The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Defeat of Ten Thousand Greek Mercenaries in Iran
Book 3 Section 1
[3.1.1] 1[The preceding narrative has described all that the Greeks did in the course of the upward march with Cyrus until the time of the battle, and all that took place after the death of Cyrus while the Greeks were on the way back with Tissaphernes during the period of the truce.]
[3.1.2] After the generals had been seized and such of the captains and soldiers as accompanied them had been killed, the Greeks were naturally in great perplexity, reflecting that they were at the King's gates, that round about them on every side were many hostile tribes and cities, that no one would provide them a market any longer, that they were distant from Greece not less than ten thousand stadia, that they had no guide to show them the way, that they were cut off by impassable rivers which flowed across the homeward route, that the barbarians who had madethe upward march with Cyrus had also betrayed them, and that they were left alone, without even a single horseman to support them, so that it was quite clear that if they should be victorious, they could not kill anyone,1 while if they should be defeated, not one of them would be left alive. [3.1.3] Full of these reflections and despondent as they were, but few of them tasted food at evening, few kindled a fire, and many did not come that night to their quarters, but lay down wherever they each chanced to be, unable to sleep for grief and longing for their native states and parents, their wives and children, whom they thought they should never see again. Such was the state of mind in which they all lay down to rest.
[3.1.4] There was a man in the army named Xenophon, an Athenian, who was neither general nor captain nor private, but had accompanied the expedition because Proxenus, an old friend of his, had sent him at his home an invitation to go with him; Proxenus had also promised him that, if he would go, he would make him a friend of Cyrus, whom he himself regarded, so he said, as worth more to him than was his native state. [3.1.5] After reading Proxenus' letter Xenophon conferred with Socrates,1 the Athenian, about the proposed journey; and Socrates, suspecting that his becoming a friend of Cyrus might be a cause for accusation against Xenophon on the part of the Athenian government, for the reason that Cyrus was thought to have given the Lacedaemonians zealous aid in their war against Athens,2 advised Xenophon to go to Delphi and consult the god in regard to this journey. [3.1.6] So Xenophon went and asked Apollo to what one of the gods he should sacrifice and pray in order best and most successfully to perform the journey which he had in mind and, after meeting with good fortune, to return home in safety; and Apollo in his response told him to what gods he must sacrifice. [3.1.7] When Xenophon came back from Delphi, he reported the oracle to Socrates; and upon hearing about it Socrates found fault with him because he did not first put the question whether it were better for him to go or stay, but decided for himself that he was to go and then asked the god as to the best way of going. "However," he added, "since you did put the question in that way, you must do all that the god directed."
[3.1.8] Xenophon, accordingly, after offering the sacrifices to the gods that Apollo's oracle prescribed, set sail, overtook Proxenus and Cyrus at Sardis as they were on the point of beginning the upward march, and was introduced to Cyrus. [3.1.9] And not only did Proxenus urge him to stay with them, but Cyrus also joined in this request, adding that as soon as the campaign came to an end, he would send Xenophon home at once; and the report was that the campaign was against the Pisidians. [3.1.10] It was in this way, then, that Xenophon came to go on the expedition, quite deceived about its purpose--not, however, by Proxenus, for he did not know that the attack was directed against the King, nor did anyone else among the Greeks with the exception of Clearchus; but by the time they reached Cilicia, it seemed clear to everybody that the expedition was really against the King. Then, although the Greeks were fearful of the journey and unwilling to go on, most of them did, nevertheless, out of shame before one another and before Cyrus, continue the march. And Xenophon was one of this number.
[3.1.11] Now when the time of perplexity came, he was distressed as well as everybody else and was unable to sleep; but, getting at length a little sleep, he had a dream. It seemed to him that there was a clap of thunder and a bolt fell on his father's house, setting the whole house ablaze. [3.1.12] He awoke at once in great fear, and judged the dream in one way an auspicious one, because in the midst of hardships and perils he had seemed to behold a great light from Zeus; but looking at it in another way he was fearful, since the dream came, as he thought, from Zeus the King and the fire appeared to blaze all about, lest he might not be able to escape out of the King's country,1 but might be shut in on all sides by various difficulties. [3.1.13] Now what it really means to have such a dream one may learn from the events which followed the dream--and they were these: Firstly, on the moment of his awakening the thought occurred to him: "Why do I lie here? The night is wearing on, and at daybreak it is likely that the enemy will be upon us. And if we fall into the King's hands, what is there to prevent our living to behold all the most grievous sights and to experience all the most dreadful sufferings, and then being put to death with insult? [3.1.14] As for defending ourselves, however, no one is making preparations or taking thought for that, but we lie here just as if it were possible for us to enjoy our ease. What about myself, then? From what state am I expecting the general to come who is to perform these duties? And what age must I myself wait to attain? For surely I shall never be any older, if this day I give myself up to the enemy."
[3.1.15] Then he arose and, as a first step, called together the captains of Proxenus. When they had gathered, he said: "Gentlemen, I am unable either to sleep, as I presume you are also, or to lie still any longer, when I see in what straits we now are. [3.1.16] For the enemy manifestly did not begin open war upon us until the moment when they believed that their own preparations had been adequately made; but on our side no one is planning any counter-measures at all to ensure our making the best possible fight. [3.1.17] And yet if we submit and fall into the King's hands, what do we imagine our fate is to be? Even in the case of his own brother, and, yet more, when he was already dead, this man cut off his head and his hand and impaled them; as for ourselves, then, who have no one to intercede for us,1 and who took the field against him with the intention of making him a slave rather than a king and of killing him if we could, what fate may we expect to suffer? [3.1.18] Will he not do his utmost to inflict upon us the most outrageous tortures, and thus make all mankind afraid ever to undertake an expedition against him? We, then, must make every effort not to fall into his power.
[3.1.19] "For my part, so long as the truce lasted I never ceased commiserating ourselves and congratulating the King and his followers; for I saw plainly what a great amount of fine land they possessed, what an abundance of provisions, what quantities of servants, cattle, gold, and apparel; [3.1.20] but whenever I took thought of the situation of our own soldiers, I saw that we had no share in these good things, except we bought them, I knew there were but few of us who still had money wherewith to buy, and I knew that our oaths restrained us from getting provisions in any other way than by purchase. Hence, with these considerations in mind, I used sometimes to fear the truce more than I now fear war. [3.1.21] But seeing that their own act has put an end to the truce, the end has likewise come, in my opinion, both of their arrogance and of our embarrassment. For now all these good things are offered as prizes for whichever of the two parties shall prove to be the braver men; and the judges of the contest are the gods, who, in all likelihood, will be on our side. [3.1.22] For our enemies have sworn falsely by them, while we, with abundant possessions before our eyes, have steadfastly kept our hands therefrom because of our oaths by the gods; hence we, I think, can go into the contest with far greater confidence than can our enemies. [3.1.23] Besides, we have bodies more capable than theirs of bearing cold and heat and toil, and we likewise, by the blessing of the gods, have better souls; and these men are more liable than we to be wounded and killed, if the gods again, as on that former day, grant us victory.
[3.1.24] "And now, since it may be that others also have these same thoughts in mind, let us not, in the name of the gods, wait for others to come to us and summon us to the noblest deeds, but let us take the lead ourselves and arouse threst to valour. Show yourselves the best of the captains, and more worthy to be generals than the generals themselves. [3.1.25] As for me, if you choose to set out upon this course, I am ready to follow you; but if you assign me the leadership, I do not plead my youth as an excuse; rather, I believe I am in the very prime of my power to ward off dangers from my own head."
[3.1.26] Such were Xenophon's words; and upon hearing what he said the officers bade him take the lead, all of them except a man named Apollonides, who spoke in the Boeotian dialect. This man maintained that anyone who said he could gain safety in any other way than by winning the King's consent through persuasion, if possible, was talking nonsense; and at the same time he began to recite the difficulties of their situation. Xenophon, however, interrupted him in the midst of his talk, and said: [3.1.27] "You amazing fellow, you have eyes but still do not perceive, and you have ears but still do not remember. You were present, surely, with the rest of these officers at the time when the King, after the death of Cyrus and in his elation over that event, sent and ordered us to give up our arms. [3.1.28] But when, instead of giving them up, we equipped ourselves with them, and went and encamped beside him, what means did he leave untried--sending ambassadors, begging for a truce, offering us provisions--until in the end he obtained a truce? [3.1.29] When, however, our generals and captains, following precisely the plan that you are now urging, went unarmed to a conference with them, relying upon the truce, what happened in that case? are they not at this moment being beaten, tortured, insulted, unable even to die, hapless men that they are, even though they earnestly long, I imagine, for death? And do you, knowing all these things, say that they are talking nonsense who urge self-defence, and do you propose that we should again go and try persuasion? [3.1.30] In my opinion, gentlemen, we should not simply refuse to admit this fellow to companionship with us, but should deprive him of his captaincy, lay packs on his back, and treat him as that sort of a creature. For the fellow is a disgrace both to his native state and to the whole of Greece, since, being a Greek, he is still a man of this kind."
[3.1.31] Then Agasias, a Stymphalian, broke in and said: "For that matter, this fellow has nothing to do either with Boeotia or with any part of Greece at all, for I have noticed that he has both his ears bored,1 like a Lydian's."2 [3.1.32] In fact, it was so. He, therefore, was driven away, but the others proceeded to visit the various divisions1 of the army. Wherever a general was left alive, they would invite him to join them; where the general was gone, they invited the lieutenant-general; or, again, where only a captain was left, the captain. [3.1.33] When all had come together, they seated themselves at the front of the encampment, and the generals and captains thus assembled amounted in number to about one hundred. By this time it was nearly midnight. [3.1.34] Then Hieronymus the Elean, who was the eldest of Proxenus' captains, began to speak as follows: "Generals and captains, we have deemed it best, in view of the present situation, both to come together ourselves and to invite you to join us, in order that we may devise whatever good counsel we can. Repeat now, Xenophon," he added, "just what you said to us." [3.1.35] Thereupon Xenophon spoke as follows: "We all understand thus much, that the King and Tissaphernes have seized as many as they could of our number, and that they are manifestly plotting against the rest of us, to destroy us if they can. It is for us, then, in my opinion, to make every effort that we may never fall into the power of the barbarians, but that they may rather fall into our power. [3.1.36] Be sure, therefore, that you, who have now come together in such numbers, have the grandest of opportunities. For all our soldiers here are looking to you; if they see that you are faint-hearted, all of them will be cowards; but if you not only show that you are making preparations yourselves against the enemy, but call upon the rest to do likewise, be well assured that they will follow you and will try to imitate you. [3.1.37] But perhaps it is really proper that you should somewhat excel them. For you are generals, you are lieutenant-generals and captains; while peace lasted, you had the advantage of them alike in pay and in standing; now, therefore, when a state of war exists, it is right to expect that you should be superior to the common soldiers, and that you should plan for them and toil for them whenever there be need.
[3.1.38] "And now, firstly, I think you would do the army a great service if you should see to it that generals and captains are appointed as speedily as possible to take the places of those who are lost. For without leaders nothing fine or useful can be accomplished in any field, to put it broadly, and certainly not in warfare. For discipline, it seems, keeps men in safety, while the lack of it has brought many ere now to destruction. [3.1.39] Secondly, when you have appointed all the leaders that are necessary, I think you would perform a very opportune act if you should gather together the rest of the soldiers also and try to encourage them. [3.1.40] For, as matters stand now, perhaps you have observed for yourselves in what dejection they came to their quarters and in what dejection they proceeded to their picket duty; and so long as they are in this state, I know not what use one could make of them, if there should be need of them either by night or by day. [3.1.41] If, however, we can turn the current of their minds, so that they shall be thinking, not merely of what they are to suffer, but likewise of what they are going to do, they will be far more cheerful. [3.1.42] For you understand, I am sure, that it is neither numbers nor strength which wins victories in war; but whichever of the two sides it be whose troops, by the blessing of the gods, advance to the attack with stouter hearts, against those troops their adversaries generally refuse to stand. [3.1.43] And in my own experience, gentlemen, I have observed this other fact, that those who are anxious in war to save their lives in any way they can, are the very men who usually meet with a base and shameful death; while those who have recognized that death is the common and inevitable portion of all mankind and therefore strive to meet death nobly, are precisely those who are somehow more likely to reach old age and who enjoy a happier existence while they do live. [3.1.44] We, then, taking to heart this lesson, so suited to the crisis which now confronts us, must be brave men ourselves and call forth bravery in our fellows." [3.1.45] With these words Xenophon ceased speaking.After him Cheirisophus said: "Hitherto, Xenophon, I have known you only to the extent of having heard that you were an Athenian, but now I commend you both for your words and your deeds, and I should be glad if we had very many of your sort; for it would be a blessing to the entire army. [3.1.46] And now, gentlemen," he went on, "let us not delay; withdraw and choose your commanders at once, you who need them, and after making your choices come to the middle of the camp and bring with you the men you have selected; then we will call a meeting there of all the troops. And let us make sure," he added, "that Tolmides, the herald, is present." [3.1.47] With these words he got up at once, that there might be no delay in carrying out the needful measures. Thereupon the commanders were chosen, Timasion the Dardanian in place of Clearchus, Xanthicles the Achaean in place of Socrates, Cleanor the Arcadian in place of Agias, Philesius the Achaean in place of Menon, and Xenophon the Athenian in place of Proxenus.
Book 3 Section 2
[3.2.1] When these elections had been completed, and as day was just about beginning to break, the commanders met in the middle of the camp; and they resolved to station outposts and then call an assembly of the soldiers. As soon as they had come together, Cheirisophus the Lacedaemonarose first and spoke as follows: [3.2.2] "Fellow-soldiers, painful indeed is our present situation, seeing that we are robbed of such generals and captains and soldiers, and, besides, that Ariaeus and his men, who were formerly our allies, have betrayed us; [3.2.3] nevertheless, we must quit ourselves like brave men as well as may be in these circumstances, and must not yield, but rather try to save ourselves by glorious victory if we can; otherwise, let us at least die a glorious death, and never fall into the hands of our enemies alive. For in that case I think we should meet the sort of sufferings that I pray the gods may visit upon our foes."
[3.2.4] Then Cleanor the Orchomenian arose and spoke as follows: "Come, fellow-soldiers, you see the perjury and impiety of the King; you see likewise the faithlessness of Tissaphernes. It was Tissaphernes who said1 that he was a neighbour of Greece and that he would do his utmost to save us; it was none other than he who gave us his oaths to confirm these words; and then he, Tissaphernes, the very man who had given such pledges, was the very man who deceived and seized our generals. More than that, he did not even reverence Zeus, the god of hospitality; instead, he entertained Clearchus at his own table2 and then made that very act the means of deceiving and destroying the generals. [3.2.5] Ariaeus, too, whom we were ready to make king,1 with whom we exchanged pledges2 not to betray one another, even he, showing neither fear of the gods nor honour for the memory of Cyrus dead, although he was most highly honoured by Cyrus living, has now gone over to the bitterest foes of that same Cyrus, and is trying to work harm to us, the friends of Cyrus. [3.2.6] Well, may these men be duly punished by the gods; we, however, seeing their deeds, must never again be deceived by them, but must fight as stoutly as we can and meet whatever fortune the gods may please to send."
[3.2.7] Hereupon Xenophon arose, arrayed for war in his finest dress. For he thought that if the gods should grant victory, the finest raiment was suited to victory; and if it should be his fate to die, it was proper, he thought, that inasmuch as he had accounted his office worthy of the most beautiful attire, in this attire he should meet his death. He began his speech as follows: [3.2.8] "The perjury and faithlessness of the barbarians has been spoken of by Cleanor and is understood, I imagine, by the rest of you. If, then, it is our desire to be again on terms of friendship with them, we must needs feel great despondency when we see the fate of our generals, who trustingly put themselves in their hands; but if our intention is to rely upon our arms, and not only to inflict punishment upon them for their past deeds, but henceforth to wage implacable war with them, we have--the gods willing--many fair hopes of deliverance."
[3.2.9] As he was saying this a man sneezed,1 and when the soldiers heard it, they all with one impulse made obeisance to the god;2 and Xenophon said, "I move, gentlemen, since at the moment when we were talking about deliverance an omen from Zeus the Saviour was revealed to us, that we make a vow to sacrifice to that god thank-offerings for deliverance as soon as we reach a friendly land; and that we add a further vow to make sacrifices, to the extent of our ability, to the other gods also. All who are in favour of this motion," he said, "will raise their hands." And every man in the assembly raised his hand. Thereupon they made their vows and struck up the paean. These ceremonies duly performed, Xenophon began again with these words:
[3.2.10] "I was saying that we have many fair hopes of deliverance. For, in the first place, we are standing true to the oaths we took in the name of the gods, while our enemies have perjured themselves and, in violation of their oaths, have broken the truce. This being so, it is fair to assume that the gods are their foes and our allies--and the gods are able speedily to make the strong weak and, when they so will, easily to deliver the weak, even though they be in dire perils. [3.2.11] Secondly, I would remind you of the perils of our own forefathers, to show you not only that it is your right to be brave men, but that brave men are delivered, with the help of the gods, even out of most dreadful dangers. For when the Persians and their followers came with a vast array to blot Athens out of existence, the Athenians dared, unaided, to withstand them, and won the victory.1 [3.2.12] And while they had vowed to Artemis that for every man they might slay of the enemy they would sacrifice a goat to the goddess, they were unable to find goats enough;1 so they resolved to offer five hundred every year, and this sacrifice they are paying even to this day. [3.2.13] Again, when Xerxes at a later time gathered together that countless1 host and came against Greece, then too our forefathers were victorious, both by land and by sea,2 over the forefathers of our enemies. As tokens of these victories we may, indeed, still behold the trophies, but the strongest witness to them is the freedom of the states in which you were born and bred; for to no human creature do you pay homage as master, but to the gods alone. [3.2.14] It is from such ancestors, then, that you are sprung."Now I am far from intending to say that you disgrace them; in fact, not many days ago you set yourselves in array against these descendants of those ancient Persians and were victorious, with the aid of the gods, over many times your own numbers. [3.2.15] And then, mark you, it was in Cyrus' contest for the throne that you proved yourselves brave men; but now, when the struggle is for your own safety, it is surely fitting that you should be far braver and more zealous. [3.2.16] Furthermore, you ought now to be more confident in facing the enemy. For then you were unacquainted with them, you saw that their numbers were beyond counting, and you nevertheless dared, with all the spirit of your fathers, to charge upon them; but now, when you have already made actual trial of them and find that they have no desire, even though they are many times your number, to await your attack, what reason can remain for your being afraid of them?
[3.2.17] "Again, do not suppose that you are the worse off because the followers of Ariaeus, who were formerly marshalled with us, have now deserted us. For they are even greater cowards than the men we defeated; at any rate they took to flight before them,1 leaving us to shift for ourselves. And when we find men who are ready to set the example of flight, it is far better to see them drawn up with the enemy than on our own side.
[3.2.18] "But if anyone of you is despondent because we are without horsemen while the enemy have plenty at hand, let him reflect that your ten thousand horsemen are nothing more than ten thousand men; for nobody ever lost his life in battle from the bite or kick of a horse, but it is the men who do whatever is done in battles. [3.2.19] Moreover, we are on a far surer foundation than your horsemen: they are hanging on their horses' backs, afraid not only of us, but also of falling off; while we, standing upon the ground, shall strike with far greater force if anyone comes upon us and shall be far more likely to hit whomsoever we aim at. In one point alone your horsemen have the advantage--flight is safer for them than it is for us. [3.2.20] Suppose, however, that you do not lack confidence about the fighting, but are troubled because you are no longer to have Tissaphernes to guide you or the King to provide a market. If this be the case, I ask you to consider whether it is better to have Tissaphernes for a guide, the man who is manifestly plotting against us, or such people as we may ourselves capture and may order to serve as guides, men who will know that if they make any mistake in aught that concerns us, they will be making a mistake in that which concerns their own lives and limbs. [3.2.21] And as for provisions, is it the better plan to buy from the market which these barbarians have provided--small measures for large prices, when we have no money left, either--or tappropriate for ourselves, in case we are victorious, and to use as large a measure as each one of us pleases?
[3.2.22] "But in these points, let us say, you realize that our present situation is better; you believe, however, that the rivers are a difficulty, and you think you were immensely deceived when you crossed them;1 then consider whether this is not really a surpassingly foolish thing that the barbarians have done.2 For all rivers, even though they be impassable at a distance from their sources, become passable, without even wetting your knees, as you approach toward the sources.
[3.2.23] "But assume that the rivers will not afford us a crossing and that we shall find no one to guide us; even in that case we ought not to be despondent. For we know that the Mysians, whom we should not admit to be better men than ourselves, inhabit many large and prosperous cities in the King's territory, we know that the same is true of the Pisidians, and as for the Lycaonians1 we even saw with our own eyes that they had seized the strongholds in the plains and were reaping for themselves the lands of these Persians; [3.2.24] so, in our case, my own view would be that we ought not yet to let it be seen that we have set out for home; we ought, rather, to be making our arrangements as if we intended to settle here. For I know that to the Mysians the King would not only give plenty of guides, but plenty of hostages, to guarantee a safe conduct for them out of his country; in fact, he would build a road for them, even if they wanted to take their departure in four-horse chariots. And I know that he would be thrice glad to do the same for us, if he saw that we were preparing to stay here. [3.2.25] I really fear, however, that if we once learn to live in idleness and luxury, and to consort with the tall and beautiful women and maidens of these Medes and Persians, we may, like the lotus-eaters,1 forget our homeward way. [3.2.26] Therefore, I think it is right and proper that our first endeavour should be to return to our kindred and friends in Greece, and to point out to the Greeks that it is by their own choice that they are poor; for they could bring here the people who are now living a hard life at home, and could see them in the enjoyment of riches."It is really a plain fact, gentlemen, that all these good things belong to those who have the strength to possess them; [3.2.27] but I must go on to another point, how we can march most safely and, if we have to fight, can fight to the best advantage. In the first place, then," Xenophon proceeded, "I think we should burn up the wagons which we have, so that our cattle may not be our captains, but we can take whatever route may be best for the army. Secondly, we should burn up our tents also; for these, again, are a bother to carry, and no help at all either for fighting or for obtaining provisions. [3.2.28] Furthermore, let us abandon all our other superfluous baggage, keeping only such articles as we use for war, or in eating and drinking, in order that we may have the largest possible number of men under arms and the least number carrying baggage. For when men are conquered, you are aware that all their possessions become the property of others; but if we are victorious, we may regard the enemy as our pack-bearers.
[3.2.29] "It remains for me to mention the one matter which I believe is really of the greatest importance. You observe that our enemies did not muster up courage to begin hostilities against us until they had seized our generals; for they believed that so long as we had our commanders and were obedient to them, we were able to worst them in war, but when they had got possession of our commanders, they believed that the want of leadership and of discipline would be the ruin of us. [3.2.30] Therefore our present commanders must show themselves far more vigilant than their predecessors, and the men in the ranks must be far more orderly and more obedient to their commanders now than they used to be. [3.2.31] We must pass a vote that, in case anyone is disobedient, whoever of you may be at hand at the time shall join with the officer in punishing him; in this way the enemy will find themselves mightily deceived; for to-day they will behold, not one Clearchus,1 but ten thousand, who will not suffer anybody to be a bad soldier. [3.2.32] But it is time now to be acting instead of talking; for perhaps the enemy will soon be at hand. Whoever, then, thinks that these proposals are good should ratify them with all speed, that they may be carried out in action. But if any other plan is thought better than mine, let anyone, even though he be a private soldier, feel free to present it; for the safety of all is the need of all."
[3.2.33] After this Cheirisophus said: "We shall be able to consider presently whether we need to do anything else besides what Xenophon proposes, but on the proposals which he has already made I think it is best for us to vote as speedily as possible. Whoever is in favour of these measures, let him raise his hand." [3.2.34] They all raised their hands.Then Xenophon arose once more and said: "Give ear, gentlemen, to the further proposals I have to present. It is clear that we must make our way to a place where we can get provisions; and I hear that there are fine villages at a distance of not more than twenty stadia. [3.2.35] We should not be surprised, then, if the enemy--after the fashion of cowardly dogs that chase passers-by and bite them, if they can, but run away from anyone who chases them--if the enemy in the same way should follow at our heels as we retire. [3.2.36] Hence it will be safer, perhaps, for us to march with the hoplites formed into a hollow square, so that the baggage train and the great crowd of camp followers may be in a safer place. If, then, it should be settled at once who are to lead the square and marshal the van, who are to be on either flank, and who to guard the rear, we should not need to be taking counsel at the time when the enemy comes upon us, but we should find our men at once in their places ready for action. [3.2.37] Now if anyone sees another plan which is better, let us follow that plan; but if not, I propose that Cheirisophus take the lead, especially since he is a Lacedaemonian, that the two oldest generals have charge of the two flanks, and that, for the present, we who are the youngest, Timasion and I, command the rear. [3.2.38] And for the future, as we make trial of this formation we can adopt whatever course may seem from time to time to be best. If anyone sees a better plan, let him present it." No one having any opposing view to express, Xenophon said: "Whoever is in favour of these measures, let him raise his hand." The motion was carried. [3.2.39] "And now," he continued, "we must go back and put into execution what has been resolved upon. And whoever among you desires to see his friends again, let him remember to show himself a brave man; for in no other way can he accomplish this desire. Again, whoever is desirous of saving his life, let him strive for victory; for it is the victors that slay and the defeated that are slain. Or if anyone longs for wealth, let him also strive to conquer; for conquerors not only keep their own possessions, but gain the possessions of the conquered."
Book 3 Section 3
[3.3.1] After these words of Xenophon's the assembly arose, and all went back to camp and proceeded to burn the wagons and the tents. As for the superfluous articles of baggage, whatever anybody needed they shared with one another, but the rest they threw into the fire. When they had done all this, they set about preparing breakfast; and while they were so engaged, Mithradates1 approached with about thirty horsemen, summoned the Greek generals within earshot, and spoke as follows: [3.3.2] "Men of Greece, I was faithful to Cyrus, as you know for yourselves, and I am now friendly to you; indeed, I am tarrying here in great fear. Therefore if I should see that you were taking salutary measures, I should join you and bring all my retainers with me. Tell me, then, what you have in mind, in the assurance that I am your friend and we, and am desirous of making the journey in company with you." [3.3.3] The generals held council and voted to return the following answer, Cheirisophus acting as spokesman: "It is our resolve, in case no one hinders our homeward march, to proceed through the country doing the least possible damage, but if anyone tries to prevent us from making the journey, to fight it out with him to the best of our power." [3.3.4] Thereupon Mithradates undertook to show that there was no possibility of their effecting a safe return unless the King so pleased. Then it became clear to the Greeks that his mission was a treacherous one; indeed, one of Tissaphernes' relatives had followed along, to see that he kept faith. [3.3.5] The generals consequently decided that it was best to pass a decree that there should be no negotiations with the enemy in this war so long as they should be in the enemy's country. For the barbarians kept coming and trying to corrupt the soldiers; in the case of one captain, Nicarchus the Arcadian, they actually succeeded, and he decamped during the night, taking with him about twenty men.
[3.3.6] After this they took breakfast, crossed the Zapatas1 river, and set out on the march in the formation decided upon,2 with the baggage animals and the camp followers in the middle of the square. They had not proceeded far when Mithradates appeared again, accompanied by about two hundred horsemen and by bowmen and slingers--exceedingly active and nimble troops--to the number of four hundred. [3.3.7] He approached the Greeks as if he were a friend, but when his party had got close at hand, on a sudden some of them, horse and foot alike, began shooting with their bows and others with slings, and they inflicted wounds. And the Greek rearguard, while suffering severely, could not retaliate at all; for the Cretan1 bowmen not only had a shorter range than the Persians, but besides, since they had no armour, they were shut in within the lines of the hoplites; and the Greek javelin-men could not throw far enough to reach the enemy's slingers. [3.3.8] Xenophon consequently decided that they must pursue the Persians, and this they did, with such of the hoplites and peltasts as were guarding the rear with him; but in their pursuit they failed to catch a single man of the enemy. [3.3.9] For the Greeks had no horsemen, and their foot-soldiers were not able to overtake the enemy's foot-soldiers--since the latter had a long start in their flight--within a short distance; and a long pursuit, far away from the main Greek army, was not possible. [3.3.10] Again, the barbarian horsemen even while they were in flight would inflict wounds by shooting behind them from their horses; and whatever distance the Greeks might at any time cover in their pursuit, all that distance they were obliged to fall back fighting. [3.3.11] The result was that during the whole day they travelled not more than twenty-five stadia. They did arrive, however, towards evening at the villages.1Here again there was despondency. And Cheirisophus and the eldest of the generals found fault with Xenophon for leaving the main body of the army to undertake a pursuit, and thus endangering himself without being able, for all that, to do the enemy any harm. [3.3.12] When Xenophon heard their words, he replied that they were right in finding fault with him, and that the outcome bore witness of itself for their view. "But," he continued, "I was compelled to pursue when I saw that by keeping our places we were suffering severely and were still unable to strike a blow ourselves. [3.3.13] As to what happened, however, when we did pursue, you are quite right: we were no better able to inflict harm upon the enemy, and it was only with the utmost difficulty that we effected our own withdrawal. [3.3.14] Let us thank the gods, therefore, that they came, not with a large force, but with a handful, so that without doing us any great damage they have revealed our needs. [3.3.15] For at present the enemy can shoot arrows and sling stones so far that neither our Cretan bowmen nor our javelin-men can reach them in reply; and when we pursue them, a long chase, away from our main body, is out of the question, and in a short chase no foot-soldier, even if he is swift, can overtake another foot-soldier who has a bow-shot the start of him. [3.3.16] Hence, if we should propose to put an end to the possibility of their harming us on our march, we need slingers ourselves at once, and horsemen also. Now I am told that there are Rhodians1 in our army, that most of them understand the use of the sling, and that their missile carries no less than twice as far as those from the Persian slings. [3.3.17] For the latter have only a short range because the stones that are used in them are as large as the hand can hold; the Rhodians, however, are versed also in the art of slinging leaden bullets. [3.3.18] If, therefore, we should ascertain who among them possess slings, and should not only pay these people for their slings, but likewise pay anyone who is willing to plait new ones, and if, furthermore, we should devise some sort of exemption for the man who will volunteer to serve as a slinger at his appointed post, it may be that men will come forward who will be capable of helping us. [3.3.19] Again, I observe that there are horses in the army--a few at my own quarters, others that made part of Clearchus' troop and were left behind,1 and many others that have been taken from the enemy and are used as pack-animals. If, then, we should pick out all these horses, replacing them with mules, and should equip them for cavalry, it may be that this cavalry also will cause some annoyance to the enemy when they are in flight." [3.3.20] These proposals also were adopted, and in the course of that night a company of two hundred slingers was organized, while on the following day horses and horsemen to the number of fifty were examined and accepted, and jerkins and cuirasses were provided for them; and Lycius, the son of Polystratus, an Athenian, was put in command of the troop.
Book 3 Section 4
[3.4.1] That day they remained quiet, but the next morning they set forth, after rising earlier than usual; for there was a gorge they had to cross, and they were afraid that the enemy might attack them as they were crossing. [3.4.2] It was only after they had crossed it, however, that Mithradates appeared again, accompanied by a thousand horsemen and about four thousand bowmen and slingers. For these were the numbers he had requested from Tissaphernes, and these numbers he had obtained upon his promise that, if such a force were given him, he would deliver the Greeks into Tissaphernes' hands; for he had come to despise them, seeing that in his earlier attack with a small force he had done a great deal of harm, as he thought, without suffering any loss himself. [3.4.3] When, accordingly, the Greeks were across the gorge and about eight stadia beyond it, Mithradates also proceeded to make the crossing with his troops. Now orders had already been given to such of the Greek peltasts and hoplites as were to pursue the enemy, and the horsemen had been directed to be bold in urging the pursuit, in the assurance that an adequate force would follow at their heels. [3.4.4] As soon, then, as Mithradates had caught up, so that his sling-stones and arrows were just beginning to reach their marks, the trumpet gave its signal to the Greeks, and on the instant the foot-soldiers who were under orders rushed upon the enemy and the horsemen charged; and the enemy did not await their attack, but fled towards the gorge. [3.4.5] In this pursuit the barbarians had many of their infantry killed, while of their cavalry no less than eighteen were taken alive in the gorge. And the Greek troops, unbidden save by their own impulse, disfigured the bodies of the dead, in order that the sight of them might inspire the utmost terror in the enemy.
[3.4.6] After faring thus badly the enemy departed, while the Greeks continued their march unmolested through the remainder of the day and arrived at the Tigris river. [3.4.7] Here was a large deserted city1; its name was Larisa, and it was inhabited in ancient times by the Medes. Its wall was twenty-five feet in breadth and a hundred in height, and the whole circuit of the wall was two parasangs. It was built of clay bricks, and rested upon a stone foundation twenty feet high. [3.4.8] This city was besieged by the king1 of the Persians at the time when the Persians were seeking to wrest from the Medes their empire, but he could in no way capture it. A cloud, however, overspread the sun and hid it from sight until the inhabitants abandoned their city; and thus it was taken. [3.4.9] Near by this city was a pyramid of stone, a plethrum in breadth and two plethra in height; and upon this pyramid were many barbarians who had fled away from the neighbouring villages.
[3.4.10] From this place they marched one stage, six parasangs, to a great stronghold, deserted and lying in ruins. The name of this city was Mespila,1 and it was once inhabited by the Medes. The foundation of its wall was made of polished stone full of shells, and was fifty feet in breadth and fifty in height. [3.4.11] Upon this foundation was built a wall of brick, fifty feet in breadth and a hundred in height; and the circuit of the wall was six parasangs. Here, as the story goes, Medea, the king's1 wife, took refuge at the time when the Medes were deprived of their empire by the Persians. [3.4.12] To this city also the king of the Persians laid siege, but he was unable to capture it either by length of siege or by storm; Zeus, however, terrified the inhabitants with thunder, and thus the city was taken.
[3.4.13] From this place they marched one stage, four parasangs. In the course of this stage Tissaphernes made his appearance, having under his command the cavalry which he had himself brought with him,1 the troops of Orontas,2 who was married to the King's daughter, the barbarians whom Cyrus had brought with him on his upward march, and those with whom the King's brother had come to the aid of the King3; besides these contingents Tissaphernes had all the troops that the King had given him; the result was, that his army appeared exceedingly large. [3.4.14] When he got near the Greeks, he stationed some of his battalions in their rear and moved others into position on their flanks; then, although he could not muster up the courage to close with them and had no desire to risk a decisive battle, he ordered his men to discharge their slings and let fly their arrows. [3.4.15] But when the Rhodian slingers and the bowmen, posted at intervals here and there, sent back an answering volley, and not a man among them missed his mark (for even if he had been very eager to do so, it would not have been easy),1 then Tissaphernes withdrew out of range with all speed, and the other battalions followed his example.
[3.4.16] For the rest of the day the one army continued its march and the other its pursuit. And the barbarians were no longer1 able to do any harm by their skirmishing at long range; for the Rhodian slingers carried farther with their missiles than the Persians, farther even than the Persian bowmen. [3.4.17] The Persian bows are also1 large, and consequently the Cretans could make good use of all the arrows that fell into their hands; in fact, they were continually using the enemy's arrows, and practised themselves in long-range work by shooting them into the air.2 In the villages, furthermore, the Greeks found gut in abundance and lead for the use of their slingers. [3.4.18] As for that day's doings, when the Greeks came upon some villages and proceeded to encamp, the barbarians withdrew, having had the worst of it in the skirmishing. The following day the Greeks remained quiet and collected supplies, for there was an abundance of corn in the villages. On the day thereafter they continued their march through the plain, and Tissaphernes hung upon their rear and kept up the skirmishing.
[3.4.19] Then it was that the Greeks found out that a square is a poor formation when an enemy is following. For if the wings draw together, either because a road is unusually narrow or because mountains or a bridge make it necessary, it is inevitable that the hoplites should be squeezed out of line and should march with difficulty, inasmuch as they are crowded together and are likewise in confusion; the result is that, being in disorder, they are of little service. [3.4.20] Furthermore, when the wings draw apart again, those who were lately squeezed out are inevitably scattered, the space between the wings is left unoccupied, and the men affected are out of spirits when an enemy is close behind them. Again, as often as the army had to pass over a bridge or make any other crossing, every man would hurry, in the desire to be the first one across, and that gave the enemy a fine chance to make an attack. [3.4.21] When the generals came to realize these difficulties, they formed six companies of a hundred men each and put a captain at the head of each company, adding also platoon and squad commanders.1 Then in case the wings drew together on the march,2 these companies would drop back, so as not to interfere with the wings, and for the time being would move along behind the wings; [3.4.22] and when the flanks of the square drew apart again, they would fill up the space between the wings, by companies in case this space was rather narrow, by platoons in case it was broader, or, if it was very broad, by squads1--the idea being, to have the gap filled up in any event. [3.4.23] Again, it the army had to make some crossing or to pass over a bridge, there was no confusion, but each company crossed over in its turn; and if any help was needed in any part of the army, these troops would make their way to the spot. In this fashion the Greeks proceeded four stages.
[3.4.24] In the course of the fifth stage they caught sight of a palace of some sort, with many villages round about it, and they observed that the road to this place passed over high hills, which stretched down from the mountain at whose foot the villages were situated. And the Greeks were well pleased to see the hills, as was natural considering that the enemy's force was cavalry;1 [3.4.25] when, however, in their march out of the plain they had mounted to the top of the first hill, and were descending it, so as to ascend the next, at this moment the barbarians came upon them and down from the hilltop discharged their missiles and sling-stones and arrows, fighting under the lash.1 [3.4.26] They not only inflicted many wounds, but they got the better of the Greek light troops and shut them up within the lines of the hoplites, so that these troops, being mingled with the non-combatants, were entirely useless throughout that day, slingers and bowmen alike. [3.4.27] And when the Greeks, hard-pressed as they were, undertook to pursue the attacking force, they reached the hilltop but slowly, being heavy troops, while the enemy sprang quickly out of reach; [3.4.28] and every time they returned from a pursuit to join the main army, they suffered again in the same way.1 On the second hill the same experiences were repeated, and hence after ascending the third hill they decided not to stir the troops from its crest until they had led up a force of peltasts from the right flank of the square to a position on the mountain.2 [3.4.29] As soon as this force had got above the hostile troops that were hanging upon the Greek rear, the latter desisted from attacking the Greek army in its descent, for fear that they might be cut off and find themselves enclosed on both sides by their foes. [3.4.30] In this way the Greeks continued their march for the remainder of the day, the one division by the road leading over the hills while the other followed a parallel course along the mountain slope, and so arrived at the villages. There they appointed eight surgeons, for the wounded were many.
[3.4.31] In these villages they remained for three days, not only for the sake of the wounded, but likewise because they had provisions in abundance--flour, wine, and great stores of barley that had been collected for horses, all these supplies having been gathered together by the acting satrap of the distr. [3.4.32] On the fourth day they proceeded to descend into the plain. But when Tissaphernes and his command overtook them, necessity taught them to encamp in the first village they caught sight of, and not to continue the plan of marching and fighting at the same time; for a large number of the Greeks were hors de combat, not only the wounded, but also those who were carrying them and the men who took in charge the arms of these carriers. [3.4.33] When they had encamped, and the barbarians, approaching toward the village, essayed to attack them at long range, the Greeks had much the better of it; for to occupy a position and therefrom ward off an attack was a very different thing from being on the march and fighting with the enemy as they followed after.
[3.4.34] As soon as it came to be late in the afternoon, it was time for the enemy to withdraw. For in no instance did the barbarians encamp at a distance of less than sixty stadia from the Greek camp, out of fear that the Greeks might attack them during the night. [3.4.35] For a Persian army at night is a sorry thing. Their horses are tethered, and usually hobbled also to prevent their running away if they get loose from the tether, and hence in case of any alarm a Persian has to put saddle-cloth and bridle on his horse, and then has also to put on his own breastplate and mount his horse--and all these things are difficult at night and in the midst of confusion. It was for this reason that the Persians encamped at a considerable distance from the Greeks.
[3.4.36] When the Greeks became aware that they were desirous of withdrawing and were passing the word along, the order to pack up luggage was proclaimed to the Greek troops within hearing of the enemy. For a time the barbarians delayed their setting out, but when it began to grow late, they went off; for they thought it did not pay to be on the march and arriving at their camp in the night. [3.4.37] When the Greeks saw at length that they were manifestly departing, they broke camp and took the road themselves, and accomplished a march of no less than sixty stadia. Thus the two armies got so far apart that on the next day the enemy did not appear, nor yet on the third; on the fourth day, however, after pushing forward by night the barbarians occupied a high position on the right of the road by which the Greeks were to pass, a spur of the mountain, namely, along the base of which ran the route leading down into the plain.
[3.4.38] As soon as Cheirisophus observed that the spur was already occupied, he summoned Xenophon from the rear, directing him to come to the front and bring the peltasts with him. [3.4.39] Xenophon, however, would not bring the peltasts, for he could see Tissaphernes and his whole army coming into view;1 but he rode forward himself and asked, "Why are you summoning me?" Cheirisophus replied, "It is perfectly evident; the hill overhanging our downward road has been occupied, and there is no getting by unless we dislodge these people. [3.4.40] Why did you not bring the peltasts?" Xenophon answered that he had not thought it best to leave the rear unprotected when hostile troops were coming into sight. "Well, at any rate," said Cheirisophus, "it is high time to be thinking how we are to drive these fellows from the height." [3.4.41] Then Xenophon observed that the summit of the mountain was close above their own army and that from this summit there was a way of approach to the hill where the enemy were; and he said, "Our best plan, Cheirisophus, is to drive with all speed for the mountain top; for if we once get possession of that, those men above our road will not be able to hold their position. If you choose, then, stay in command of the army, and I will go; or, if you prefer, you make for the mountain top, and I will stay here." [3.4.42] "Well," said Cheirisophus, "I leave it to you to choose whichever part you wish." Then Xenophon, with the remark that he was the younger, elected to go, but he urged Cheirisophus to send with him some troops from the front; for it would have been too long a journey to bring up men from the rear. [3.4.43] Cheirisophus accordingly sent with him the peltasts at the front, replacing them with those that were inside the square; he also ordered the three hundred picked men1 under his own command at the front of the square to join Xenophon's force.
[3.4.44] Then they set out with all possible speed. But no sooner had the enemy upon the hill observed their dash for the summit of the mountain than they also set off, to race with the Greeks for this summit. [3.4.45] Then there was a deal of shouting from the Greek army as they urged on their friends, and just as much shouting from Tissaphernes' troops to urge on their men. [3.4.46] And Xenophon, riding along the lines upon his horse, cheered his troops forward: "My good men," he said, "believe that now you are racing for Greece, racing this very hour back to your wives and children, a little toil for this one moment and no more fighting for the rest of our journey." [3.4.47] But Soteridas the Sicyonian said: "We are not on an equality, Xenophon; you are riding on horseback, while I am desperately tired with carrying my shield." [3.4.48] When Xenophon heard that, he leaped down from his horse and pushed Soteridas out of his place in the line, then took his shield away from him and marched on with it as fast as he could; he had on also, as it happened, his cavalry breastplate, and the result was that he was heavily burdened. And he urged the men in front of him to keep going, while he told those who were behind to pass along by him, for he found it hard to keep up. [3.4.49] The rest of the soldiers, however, struck and pelted and abused Soteridas until they forced him to take back his shield and march on. Then Xenophon remounted, and as long as riding was possible, led the way on horseback, but when the ground became too difficult, he left his horse behind and hurried forward on foot. And they reached the summit before the enemy.
Book 3 Section 5
[3.5.1] Then it was that the barbarians turned about and fled, every man for himself, while the Greeks held possession of the summit. As for the troops under Tissaphernes and Ariaeus, they turned off by another road and were gone; and the army under Cheirisophus descended into the plain1 and proceeded to encamp in a village stored with abundant supplies. There were likewise many other villages richly stored with supplies in this plain on the banks of the Tigris. [3.5.2] When it came to be late in the day, all of a sudden the enemy appeared in the plain and cut to pieces some of the Greeks who were scattered about there in quest of plunder; in fact, many herds of cattle had been captured while they were being taken across to the other side of the river. [3.5.3] Then Tissaphernes and his followers attempted to burn the villages; and some of the Greeks got exceedingly despondent, out of apprehension that they would not have a place from which to get provisions in case the enemy should succeed in this attempt. [3.5.4] Meanwhile Cheirisophus and his men, who had gone to the rescue of the plunderers, were returning; and when Xenophon had come down from the mountain, he rode along the lines upon falling in with the Greeks of the rescuing party and said: [3.5.5] "Do you observe, men of Greece, that they admit the country is now ours? For while they stipulated when they made the treaty that there should be no burning of the King's territory, now they are doing that very thing themselves, as though the land were another's. At any rate, if they leave supplies anywhere for their own use, they shall behold us also proceeding to that spot. [3.5.6] But, Cheirisophus," he went on, "it seems to me that we ought to sally forth against these incendiaries, like men defending their own country." "Well, it doesn't seem so to me," said Cheirisophus; "rather, let us set about burning ourselves, and then they will stop the sooner."
[3.5.7] When they had come to their quarters, the troops were busy about provisions, but the generals and captains gathered in council. And here there was great despondency. For on one siof them were exceedingly high mountains and on the other side a river so deep that not even their spears reached above water when they tried its depth. [3.5.8] In the midst of their perplexity a Rhodian came to them and said: "I stand ready, gentlemen, to set you across the river, four thousand hoplites at a time, if you will provide me with the means that I require and give me a talent for pay." [3.5.9] Upon being asked what his requirements were, he replied: "I shall need two thousand skins. I see plenty of sheep and goats and cattle and asses; take off their skins and blow them up, and they would easily provide the means of crossing.1 [3.5.10] I shall want also the girths which you use on the beasts of burden; with these I shall tie the skins to one another and also moor each skin by fastening stones to the girths and letting them down into the water like anchors; then I shall carry the line of skins across the river, make it fast at both ends, and pile on brushwood and earth. [3.5.11] As for your not sinking, then, you may be sure in an instant on that point, for every skin will keep two men from sinking; [3.5.12] and as regards slipping, the brushwood and the earth will prevent that." After hearing these words the generals thought that while the idea was a clever one, the execution of it was impossible. For there were people on the other side of the river to thwart it, a large force of horsemen, namely, who at the very outset would prevent the first comers from carrying out any part of the plan.
[3.5.13] Under these circumstances they marched all the next day in the reverse direction, going back to the unburned villages,1 after burning the one from which they withdrew. The result was that, instead of making an attack, the enemy merely gazed at the Greeks, and appeared to be wondering where in the world they would turn and what they had in mind. [3.5.14] At the close of the day, while the rest of the army went after provisions, the generals held another meeting, at which they brought together the prisoners that had been taken and enquired of them about each district of all the surrounding country. [3.5.15] The prisoners said that the region to the south lay on the road towards Babylon and Media, the identical province they had just passed through; that the road to the eastward led to Susa and Ecbatana, where the King is said to spend his summers; across the river and on to the west was the way to Lydia and Ionia; while the route through the mountains and northward led to the country of the Carduchians. [3.5.16] These Carduchians, they said, dwelt up among the mountains, were a warlike people, and were not subjects of the King; in fact, a royal army of one hundred and twenty thousand men had once invaded them, and, by reason of the ruggedness of the country, not a man of all that number came back. Still, whenever they made a treaty with the satrap in the plain, some of the people of the plain did have dealings with the Carduchians and some of the Carduchians with them.
[3.5.17] After listening to these statements from the men who claimed to know the way in every direction, the generals caused them to withdraw, without giving them the least clue as to the direction in which they proposed to march. The opinion of the generals however, was that they must make their way through the mountains into the country of the Carduchians; for the prisoners said that after passing through this country they would come to Armenia, the large and prosperous province of which Orontas was ruler; and from there, they said, it was easy to go in any direction one chose. [3.5.18] Thereupon the generals offered sacrifice, so that they could begin the march at the moment they thought best1--for they feared that the pass over the mountains might be occupied in advance; and they issued orders that when the troops had dined, every man should pack up his belongings and go to rest, and then fall into line as soon as the word of command was given.
continue with [ Book Four ]
Page Keywords: Aryans, Achaemenian, Achaemenids, Hakhamanesh, Hakhamaneshian, Persians
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