There and then the barbarians turned and fled as best they might, and 1
the Hellenes held the summit, while the troops with Tissaphernes and
Ariaeus turned aside and disappeared by another road. The main body
with Cheirisophus made its way down into the plain and encamped in a
village filled with good things of divers sorts. Nor did this village
stand alone; there were others not a few in this plain of the Tigris
equally overflowing with plenty. It was now afternoon; and all of a
sudden the enemy came in sight on the plain, and succeeded in cutting
down some of the Hellenes belonging to parties who were scattered over
the flat land in quest of spoil. Indeed, many herds of cattle had been
caught whilst being conveyed across to the other side of the river.
And now Tissaphernes and his troops made an attempt to burn the
villages, and some of the Hellenes were disposed to take the matter
deeply to heart, being apprehensive that they might not know where to
get provisions if the enemy burnt the villages.

Cheirisophus and his men were returning from their sally of defence
when Xenophon and his party descended, and the latter rode along the 4
ranks as the rescuing party came up, and greeted them thus: "Do you
not see, men of Hellas, they admit that the country is now ours; what
they stipulated against our doing when they made the treaty, viz. that
we were not to fire the king's country, they are now themselves
doing--setting fire to it as if it were not their own. But we will be
even with them; if they leave provisions for themselves anywhere,
there also shall they see us marching;" and, turning to Cheirisophus,
he added: "But it strikes me, we should sally forth against these
incendiaries and protect our country." Cheirisophus retorted: "That is
not quite my view; I say, let us do a little burning ourselves, and
they will cease all the quicker."

When they had got back to the villages, while the rest were busy about
provisions, the generals and officers met: and here there was deep
despondency. For on the one side were exceedingly high mountains; on
the other a river of such depth that they failed to reach the bottom
with their spears. In the midst of their perplexities, a Rhodian came
up with a proposal, as follows: "I am ready, sirs to carry you across,
four thousand heavy infantry at a time; if you will furnish me with
what I need and give me a talent into the bargain for my pains." When
asked, "What shall you need?" he replied: "Two thousand wine-skins. I
see there are plenty of sheep and goats and asses. They have only to
be flayed, and their skins inflated, and they will readily give us a
passage. I shall want also the straps which you use for the baggage
animals. With these I shall couple the skins to one another; then I
shall moor each skin by attaching stones and letting them down like
anchors into the water. Then I shall carry them across, and when I
have fastened the links at both ends, I shall place layers of wood on
them and a coating of earth on the top of that. You will see in a
minute that there's no danger of your drowning, for every skin will be
able to support a couple of men without sinking, and the wood and
earth will prevent your slipping off."

The generals thought it a pretty invention enough, but its realisation
impracticable, for on the other side were masses of cavalry posted and
ready to bar the passage; who, to begin with, would not suffer the 12
first detachment of crossers to carry out any item of the programme.

Under these circumstances, the next day they turned right about face,
and began retracing their steps in the direction of Babylon to the
unburnt villages, having previously set fire to those they left, so
that the enemy did not ride up to them, but stood and stared, all
agape to see in what direction the Hellenes would betake themselves
and what they were minded to do. Here, again, while the rest of the
soldiers were busy about provisions, the generals and officers met in
council, and after collecting the prisoners together, submitted them
to a cross-examination touching the whole country round, the names,
and so forth, of each district.

The prisoners informed them that the regions south, through which they
had come, belonged to the district towards Babylon and Media; the road
east led to Susa and Ecbatana, where the king is said to spend summer
and spring; crossing the river, the road west led to Lydia and Ionia;
and the part through the mountains facing towards the Great Bear, led,
they said, to the Carduchians[1]. They were a people, so said the
prisoners, dwelling up on the hills, addicted to war, and not subject
to the king; so much so that once, when a royal army one hundred and
twenty thousand strong had invaded them, not a man came back, owing to
the intricacies of the country. Occasionally, however, they made truce
or treaty with the satrap in the plain, and, for the nonce, there
would be intercourse: "they will come in and out amongst us," "and we
will go in and out amongst them," said the captives.

[1] See Dr. Kiepert, "Man. Anc. Geog. (Mr. G. A. Macmillan) iv. 47.
The Karduchians or Kurds belong by speech to the Iranian stock,
forming in fact their farthest outpost to the west, little given
to agriculture, but chiefly to the breeding of cattle. Their name,
pronounced Kardu by the ancient Syrians and Assyrians, Kordu by
the Armenians (plural Kordukh), first appears in its narrower
sense in western literature in the pages of the eye-witness
Xenophon as {Kardoukhoi}. Later writers knew of a small kingdom
here at the time of the Roman occupation, ruled by native princes,
who after Tigranes II (about 80 B.C.) recognised the overlordship
of the Armenian king. Later it became a province of the Sassanid
kingdom, and as such was in 297 A.D. handed over among the
regiones transtigritanae to the Roman empire, but in 364 was again
ceded to Persia.

After hearing these statements, the generals seated apart those who 17
claimed to have any special knowledge of the country in any direction;
they put them to sit apart without making it clear which particular
route they intended to take. Finally the resolution to which they came
was that they must force a passage through the hills into the
territory of the Kurds; since, according to what their informants told
them, when they had once passed these, they would find themselves in
Armenia--the rich and large territory governed by Orontas; and from
Armenia, it would be easy to proceed in any direction whatever.
Thereupon they offered sacrifice, so as to be ready to start on the
march as soon as the right moment appeared to have arrived. Their
chief fear was that the high pass over the mountains must be occupied
in advance: and a general order was issued, that after supper every
one should get his kit together for starting, and repose, in readiness
to follow as soon as the word of command was given.