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Anabasis

Page: 128

While Xenophon was thus employed, the generals and officers came back with a message from Aristarchus, who had told them they might retire for the present, but in the afternoon he would expect them. The former suspicions of a plot had now ripened to a certainty. Xenophon meantime had ascertained that the victims were favourable to his project. He personally, and the army as a whole, might with safety proceed to Seuthes, they seemed to say. Accordingly, he took with him Polycrates, the Athenian captain, and from each of the generals, not including Neon, some one man whom they could in each case trust, and in the night they set off to visit the army of Seuthes, sixty furlongs distant.

As they approached, they came upon some deserted watch-fires, and their first impression was that Seuthes had shifted his position; but presently perceiving a confused sound (the voices of Seuthes' people signalling to one another), the explanation dawned on him: Seuthes kept his watch-fires kindled in front of, instead of behind, his night pickets, in order that the outposts, being in the dark, might escape notice, their numbers and position thus being a mystery; whilst any party approaching from the outside, so far from escaping notice, would, through the glare of the fire, stand out conspicuously. Perceiving how matters stood, Xenophon sent forward his interpreter, who was one of the party, and bade him inform Seuthes that Xenophon was there and craved conference with him. The others asked if he were an Athenian from the army yonder, and no sooner had the interpreter replied, "Yes, the same," than up they leapt and galloped off; and in less time than it takes to tell a couple of hundred peltasts had come up who seized and carried off Xenophon and those with him and brought them to Seuthes. The latter was in a tower right well guarded, and there were horses round it in a circle, standing all ready bitted and bridled; for his alarm was so great that he gave his horses their provender during the day (2), and during the nights he kept watch and ward with the brutes thus bitted and bridled. It was stated in explanation that in old days an ancestor of his, named Teres, had been in this very country with a large army, several of whom he had lost at the hands of the native inhabitants, besides being robbed of his baggage train. The inhabitants of the country are Thynians, and they are reputed to be far the most warlike set of fighters—especially at night.

 (2) I.e. "instead of letting them graze."

When they drew near, Seuthes bade Xenophon enter, and bring with him any two he might choose. As soon as they were inside, they first greeted one another warmly, and then, according to the Thracian custom, pledged themselves in bowls of wine. There was further present at the elbow of Seuthes, Medosades, who on all occasions acted as his ambassador-in-chief. Xenophon took the initiative and spoke as follows: "You have sent to me, Seuthes, once and again. On the first occasion you sent Medosades yonder, to Chalcedon, and you begged me to use my influence in favour of the army crossing over from Asia. You promised me, in return for this conduct on my part, various kindnesses; at least that is what Medosades stated"; and before proceeding further he turned to Medosades and asked, "Is not that so?" The other assented. "Again, on a second occasion, the same Medosades came when I had crossed over from Parium to rejoin the army; and he promised me that if I would bring you the army, you would in various respects treat me as a friend and brother. He said especially with regard to certain seaboard places of which you are the owner and lord, that you were minded to make me a present of them." At this point he again questioned Medosades, "Whether the words attributed to him were exact?" and Medosades once more fully assented. "Come now," proceeded Xenophon, "recount what answer I made you, and first at Chalcedon." "You answered that the army was, in any case, about to cross over to Byzantium; and as far as that went, there was no need to pay you or any one else anything; and for yourself, you added, that once across you were minded to leave the army, which thing came to pass even as you said." "Well! what did I say," he asked, "at your next visit, when you came to me in Selybria?" "You said that the proposal was impossible; you were all going to Perinthus to cross into Asia." "Good," said Xenophon, "and in spite of it all, at the present moment, here I am myself, and Phryniscus, one of my colleagues, and Polycrates yonder, a captain; and outside, to represent the other generals (all except Neon the Laconian), the trustiest men they could find to send. So that if you wish to give these transactions the seal of still greater security, you have nothing to do but to summon them also; and do you, Polycrates, go and say from me, that I bid them leave their arms outside, and you can leave your own sword outside before you enter with them on your return."


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