Thence he marched on through Arabia, keeping the Euphrates on the 1
right, five desert stages--thirty-five parasangs. In this region the
ground was one long level plain, stretching far and wide like the sea,
full of absinth; whilst all the other vegetation, whether wood or
reed, was sweet scented like spice or sweet herb; there were no trees;
but there was wild game of all kinds--wild asses in greatest
abundance, with plenty of ostriches; besides these, there were
bustards and antelopes. These creatures were occasionally chased by
the cavalry. The asses, when pursued, would run forward a space, and
then stand still--their pace being much swifter than that of horses;
and as soon as the horses came close, they went through the same
performance. The only way to catch them was for the riders to post
themselves at intervals, and to hunt them in relays, as it were. The
flesh of those they captured was not unlike venison, only more tender.
No one was lucky enough to capture an ostrich. Some of the troopers
did give chase, but it had soon to be abandoned; for the bird, in its
effort to escape, speedily put a long interval between itself and its 3
pursuers; plying its legs at full speed, and using its wings the while
like a sail. The bustards were not so hard to catch when started
suddenly; for they only take short flights, like partridges, and are
soon tired. Their flesh is delicious.

As the army wended its way through this region, they reached the river
Mascas, which is one hundred feet in breadth. Here stood a big
deserted city called Corsote, almost literally environed by the
stream, which flows round it in a circle. Here they halted three days
and provisioned themselves. Thence they continued their march thirteen
desert stages--ninety parasangs--with the Euphrates still on their
right, until they reached the Gates. On these marches several of the
baggage animals perished of hunger, for there was neither grass nor
green herb, or tree of any sort; but the country throughout was
barren. The inhabitants make their living by quarrying millstones on
the river banks, which they work up and take to Babylon and sell,
purchasing corn in exchange for their goods. Corn failed the army, and
was not to be got for money, except in the Lydian market open in
Cyrus's Asiatic army; where a kapithe of wheat or barley cost four
shekels; the shekel being equal to seven and a half Attic obols,
whilst the kapithe is the equivalent of two Attic choeneces[1], dry
measure, so that the soldiers subsisted on meat alone for the whole
period. Some of the stages were very long, whenever they had to push
on to find water or fodder; and once they found themselves involved in
a narrow way, where the deep clay presented an obstacle to the
progress of the wagons. Cyrus, with the nobles about him, halted to
superintend the operation, and ordered Glus and Pigres to take a body
of barbarians and to help in extricating the wagons. As they seemed to
be slow about the business, he turned round angrily to the Persian
nobles and bade them lend a hand to force the wagons out. Then, if
ever, what goes to constitute one branch of good discipline, was to be
witnessed. Each of those addressed, just where he chanced to be 8
standing, threw off his purple cloak, and flung himself into the work
with as much eagerness as if it had been a charge for victory. Down a
steep hill side they flew, with their costly tunics and embroidered
trousers--some with the circlets round their necks, and bracelets on
their arms--in an instant, they had sprung into the miry clay, and in
less time than one could have conceived, they had landed the wagons
safe on terra firma.

[1] The choenix = about 1 quart (or, according to others, 1 1/2 pint).
It was the minimum allowance of corn for a man, say a slave, per
diem. The Spartan was allowed at the public table 2 choenices a

Altogether it was plain that Cyrus was bent on pressing on the march,
and averse to stoppages, except where he halted for the sake of
provisioning or some other necessary object; being convinced that the
more rapidly he advanced, the less prepared for battle would he find
the king; while the slower his own progress, the larger would be the
hostile army which he would find collected. Indeed, the attentive
observer could see, at a glance, that if the king's empire was strong
in its extent of territory and the number of inhabitants, that
strength is compensated by an inherent weakness, dependent upon the
length of roads and the inevitable dispersion of defensive forces,
where an invader insists upon pressing home the war by forced marches.

On the opposite side of the Euphrates to the point reached on one of
these desert stages, was a large and flourishing city named Charmande.
From this town the soldiers made purchases of provisions, crossing the
river on rafts, in the following fashion: They took the skins which
they used as tent coverings, and filled them with light grass; they
then compressed and stitched them tightly together by the ends, so
that the water might not touch the hay. On these they crossed and got
provisions: wine made from the date-nut, and millet or panic-corn, the
common staple of the country. Some dispute or other here occurred
between the soldiers of Menon and Clearchus, in which Clearchus
sentenced one of Menon's men, as the delinquent, and had him flogged.
The man went back to his own division and told them. Hearing what had
been done to their comrade, his fellows fretted and fumed, and were
highly incensed against Clearchus. The same day Clearchus visited the
passage of the river, and after inspecting the market there, was
returning with a few followers, on horseback, to his tent, and had to 12
pass through Menon's quarters. Cyrus had not yet come up, but was
riding up in the same direction. One of Menon's men, who was splitting
wood, caught sight of Clearchus as he rode past, and aimed a blow at
him with his axe. The aim took no effect; when another hurled a stone
at him, and a third, and then several, with shouts and hisses.
Clearchus made a rapid retreat to his own troops, and at once ordered
them to get under arms. He bade his hoplites remain in position with
their shields resting against their knees, while he, at the head of
his Thracians and horsemen, of which he had more than forty in his
army--Thracians for the most part--advanced against Menon's soldiers,
so that the latter, with Menon himself, were panic-stricken, and ran
to seize their arms; some even stood riveted to the spot, in
perplexity at the occurrence. Just then Proxenus came up from behind,
as chance would have it, with his division of hoplites, and without a
moment's hesitation marched into the open space between the rival
parties, and grounded arms; then he fell to begging Clearchus to
desist. The latter was not too well pleased to hear his trouble mildly
spoken of, when he had barely escaped being stoned to death; and he
bade Proxenus retire and leave the intervening space open. At this
juncture Cyrus arrived and inquired what was happening. There was no
time for hesitation. With his javelins firmly grasped in his hands he
galloped up--escorted by some of his faithful bodyguard, who were
present--and was soon in the midst, exclaiming: "Clearchus, Proxenus,
and you other Hellenes yonder, you know not what you do. As surely as
you come to blows with one another, our fate is sealed--this very day
I shall be cut to pieces, and so will you: your turn will follow close
on mine. Let our fortunes once take an evil turn, and these barbarians
whom you see around will be worse foes to us than those who are at
present serving the king." At these words Clearchus came to his
senses. Both parties paused from battle, and retired to their
quarters: order reigned.