Of all of the characters in the first section of the Anabasis, Clearchus is among the most important, and perhaps the most intriguing.
In Clearchus’s obituary, Xenophon describes a ruthless officer who is feared by all, respected by all, and liked by none(II,6). Clearchus was also the only Greek general who knew from the outset what Cyrus intended to do with the army he was raising(III, 1 (10)). Two questions are very much worth contemplating:
For whom was Clearchus working? And: who is responsible for his death?
The simple answer to the first is that Clearchus was working for Cyrus, as the narrative recounts. The narrative also allows the following interpretation: that Clearchus was using Cyrus to obtain sufficient treasure and military power to install himself as a King somewhere in the Hellenic world. There is a third possibility however: that Clearchus was in the employ of Artaxerxes, charged with tempting Cyrus to attempt a coup, and, if successful, delivering him to Persia and his death. If you imagine that this was his mission, he succeeded in this as well.