Book VII

At this date, when nearly two months had already passed, an embassy arrived. These were two agents from Thibron--Charminus, a Lacedaemonian, and Polynicus. They were sent to say that the Lacedaemonians had resolved to open a campaign against Tissaphernes, and that Thibron, who had set sail to conduct the war, was anxious to avail himself of the troops. He could guarantee that each soldier should receive a daric a month as pay, the officers double pay, and the generals quadruple. The Lacedaemonian emissaries had no sooner arrived than Heracleides, having learnt that they had come in search of the Hellenic troops, goes off himself to Seuthes and says: "The best thing that could have happened; the Lacedaemonians want these troops and you have done with them, so that if you hand over the troops to them, you will do the Lacedaemonians a good turn and will cease to be bothered for pay any more. The country will be quit of them once and for ever."

On hearing this Seuthes bade him introduce the emissaries. As soon as they had stated that the object of their coming was to treat for the Hellenic troops, he replied that he would willingly give them up, that his one desire was to be the friend and ally of Lacedaemon. So he invited them to partake of hospitality, and entertained them magnificently; but he did not invite Xenophon, nor indeed any of the other generals. Presently the Lacedaemonians asked: "What sort of man is Xenophon?" and Seuthes answered: "Not a bad fellow in most respects; but he is too much the soldiers' friend; and that is why it goes ill with him." They asked: "Does he play the popular leader?" and Heracleides answered: "Exactly so." "Well then," said they, "he will oppose our taking away the troops, will he not?" "To be sure he will," said Heracleides; "but you have only to call a meeting of the whole body, and promise them pay, and little further heed will they pay to him; they will run off with you." "How then are we to get them collected?" they asked. "Early to-morrow," said Heracleides, "we will bring you to them; and I know," he added once more, "as soon as they set eyes on you, they will flock to you with alacrity." Thus the day ended.

The next day Seuthes and Heracleides brought the two Laconian agents to the army, and the troops were collected, and the agents made a statement as follows: "The Lacedaemonians have resolved on war with Tissaphernes, who did you so much wrong. By going with us therefore you will punish your enemy, and each of you will get a daric a month, the officers twice that sum, and the generals quadruple." The soldiers lent willing ears, and up jumped one of the Arcadians at once, to find fault with Xenophon. Seuthes also was hard by, wishing to know what was going to happen. He stood within ear shot, and his interpreter by his side; not but what he could understand most of what was said in Greek himself. At this point the Arcadian spoke: "For the matter of that, Lacedaemonians, we should have been by your sides long ago, if Xenophon had not persuaded us and brought us hither. We have never ceased campaigning, night and day, the dismal winter through, but he reaps the fruit of our toils. Seuthes has enriched him privately, but deprives us of our honest earnings; so that, standing here as I do to address you first, all I can say is, that if I might see the fellow stoned to death as a penalty for all the long dance he has led us, I should feel I had got my pay in full, and no longer grudge the pains we have undergone." The speaker was followed by another and then another in the same strain; and after that Xenophon made the following speech:--

"True is the old adage; there is nothing which mortal man may not expect to see. Here am I being accused by you to-day, just where my conscience tells me that I have displayed the greatest zeal on your behalf. Was I not actually on my road home when I turned back? Not, God knows, because I learned that you were in luck's way, but because I heard that you were in sore straits, and I wished to help you, if in any way I could. I returned, and Seuthes yonder sent me messenger after messenger, and made me promise upon promise, if only I could persuade you to come to him. Yet, as you yourselves will bear me witness, I was not to be diverted. Instead of setting my hand to do that, I simply led you to a point from which, with least loss of time, I thought you could cross into Asia. This I believed was the best thing for you, and you I knew desired it.

"But when Aristarchus came with his ships of war and hindered our passage across, you will hardly quarrel with me for the step I then took in calling you together that we might advisedly consider our best course. Having heard both sides--first Aristarchus, who ordered you to march to the Chersonese, then Seuthes, who pleaded with you to undertake a campaign with himself--you all proposed to go with Seuthes; and you all gave your votes to that effect. What wrong did I commit in bringing you, whither you were eager to go? If, indeed, since the time when Seuthes began to tell lies and cheat us about the pay, I have supported him in this, you may justly find fault with me and hate me. But if I, who at first was most of all his friend, to-day am more than any one else at variance with him, how can I, who have chosen you and rejected Seuthes, in fairness be blamed by you for the very thing which has been the ground of quarrel between him and me? But you will tell me, perhaps, that I get from Seuthes what is by right yours, and that I deal subtly by you? But is it not clear that, if Seuthes has paid me anything, he has at any rate not done so with the intention of losing by what he gives me, whilst he is still your debtor? If he gave to me, he gave in order that, by a small gift to me, he might escape a larger payment to yourselves. But if that is what you really think has happened, you can render this whole scheme of ours null and void in an instant by exacting from him the money which is your due. It is clear, Seuthes will demand back from me whatever I have got from him, and he will have all the more right to do so, if I have failed to secure for him what he bargained for when I took his gifts. But indeed, I am far removed from enjoying what is yours, and I swear to you by all the gods and goddesses that I have not taken even what Seuthes promised me in private. He is present himself and listening, and he is aware in his own heart whether I swear falsely. And what will surprise you the more, I can swear besides, that I have not received even what the other generals have received, no, nor yet what some of the officers have received. But how so? why have I managed my affairs no better? I thought, sirs, the more I helped him to bear his poverty at the time, the more I should make him my friend in the day of his power. Whereas, it is just when I see the star of his good fortune rising, that I have come to divine the secret of his character.

"Some one may say, are you not ashamed to be so taken in like a fool? Yes, I should be ashamed, if it had been an open enemy who had so decieved me. But, to my mind, when friend cheats friend, a deeper stain attaches to the perpetrator than to the victim of deceit. Whatever precaution a man may take against his friend, that we took in full. We certainly gave him no pretext for refusing to pay us what he promised. We were perfectly upright in our dealings with him. We did not dawdle over his affairs, nor did we shrink from any work to which he challenged us.

"But you will say, I ought to have taken security of him at the time, so that had he fostered the wish, he might have lacked the ability to decieve. To meet that retort, I must beg you to listen to certain things, which I should never have said in his presence, except for your utter want of feeling towards me, or your extraordinary ingratitude. Try and recall the posture of your affairs, when I extricated you and brought you to Seuthes. Do you not recollect how at Perinthus Aristarchus shut the gates in your faces each time you offered to approach the town, and how you were driven to camp outside under the canopy of heaven? It was midwinter; you were thrown upon the resources of a market wherein few were the articles offered for sale, and scanty the wherewithal to purchase them. Yet stay in Thrace you must, for there were ships of war riding at anchor in the bay, ready to hinder your passage across; and what did that stay imply? It meant being in a hostile country, confronted by countless cavalry, legions of light infantry. And what had we? A heavy infantry force certainly, with which we could have dashed at villages in a body possibly, and seized a modicum of food at most; but as to pursuing the enemy with such a force as ours, or capturing men or cattle, the thing was out of the question; for when I rejoined you your original cavalry and light infantry divisions had disappeared. In such sore straits you lay!

"Supposing that, without making any demands for pay whatever, I had merely won for you the alliance of Seuthes--whose cavalry and light infantry were just what you needed--would you not have thought that I had planned very well for you? I presume, it was through your partnership with him and his that you were able to find such complete stores of corn in the villages, when the Thracians were driven to take to their heels in such hot haste, and you had so large a share of captives and cattle. Why! from the day on which his cavalry force was attached to us, we never set eyes on a single foeman in the field, though up to that date the enemy with his cavalry and his light infantry used undauntedly to hang on our heels, and effectually prevented us from scattering in small bodies and reaping a rich harvest of provisions. But if he who partly gave you this security has failed to pay in full the wages due to you therefrom, is not that a terrible misfortune? So monstrous indeed that you think I ought not to go forth alive[1].

[1] I.e. the fate of a scape-goat is too good for me.

"But let me ask you, in what condition do you turn your backs on this land to-day? Have you not wintered here in the lap of plenty? Whatever you have got from Seuthes has been surplus gain. Your enemies have had to meet the bill of your expenses, whilst you led a merry round of existence, in which you have not once set eyes on the dead body of a comrade or lost one living man. Again, if you have achieved any, (or rather many) noble deeds against the Asiatic barbarian, you have them safe. And in addition to these to-day you have won for yourselves a second glory. You undertook a campaign against the European Thracians, and have mastered them. What I say then is, that these very matters which you make a ground of quarrel against myself, are rather blessings for which you ought to show gratitude to heaven.

"Thus far I have confined myself to your side of the matter. Bear with me, I beg you, while we examine mine. When I first essayed to part with you and journey homewards, I was doubly blest. From your lips I had won some praise, and, thanks to you, I had obtained glory from the rest of Hellas. I was trusted by the Lacedaemonians; else would they not have sent me back to you. Whereas to-day I turn to go, calumniated before the Lacedaemonians by yourselves, detested in your behalf by Seuthes, whom I meant so to benefit, by help of you, that I should find in him a refuge for myself and for my children, if children I might have, in after time. And you the while, for whose sake I have incurred so much hate, the hate of people far superior to me in strength, you, for whom I have not yet ceased to devise all the good I can, entertain such sentiments about me. Why? I am no renegade or runaway slave, you have got hold of. If you carry out what you say, be sure you will have done to death a man who has passed many a vigil in watching over you; who has shared with you many a toil and run many a risk in turn and out of turn; who, thanks to the gracious gods! has by your side set up full many a trophy over the barbarian; who, lastly, has strained every nerve in his body to protect you against yourselves. And so it is, that to-day you can move freely, where you choose, by sea or by land, and no one can say you nay; and you, on whom this large liberty dawns, who are sailing to a long desired goal, who are sought after by the greatest of military powers, who have pay in prospect, and for leaders these Lacedaemonians, our acknowledged chiefs: now is the appointed time, you think, to put me to a speedy death. But in the days of our difficulties it was very different, O ye men of marvellous memory! No! in those days you called me 'father!' and you promised you would bear me ever in mind, 'your benefactor.' Not so, however, not so ungracious are those who have come to you to-day; nor, if I mistake not, have you bettered yourselves in their eyes by your treatment of me."

With these words he paused, and Charminus the Lacedaemonian got up and said: "Nay, by the Twins, you are wrong, surely, in your anger against this man; I myself can bear testimony in his favour. When Polynicus and I asked Seuthes, what sort of a man he was? Seuthes answered:--he had but one fault to find with him, that he was too much the soldiers' friend, which also was the cause why things went wrong with him, whether as regards us Lacedaemonians or himself, Seuthes."

Upon that Eurylochus of Lusia, an Arcadian, got up and said (addressing the two Lacedaemonians), "Yes, sirs; and what strikes me is that you cannot begin your generalship of us better than by exacting from Seuthes our pay. Whether he like it or no, let him pay in full; and do not take us away before."

Polycrates the Athenian, who was put forward by Xenophon, said: "If my eyes do not deceive me, sirs, there stands Heracleides, yonder, the man who received the property won by our toil, who took and sold it, and never gave back either to Seuthes or to us the proceeds of the sale, but kept the money to himself, like the thief he is. If we are wise, we will lay hold of him, for he is no Thracian, but a Hellene; and against Hellenes is the wrong he has committed."

When Heracleides heard these words, he was in great consternation; so he came to Seuthes and said: "If we are wise we will get away from here out of reach of these fellows." So they mounted their horses and were gone in a trice, galloping to their own camp. Subsequently Seuthes sent Abrozelmes, his private interpreter, to Xenophon, begging him to stay behind with one thousand heavy tropps; and engaging duly to deliver to him the places on the seaboard, and the other things which he had promised; and then, as a great secret, he told him, that he had heard from Polynicus that if he once got into the clutches of the Lacedaemonians, Thibron was certain to put him to death. Similar messages kept coming to Xenophon by letter or otherwise from several quarters, warning him that he was calumniated, and had best be on his guard. Hearing which, he took two victims and sacrificed to Zeus the King: "Whether it were better and happier to stay with Seuthes on the terms proposed, or depart with the army?" The answer he received was, "Depart."