Book II
II
 

Phalinus and those that were with him turned and went. But the messengers from Ariaeus, Procles and Cheirisophus came back. As to Menon, he stayed behind with Ariaeus, They brought back this answer from Ariaeus: "'There are many Persians,' he says, 'better than himself who will not suffer him to sit upon the king's throne; but if you are minded to go back with him, you must join him this very night, otherwise he will set off himself to-morrow on the homeward route.'" And Clearchus said: "It had best stand thus between us then. If we come, well and good, be it as you propose; but if we do not come, do whatsoever you think most conducive to your interests." And so he kept these also in the dark as to his real intention.

After this, when the sun was already sinking, he summoned the generals and officers, and made the following statement: "Sirs, I sacrificed and found the victims unfavourable to an advance against the king. After all, it is not so surprising perhaps, for, as I now learn, between us and the king flows the river Tigris, navigable for big vessels, and we could not possibly cross it without boats, and boats we have none. On the other hand, to stop here is out of the question, for there is no possibility of getting provisions. However, the victims were quite agreeable to us joining the friends of Cyrus. This is what we must do then. Let each go away and sup on whatever he has. At the first sound of the bugle to turn in, get kit and baggage together; at the second signal, place them on the baggage animals; and at the third, fall in and follow the lead, with the baggage animals on the inside protected by the river, and the troops outside." After hearing the orders, the generals and officers retired, and did as they were bid; and for the future Clearchus led, and the rest followed in obedience to his orders, not that they had expressly chosen him, but they saw that he alone had the sense and wisdom requisite in a general, while the rest were inexperienced[1].

[1] The MSS. add the words, "The total distance of the route, taking Ephesus in Ionia as the starting point up to the field of battle, consisted of 93 stages, 535 parasangs, or 16,050 furlongs; from the battle-field to Babylon (reckoned a three days' journey) would have been another 360 stades," which may well be an editor's or commentator's marginal note.

Here, under cover of the darkness which descended, the Thracian Miltocythes, with forty horsemen and three hundred Thracian infantry, deserted to the king; but the rest of the troops--Clearchus leading and the rest following in accordance with the orders promulgated--took their departure, and about midnight reached their first stage, having come up with Ariaeus and his army. They grounded arms just as they stood in rank, and the generals and officers of the Hellenes met in the tent of Ariaeus. There they exchanged oaths--the Hellenes on the one side and Ariaeus with his principal officers on the other--not to betray one another, but to be true to each other as allies. The Asiatics further solemnly pledged themselves by oath to lead the way without treachery. The oaths were ratified by the sacrifice of a bull, a wolf[2], a boar, and a ram over a shield. The Hellenes dipped a sword, the barbarians a lance, into the blood of the victims.

[2] It is a question whether the words "a wolf" ought not to be omitted.

As soon as the pledge was taken, Clearchus spoke: "And now, Ariaeus," he said, "since you and we have one expedition in prospect, will you tell us what you think about the route; shall we return the way we came, or have you devised a better?" He answered: "To return the same way is to perish to a man by hunger; for at this moment we have no provisions whatsoever. During the seventeen last stages, even on our way hither, we could extract nothing from the country; or, if there was now and again anything, we passed over and utterly consumed it. At this time our project is to take another and a longer journey certainly, but we shall not be in straits for provisions. The earliest stages must be very long, as long as we can make them; the object is to put as large a space as possible between us and the royal army; once we are two or three days' journey off, the danger is over. The king will never overtake us. With a small army he will not dare to dog our heels, and with a vast equipment he will lack the power to march quickly. Perhaps he, too, may even find a scarcity of provisions. There," said he, "you asked for my opinion, see, I have given it."

Here was a plan of the campaign, which was equivalent to a stampede: helter-skelter they were to run away, or get into hiding somehow; but fortune proved a better general. For as soon as it was day they recommenced the journey, keeping the sun on their right, and calculating that with the westering rays they would have reached villages in the territory of Babylonia, and in this hope they were not deceived. While it was yet afternoon, they thought they caught sight of some of the enemy's cavalry; and those of the Hellenes who were not in rank ran to their ranks; and Ariaeus, who was riding in a wagon to nurse a wound, got down and donned his cuirass, the rest of his party following his example. Whilst they were arming themselves, the scouts, who had been sent forward, came back with the information that they were not cavalry but baggage animals grazing. It was at once clear to all that they must be somewhere in the neighbourhood of the king's encampment. Smoke could actually be seen rising, evidently from villages not far ahead. Clearchus hesitated to advance upon the enemy, knowing that the troops were tired and hungry; and indeed it was already late. On the other hand he had no mind either to swerve from his route--guarding against any appearance of flight. Accordingly he marched straight as an arrow, and with sunset entered the nearest villages with his vanguard and took up quarters.

These villages had been thoroughly sacked and dismantled by the royal army--down to the very woodwork and furniture of the houses. Still, the vanguard contrived to take up their quarters in some sort of fashion; but the rear division, coming up in the dark, had to bivouac as best they could, one detachment after another; and a great noise they made, with hue and cry to one another, so that the enemy could hear them; and those in their immediate proximity actually took to their heels, left their quarters, and decamped, as was plain enough next morning, when not a beast was to be seen, nor sign of camp or wreath of smoke anywhere in the neighbourhood. The king, as it would appear, was himself quite taken aback by the advent of the army; as he fully showed by his proceedings next day.

During the progress of this night the Hellenes had their turn of scare--a panic seized them, and there was a noise and clatter, hardly to be explained except by the visitation of some sudden terror. But Clearchus had with him the Eleian Tolmides, the best herald of his time; him he ordered to proclaim silence, and then to give out this proclamation of the generals: "Whoever will give any information as to who let an ass into the camp shall receive a talent of silver in reward." On hearing this proclamation the soldiers made up their minds that their fear was baseless, and their generals safe and sound. At break of day Clearchus gave the order to the Hellenes to get under arms in line of battle, and take up exactly the same position as they held on the day of the battle.