Rates of Pay in Classical and Hellenistic times.
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
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.!
MARCHING SPEEDS IN CLASSICAL GREECE
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.