reserve Readings 
 Themistocles Decree 
 Megarian Decree 
 Athenian Treaties 

 Early Sparta and Athens 
 514-482 B.C.  
 Pentekontaeteia, 479-431 B.C. 
  Peloponnesian War  

 Finances in Athens 
 Greek Coinage and Measures 


I. Sailing Distances and Speeds
II. Oligarchic Coup
III. Alternate Accounts of Fall of the Thirty
IV. Naval Losses in the Ionian War
V. Forces Engaged at the Battle of Mantinea
VI. Wages of the Ten Thousand
VII. Marching Distances and Speeds of the Ten Thousand
VIII. Kings of Persia, of Sparta, and of Macedon

RATES.  Cyrus the Younger paid his Greek mercenaries at the rate of 1 gold daric (= 25 Attic drachmae) per month for each hoplite or peltast; cavalrymen received double and officers triple this rate.  When his Greek mercenaries balked at crossing the Euphrates to march against King Artaxerxes II, Cyrus raised the monthly pay to 1.5 darics (= 37.5 Attic drachmae). 

In 400 B.C. the Thracian king Seuthes offered slightly higher rates of 1 electrum stater of Cyzicus (27 Attic drachmae) with 2 and 4 staters per cavalryman and officer respectively (Xen., Anab. VII. 2).  The Spartan commander Thibron who hired 6,000 of the mercenaries in 399 B.C. offered the same rate. 

COINS IN CIRCULATION.  The sums of money put into circulation by such transactions were considerable.  In 401 B.C. Cyrus gave Clearchus 10,000 darics (= 250,000 Attic drachmae or just over 40 talents) to hire mercenaries in the Chersonesus.  The money was sufficient to hire 2,000 men for five months.  At the same time, Aristippus was given the equivalent of six months' pay to recruit 4,000 men in Thessaly; this sum totaled at least 24,000 gold darics (= 600,000 Attic drachmae or 100 talents).  Similar sums were given to the other commanders Proxenus, Sophaemetus, and Socrates. 

Officers and men could potentally amass sizeable savings and carry large sums of money back to Greece.  In 400 B.C. Xenophon still had 3,000 darics (= 75,000 Attic drachmae or 12.5 talents) in his possession, given to him by Cyrus, when the Ten Thousand reached Sinope.  In legal disputes, the mercenaries fined two officers 20 and 10 minae or 2,000 and 1,000 drachmae respectively--high sums comparable to the heavy fines imposed on corrupt magistrates at Athens. 

Payment of wages, however, came every three to four months, and often paymasters tried to delay payment.  At the review held at Celaenae, Cyrus paid 11,000 hoplites and 2,000 peltasts wages for four months (three months due and one in advance).  This cost him 52,000 gold darics or 1,300,000 Attic drachmae (216.5 talents).  Before the Battle of Cunaxa, Cyrus promised a bonus of 5 minae of silver (500 drachmae) per man upon the capture of Babylon.  He thus committed himself to a payment of 6.5 million Attic drachmae (or 1,083-1/3 talents) or just over half the annual imperial revenues of Athens in 450 B.C.! 

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 March from Sardes to Cunaxa, 401 B.C.
    Distance     Ave/Day  
Route   Parasangs Miles   Days in miles
Sardes to Maeander   22 75.9   3-Jan 25.3
Maeander to Colossae   8 27.6   1 28
Rest at Colossae         7  
Colossae to Celaenae   20 69   3 23
Rest at Celaenae         30  
Celaeanae to Peltae   10 34.5   2 17.25
Rest at Peltae           3
Peltae to Potters' Market   12 41.4   2 21
Potters' Market to Plain of Cayster   30 103.5 3 34.5*
Rest in Cayster Plain       5  
Cayster to Thymbrion   10 34.5   2 17
Thymbrion to Tyriaeum   10 34.5   2 17
Rest at Tyriaeum         5  
Tyriaeum to Iconium   20 69   3-Jan 23
March via Lycaonia   30 103.5   5-Jan 20.7
March to Tyana   25 86.25   4 21.6
Battle at Cilician Gates         1  
Day of Waiting         1  
Day of Crossing         1-Jan  
Cil. Gates to Tarsus   25 86.25   4 21.6
Rest at Tarsus         20  
Tarsus to Psaros   10 34.5   2-Jan 17.25
Psaros to Pyramos   5 17.25   1 17.25
Pyramos to Issus   15 51.75   2 25.9
Rest at Issus           3
Issus to Syrian Gates   5 17.25   1 17.25
Syr. Gat. to Myriandros   5 17.25   1 17.25
Myriandros to Chalos   20 69   4 17.25
Chalos to Dardas   30 103.5   5 20.7
Dardas to Euphrates   15 51.75   3 17.25
Rest at Thapsacus         5  
Crossing Euphrates         1  
Euphrates to Araxes   50 172.5   9 19.2
Araxes to Corsote   35 120.75   5 24.2
Rest at Corsote         3  
March down Euphrates   90 310.5   13 23.9
March to Babylonia   12 41.1   2 20.7
Review and Rest         1  
Advance to Median Wall in battle array   3 10.4   1 10.4
*Distance is too long or time too short.  Since the rate of march averaged 17-20 miles per day, perhaps Xenophon intended to write that the advance took five rather than three days. 
CITIZEN ARMIES.  Given the poor roads and rugged terrain of Greece, citizen levies in the fifth century B.C., unless supplied by sea, depended on provisions conveyed by ox-drawn waggons so that they seldom attained an average marching speed over 10 miles per day.  In 490 B.C., the 10,000 Athenian hoplites who won the Battle of Marathon were able to force march twice within a week, covering some 24 miles within a day.  Traveling over their own territory, they could draw their supplies without a supply train. No Greek expeditionary forces in hostile territory could attain such rates of march until the Macedonian army of Philip II (359-336 B.C.) and Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.). 

MARCH OF THE TEN THOUSAND (401-399 B.C.).  The 13,500 Greek mercenaries who formed the core of the army of Cyrus the Younger, claimant to the Persian throne.  Cyrus and his Greek mercenaries conducted the most impressive march prior to the age of Alexander the Great.  Cyrus was able to force march his army across Asia Minor in 3.5 months by using the Persian highway and supply depots.  The march from Sardes to Tarsus took 107 days (including 34 days of actual marching, 71 days of rest, a day of fighting for the Cilician Gates, and a day to cross the pass).  The average rate of march was 25.7 miles per day, but for every day of marching there was two days of rest.  The total distance covered was 222 parasangs (765.9 miles). 

Cyrus advanced from Tarsus to the battlefield of Cunaxa in two stages.  First, the army marched across Syria to the Euphrates covering 105 parasangs (362.25 miles); it took 19 days of marching and 15 days at rest at an average speed of 19.1 miles per day.  This was less than one day rest for every day of marching.  Then Cyrus made a daring dash down the Euphrates, where provisions were scarce, to achieve strategic surprise.  He covered 185 parasangs (638.25 miles) in 31 marching days and only 6 days rest (i.e. five marching days for every day of rest).  The average rate of march was 20.8 miles per day. 

The entire march took 6 months (85 days of marching, 92 days at rest, 2 days of crossing the Cilician Gates and Euphrates River, 1 day of skirmish, 1 day of battle at Cunaxa for a total of 181 days, possibly 183 days if the march to the Cayster plain is an error). 

Cyrus and the Ten Thousand joined battle at Cunaxa between 9:00 and 10:00 A.M. on September 3, 401 B.C.  The army commenced its march from Sardes on or about March 6, 401 B.C.  Cyrus mustered, reviewed and rested his forces at three key staging points in Asia Minor:  Colossae (March 10-17), Celaenae (March 20 to April 19), and Peltae (April 23-25).  He thus timed the main march to start in the last week of April, because by the first week of May the grain was "milk ripe" and from June on the army had plenty of freshly harvested grain.  The timing and rates of march in 401 B.C. compare favorably with the advance of Alexander the Great in 334-333 B.C. (Engels, Logistics, pp. 26-28). 

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Dr. Kenneth W. Harl 
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Last updated 03/19/98
by Annette Lindblom