Book VII

After listening to these proposals, they gave and accepted pledges of good faith; and so the deputation rode off. Before day they were back again in camp, and severally rendered a report to those who sent them. At dawn Aristarchus again summoned the generals and officers, but the latter resolved to have done with the visit to Aristarchus, and to summon a meeting of the army. In full conclave the soldiers met, with the exception of Neon's men, who remained about ten furlongs off. When they were met together Xenophon rose, and made the following announcement: "Men, Aristarchus with his ships of war hinders us from sailing where we fain would go; it is not even safe to set foot on board a vessel. But if he hinders us here, he hastens us there. 'Be off to the Chersonese,' says he, 'force a passage through the Sacred mountain.' If we master it and succeed in getting to that place, he has something in store for us. He promises that he will not sell you any more, as he did at Byzantium; you shall not be cheated again; you shall have pay; he will no longer, as now, suffer you to remain in want of provisions. That is his proposal. But Seuthes says that if you will go to him he will treat you well. What you have now to consider is, whether you will stay to debate this question, or leave its settlement till we have gone up into a land of provisions. If you ask me my opinion, it is this: Since here we have neither money to buy, nor leave to take without money what we need, why should we not go up into these villages where the right to help ourselves is conferred by might? There, unhampered by the want of bare necessaries, you can listen to what this man and the other wants of you and choose whichever sounds best. Let those," he added, "who agree to this, hold up their hands." They all held them up. "Retire then," said he, "and get your kit together, and at the word of command, follow your leader."

After this, Xenophon put himself at the head and the rest followed. Neon, indeed, and other agents from Aristarchus tried to turn them from their purpose, but to their persuasions they turned a deaf ear. They had not advanced much more than three miles, when Seuthes met them; and Xenophon, seeing him, bade him ride up. He wished to tell him what they felt to be conducive to their interests, and in the presence of as many witnesses as possible. As soon as he had approached, Xenophon said: "We are going where the troops will have enough to live upon; when we are there, we will listen to you and to the emissaries of the Laconian, and choose between you both whatever seems best. If then you will lead us where provisions are to be got in plenty, we shall feel indebted to you for your hospitality." And Seuthes answered: "For the matter of that, I know many villages, close-packed and stocked with all kinds of provisions, just far enough off to give you a good appetite for your breakfasts." "Lead on then!" said Xenophon. When they had reached the villages in the afternoon, the soldiers met, and Seuthes made the following speech: "My request to you, sirs, is that you will take the field with me, and my promise to you is that I will give every man of you a cyzicene, and to the officers and generals at the customary rate; besides this I will honour those who show special merit. Food and drink you shall get as now for yourselves from the country; but whatever is captured, I shall claim to have myself, so that by distribution of it I may provide you with pay. Let them flee, let them creep into hiding-places, we shall be able to pursue after them, we will track them out; or if they resist, along with you we will endeavour to subdue them to our hands." Xenophon inquired: "And how far from the sea shall you expect the army to follow you?" "Nowhere more than seven days' journey," he answered, "and in many places less."

After this, permission was given for all who wished to speak, and many spoke, but ever to one and the same tune: "What Seuthes said, was very right. It was winter, and for a man to sail home, even if he had the will to do so, was impossible. On the other hand, to continue long in a friendly country, where they must depend upon what they could purchase, was equally beyond their power. If they were to wear away time and support life in a hostile country, it was safer to do so with Seuthes than by themselves, not to speak of all these good things; but if they were going to get pay into the bargain, that indeed was a godsend." To complete the proceedings, Xenophon said: "If any one opposes the measure, let him state his views; if not, let the officer put the proposition to the vote." No one opposed; they put it to the vote, and the resolution was carried; and without loss of time, he informed Seuthes that they would take the field with him.

After this the troops messed in their separate divisions, but the generals and officers were invited by Seuthes to dinner at a neighbouring village which was in his possession. When they were at the doors, and on the point of stepping in to dinner, they were met by a certain Heracleides, of Maronea[1]. He came up to each guest, addressing himself particularly to those who, as he conjectured, ought to be able to make a present to Seuthes. He addressed himself first to some Parians who were there to arrange a friendship with Medocus, the king of the Odrysians, and were bearers of presents to the king and to his wife. Heracleides reminded them: "Medocus is up country twelve days' journey from the sea; but Seuthes, now that he has got this army, will be lord on the sea-coast; as your neighbour, then, he is the man to do you good or do you ill. If you are wise, you will give him whatever he askes of you. On the whole, it will be laid out at better interest than if you have it to Medocus, who lives so far off." That was his mode of persuasion in their case. Next he came to Timasion the Dardanian, who, some one had told him, was the happy possessor of certain goblets and oriental carpets. What he said to him was: "It is customary when people are invited to dinner by Seuthes for the guests to make him a present; now if he should become a great person in these parts, he will be able to restore you to your native land, or to make you a rich man here." Such were the solicitations which he applied to each man in turn whom he accosted. Presently he came to Xenophon and said: "You are at once a citizen of no mean city, and with Seuthes also your own name is very great. Maybe you expect to obtain a fort or two in this country, just as others of your countrymen have done[2], and territory. It is only right and proper therefore that you should honour Seuthes in the most magnificent style. Be sure, I give this advice out of pure friendliness, for I know that the greater the gift that you are ready to bestow on him, the better the treatment you will receive at his hands." Xenophon, on hearing this, was in a sad dilemma, for he had brought with him, when he crossed from Parium, nothing but one boy and just enough to pay his travelling expenses.

[1] A Greek colony in Thrace. Among Asiatico-Ionian colonies were Abdera, founded by Teos, and Maroneia, celebrated for its wine, founded by Chios about 540 B.C.--Kiepert, "Man. Anct. Geog." viii. 182.

[2] Notably Alcibiades, who possessed two or three such fortresses.

As soon as the company, consisting of the most powerful Thracians there present, with the generals and captains of the Hellenes, and any embassy from a state which might be there, had arrived, they were seated in a circle, and the dinner was served. Thereupon three-legged stools were brought in and placed in front of the assembled guests. They were laden with pieces of meat, piled up, and there were huge leavened-loaves fastened on to the pieces of meat with long skewers. The tables, as a rule, were set beside the guests at intervals. That was the custom; and Seuthes set the fashion of the performance. He took up the loaves which lay by his side and broke them into little pieces, and then threw the fragments here to one and there to another as seemed to him good; and so with the meat likewise, leaving for himself the merest taste. Then the rest fell to following the fashion set them, those that is who had tables placed beside them.

Now there was an Arcadian, Arystas by name, a huge eater; he soon got tired of throwing the pieces about, and seized a good three-quarters loaf in his two hands, placed some pieces of meat upon his knees, and proceeded to discuss his dinner. Then beakers of wine were brought round, and every one partook in turn; but when the cupbearer came to Arystas and handed him the bowl, he looked up, and seeing that Xenophon had done eating: "Give it him," quoth he, "he is more at leisure. I have something better to do at present." Seuthes, hearing a remark, asked the cupbearer what was said, and the cupbearer, who knew how to talk Greek, explained. Then followed a peal of laughter.

When the drinking had advanced somewhat, in came a Thracian with a white horse, who snatched the brimming bowl and said: "Here's a health to thee, O Seuthes! Let me present thee with this horse. Mounted on him, thou shalt capture whom thou choosest to pursue, or retiring from battle, thou shalt not dread the foe." He was followed by one who brought in a boy, and presented him in proper style with "Here's a health to thee, O Seuthes!" A third had "clothes for his wife." Timasion, the Dardanian, pledged Seuthes, and presented a silver bowl[3] and a carpet worth ten minae. Gnesippus, an Athenian, got up and said: "It was a good old custom, and a fine one too, that those who had, should give to the king for honour's sake, but to those who had not, the king should give; whereby, my lord," he added, "I too may one day have the wherewithal to give thee gifts and honour." Xenophon the while was racking his brains what he was to do; he was not the happier because he was seated in the seat next Seuthes as a mark of honour; and Heracleides bade the cupbearer hand him the bowl. The wine had perhaps a little mounted to his head; he rose, and manfully seized the cup, and spoke: "I also, Seuthes, have to present you with myself and these my dear comrades to be your trusty friends, and not one of them against his will. They are more ready, one and all, still more than I, to be your friends. Here they are; they ask nothing from you in return, rather they are forward to labour in your behalf; it will be their pleasure to bear the brunt of battle in voluntary service. With them, God willing, you will gain vast territory; you will recover what was once your forefathers'; you will win for yourself new lands; and not lands only, but horses many, and of men a multitude, and many a fair dame besides. You will not need to seize upon them in robber fashion; it is your friends here who, of their own accord, shall take and bring them to you, they shall lay them at your feet as gifts." Up got Seuthes and drained with him the cup, and with him sprinkled the last drops fraternally[4].

[3] Or rather "saucer" ({phiale}).

[4] For the Thracian custom, vide Suidas, s.v. {kataskedazein}.

At this stage entered musicians blowing upon horns such as they use for signal calls, and trumpeting on trumpets, made of raw oxhide, tunes and airs, like the music of the double-octave harp[5]. Seuthes himself got up and shouted, trolling forth a war song; then he sprang from his place and leapt about as though he would guard himself against a missile, in right nimble style. Then came in a set of clowns and jesters.

[5] Or, "magadis." This is said to have been one of the most perfect instruments. It comprised two full octaves, the left hand playing the same notes as the right an octave lower. Guhl and Koner, p. 203, Engl. transl. See also "Dict. Antiq." "Musica"; and Arist. "Polit." xix. 18, {Dia ti e dia pason sumphonia adetai mone; magasizousi gar tauten, allen de oudemian}, i.e. "since no interval except the octave ({dia pason}) could be 'magidised' (the effect of any other is well known to be intolerable), therefore no other interval was employed at all."

But when the sun began to set, the Hellenes rose from their seats. It was time, they said, to place the night sentinels and to pass the watchword; further, they begged of Seuthes to issue an order that none of the Thracians were to enter the Hellenic camp at night, "since between your Thracian foes and our Thracian friends there might be some confusion." As they sallied forth, Seuthes rose to accompany them, like the soberest of men. When they were outside, he summoned the generals apart and said: "Sirs, our enemies are not aware as yet of our alliance. If, therefore, we attack them before they take precautions not to be caught, or are prepared to repel assault, we shall make a fine haul of captives and other stock." The generals fully approved of these views, and bade him lead on. He answered: "Prepare and wait; as soon as the right time comes I will be with you. I shall pick up the peltasts and yourselves, and with the help of the gods, I will lead on." "But consider one point," urged Xenophon; "if we are to march by night, is not the Hellenic fashion best? When marching in the daytime that part of the army leads the van which seems best suited to the nature of the country to be traversed--heavy or light infantry, or cavalry; but by night our rule is that the slowest arm should take the lead. Thus we avoid the risk of being pulled to pieces: and it is not so easy for a man to give his neighbour the slip without intending, whereas the scattered fragments of an army are apt to fall foul of one another, and to cause damage or incur it in sheer ignorance." To this Seuthes replied: "You reason well, and I will adopt your custom. I will furnish you with guides chosen from the oldest experts of the country, and I will myself follow with the cavalry in the rear; it will not take me long, if need be, to present myself at the front." Then, for kinship's sake, they chose "Athenaia[6]" as their watchword. With this, they turned and sought repose.

[6] "Our Lady of Athens."

It was about midnight when Seuthes presented himself with his cavalry troopers armed with corselets, and his light infantry under arms. As soon as he had handed over to them the promised guides, the heavy infantry took the van, followed by the light troops in the centre, while the cavalry brought up the rear. At daybreak Seuthes rode up to the front. He complimented them on their method: so often had he himself, while marching by night with a mere handful of men, been separated with his cavalry from his infantry. "But now," said he, "we find ourselves at dawn of day all happily together, just as we ought to be. Do you wait for me here," he proceeded, "and recruit yourselves. I will take a look round and rejoin you." So saying he took a certain path over hill and rode off. As soon as he had reached deep snow, he looked to see whether there were footprints of human beings leading forward or in the opposite direction; and having satisfied himself that the road was untrodden, back he came, exclaiming: "God willing, sirs, it will be all right; we shall fall on the fellows, before they know where they are. I will lead on with the cavalry; so that if we catch sight of any one, he shall not escape and give warning to the enemy. Do you follow, and if you are left behind, keep to the trail of the horses. Once on the other side of the mountains, we shall find ourselves in numerous thriving villages."

By the middle of the day he had already gained the top of the pass and looked down upon the villages below. Back he came riding to the heavy infantry and said: "I will at once send off the cavalry into the plain below, and the peltasts too, to attack the villages. Do you follow with what speed you may, so that in case of resistance you may lend us your aid." Hearing this, Xenophon dismounted, and the other asked: "Why do you dismount just when speed is the thing we want?" The other answered: "But you do not want me alone, I am sure. The hoplites will run all the quicker and more cheerily if I lead them on foot."

Thereupon Seuthes went off, and Timasion with him, taking the Hellene squadron of something like forty troopers. Then Xenophon passed the order: the active young fellows up to thirty years of age from the different companies to the front; and off with these he went himself, bowling along[7]; while Cleanor led the other Hellenes. When they had reached the villages, Seuthes, with about thirty troopers, rode up, exclaiming: "Well, Xenophon, this is just what you said! the fellows are caught, but now look here. My cavalry have gone off unsupported; they are scattered in pursuit, one here, one there, and upon my word, I am more than half afraid the enemy will collect somewhere and do them a mischief. Some of us must remain in the villages, for they are swarming with human beings." "Well then," said Xenophon, "I will seize the heights with the men I have with me, and do you bid Cleanor extend his line along the level beside the villages." When they had done so, there were enclosed--of captives for the slave market, one thousand; of cattle, two thousand; and of other small cattle, ten thousand. For the time being they took up quarters there.

[7] {etropkhaze}, a favourite word with our author. Herodotus uses it; so does Aristot.; so also Polybius; but the Atticists condemn it, except of course in poetry.