View Full Version : Anabasis IV - Xenophon

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05-27-2007, 12:48 AM

After this they marched into the country of the Taochians five 1
stages--thirty parasangs--and provisions failed; for the Taochians
lived in strong places, into which they had carried up all their
stores. Now when the army arrived before one of these strong places--a
mere fortress, without city or houses, into which a motley crowd of
men and women and numerous flocks and herds were
gathered--Cheirisophus attacked at once. When the first regiment fell
back tired, a second advanced, and again a third, for it was
impossible to surround the place in full force, as it was encircled by
a river. Presently Xenophon came up with the rearguard, consisting of
both light and heavy infantry, whereupon Cheirisophus halted him with
the words: "In the nick of time you have come; we must take this
place, for the troops have no provisions, unless we take it."
Thereupon they consulted together, and to Xenophon's inquiry, "What it
was which hindered their simply walking in?" Cheirisophus replied,
"There is just this one narrow approach which you see, but when we
attempt to pass it by they roll down volleys of stones from yonder
overhanging crag," pointing up, "and this is the state in which you
find yourself, if you chance to be caught;" and he pointed to some
poor fellows with their legs or ribs crushed to bits. "But when they
have expended their ammunition," said Xenophon, "there is nothing
else, is there, to hinder our passing? Certainly, except yonder
handful of fellows, there is no one in front of us that we can see;
and of them, only two or three apparently are armed, and the distance
to be traversed under fire is, as your eyes will tell you, about one
hundred and fifty feet as near as can be, and of this space the first
hundred is thickly covered with great pines at intervals; under cover
of these, what harm can come to our men from a pelt of stones, flying 6
or rolling? So then, there is only fifty feet left to cross, during a
lull of stones." "Ay," said Cheirisophus, "but with our first attempt
to approach the bush a galling fire of stones commences." "The very
thing we want," said the other, "for they will use up their ammunition
all the quicker; but let us select a point from which we shall have
only a brief space to run across, if we can, and from which it will be
easier to get back, if we wish."

Thereupon Cheirisophus and Xenophon set out with Callimachus the
Parrhasian, the captain in command of the officers of the rearguard
that day; the rest of the captains remained out of danger. That done,
the next step was for a party of about seventy men to get away under
the trees, not in a body, but one by one, every one using his best
precaution; and Agasis the Stymphalian, and Aristonymous the
Methydrian, who were also officers of the rearguard, were posted as
supports outside the trees; for it was not possible for more than a
single company to stand safely within the trees. Here Callimachus hit
upon a pretty contrivance--he ran forward from the tree under which he
was posted two or three paces, and as soon as the stones came
whizzing, he retired easily, but at each excursion more than ten
wagon-loads of rocks were expended. Agasias, seeing how Callimachus
was amusing himself, and the whole army looking on as spectators, was
seized with the fear that he might miss his chance of being first to
run the gauntlet of the enemy's fire and get into the place. So,
without a word of summons to his neighbour, Aristonymous, or to
Eurylochus of Lusia, both comrades of his, or to any one else, off he
set on his own account, and passed the whole detachment. But
Callimachus, seeing him tearing past, caught hold of his shield by the
rim, and in the meantime Aristonymous the Methydrian ran past both,
and after him Eurylochus of Lusia; for they were one and all aspirants
to valour, and in that high pursuit, each was the eager rival of the
rest. So in this strife of honour, the three of them took the
fortress, and when they had once rushed in, not a stone more was
hurled from overhead.

And here a terrible spectacle displayed itself: the women first cast
their infants down the cliff, and then they cast themselves after 13
their fallen little ones, and the men likewise. In such a scene,
Aeneas the Stymphalian, an officer, caught sight of a man with a fine
dress about to throw himself over, and seized hold of him to stop him;
but the other caught him to his arms, and both were gone in an instant
headlong down the crags, and were killed. Out of this place the merest
handful of human beings were taken prisoners, but cattle and asses in
abundance and flocks of sheep.

From this place they marched through the Chalybes[1] seven stages,
fifty parasangs. These were the bravest men whom they encountered on
the whole march, coming cheerily to close quarters with them. They
wore linen cuirasses reaching to the groin, and instead of the
ordinary "wings" or basques, a thickly-plaited fringe of cords. They
were also provided with greaves and helmets, and at the girdle a short
sabre, about as long as the Laconian dagger, with which they cut the
throats of those they mastered, and after severing the head from the
trunk they would march along carrying it, singing and dancing, when
they drew within their enemy's field of view. They carried also a
spear fifteen cubits long, lanced at one end[2]. This folk stayed in
regular townships, and whenever the Hellenes passed by they invariably
hung close on their heels fighting. They had dwelling-places in their
fortresses, and into them they had carried up their supplies, sot hat
the Hellenes could get nothing from this district, but supported
themselves on the flocks and herds they had taken from the Taochians.
After this the Hellenes reached the river Harpasus, which was four
hundred feet broad. Hence they marched through the Scythenians four
stages--twenty parasangs--through a long level country to more
villages, among which they halted three days, and got in supplies.

[1] These are the Armeno-Chalybes, so called by Pliny in
contradistinction to another mountain tribe in Pontus so named,
who were famous for their forging, and from whom steel received
its Greek name {khalups}. With these latter we shall make
acquaintance later on.

[2] I.e. with a single point or spike only, the Hellenic spear having
a spike at the butt end also.

Passing on from thence in four stages of twenty parasangs, they 19
reached a large and prosperous well-populated city, which went by the
name of Gymnias[3], from which the governor of the country sent them a
guide to lead them through a district hostile to his own. This guide
told them that within five days he would lead them to a place from
which they would see the sea, "and," he added, "if I fail of my word,
you are free to take my life." Accordingly he put himself at their
head; but he no sooner set foot in the country hostile to himself than
he fell to encouraging them to burn and harry the land; indeed his
exhortations were so earnest, it was plain that it was for this he had
come, and not out of the good-will he bore the Hellenes.

[3] Gymnias is supposed (by Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. ix. p. 161)
to be the same as that which is now called Gumisch-Kana--perhaps
"at no great distance from Baibut," Tozer, "Turkish Armenia," p.
432. Others have identified it with Erzeroum, others with Ispir.

On the fifth day they reached the mountain, the name of which was
Theches[4]. No sooner had the men in front ascended it and caught
sight of the sea than a great cry arose, and Xenophon, in the
rearguard, catching the sound of it, conjectured that another set of
enemies must surely be attacking in front; for they were followed by
the inhabitants of the country, which was all aflame; indeed the
rearguard had killed some and captured others alive by laying an
ambuscade; they had taken also about twenty wicker shields, covered
with the raw hides of shaggy oxen.

[4] Some MSS. give "the sacred mountain." The height in question has
been identified with "the ridge called Tekieh-Dagh to the east of
Gumisch-Kana, nearer to the sea than that place" (Grote, ib. p.
162), but the exact place from which they caught sight of the sea
has not been identified as yet, and other mountain ranges have
been suggested.

But as the shout became louder and nearer, and those who from time to
time came up, began racing at the top of their speed towards the
shouters, and the shouting continually recommenced with yet greater
volume as the numbers increased, Xenophon settled in his mind that
something extraordinary must have happened, so he mounted his horse,
and taking with him Lycius and the cavalry, he galloped to the rescue.
Presently they could hear the soldiers shouting and passing on the
joyful word, "The sea! the sea!"

Thereupon they began running, rearguard and all, and the baggage 24
animals and horses came galloping up. But when they had reached the
summit, then indeed they fell to embracing one another--generals and
officers and all--and the tears trickled down their cheeks. And on a
sudden, some one, whoever it was, having passed down the order, the
soldiers began bringing stones and erecting a great cairn, whereon
they dedicated a host of untanned skins, and staves, and captured
wicker shields, and with his own hand the guide hacked the shields to
pieces, inviting the rest to follow his example. After this the
Hellenes dismissed the guide with a present raised from the common
store, to wit, a horse, a silver bowl, a Persian dress, and ten
darics; but what he most begged to have were their rings, and of these
he got several from the soldiers. So, after pointing out to them a
village where they would find quarters, and the road by which they
would proceed towards the land of the Macrones, as evening fell, he
turned his back upon them in the night and was gone.