View Full Version : Anabasis II - Xenophon

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05-27-2007, 12:39 AM

After these things the Hellenes and Ariaeus waited for Tissaphernes, 1
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 7
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 13
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 present[1],
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."

[1] Possibly Xenophon himself.

Clearchus listened to the reasoning, and then he asked the messenger,
"How large the country between the Tigris and the canal might be?" "A 21
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 Helleens 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

From this place they marched through Media six desert stages--thirty 27
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.