Anabasis, by Xenophon

BOOK II

[In the previous book will be found a full account of the method by which Cyrus collected a body of Greeks when meditating an expedition against his brother Artaxerxes; as also of various occurrences on the march up; of the battle itself, and of the death of Cyrus; and lastly, a description of the arrival of the Hellenes in camp after the battle, and as to how they betook themselves to rest, none suspecting but what they were altogether victorious and that Cyrus lived.]

I

With the break of day the generals met, and were surprised that Cyrus should not have appeared himself, or at any rate have sent some one to tell them what to do. Accordingly, they resolved to put what they had together, to get under arms, and to push forward until they effected junction with Cyrus. Just as they were on the point of starting, with the rising sun came Procles the ruler of Teuthrania. He was a descendant of Damaratus27 the Laconian, and with him also came Glus the son of Tamos. These two told them, first, that Cyrus was dead; next, that Ariaeus had retreated with the rest of the barbarians to the halting-place whence they had started at dawn on the previous day; and wished to inform them that, if they were minded to come, he would wait for this one day, but on the morrow he should return home again to Ionia, whence he came.

When they heard these tidings, the generals were sorely distressed; so too were the rest of the Hellenes when they were informed of it. Then Clearchus spoke as follows: “Would that Cyrus were yet alive! But since he is dead, take back this answer to Ariaeus, that we, at any rate, have conquered the king; and, as you yourselves may see, there is not a man left in the field to meet us. Indeed, had you not arrived, we should ere this have begun our march upon the king. Now, we can promise to Ariaeus that, if he will join us here, we will place him on the king’s throne. Surely to those who conquer empire pertains.” With these words he sent back the messengers and with them he sent Cheirisophus the Laconian, and Menon the Thessalian. That was what Menon himself wished, being, as he was, a friend and intimate of Ariaeus, and bound by mutual ties of hospitality. So these set off, and Clearchus waited for them.

The soldiers furnished themselves with food [and drink] as best they might — falling back on the baggage animals, and cutting up oxen and asses. There was no lack of firewood; they need only step forward a few paces from the line where the battle was fought, and they would find arrows to hand in abundance, which the Hellenes had forced the deserters from the king to throw away. There were arrows and wicker shields also, and the huge wooden shields of the Egyptians. There were many targets also, and empty wagons left to be carried off. Here was a store which they were not slow to make use of to cook their meat and serve their meals that day.

It was now about full market hour28 when heralds from the king and Tissaphernes arrived. These were barbarians with one exception. This was a certain Phalinus, a Hellene who lived at the court of Tissaphernes, and was held in high esteem. He gave himself out to be a connoisseur of tactics and the art of fighting with heavy arms. These were the men who now came up, and having summoned the generals of the Hellenes, they delivered themselves of the following message: “The great king having won the victory and slain Cyrus, bids the Hellenes to surrender their arms; to betake themselves to the gates of the king’s palace, and there obtain for themselves what terms they can.” That was what the heralds said, and the Hellenes listened with heavy hearts; but Clearchus spoke, and his words were few; “Conquerors do not, as a rule, give up their arms”; then turning to the others he added, “I leave it to you, my fellow-generals, to make the best and noblest answer, that ye may, to these gentlemen. I will rejoin you presently.” At the moment an official had summoned him to come and look at the entrails which had been taken out, for, as it chanced, he was engaged in sacrificing. As soon as he was gone, Cleanor the Arcadian, by right of seniority, answered: “They would sooner die than give up their arms.” Then Proxenus the Theban said: “For my part, I marvel if the king demands our arms as our master, or for the sake of friendship merely, as presents. If as our master, why need he ask for them rather than come and take them? But if he would fain wheedle us out of them by fine speeches, he should tell us what the soldiers will receive in turn for such kindness.” In answer to him Phalinus said: “The king claims to have conquered, because he has put Cyrus to death; and who is there now to claim the kingdom as against himself? He further flatters himself that you also are in his power, since he holds you in the heart of his country, hemmed in by impassable rivers; and he can at any moment bring against you a multitude so vast that even if leave were given to rise and slay you could not kill them.” After him Theopompus29 the Athenian spoke. “Phalinus,” he said, “at this instant, as you yourself can see, we have nothing left but our arms and our valour. If we keep the former we imagine we can make use of the latter; but if we deliver up our arms we shall presently be robbed of our lives. Do not suppose then that we are going to give up to you the only good things which we possess. We prefer to keep them; and by their help we will do battle with you for the good things which are yours.” Phalinus laughed when he heard those words, and said: “Spoken like a philosopher, my fine young man, and very pretty reasoning too; yet, let me tell you, your wits are somewhat scattered if you imagine that your valour will get the better of the king’s power.” There were one or two others, it was said, who with a touch of weakness in their tone or argument, made answer: “They had proved good and trusty friends to Cyrus, and the king might find them no less valuable. If he liked to be friends with them, he might turn them to any use that pleased his fancy, say for a campaign against Egypt. Their arms were at his service; they would help to lay that country at his feet.”

Just then Clearchus returned, and wished to know what answer they had given. The words were barely out of his mouth before Phalinus interrupting, answered: “As for your friends here, one says one thing and one another; will you please give us your opinion”; and he replied: “The sight of you, Phalinus, caused me much pleasure; and not only me, but all of us, I feel sure; for you are a Hellene even as we are — every one of us whom you see before you. In our present plight we would like to take you into our counsel as to what we had better do touching your proposals. I beg you then solemnly, in the sight of heaven — do you tender us such advice as you shall deem best and worthiest, and such as shall bring you honour of after time, when it will be said of you how once on a time Phalinus was sent by the great king to bid certain Hellenes yield up their arms, and when they had taken him into their counsel, he gave them such and such advice. You know that whatever advice you do give us cannot fail to be reported in Hellas.”

Clearchus threw out these leading remarks in hopes that this man, who was the ambassador from the king, might himself be led to advise them not to give up their arms, in which case the Hellenes would be still more sanguine and hopeful. But, contrary to his expectation, Phalinus turned round and said: “I say that if you have one chance, one hope in ten thousand to wage a war with the king successfully, do not give up your arms. That is my advice. If, however, you have no chance of escape without the king’s consent, then I say save yourselves in the only way you can.” And Clearchus answered: “So, then, that is your deliberate view? Well, this is our answer, take it back. We conceive that in either case, whether we are expected to be friends with the king, we shall be worth more as friends if we keep our arms than if we yield them to another; or whether we are to go to war, we shall fight better with them than without.” And Phalinus said: “That answer we will repeat; but the king bade me tell you this besides, ‘Whilst you remain here there is truce; but one step forward or one step back, the truce ends; there is war.’ Will you then please inform us as to that point also? Are you minded to stop and keep truce, or is there to be war? What answer shall I take from you?” And Clearchus replied: “Pray answer that we hold precisely the same views on this point as the king.”—“How say you the same views?” asked Phalinus. Clearchus made answer: “As long as we stay here there is truce, but a step forward or a step backward, the truce ends; there is war.” The other again asked: “Peace or war, what answer shall I make?” Clearchus returned answer once again in the same words: “Truce if we stop, but if we move forwards or backwards war.” But what he was minded really to do, that he refused to make further manifest.

27 The Spartan king who was deposed in B.C. 491, whereupon he fled to King Darius, and settled in south-western Mysia. See Herod. vi. 50, 61–70. We shall hear more of his descendant, Procles, the ruler of Teuthrania, in the last chapter of this work.

28 10 A.M.

29 So the best MSS. Others read “Xenophon,” which Kruger maintains to be the true reading. He suggests that “Theopompus” may have crept into the text from a marginal note of a scholiast, “Theopompus” (the historian) “gives the remark to Proxenus.”

II

Phalinus and those that were with him turned and went. But the messengers from Ariaeus, Procles and Cheirisophus came back. As to Menon, he stayed behind with Ariaeus, They brought back this answer from Ariaeus: “‘There are many Persians,’ he says, ‘better than himself who will not suffer him to sit upon the king’s throne; but if you are minded to go back with him, you must join him this very night, otherwise he will set off himself tomorrow on the homeward route.’” And Clearchus said: “It had best stand thus between us then. If we come, well and good, be it as you propose; but if we do not come, do whatsoever you think most conducive to your interests.” And so he kept these also in the dark as to his real intention.

After this, when the sun was already sinking, he summoned the generals and officers, and made the following statement: “Sirs, I sacrificed and found the victims unfavourable to an advance against the king. After all, it is not so surprising perhaps, for, as I now learn, between us and the king flows the river Tigris, navigable for big vessels, and we could not possibly cross it without boats, and boats we have none. On the other hand, to stop here is out of the question, for there is no possibility of getting provisions. However, the victims were quite agreeable to us joining the friends of Cyrus. This is what we must do then. Let each go away and sup on whatever he has. At the first sound of the bugle to turn in, get kit and baggage together; at the second signal, place them on the baggage animals; and at the third, fall in and follow the lead, with the baggage animals on the inside protected by the river, and the troops outside.” After hearing the orders, the generals and officers retired, and did as they were bid; and for the future Clearchus led, and the rest followed in obedience to his orders, not that they had expressly chosen him, but they saw that he alone had the sense and wisdom requisite in a general, while the rest were inexperienced30.

Here, under cover of the darkness which descended, the Thracian Miltocythes, with forty horsemen and three hundred Thracian infantry, deserted to the king; but the rest of the troops — Clearchus leading and the rest following in accordance with the orders promulgated — took their departure, and about midnight reached their first stage, having come up with Ariaeus and his army. They grounded arms just as they stood in rank, and the generals and officers of the Hellenes met in the tent of Ariaeus. There they exchanged oaths — the Hellenes on the one side and Ariaeus with his principal officers on the other — not to betray one another, but to be true to each other as allies. The Asiatics further solemnly pledged themselves by oath to lead the way without treachery. The oaths were ratified by the sacrifice of a bull, a wolf31, a boar, and a ram over a shield. The Hellenes dipped a sword, the barbarians a lance, into the blood of the victims.

As soon as the pledge was taken, Clearchus spoke: “And now, Ariaeus,” he said, “since you and we have one expedition in prospect, will you tell us what you think about the route; shall we return the way we came, or have you devised a better?” He answered: “To return the same way is to perish to a man by hunger; for at this moment we have no provisions whatsoever. During the seventeen last stages, even on our way hither, we could extract nothing from the country; or, if there was now and again anything, we passed over and utterly consumed it. At this time our project is to take another and a longer journey certainly, but we shall not be in straits for provisions. The earliest stages must be very long, as long as we can make them; the object is to put as large a space as possible between us and the royal army; once we are two or three days’ journey off, the danger is over. The king will never overtake us. With a small army he will not dare to dog our heels, and with a vast equipment he will lack the power to march quickly. Perhaps he, too, may even find a scarcity of provisions. There,” said he, “you asked for my opinion, see, I have given it.”

Here was a plan of the campaign, which was equivalent to a stampede: helter-skelter they were to run away, or get into hiding somehow; but fortune proved a better general. For as soon as it was day they recommenced the journey, keeping the sun on their right, and calculating that with the westering rays they would have reached villages in the territory of Babylonia, and in this hope they were not deceived. While it was yet afternoon, they thought they caught sight of some of the enemy’s cavalry; and those of the Hellenes who were not in rank ran to their ranks; and Ariaeus, who was riding in a wagon to nurse a wound, got down and donned his cuirass, the rest of his party following his example. Whilst they were arming themselves, the scouts, who had been sent forward, came back with the information that they were not cavalry but baggage animals grazing. It was at once clear to all that they must be somewhere in the neighbourhood of the king’s encampment. Smoke could actually be seen rising, evidently from villages not far ahead. Clearchus hesitated to advance upon the enemy, knowing that the troops were tired and hungry; and indeed it was already late. On the other hand he had no mind either to swerve from his route — guarding against any appearance of flight. Accordingly he marched straight as an arrow, and with sunset entered the nearest villages with his vanguard and took up quarters.

These villages had been thoroughly sacked and dismantled by the royal army — down to the very woodwork and furniture of the houses. Still, the vanguard contrived to take up their quarters in some sort of fashion; but the rear division, coming up in the dark, had to bivouac as best they could, one detachment after another; and a great noise they made, with hue and cry to one another, so that the enemy could hear them; and those in their immediate proximity actually took to their heels, left their quarters, and decamped, as was plain enough next morning, when not a beast was to be seen, nor sign of camp or wreath of smoke anywhere in the neighbourhood. The king, as it would appear, was himself quite taken aback by the advent of the army; as he fully showed by his proceedings next day.

During the progress of this night the Hellenes had their turn of scare — a panic seized them, and there was a noise and clatter, hardly to be explained except by the visitation of some sudden terror. But Clearchus had with him the Eleian Tolmides, the best herald of his time; him he ordered to proclaim silence, and then to give out this proclamation of the generals: “Whoever will give any information as to who let an ass into the camp shall receive a talent of silver in reward.” On hearing this proclamation the soldiers made up their minds that their fear was baseless, and their generals safe and sound. At break of day Clearchus gave the order to the Hellenes to get under arms in line of battle, and take up exactly the same position as they held on the day of the battle.

30 The MSS. add the words, “The total distance of the route, taking Ephesus in Ionia as the starting point up to the field of battle, consisted of 93 stages, 535 parasangs, or 16,050 furlongs; from the battle-field to Babylon (reckoned a three days’ journey) would have been another 360 stades,” which may well be an editor’s or commentator’s marginal note.

31 It is a question whether the words “a wolf” ought not to be omitted.

III

And now comes the proof of what I stated above — that the king was utterly taken aback by the sudden apparition of the army; only the day before, he had sent and demanded the surrender of their arms — and now, with the rising sun, came heralds sent by him to arrange a truce. These, having reached the advanced guard, asked for the generals. The guard reported their arrival; and Clearchus, who was busy inspecting the ranks, sent back word to the heralds that they must await his leisure. Having carefully arranged the troops so that from every side they might present the appearance of a compact battle line without a single unarmed man in sight, he summoned the ambassadors, and himself went forward to meet them with the soldiers, who for choice accoutrement and noble aspect were the flower of his force; a course which he had invited the other generals also to adopt.

And now, being face to face with the ambassadors, he questioned them as to what their wishes were. They replied that they had come to arrange a truce, and were persons competent to carry proposals from the king to the Hellenes and from the Hellenes to the king. He returned answer to them: “Take back word then to your master, that we need a battle first, for we have had no breakfast; and he will be a brave man who will dare mention the word ‘truce’ to Hellenes without providing them with breakfast.” With this message the heralds rode off, but were back again in no time, which was a proof that the king, or some one appointed by him to transact the business, was hard by. They reported that “the message seemed reasonable to the king; they had now come bringing guides who, if a truce were arranged, would conduct them where they would get provisions.” Clearchus inquired “whether the truce was offered to the individual men merely as they went and came, or to all alike.” “To all,” they replied, “until the king receives your final answer.” When they had so spoken, Clearchus, having removed the ambassadors, held a council; and it was resolved to make a truce at once, and then quietly to go and secure provisions; and Clearchus said: “I agree to the resolution; still I do not propose to announce it at once, but to wile away time till the ambassadors begin to fear that we have decided against the truce; though I suspect,” he added, “the same fear will be operative on the minds of our soldiers also.” As soon as the right moment seemed to have arrived, he delivered his answer in favour of the truce, and bade the ambassadors at once conduct them to the provisions.

So these led the way; and Clearchus, without relaxing precaution, in spite of having secured a truce, marched after them with his army in line and himself in command of the rearguard. Over and over again they encountered trenches and conduits so full of water that they could not be crossed without bridges; but they contrived well enough for these by means of trunks of palm trees which had fallen, or which they cut down for the occasion. And here Clearchus’s system of superintendence was a study in itself; as he stood with a spear in his left hand and a stick in the other; and when it seemed to him there was any dawdling among the parties told off to the work, he would pick out the right man and down would come the stick; nor, at the same time, was he above plunging into the mud and lending a hand himself, so that every one else was forced for very shame to display equal alacrity. The men told off for the business were the men of thirty years of age; but even the elder men, when they saw the energy of Clearchus, could not resist lending their aid also. What stimulated the haste of Clearchus was the suspicion in his mind that these trenches were not, as a rule, so full of water, since it was not the season to irrigate the plain; and he fancied that the king had let the water on for the express purpose of vividly presenting to the Hellenes the many dangers with which their march was threatened at the very start.

Proceeding on their way they reached some villages, where their guides indicated to them that they would find provisions. They were found to contain plenty of corn, and wine made from palm dates, and an acidulated beverage extracted by boiling from the same fruit. As to the palm nuts or dates themselves, it was noticeable that the sort which we are accustomed to see in Hellas were set aside for the domestic servants; those put aside for the masters are picked specimens, and are simply marvellous for their beauty and size, looking like great golden lumps of amber; some specimens they dried and preserved as sweetmeats. Sweet enough they were as an accompaniment of wine, but apt to give headache. Here, too, for the first time in their lives, the men tasted the brain32 of the palm. No one could help being struck by the beauty of this object, and the peculiarity of its delicious flavour; but this, like the dried fruits, was exceedingly apt to give headache. When this cabbage or brain has been removed from the palm the whole tree withers from top to bottom.

In these villages they remained three days, and a deputation from the great king arrived — Tissaphernes and the king’s brother-inlaw and three other Persians — with a retinue of many slaves. As soon as the generals of the Hellenes had presented themselves, Tissaphernes opened the proceedings with the following speech, through the lips of an interpreter: “Men of Hellas, I am your next-door neighbour in Hellas. Therefore was it that I, when I saw into what a sea of troubles you were fallen, regarded it as a godsend, if by any means I might obtain, as a boon from the king, the privilege of bringing you back in safety to your own country: and that, I take it, will earn me gratitude from you and all Hellas. In this determination I preferred my request to the king; I claimed it as a favour which was fairly my due; for was it not I who first announced to him the hostile approach of Cyrus? who supported that announcement by the aid I brought; who alone among the officers confronted with the Hellenes in battle did not flee, but charged right through and united my troops with the king inside your camp, where he was arrived, having slain Cyrus; it was I, lastly, who gave chase to the barbarians under Cyrus, with the help of those here present with me at this moment, which are also among the trustiest followers of our lord the king. Now, I counsel you to give a moderate answer, so that it may be easier for me to carry out my design, if haply I may obtain from him some good thing on your behalf.”

Thereupon the Hellenes retired and took counsel. Then they answered, and Clearchus was their spokesman: “We neither mustered as a body to make war against the king, nor was our march conducted with that object. But it was Cyrus, as you know, who invented many and divers pretexts, that he might take you off your guard, and transport us hither. Yet, after a while, when we saw that he was in sore straits, we were ashamed in the sight of God and man to betray him, whom we had permitted for so long a season to benefit us. But now that Cyrus is dead, we set up no claim to his kingdom against the king himself; there is neither person nor thing for the sake of which we would care to injure the king’s country; we would not choose to kill him if we could, rather we would march straight home, if we were not molested; but, God helping us, we will retaliate on all who injure us. On the other hand, if any be found to benefit us, we do not mean to be outdone in kindly deeds, as far as in us lies.”

So he spoke, and Tissaphernes listened and replied: “That answer will I take back to the king and bring you word from him again. Until I come again, let the truce continue, and we will furnish you with a market.” All next day he did not come back, and the Hellenes were troubled with anxieties, but on the third day he arrived with the news that he had obtained from the king the boon he asked; he was permitted to save the Hellenes, though there were many gainsayers who argued that it was not seemly for the king to let those who had marched against him depart in peace. And at last he said: “You may now, if you like, take pledges from us, that we will make the countries through which you pass friendly to you, and will lead you back without treachery into Hellas, and will furnish you with a market; and wherever you cannot purchase, we will permit you to take provisions from the district. You, on your side, must swear that you will march as through a friendly country, without damage — merely taking food and drink wherever we fail to supply a market — or, if we afford a market, you shall only obtain provisions by paying for them.” This was agreed to, and oaths and pledges exchanged between them — Tissaphernes and the king’s brother-inlaw upon the one side, and the generals and officers of the Hellenes on the other. After this Tissaphernes said: “And now I go back to the king; as soon as I have transacted what I have a mind to, I will come back, ready equipped, to lead you away to Hellas, and to return myself to my own dominion.”

32 I.e. the cabbage-like crown.

IV

After these things the Hellenes and Ariaeus waited for Tissaphernes, being encamped close to one another: for more than twenty days they waited, during which time there came visitors to Ariaeus, his brother and other kinsfolk. To those under him came certain other Persians, encouraging them and bearing pledges to some of them from the king himself — that he would bear no grudge against them on account of the part they bore in the expedition against him with Cyrus, or for aught else of the things which were past. Whilst these overtures were being made, Ariaeus and his friends gave manifest signs of paying less attention to the Hellenes, so much so that, if for no other reason, the majority of the latter were not well pleased, and they came to Clearchus and the other generals, asking what they were waiting for. “Do we not know full well,” they said, “that the king would give a great deal to destroy us, so that other Hellenes may take warning and think twice before they march against the king. To-day it suits his purpose to induce us to stop here, because his army is scattered; but as soon as he has got together another armament, attack us most certainly he will. How do we know he is not at this moment digging away at trenches, or running up walls, to make our path impassable. It is not to be supposed that he will desire us to return to Hellas with a tale how a handful of men like ourselves beat the king at his own gates, laughed him to scorn, and then came home again.” Clearchus replied: “I too am keenly aware of all this; but I reason thus: if we turn our backs now, they will say, we mean war and are acting contrary to the truce, and then what follows? First of all, no one will furnish us with a market or means of providing ourselves with food. Next, we shall have no one to guide us; moreover, such action on our part will be a signal to Ariaeus to hold aloof from us, so that not a friend will be left to us; even those who were formerly our friends will now be numbered with our enemies. What other river, or rivers, we may find we have to cross, I do not know; but this we know, to cross the Euphrates in face of resistance is impossible. You see, in the event of being driven to an engagement, we have no cavalry to help us, but with the enemy it is the reverse — not only the most, but the best of his troops are cavalry, so that if we are victorious, we shall kill no one, but if we are defeated, not a man of us can escape. For my part, I cannot see why the king, who has so many advantages on his side, if he desires to destroy us, should swear oaths and tender solemn pledges merely in order to perjure himself in the sight of heaven, to render his word worthless and his credit discreditable the wide world over.” These arguments he propounded at length.

Meanwhile Tissaphernes came back, apparently ready to return home; he had his own force with him, and so had Orontas, who was also present, his. The latter brought, moreover, his bride with him, the king’s daughter, whom he had just wedded. The journey was now at length fairly commenced. Tissaphernes led the way, and provided a market. They advanced, and Ariaeus advanced too, at the head of Cyrus’s Asiatic troops, side by side with Tissaphernes and Orontas, and with these two he also pitched his camp. The Hellenes, holding them in suspicion, marched separately with the guides, and they encamped on each occasion a parasang apart, or rather less; and both parties kept watch upon each other as if they were enemies, which hardly tended to lull suspicion; and sometimes, whilst foraging for wood and grass and so forth on the same ground, blows were exchanged, which occasioned further embitterments. Three stages they had accomplished ere they reached the wall of Media, as it is called, and passed within it. It was built of baked bricks laid upon bitumen. It was twenty feet broad and a hundred feet high, and the length of it was said to be twenty parasangs. It lies at no great distance from Babylon.

From this point they marched two stages — eight parasangs — and crossed two canals, the first by a regular bridge, the other spanned by a bridge of seven boats. These canals issued from the Tigris, and from them a whole system of minor trenches was cut, leading over the country, large ones to begin with, and then smaller and smaller, till at last they become the merest runnels, like those in Hellas used for watering millet fields. They reached the river Tigris. At this point there was a large and thickly populated city named Sittace, at a distance of fifteen furlongs from the river. The Hellenes accordingly encamped by the side of that city, near a large and beautiful park, which was thick with all sorts of trees.

The Asiatics had crossed the Tigris, but somehow were entirely hidden from view. After supper, Proxenus and Xenophon were walking in front of the place d’armes, when a man came up and demanded of the advanced guard where he could find Proxenus or Clearchus. He did not ask for Menon, and that too though he came from Ariaeus, who was Menon’s friend. As soon as Proxenus had said: “I am he, whom you seek,” the man replied: “I have been sent by Ariaeus and Artaozus, who have been trusty friends to Cyrus in past days, and are your well-wishers. They warn you to be on your guard, in case the barbarians attack you in the night. There is a large body of troops in the neighbouring park. They also warn you to send and occupy the bridge over the Tigris, since Tissaphernes is minded to break it down in the night, if he can, so that you may not cross, but be caught between the river and the canal.” On hearing this they took the man to Clearchus and acquainted him with his statement. Clearchus, on his side, was much disturbed, and indeed alarmed at the news. But a young fellow who was present33, struck with an idea, suggested that the two statements were inconsistent; as to the contemplated attack and the proposed destruction of the bridge. Clearly, the attacking party must either conquer or be worsted: if they conquer, what need of their breaking down the bridge? “Why! if there were half a dozen bridges,” said he, “we should not be any the more able to save ourselves by flight — there would be no place to flee to; but, in the opposite case, suppose we win, with the bridge broken down, it is they who will not be able to save themselves by flight; and, what is worse for them, not a single soul will be able to bring them succour from the other side, for all their numbers, since the bridge will be broken down.”

Clearchus listened to the reasoning, and then he asked the messenger, “How large the country between the Tigris and the canal might be?” “A large district,” he replied, “and in it are villages and cities numerous and large.” Then it dawned upon them: the barbarians had sent the man with subtlety, in fear lest the Hellenes should cut the bridge and occupy the island territory, with the strong defences of the Tigris on the one side and of the canal on the other; supplying themselves with provisions from the country so included, large and rich as it was, with no lack of hands to till it; in addition to which, a harbour of refuge and asylum would be found for any one, who was minded to do the king a mischief.

After this they retired to rest in peace, not, however, neglecting to send a guard to occupy the bridge in spite of all, and there was no attack from any quarter whatsoever; nor did any of the enemy’s people approach the bridges: so the guards were able to report next morning. But as soon as it was morning, they proceeded to cross the bridge, which consisted of thirty-seven vessels, and in so doing they used the utmost precaution possible; for reports were brought by some of the Hellenes with Tissaphernes that an attempt was to be made to attack them while crossing. All this turned out to be false, though it is true that while crossing they did catch sight of Glus watching, with some others, to see if they crossed the river; but as soon as he had satisfied himself on that point, he rode off and was gone.

From the river Tigris they advanced four stages — twenty parasangs — to the river Physcus, which is a hundred feet broad and spanned by a bridge. Here lay a large and populous city named Opis, close to which the Hellenes were encountered by the natural brother of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, who was leading a large army from Susa and Ecbatana to assist the king. He halted his troops and watched the Hellenes march past. Clearchus led them in column two abreast: and from time to time the vanguard came to a standstill, just so often and just so long the effect repeated itself down to the hindmost man: halt! halt! halt! along the whole line: so that even to the Hellenes themselves their army seemed enormous; and the Persian was fairly astonished at the spectacle.

From this place they marched through Media six desert stages — thirty parasangs — to the villages of Parysatis, Cyrus’s and the king’s mother. These Tissaphernes, in mockery of Cyrus, delivered over to the Hellenes to plunder, except that the folk in them were not to be made slaves. They contained much corn, cattle, and other property. From this place they advanced four desert stages — twenty parasangs — keeping the Tigris on the left. On the first of these stages, on the other side of the river, lay a large city; it was a well-to-do place named Caenae, from which the natives used to carry across loaves and cheeses and wine on rafts made of skins.

33 Possibly Xenophon himself.

V

After this they reached the river Zapatas34, which is four hundred feet broad, and here they halted three days. During the interval suspicions were rife, though no act of treachery displayed itself. Clearchus accordingly resolved to bring to an end these feelings of mistrust, before they led to war. Consequently, he sent a messenger to the Persian to say that he desired an interview with him; to which the other readily consented. As soon as they were met, Clearchus spoke as follows: “Tissaphernes,” he said, “I do not forget that oaths have been exchanged between us, and right hands shaken, in token that we will abstain from mutual injury; but I can see that you watch us narrowly, as if we were foes; and we, seeing this, watch you narrowly in return. But as I fail to discover, after investigation, that you are endeavouring to do us a mischief — and I am quite sure that nothing of the sort has ever entered our heads with regard to you — the best plan seemed to me to come and talk the matter over with you, so that, if possible, we might dispel the mutual distrust on either side. For I have known people ere now, the victims in some cases of calumny, or possibly of mere suspicion, who in apprehension of one another and eager to deal the first blow, have committed irreparable wrong against those who neither intended nor so much as harboured a thought of mischief against them. I have come to you under a conviction that such misunderstandings may best be put a stop to by personal intercourse, and I wish to instruct you plainly that you are wrong in mistrusting us. The first and weightiest reason is that the oaths, which we took in the sight of heaven, are a barrier to mutual hostility. I envy not the man whose conscience tells him that he has disregarded these! For in a war with heaven, by what swiftness of foot can a man escape? — in what quarter find refuge? — in what darkness slink away and be hid? — to what strong fortress scale and be out of reach? Are not all things in all ways subject to the gods? is not their lordship over all alike outspread? As touching the gods, therefore, and our oaths, that is how I view this matter. To their safe keeping we consigned the friendship which we solemnly contracted. But turning to matters human, you I look upon as our greatest blessing in this present time. With you every path is plain to us, every river passable, and of provisions we shall know no stint. But without you, all our way is through darkness; for we known nothing concerning it, every river will be an obstacle, each multitude a terror; but, worst terror of all, the vast wilderness, so full of endless perplexity. Nay, if in a fit of madness we murdered you, what then? in slaying our benefactor should we not have challenged to enter the lists against us a more formidable antagonist in the king himself? Let me tell you, how many high hopes I should rob myself of, were I to take in hand to do you mischief.

“I coveted the friendship of Cyrus; I believed him to be abler than any man of his day to benefit those whom he chose; but today I look and, behold, it is you who are in his place; the power which belonged to Cyrus and his territory are yours now. You have them, and your own satrapy besides, safe and sound; while the king’s power, which was a thorn in the side of Cyrus, is your support. This being so, it would be madness not to wish to be your friend. But I will go further and state to you the reasons of my confidence, that you on your side will desire our friendship. I know that the Mysians are a cause of trouble to you, and I flatter myself that with my present force I could render them humbly obedient to you. This applies to the Pisidians also; and I am told there are many other such tribes besides. I think I can deal with them all; they shall cease from being a constant disturbance to your peace and prosperity. Then there are the Egyptians35. I know your anger against them today is very great. Nor can I see what better force you will find to help you in chastising them than this which marches at my back today. Again, if you seek the friendship of any of your neighbours round, there shall be no friend so great as you; if any one annoys you, with us as your faithful servitors you shall belord it over him; and such service we will render you, not as hirelings merely for pay’s sake, but for the gratitude which we shall rightly feel to you, to whom we owe our lives. As I dwell on these matters, I confess, the idea of your feeling mistrust of us is so astonishing, that I would give much to discover the name of the man, who is so clever of speech that he can persuade you that we harbour designs against you.” Clearchus ended, and Tissaphernes responded thus —

“I am glad, Clearchus, to listen to your sensible remarks; for with the sentiments you hold, if you were to devise any mischief against me, it could only be out of malevolence to yourself. But if you imagine that you, on your side, have any better reason to mistrust the king and me, than we you, listen to me in turn, and I will undeceive you. I ask you, does it seem to you that we lack the means, if we had the will, to destroy you? have we not horsemen enough, or infantry, or whatever other arm you like, whereby we may be able to injure you, without risk of suffering in return? or, possibly, do we seem to you to lack the physical surroundings suitable for attacking you? Do you not see all these great plains, which you find it hard enough to traverse even when they are friendly? and all yonder great mountain chains left for you to cross, which we can at any time occupy in advance and render impassable? and all those rivers, on whose banks we can deal craftily by you, checking and controlling and choosing the right number of you whom we care to fight! Nay, there are some which you will not be able to cross at all, unless we transport you to the other side.

“And if at all these points we were worsted, yet ‘fire,’ as they say, ‘is stronger than the fruit of the field’: we can burn it down and call up famine in arms against you; against which you, for all your bravery, will never be able to contend. Why then, with all these avenues of attack, this machinery of war, open to us, not one of which can be turned against ourselves, why should we select from among them all that method, which alone in the sight of God is impious and of man abominable? Surely it belongs to people altogether without resources, who are helplessly struggling in the toils of fate, and are villains to boot, to seek accomplishment of their desires by perjury to heaven and faithlessness to their fellows. We are not so unreasoning, Clearchus, nor so foolish.

“Why, when we had it in our power to destroy you, did we not proceed to do it? Know well that the cause of this was nothing less than my passion to prove myself faithful to the Hellenes, and that, as Cyrus went up, relying on a foreign force attracted by payment, I in turn might go down strong in the same through service rendered. Various ways in which you Hellenes may be useful to me you yourself have mentioned, but there is one still greater. It is the great king’s privilege alone to wear the tiara upright upon his head, yet in your presence it may be given to another mortal to wear it upright, here, upon his heart.”

Throughout this speech he seemed to Clearchus to be speaking the truth, and he rejoined: “Then are not those worthy of the worst penalties who, in spite of all that exists to cement our friendship, endeavour by slander to make us enemies?” “Even so,” replied Tissaphernes, “and if your generals and captains care to come in some open and public way, I will name to you those who tell me that you are plotting against me and the army under me.” “Good,” replied Clearchus. “I will bring all, and I will show you, on my side, the source from which I derive my information concerning you.”

After this conversation Tissaphernes, with kindliest expression, invited Clearchus to remain with him at the time, and entertained him at dinner. Next day Clearchus returned to the camp, and made no secret of his persuasion that he at any rate stood high in the affections of Tissaphernes, and he reported what he had said, insisting that those invited ought to go to Tissaphernes, and that any Hellene convicted of calumnious language ought to be punished, not only as traitors themselves, but as disaffected to their fellow-countrymen. The slanderer and traducer was Menon; so, at any rate, he suspected, because he knew that he had had meetings with Tissaphernes whilst he was with Ariaeus, and was factiously opposed to himself, plotting how to win over the whole army to him, as a means of winning the good graces of Tissaphernes. But Clearchus wanted the entire army to give its mind to no one else, and that refractory people should be put out of the way. Some of the soldiers protested: the captains and generals had better not all go; it was better not to put too much confidence in Tissaphernes. But Clearchus insisted so strongly that finally it was arranged for five generals to go and twenty captains. These were accompanied by about two hundred of the other soldiers, who took the opportunity of marketing.

On arrival at the doors of Tissaphernes’s quarters the generals were summoned inside. They were Proxenus the Boeotian, Menon the Thessalian, Agias the Arcadian, Clearchus the Laconian, and Socrates the Achaean; while the captains remained at the doors. Not long after that, at one and the same signal, those within were seized and those without cut down; after which some of the barbarian horsemen galloped over the plain, killing every Hellene they encountered, bond or free. The Hellenes, as they looked from the camp, viewed that strange horsemanship with surprise, and could not explain to themselves what it all meant, until Nicarchus the Arcadian came tearing along for bare life with a wound in the belly, and clutching his protruding entrails in his hands. He told them all that had happened. Instantly the Hellenes ran to their arms, one and all, in utter consternation, and fully expecting that the enemy would instantly be down upon the camp. However, they did not all come; only Ariaeus came, and Artaozus and Mithridates, who were Cyrus’s most faithful friends; but the interpreter of the Hellenes said he saw and recognised the brother of Tissaphernes also with them. They had at their back other Persians also, armed with cuirasses, as many as three hundred. As soon as they were within a short distance, they bade any general or captain of the Hellenes who might be there to approach and hear a message from the king. After this, two Hellene generals went out with all precaution. These were Cleanor the Orchomenian, and Sophaenetus the Stymphalion, attended by Xenophon the Athenian, who went to learn news of Proxenus. Cheirisophus was at the time away in a village with a party gathering provisions. As soon as they had halted within earshot, Ariaeus said: “Hellenes, Clearchus being shown to have committed perjury and to have broken the truce, has suffered the penalty, and he is dead; but Proxenus and Menon, in return for having given information of his treachery, are in high esteem and honour. As to yourselves, the king demands your arms. He claims them as his, since they belonged to Cyrus, who was his slave.” To this the Hellenes made answer by the mouth of Cleanor of Orchomenus, their spokesman, who said, addressing Ariaeus: “Thou villain, Ariaeus, and you the rest of you, who were Cyrus’s friends, have you no shame before God or man, first to swear to us that you have the same friends and the same enemies as we ourselves, and then to turn and betray us, making common cause with Tissaphernes, that most impious and villainous of men? With him you have murdered the very men to whom you gave your solemn word and oath, and to the rest of us turned traitors; and, having so done, you join hand with our enemies to come against us.” Ariaeus answered: “There is no doubt but that Clearchus has been known for some time to harbour designs against Tissaphernes and Orontas, and all of us who side with them.” Taking up this assertion, Xenophon said: “Well, then, granting that Clearchus broke the truce contrary to our oaths, he has his deserts, for perjurers deserve to perish; but where are Proxenus and Menon, our generals and your good friends and benefactors, as you admit? Send them back to us. Surely, just because they are friends of both parites, they will try to give us the best advice for you and for us.”

At this, the Asiatics stood discussing with one another for a long while, and then they went away without vouchsafing a word.

34 The Greater Zab, which flows into the Tigris near a town now called Senn, with which most travellers identify Caenae.

35 We learn from Diodorus Siculus, xiv. 35, that the Egyptians had revolted from the Persians towards the end of the reign of Darius.

VI

The generals who were thus seized were taken up to the king and there decapitated. The first of these, Clearchus, was a thorough soldier, and a true lover of fighting. This is the testimony of all who knew him intimately. As long as the war between the Lacedaemonians and Athenians lasted, he could find occupation at home; but after the peace, he persuaded his own city that the Thracians were injuring the Hellenes, and having secured his object, set sail, empowered by the ephorate to make war upon the Thracians north of the Chersonese and Perinthus. But he had no sooner fairly started than, for some reason or other, the ephors changed their minds, and endeavoured to bring him back again from the isthmus. Thereupon he refused further obedience, and went off with sails set for the Hellespont. In consequence he was condemned to death by the Spartan authorities for disobedience to orders; and now, finding himself an exile, he came to Cyrus. Working on the feelings of that prince, in language described elsewhere, he received from his entertainer a present of ten thousand darics. Having got this money, he did not sink into a life of ease and indolence, but collected an army with it, carried on war against the Thracians, and conquered them in battle, and from that date onwards harried and plundered them with war incessantly, until Cyrus wanted his army; whereupon he at once went off, in hopes of finding another sphere of warfare in his company.

These, I take it, were the characteristic acts of a man whose affections are set on warfare. When it is open to him to enjoy peace with honour, no shame, no injury attached, still he prefers war; when he may live at home at ease, he insists on toil, if only it may end in fighting; when it is given to him to keep his riches without risk, he would rather lessen his fortune by the pastime of battle. To put it briefly, war was his mistress; just as another man will spend his fortune on a favourite, or to gratify some pleasure, so he chose to squander his substance on soldiering.

But if the life of a soldier was a passion with him, he was none the less a soldier born, as herein appears; danger was a delight to him; he courted it, attacking the enemy by night or by day; and in difficulties he did not lose his head, as all who ever served in a campaign with him would with one consent allow. A good solder! the question arises, Was he equally good as a commander? It must be admitted that, as far as was compatible with his quality of temper, he was; none more so. Capable to a singular degree of devising how his army was to get supplies, and of actually getting them, he was also capable of impressing upon those about him that Clearchus must be obeyed; and that he brought about by the very hardness of his nature. With a scowling expression and a harshly-grating voice, he chastised with severity, and at times with such fury, that he was sorry afterwards himself for what he had done. Yet it was not without purpose that he applied the whip; he had a theory that there was no good to be got out of an unchastened army. A saying of his is recorded to the effect that the soldier who is to mount guard and keep his hands off his friends, and be ready to dash without a moment’s hesitation against the foe — must fear his commander more than the enemy. Accordingly, in any strait, this was the man whom the soldiers were eager to obey, and they would have no other in his place. The cloud which lay upon his brow, at those times lit up with brightness; his face became radiant, and the old sternness was so charged with vigour and knitted strength to meet the foe, that it savoured of salvation, not of cruelty. But when the pinch of danger was past, and it was open to them to go and taste subordination under some other officer, many forsook him. So lacking in grace of manner was he; but was ever harsh and savage, so that the feeling of the soldiers towards him was that of schoolboys to a master. In other words, though it was not his good fortune ever to have followers inspired solely by friendship or goodwill, yet those who found themselves under him, either by State appointment or through want, or other arch necessity, yielded him implicit obedience. From the moment that he led them to victory, the elements which went to make his soldiers efficient were numerous enough. There was the feeling of confidence in facing the foe, which never left them, and there was the dread of punishment at his hands to keep them orderly. In this way and to this extent he knew how to rule; but to play a subordinate part himself he had no great taste; so, at any rate, it was said. At the time of his death he must have been about fifty years of age.

Proxenus, the Boeotian, was of a different temperament. It had been the dream of his boyhood to become a man capable of great achievements. In obedience to this passionate desire it was, that he paid his fee to Gorgias of Leontini36. After enojoying that teacher’s society, he flattered himself that he must be at once qualified to rule; and while he was on friendly terms with the leaders of the age, he was not to be outdone in reciprocity of service37. In this mood he threw himself into the projects of Cyrus, and in return expected to derive from this essay the reward of a great name, large power, and wide wealth. But for all that he pitched his hopes so high, it was none the less evident that he would refuse to gain any of the ends he set before him wrongfully. Righteously and honourably he would obtain them, if he might, or else forego them. As a commander he had the art of leading gentlemen, but he failed to inspire adequately either respect for himself or fear in the soldiers under him. Indeed, he showed a more delicate regard for his soldiers than his subordinates for him, and he was indisputably more apprehensive of incurring their hatred than they were of losing their fidelity. The one thing needful to real and recognised generalship was, he thought, to praise the virtuous and to withhold praise from the evildoer. It can be easily understood, then, that of those who were brought in contact with him, the good and noble indeed were his well-wishers; but he laid himself open to the machinations of the base, who looked upon him as a person to be dealt with as they liked. At the time of his death he was only thirty years of age.

As to Menon the Thessalian38, the mainspring of his action was obvious; what he sought after insatiably was wealth. Rule he sought after only as a stepping-stone to larger spoils. Honours and high estate he craved for simply that he might extend the area of his gains; and if he studied to be on friendly terms with the powerful, it was in order that he might commit wrong with impunity. The shortest road to the achievement of his desires lay, he thought, through false swearing, lying, and cheating; for in his vocabulary simplicity and truth were synonyms of folly. Natural affection he clearly entertained for nobody. If he called a man his friend it might be looked upon as certain that he was bent on ensnaring him. Laughter at an enemy he considered out of place, but his whole conversation turned upon the ridicule of his associates. In like manner, the possessions of his foes were secure from his designs, since it was no easy task, he thought, to steal from people on their guard; but it was his particular good fortune to have discovered how easy it is to rob a friend in the midst of his security. If it were a perjured person or a wrongdoer, he dreaded him as well armed and intrenched; but the honourable and the truth-loving he tried to practise on, regarding them as weaklings devoid of manhood. And as other men pride themselves on piety and truth and righteousness, so Menon prided himself on a capacity for fraud, on the fabrication of lies, on the mockery and scorn of friends. The man who was not a rogue he ever looked upon as only half educated. Did he aspire to the first place in another man’s friendship, he set about his object by slandering those who stood nearest to him in affection. He contrived to secure the obedience of his solders by making himself an accomplice in their misdeeds, and the fluency with which he vaunted his own capacity and readiness for enormous guilt was a sufficient title to be honoured and courted by them. Or if any one stood aloof from him, he set it down as a meritorious act of kindness on his part that during their intercourse he had not robbed him of existence.

As to certain obscure charges brought against his character, these may certainly be fabrications. I confine myself to the following facts, which are known to all. He was in the bloom of youth when he procured from Aristippus the command of his mercenaries; he had not yet lost that bloom when he became exceedingly intimate with Ariaeus, a barbarian, whose liking for fair young men was the explanation; and before he had grown a beard himself, he had contracted a similar relationship with a bearded favourite named Tharypas. When his fellow-generals were put to death on the plea that they had marched with Cyrus against the king, he alone, although he had shared their conduct, was exempted from their fate. But after their deaths the vengeance of the king fell upon him, and he was put to death, not like Clearchus and the others by what would appear to be the speediest of deaths — decapitation — but, as report says, he lived for a year in pain and disgrace and died the death of a felon.

Agias the Arcadian and Socrates the Achaean were both among the sufferers who were put to death. To the credit, be it said, of both, no one ever derided either as cowardly in war: no one ever had a fault to find with either on the score of friendship. They were both about thirty-five years of age.

36 The famous rhetorician of Leontini, 485–380 B.C. His fee was minae.

37 Proxenus, like Cyrus, is to some extent a prototype of the Cyrus of the “Cyropaedia.” In other words, the author, in delineating the portrait of his ideal prince, drew from the recollection of many princely qualities observed by him in the characters of many friends. Apart from the intrinsic charm of the story, the “Anabasis” is interesting as containing the raw material of experience and reflection which “this young scholar or philosopher,” our friend, the author, will one day turn to literary account.

38 For a less repulsive conception of Menon’s character, however unhistorical, see Plato’s “Meno,” and Prof. Jowlett’s Introduction, “Plato,” vol. i. p. 265: “He is a Thessalian Alcibiades, rich and luxurious — a spoilt child of fortune.”

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 14:12