The Persian War Machine: The Immortals – Part II

The Persian War Machine: The Immortals – Part II

The Persian War Machine: The Immortals – Part II

The Persian war machine made empires beforehand look miniature. The Persians were able to take the best from all over the Near East and turn it into a force that could not be defeated for many centuries to come.

[Read Part I here]

Many Guard Units

Herodotus states in 7.40 that “For before him (King) went first a thousand horsemen, chosen out of all the Persians; and after them a thousand spearmen chosen also from all the Persians, having the points of their spears turned down to the ground; and then ten sacred horses, called "Nesaian," with the fairest possible trappings.” The thousand spearmen marched with their spears reversed, and the spear butts, which would normally have a point, were replaced with “golden pomegranates.” Herodotus refers to these men as “spear-bearers.” These men were the king’s own spear-bearers.

Furthermore, Herodotus 7.41 mentions that once the thousand horsemen passed by, they were followed by ten thousand men who “went on foot; and of these a thousand had upon their spears pomegranates of gold instead of the spikes at the butt-end, and these enclosed the others round, while the remaining nine thousand were within these and had silver pomegranates. And those also had golden pomegranates who had their spear-points turned towards the earth, while those who followed next after Xerxes had golden apples.” While the passage provided describes what appears to the famous “immortal” it appears not. A thousand had upon their spears butts ‘pomegranates of gold’, while the remaining nine thousand had ‘silver pomegranates’. Behind the ten thousand came another thousand had ‘golden apples.’ While it appears that this is not the ten thousand as some suggest, perhaps it is. In other words, the thousand spearmen who’s spear-butts had a golden pomegranate were perhaps the captains in charge of the nine thousand. But who were the “Immortals”?

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Ancient Origins Quotations