Anabasis by Xenophon
[In the preceding portion of the narrative a full account is given of the incidents of the march up to the battle, and of the occurrences after the battle during the truce which was established between the king and the Hellenes, who marched up with Cyrus, and thirdly, of the fighting to which the Hellenes were exposed, after the king and Tissaphernes had broken the treaty, while a Persian army hung on their rear. Having finally reached a point at which the Tigris was absolutely impassable owing to its depth and breadth, while there was no passage along the bank itself, and the Carduchian hills hung sheer over the river, the generals took the resolution above mentioned of forcing a passage through the mountains. The information derived from the prisoners taken along the way led them to believe that once across the Carduchian mountains they would have the choice either of crossing the Tigris--if they liked to do so--at its sources in Armenia, or of going round them, if so they preferred. Report further said that the sources of the Euphrates also were not far from those of the Tigris, and this is actually the case. The advance into the country of the Carduchians was conducted with a view partly to secrecy, and partly to speed, so as to effect their entry before the enemy could occupy the passes.]
It was now about the last watch, and enough of the night remained to allow them to cross the valley under cover of darkness; when, at the word of command, they rose and set off on their march, reaching the mountains at daybreak. At this stage of the march Cheirisophus, at the head of his own division, with the whole of the light troops, led the van, while Xenophon followed behind with the heavy infantry of the rearguard, but without any light troops, since there seemed to be no danger of pursuit or attack from the rear, while they were making their way up hill. Cheirisophus reached the summit without any of the enemy perceiving him. Then he led on slowly, and the rest of the army followed, wave upon wave, cresting the summit and descending into the villages which nestled in the hollows and recesses of the hills.
Thereupon the Carduchians abandoned their dwelling places, and with their wives and children fled to the mountains; so there was plenty of provisions to be got for the mere trouble of taking, and the homesteads too were well supplied with a copious store of bronze vessels and utensils which the Hellenes kept their hands off, abstaining at the same time from all pursuit of the folk themselves, gently handling them, in hopes that the Carduchians might be willing to give them friendly passage through their country, since they too were enemies of the king: only they helped themselves to such provisions as fell in their way, which indeed was a sheer necessity. But the Carduchians neither gave ear, when they called to them, nor showed any other friendly sign; and now, as the last of the Hellenes descended into the villages from the pass, they were already in the dark, since, owing to the narrowness of the road, the whole day had been spent in the ascent and descent. At that instant a party of the Carduchians, who had collected, made an attack on the hindmost men, killing some and wounding others with stones and arrows--though it was quite a small body who attacked. The fact was, the approach of the Hellenic army had taken them by surprise; if, however, they had mustered in larger force at this time, the chances are that a large portion of the army would have been annihilated. As it was, they got into quarters, and bivouacked in the villages that night, while the Carduchians kept many watch-fires blazing in a circle on the mountains, and kept each other in sight all round.
But with the dawn the generals and officers of the Hellenes met and resolved to proceed, taking only the necessary number of stout baggage animals, and leaving the weaklings behind. They resolved further to let go free all the lately-captured slaves in the host; for the pace of the march was necessarily rendered slow by the quantity of animals and prisoners, and the number of non-combatants in attendance on these was excessive, while, with such a crowd of human beings to satisfy, twice the amount of provisions had to be procured and carried. These resolutions passed, they caused a proclamation by herald to be made for their enforcement.
When they had breakfasted and the march recommenced, the generals planted themselves a little to one side in a narrow place, and when they found any of the aforesaid slaves or other property still retained, they confiscated them. The soldiers yielded obedience, except where some smuggler, prompted by desire of a good-looking boy or woman, managed to make off with his prize. During this day they contrived to get along after a fashion, now fighting and now resting. But on the next day they were visited by a great storm, in spite of which they were obliged to continue the march, owing to insufficiency of provisions. Cheirisophus was as usual leading in front, while Xenophon headed the rearguard, when the enemy began a violent and sustained attack. At one narrow place after another they came up quite close, pouring in volleys of arrows and slingstones, so that the Hellenes had no choice but to make sallies in pursuit and then again recoil, making but very little progress. Over and over again Xenophon would send an order to the front to slacken pace, when the enemy were pressing their attack severely. As a rule, when the word was so passed up, Cheirisophus slackened; but sometimes instead of slackening, Cheirisophus quickened, sending down a counter-order to the rear to follow on quickly. It was clear that there was something or other happening, but there was no time to go to the front and discover the cause of the hurry. Under the circumstances the march, at any rate in the rear, became very like a rout, and here a brave man lost his life, Cleonymus the Laconian, shot with an arrow in the ribs right through shield and corselet, as also Basias, an Arcadian, shot clean through the head.
As soon as they reached a halting-place, Xenophon, without more ado, came up to Cheirisophus, and took him to task for not having waited, "whereby," he said, "we were forced to fight and flee at the same moment; and now it has cost us the lives of two fine fellows; they are dead, and we were not able to pick up their bodies or bury them." Cheirisophus answered: "Look up there," pointing as he spoke to the mountain, "do you see how inaccessible it all is? only this one road, which you see, going straight up, and on it all that crowd of men who have seized and are guarding the single exit. That is why I hastened on, and why I could not wait for you, hoping to be beforehand with them yonder in seizing the pass: the guides we have got say there is no other way." And Xenophon replied: "But I have got two prisoners also; the enemy annoyed us so much that we laid an ambuscade for them, which also gave us time to recover our breaths; we killed some of them, and did our best to catch one or two alive--for this very reason--that we might have guides who knew the country, to depend upon."
The two were brought up at once and questioned separately: "Did they know of any other road than the one visible?" The first said no; and in spite of all sorts of terrors applied to extract a better answer--"no," he persisted. When nothing could be got out of him, he was killed before the eyes of his fellow. This latter then explained: "Yonder man said, he did not know, because he has got a daughter married to a husband in those parts. I can take you," he added, "by a good road, practicable even for beasts." And when asked whether there was any point on it difficult to pass, he replied that there was a col which it would be impossible to pass unless it were occupied in advance.
Then it was resolved to summon the officers of the light infantry and some of those of the heavy infantry, and to acquaint them with the state of affairs, and ask them whether any of them were minded to distinguish themselves, and would step forward as volunteers on an expedition. Two or three heavy infantry soldiers stepped forward at once--two Arcadians, Aristonymus of Methydrium, and Agasias of Stymphalus--and in emulation of these, a third, also an Arcadian, Callimachus from Parrhasia, who said he was ready to go, and would get volunteers from the whole army to join him. "I know," he added, "there will be no lack of youngsters to follow where I lead." After that they asked, "Were there any captains of light infantry willing to accompany the expedition?" Aristeas, a Chian, who on several occasions proved his usefulness to the army on such service, volunteered.