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Anabasis

Page: 10

(1) Cf. Plat. "Alcib." i. 123 B. "Why, I have been informed by a credible person, who went up to the king (at Susa), that he passed through a large tract of excellent land, extending for nearly a day's journey, which the people of the country called the queen's girdle, and another which they called her veil," etc. Olympiodorus and the Scholiast both think that Plato here refers to Xenophon and this passage of the "Anabasis." Grote thinks it very probable that Plato had in his mind Xenophon (either his "Anabasis" or personal communications with him).

The men heard and obeyed, and before the rest had given their answer, they were already across. But when Cyrus perceived that Menon's troops had crossed, he was well pleased, and he sent Glus to the division in question, with this message: "Soldiers, accept my thanks at present; eventually you shall thank me. I will see to that, or my name is not Cyrus." The soldiers therefore could not but pray heartily for his success; so high their hopes ran. But to Menon, it was said, he sent gifts with lordly liberality. This done, Cyrus proceeded to cross; and in his wake followed the rest of the armament to a man. As they forded, never a man was wetted above the chest: nor ever until this moment, said the men of Thapascus, had the river been so crossed on foot, boats had always been required; but these, at the present time, Abrocomas, in his desire to hinder Cyrus from crossing, had been at pains to burn. Thus the passage was looked upon as a thing miraculous; the river had manifestly retired before the face of Cyrus, like a courtier bowing to his future king. From this place he continued his march through Syria nine stages—fifty parasangs—and they reached the river Araxes. Here were several villages full of corn and wine; in which they halted three days, and provisioned the army.





V

Thence he marched on through Arabia, keeping the Euphrates on the right, five desert stages—thirty-five parasangs. In this region the ground was one long level plain, stretching far and wide like the sea, full of absinth; whilst all the other vegetation, whether wood or reed, was sweet scented like spice or sweet herb; there were no trees; but there was wild game of all kinds—wild asses in greatest abundance, with plenty of ostriches; besides these, there were bustards and antelopes. These creatures were occasionally chased by the cavalry. The asses, when pursued, would run forward a space, and then stand still—their pace being much swifter than that of horses; and as soon as the horses came close, they went through the same performance. The only way to catch them was for the riders to post themselves at intervals, and to hunt them in relays, as it were. The flesh of those they captured was not unlike venison, only more tender. No one was lucky enough to capture an ostrich. Some of the troopers did give chase, but it had soon to be abandoned; for the bird, in its effort to escape, speedily put a long interval between itself and its pursuers; plying its legs at full speed, and using its wings the while like a sail. The bustards were not so hard to catch when started suddenly; for they only take short flights, like partridges, and are soon tired. Their flesh is delicious.


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