Commander of Cavalry at Athens

Your first duty is to offer sacrifice, petitioning the gods to grant you such good gifts[2] as shall enable you in thought, word, and deed to discharge your office in the manner most acceptable to Heaven, and with fullest increase to yourself, and friends, and to the state at large of affection, glory, and wide usefulness. The goodwill of Heaven[3] so obtained, you shall proceed to mount your troopers, taking care that the full complement which the law demands is reached, and that the normal force of cavalry is not diminished. There will need to be a reserve of remounts, or else a deficiency may occur at any moment,[4] looking to the fact that some will certainly succumb to old age, and others, from one reason or another, prove unserviceable.

But now suppose the complement of cavalry is levied,[5] the duty will devolve on you of seeing, in the first place, that your horses are well fed and in condition to stand their work, since a horse which cannot endure fatigue will clearly be unable to overhaul the foeman or effect escape;[6] and in the second place, you will have to see to it the animals are tractable, since, clearly again, a horse that will not obey is only fighting for the enemy and not his friends. So, again, an animal that kicks when mounted must be cast; since brutes of that sort may often do more mischief than the foe himself. Lastly, you must pay attention to the horses' feet, and see that they will stand being ridden over rough ground. A horse, one knows, is practically useless where he cannot be galloped without suffering.

And now, supposing that your horses are all that they ought to be, like pains must be applied to train the men themselves. The trooper, in the first place, must be able to spring on horseback easily--a feat to which many a man has owed his life ere now. And next, he must be able to ride with freedom over every sort of ground, since any description of country may become the seat of war. When, presently, your men have got firm seats, your aim should be to make as many members of the corps as possible not only skilled to hurl the javelin from horseback with precision, but to perform all other feats expected of the expert horseman. Next comes the need to arm both horse and man in such a manner as to minimise the risk of wounds, and yet to increase the force of every blow delivered.[7] This attended to, you must contrive to make your men amenable to discipline, without which neither good horses, nor a firm seat, nor splendour of equipment will be of any use at all.

The general of cavalry,[8] as patron of the whole department, is naturally responsible for its efficient working. In view, however, of the task imposed upon that officer had he to carry out these various details single-handed, the state has chosen to associate[9] with him certain coadjutors in the persons of the phylarchs (or tribal captains),[10] and has besides imposed upon the senate a share in the superintendence of the cavalry. This being so, two things appear to me desirable; the first is, so to work upon the phylarch that he shall share your own enthusiasm for the honour of the corps;[11] and secondly, to have at your disposal in the senate able orators,[12] whose language may instil a wholesome fear into the knights themselves, and thereby make them all the better men, or tend to pacify the senate on occasion and disarm unseasonable anger.

The above may serve as memoranda[13] of the duties which will claim your chief attention. How the details in each case may best be carried out is a further matter, which I will now endeavour to explain.

As to the men themselves--the class from which you make your pick of troopers--clearly according to the law you are bound to enrol "the ablest" you can find "in point of wealth and bodily physique"; and "if not by persuasion, then by prosecution in a court of law."[14] And for my part, I think, if legal pressure is to be applied, you should apply it in those cases where neglect to prosecute might fairly be ascribed to interested motives;[15] since if you fail to put compulsion on the greater people first, you leave a backdoor of escape at once to those of humbler means. But there will be other cases;[16] say, of young men in whom a real enthusiasm for the service may be kindled by recounting to them all the brilliant feats of knighthood; while you may disarm the opposition of their guardians by dwelling on the fact that, if not you, at any rate some future hipparch will certainly compel them to breed horses,[17] owing to their wealth; whereas, if they enter the service[18] during your term of office, you will undertake to deter their lads from mad extravagance in buying horses,[19] and take pains to make good horsemen of them without loss of time; and while pleading in this strain, you must endeavour to make your practice correspond with what you preach.

To come to the existing body of knights,[20] it would tend,[21] I think, to better rearing and more careful treatment of their horses if the senate issued a formal notice that for the future twice the amount of drill will be required, and that any horse unable to keep up will be rejected. And so, too, with regard to vicious horses, I should like to see an edict promulgated to the effect that all such animals will be rejected. This threat would stimulate the owners of such brutes to part with them by sale, and, what is more, to exercise discretion at the time of purchase. So, too, it would be a good thing if the same threat of rejection were made to include horses that kick on the exercising-grounds, since it is impossible to keep such animals in the ranks; and in case of an advance against a hostile force at any point,[22] they must perforce trail in the rear, so that, thanks to the vice of the animal which he bestrides, the trooper himself is rendered useless.

With a view to strengthening the horses' feet: if any one has an easier or more simple treatment to suggest, by all means let it be adopted; but for myself, as the result of experience, I maintain that the proper course is to lay down a loose layer of cobbles from the road, a pound or so in weight, on which the horse should be put to stand, when taken from the manger to be groomed.[23] The point is, that the horse will keep perpetually moving first one foot and then another on the stones, whilst being rubbed down or simply because he is fidgeted by flies. Let any one try the experiment, and, I venture to predict, not only will he come to trust my guidance, but he will see his horse's hoofs grow just as round and solid as the cobbles.

Assuming, then, your horses are all that horses ought to be, how is the trooper to attain a like degree of excellence? To that question I will now address myself. The art of leaping on to horseback is one which we would fain persuade the youthful members of the corps to learn themselves; though, if you choose to give them an instructor,[24] all the greater credit to yourself. And as to the older men you cannot do better than accustom them to mount, or rather to be hoisted up by aid of some one, Persian fashion.[25]

With a view to keeping a firm seat on every sort of ground, it may be perhaps be thought a little irksome to be perpetually marching out, when there is no war;[26] but all the same, I would have you call your men together and impress upon them the need to train themselves, when they ride into the country to their farms, or elsewhere, by leaving the high road and galloping at a round pace on ground of every description.[27] This method will be quite as beneficial to them as the regular march out, and at the same time not produce the same sense of tedium. You may find it useful also to remind them that the state on her side is quite willing to expend a sum of nearly forty talents[28] yearly, so that in the event of war she may not have to look about for cavalry, but have a thoroughly efficient force to hand for active service. Let these ideas be once instilled into their minds, and, mark my words, your trooper will fall with zest to practising horsemanship, so that if ever the flame of war burst out he may not be forced to enter the lists a raw recruit, unskilled to fight for fame and fatherland or even life itself.

It would be no bad thing either, to forewarn your troopers that one day you will take them out yourself for a long march, and lead them across country over every kind of ground. Again, whilst practising the evolutions of the rival cavalry display,[29] it will be well to gallop out at one time to one district and again to another. Both men and horses will be benefited.

Next, as to hurling the javelin from horseback, the best way to secure as wide a practice of the art as possible, it strikes me, would be to issue an order to your phylarchs that it will be their duty to put themselves at the head of the marksmen of several tribes, and to ride out to the butts for practice. In this way a spirit of emulation will be roused--the several officers will, no doubt, be eager to turn out as many marksmen as they can to aid the state.[30]

And so too, to ensure that splendour of accoutrement which the force requires,[31] the greatest help may once again be looked for from the phylarchs; let these officers but be persuaded that from the public point of view the splendid appearance of their squadrons[32] will confer a title to distinction far higher than that of any personal equipment. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that they will be deaf to such an argument, since the very desire to hold the office of phylarch itself proclaims a soul alive to honour and ambition. And what is more, they have it in their power, in accordance with the actual provisions of the law, to equip their men without the outlay of a single penny, by enforcing that self-equipment out of pay[33] which the law prescribes.

But to proceed. In order to create a spirit of obedience in your subordinates, you have two formidable instruments;[34] as a matter of plain reason you can show them what a host of blessings the word discipline implies; and as a matter of hard fact you can, within the limits of the law, enable the well-disciplined to reap advantage, while the undisciplined are made to feel the pinch at every turn.

But if you would rouse the emulation of your phylarchs, if you would stir in each a personal ambition to appear at the head of his own squadron in all ways splendidly appointed, the best incentive will be your personal example. You must see to it that your own bodyguard[35] are decked with choice accoutrement and arms; you must enforce on them the need to practise shooting pertinaciously; you must expound to them the theory of the javelin, yourself an adept in the art through constant training.[36]

Lastly, were it possible to institute and offer prizes to the several tribal squadrons in reward for every excellence of knighthood known to custom in the public spectacles of our city, we have here, I think, an incentive which will appeal to the ambition of every true Athenian. How small, in the like case of our choruses, the prizes offered, and yet how great the labour and how vast the sums expended![37] But we must discover umpires of such high order that to win their verdict will be as precious to the victor as victory itself.

[1] For the title, etc., see Schneid. "Praemon. de Xeno." {Ipp}. Boeckh, "P. E. A." 251.

[2] Or, "with sacrifice to ask of Heaven those gifts of thought and speech and conduct whereby you will exercise your office most acceptably to the gods themselves, and with . . ." Cf. Plat. "Phaedr." 273 E; "Euthr." 14 B.

[3] The Greek phrase is warmer, {theon d' ileon onton}, "the gods being kindly and propitious." Cf. Plat. "Laws," 712 B.

[4] Lit. "at any moment there will be too few." See "Les Cavaliers Atheniens," par Albert Martin, p. 308.

[5] Lit. "in process of being raised."

[6] Or, "to press home a charge a l'outrance, or retire from the field unscathed."

[7] Lit. "so that whilst least likely to be wounded themselves, they may most be able to injure the enemy."

[8] See "Mem." III. iii.

[9] Cf. Theophr. xxix. "The Oligarchic Man": "When the people are deliberating whom they shall associate with the archon as joint directors of the procession." (Jebb.)

[10] Or, "squadron-leaders."

[11] "Honour and prestige of knighthood."

[12] "To keep a staff of orators." Cf. "Anab." VII. vi. 41; "Cyrop." I. vi. 19; "Hell." VI. ii. 39.

[13] "A sort of notes and suggestions," "mementoes." Cf. "Horsemanship," iii. 1, xii. 14.

[14] Lit. "by bringing them into court, or by persuasion," i.e. by legal if not by moral pressure. See Martin, op. cit. pp. 316, 321 foll.

[15] i.e. "would cause you to be suspected of acting from motives of gain."

[16] Reading {esti de kai ous}, or if as vulg. {eti de kai}, "More than that, it strikes me one may work on the feelings of young fellows in such a way as to disarm." See Hartmann, "An. Xen. N." 325.

[17] Cf. Aesch. "P. V." 474; Herod. vi. 35; Dem. 1046. 14; Thuc. vi. 12; Isocr. {peri tou zeugous}, 353 C. {ippotrophein d' epikheiresas, o ton eudaimonestaton ergon esti.} See Prof. Jebb's note to Theophr. "Ch." vi. p. 197, note 16.

[18] Lit. "if they mount."

[19] Like that of Pheidippides in the play; see Aristoph. "Clouds," 23 foll. And for the price of horses, ranging from 3 minas (= L12 circa) for a common horse, or 12 minas (say L50) for a good saddle or race-horse, up to the extravagant sum of 13 talents (say 3000 guineas) given for "Bucephalus," see Boeckh, "P. E. A." (Eng. tr.) p. 74. Cf. Isaeus, 55. 22; 88. 17; Lys. "de Maled." 133. 10; Aul. Gell. "Noct. Att." v. 2.

[20] Or, "As regards those who are actually serving in the cavalry." For a plausible emend. of this passage (S. 13) see Courier ("Notes sur le texte," p. 54); L. Dind. ad loc.

[21] Lit. "the senate might incite to . . ."

[22] Reading {ean}, or if {kan} with the MSS., trans. "even in case of an advance against the enemy."

[23] See below, "Horse." iv. 4. The Greeks did not "shoe" their horses.

[24] Like Pheidon, in the fragment of Mnesimachus's play "The Breeder of Horses," ap. Athen. See Courier, ib. p. 55.

[25] See "Anab." IV. iv. 4; "Horsemanship," vi. 12.

[26] In the piping days of peace.

[27] See "Econ." xi. 17. Cf. Theophr. "Ch." viii. "The Late Learner": {kai eis agron eph' ippou allotriou katakhoumenos ama meletan ippazesthai, kai peson ten kephalon kateagenai}, "Riding into the country on another's horse, he will practise his horsemanship by the way, and falling, will break his head" (Jebb).

[28] = L10,000 circa. See Boeckh, op. cit. p. 251.

[29] Lit. "the anthippasia." See iii. 11, and "Horsemanship," viii. 10.

[30] On competition cf. "Cyrop." II. i. 22, and our author passim.

[31] Or, "a beauty of equipment, worthy of our knights." Cf. Aristoph. "Lysistr." 561, and a fragment of "The Knights," of Antiphanes, ap. Athen. 503 B, {pant' 'Amaltheias keras}. See "Hiero," ix. 6; "Horse." xi. 10.

[32] Lit. "tribes," {phulai} (each of the ten tribes contributing about eighty men, or, as we might say, a squadron).

[33] i.e. the {katastasis}, "allowance," so technically called. Cf. Lys. "for Mantitheos"; Jebb, "Att. Or." i. 246; Boeckh, "P. E. A." II. xxi. p. 263; K. F. Hermann, 152, 19; Martin, op. cit. p. 341.

[34] "The one theoretic, the other practical."

[35] Techn. {prodromoi}, possibly = the Hippotoxotai, or corps of 200 mounted archers--Scythians; cf. "Mem." III. iii. 11. Or, probably, "mounted skirmishers," distinct from the {ippotexotai}. Cf. Arrian, "An." i. 12. 7. See Aristot. "Ath. Pol." 49. 5.

[36] Reading as vulg. {eisegoio}, or if with L. D. {egoio} (cf. above, S. 21), trans. "you must lead them out to the butts yourself."

[37] See "Hell." III. iv. 15; "Hiero," ix. 3; "Cyrop." I. vi. 18; Martin, op. cit. p. 260 f.