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Anabasis

Page: 12

On the opposite side of the Euphrates to the point reached on one of these desert stages, was a large and flourishing city named Charmande. From this town the soldiers made purchases of provisions, crossing the river on rafts, in the following fashion: They took the skins which they used as tent coverings, and filled them with light grass; they then compressed and stitched them tightly together by the ends, so that the water might not touch the hay. On these they crossed and got provisions: wine made from the date-nut, and millet or panic-corn, the common staple of the country. Some dispute or other here occurred between the soldiers of Menon and Clearchus, in which Clearchus sentenced one of Menon's men, as the delinquent, and had him flogged. The man went back to his own division and told them. Hearing what had been done to their comrade, his fellows fretted and fumed, and were highly incensed against Clearchus. The same day Clearchus visited the passage of the river, and after inspecting the market there, was returning with a few followers, on horseback, to his tent, and had to pass through Menon's quarters. Cyrus had not yet come up, but was riding up in the same direction. One of Menon's men, who was splitting wood, caught sight of Clearchus as he rode past, and aimed a blow at him with his axe. The aim took no effect; when another hurled a stone at him, and a third, and then several, with shouts and hisses. Clearchus made a rapid retreat to his own troops, and at once ordered them to get under arms. He bade his hoplites remain in position with their shields resting against their knees, while he, at the head of his Thracians and horsemen, of which he had more than forty in his army—Thracians for the most part—advanced against Menon's soldiers, so that the latter, with Menon himself, were panic-stricken, and ran to seize their arms; some even stood riveted to the spot, in perplexity at the occurrence. Just then Proxenus came up from behind, as chance would have it, with his division of hoplites, and without a moment's hesitation marched into the open space between the rival parties, and grounded arms; then he fell to begging Clearchus to desist. The latter was not too well pleased to hear his trouble mildly spoken of, when he had barely escaped being stoned to death; and he bade Proxenus retire and leave the intervening space open. At this juncture Cyrus arrived and inquired what was happening. There was no time for hesitation. With his javelins firmly grasped in his hands he galloped up—escorted by some of his faithful bodyguard, who were present—and was soon in the midst, exclaiming: "Clearchus, Proxenus, and you other Hellenes yonder, you know not what you do. As surely as you come to blows with one another, our fate is sealed—this very day I shall be cut to pieces, and so will you: your turn will follow close on mine. Let our fortunes once take an evil turn, and these barbarians whom you see around will be worse foes to us than those who are at present serving the king." At these words Clearchus came to his senses. Both parties paused from battle, and retired to their quarters: order reigned.


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