Book VI
V
 

And so they spent the night, but with day-dawn the generals led the way into the natural fastness, and the others picked up their arms and baggage and followed the lead. Before the breakfast-hour arrived, they had fenced off with a ditch the only side on which lay ingress into the place, and had palisaded off the whole, leaving only three gates. Anon a ship from Heraclea arrived bringing barleymeal, victim animals, and wine.

Xenophon was up betimes, and made the usual offering before starting on an expedition, and at the first victim the sacrifice was favourable. Just as the sacrifice ended, the seer, Arexion the Parrhasian, caught sight of an eagle, which boded well, and bade Xenophon lead on. So they crossed the trench and grounded arms. Then proclamation was made by herald for the soldiers to breakfast and start on an expedition under arms; the mob of sutlers and the captured slaves would be left in camp. Accordingly the mass of the troops set out. Neon alone remained; for it seemed best to leave that general and his men to guard the contents of the camp. But when the officers and soldiers had left them in the lurch, they were so ashamed to stop in camp while the rest marched out, that they too set out, leaving only those above five-and-forty years of age.

These then stayed, while the rest set out on the march. Before they had gone two miles, they stumbled upon dead bodies, and when they had brought up the rear of the column in a line with the first bodies to be seen, they began digging graves and burying all included in the column from end to end. After burying the first batch, they advanced, and again bringing the rear even with the first unburied bodies which appeared, they buried in the same way all which the line of troops included. Finally, reaching the road that led out of the villages where the bodies lay thick together, they collected them and laid them in a common grave.

It was now about midday, when pushing forward the troops up to the villages without entering them, they proceeded to seize prvoisions, laying hands on everything they could set eyes on under cover of their lines; when suddenly they caught sight of the enemy cresting certain hillocks in front of them, duly marshalled in line--a large body of cavalry and infantry. It was Spithridates and Rhathines, sent by Pharnabazus with their forec at their backs. As soon as the enemy caught sight of the Hellenes, they stood still, about two miles distant. Then Arexion the seer sacrificed, and at the first essay the victims were favourable. Whereupon Xenophon addressed the other generals: "I would advise, sirs, that we should detach one or more flying columns to support our main attack, so that in case of need at any point we may have reserves in readiness to assist our main body, and the enemy, in the confusion of battle, may find himself attacking the unbroken lines of troops not hitherto engaged." These views approved themselves to all. "Do you then," said he, "lead on the vanguard straight at the enemy. Do not let us stand parleying here, now that we have caught sight of him and he of us. I will detach the hindmost companies in the way we have decided upon and follow you." After that they quietly advanced, and he, withdrawing the rear-rank companies in three brigades consisting of a couple of hundred men apiece, commissioned the first on the right to follow the main body at the distance of a hundred feet. Samolas the Achaean was in command of this brigade. The duty of the second, under the command of Pyrrhias the Arcadian, was to follow in the centre. The last was posted on the left, with Phrasias, an Athenian, in command. As they advanced, the vanguard reached a large and difficult woody glen, and halted, not knowing whether the obstacle needed to be crossed or not. They passed down the word for the generals and officers to come forward to the front. Xenophon, wondering what it was that stopped the march, and presently hearing the above order passed along the ranks, rode up with all speed. As soon as they were met, Sophaenetus, as the eldest general, stated his opinion that the question, whether a gully of that kind ought to be crossed or not, was not worth discussing. Xenophon, with some ardour, retorted: "You know, sirs, I have not been in the habit hitherto of introducing you to danger which you might avoid. It is not your reputation for courage surely that is at stake, but your safe return home. But now the matter stands thus: It is impossible to retire from this point without a battle; if we do not advance against the enemy ourselves, he will follow us as soon as we have turned our backs and attack us. Consider, then; is it better to go and meet the foe with arms advanced, or with arms reversed to watch him as he assails us on our rear? You know this at any rate, that to retire before an enemy has nothing glorious about it, whereas attack engenders courage even in a coward. For my part, I would rather at any time attack with half my men than retreat with twice the number. As to these fellows, if we attack them, I am sure you do not really expect them to await us; though, if we retreat, we know for certain they will be emboldened to pursue us. Nay, if the result of crossing is to place a difficult gully behind us when we are on the point of engaging, surely that is an advantage worth seizing. At least, if it were left to me, I would choose that everything should appear smooth and passable to the enemy, which may invite retreat; but for ourselves we may bless the ground which teaches us that except in victory we have no deliverance. It astonishes me that any one should deem this particular gully a whit more terrible than any of the other barriers which we have successfully passed. How impassable was the plain, had we failed to conquer their cavalry! how insurmountable the mountains already traversed by us, with all their peltasts in hot pursuit at our heels! Nay, when we have safely reached the sea, the Pontus will present a somewhat formidable gully, when we have neither vessels to convey us away nor corn to keep us alive whilst we stop. But we shall no sooner be there than we must be off again to get provisions. Surely it is better to fight to-day after a good breakfast than to-morrow on an empty stomach. Sirs, the offerings are favourable to us, the omens are propitious, the victims more than promising; let us attack the enemy! Now that they have had a good look at us, these fellows must not be allowed to enjoy their dinners or choose a camp at their own sweet will."

After that the officers bade him lead on. None gainsaid, and he led the way. His orders were to cross the gully, where each man chanced to find himself. By this method, as it seemed to him, the troops would more quickly mass themselves on the far side than was possible, if they defiled along[1] the bridge which spanned the gully. But once across he passed along the line and addressed the troops: "Sirs, call to mind what by help of the gods you have already done. Bethink you of the battles you have won at close quarters with the foe; of the fate which awaits those who flee before their foes. Forget not that we stand at the very doors of Hellas. Follow in the steps of Heracles, our guide, and cheer each the other onwards by name. Sweet were it surely by some brave and noble word or deed, spoken or done this day, to leave the memory of oneself in the hearts of those one loves."

[1] Lit. "had they wound off thread by thread"; the metaphor is from unwinding a ball of wool.

These words were spoken as he rode past, and simultaneously he began leading on the troops in battle line; and, placing the peltasts on either flank of the main body, they moved against the enemy. Along the line the order had sped "to keep their spears at rest on the right shoulder until the bugle signal; then lower them for the charge, slow march, and even pace, no one to quicken into a run." Lastly, the watchword was passed, "Zeus the Saviour, Heracles our Guide." The enemy waited their approach, confident in the excellence of his position; but as they drew closer the Hellene light troops, with a loud alala! without waiting for the order, dashed against the foe. The latter, on their side, came forward eagerly to meet the charge, both the cavalry and the mass of the Bithynians; and these turned the peltasts. But when with counter-wave the phalanx of the heavy infantry rapidly advancing, faced them, and at the same time the bugle sounded, and the battle hymn rose from all lips, and after this a loud cheer rose, and at the same instant they couched their spears;--at this conjuncture the enemy no longer welcomed them, but fled. Timasion with his cavalry followed close, and, considering their scant numbers, they did great execution. It was the left wing of the enemy, in a line with which the Hellene cavalry were posted, that was so speedily scattered. But the right, which was not so hotly pursued, collected upon a knoll; and when the Hellenes saw them standing firm, it seemed the easiest and least dangerous course to go against them at once. Raising the battle hymn, they straightway fell upon them, but the others did not await their coming. Thereupon the peltasts gave chase until the right of the enemy was in its turn scattered, though with slight loss in killed; for the enemy's cavalry was numerous and threatening.

But when the Hellenes saw the cavalry of Pharnabazus still standing in compact order, and the Bithynian horsemen massing together as if to join it, and like spectators gazing down from a knoll at the occurrences below; though weary, they determined to attack the enemy as best they could, and not suffer him to recover breath with reviving courage. So they formed in compact line and advanced. Thereupon the hostile cavalry turned and fled down the steep as swiftly as if they had been pursued by cavalry. In fact they sought the shelter of a gully, the existence of which was unknown to the Hellenes. The latter accordingly turned aside too soon and gave up the chase, for it was too late. Returning to the point where the first encounter took place they erected a trophy, and went back to the sea about sunset. It was something like seven miles to camp.