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Anabasis

Page: 136

In these villages he decided that they must bivouac, so that the men on the mountains might be still further deprived of subsistence. Stealthily descending he himself found quarters in the plain; while Xenophon with his picked troops encamped in the highest village on the skirts of the hills,; and the rest of the Hellenes hard by, among the highland Thracians (1), as they are called.

 (1) Cf. "Highlanders."

After this, not many days had idly slipt away before the Thracians from the mountains came down and wished to arrange with Seuthes for terms of truce and hostages. Simultaneously came Xenophon and informed Seuthes that they were camped in bad quarters, with the enemy next door; "it would be pleasanter too," he added, "to bivouac in a strong position in the open, than under cover on the edge of destruction." The other bade him take heart and pointed to some of their hostages, as much as to say "Look there!" Parties also from the mountaineers came down and pleaded with Xenophon himself, to help arrange a truce for them. This he agreed to do, bidding them to pluck up heart, and assuring them that they would meet with no mischief, if they yielded obedience to Seuthes. All their parleying, however, was, as it turned out, merely to get a closer inspection of things. This happened in the day, and in the following night the Thynians descended from the hill country and made an attack. In each case, the guide was the master of the house attacked; otherwise it would have taxed their powers to discover the houses in the dark, which, for the sake of their flocks and herds, were palisaded all round with great stockades. As soon as they had reached the doors of any particular house, the attack began, some hurling in their spears, others belabouring with their clubs, which they carried, it was said, for the purpose of knocking off the lance points from the shaft. Others were busy setting the place on fire; and they kept calling Xenophon by name: "Come out, Xenophon, and die like a man, or we will roast you alive inside."

By this time too the flames were making their appearance through the roof, and Xenophon and his followers were within, with their coats of mail on, and big shields, swords, and helmets. Then Silanus, a Macistian (2), a youth of some eighteen years, signalled on the trumpet; and in an instant, out they all leapt with their drawn swords, and the inmates of other quarters as well. The Thracians took to their heels, according to their custom, swinging their light shields round their backs. As they leapt over the stockade some were captured, hanging on the top with their shields caught in the palings; others missed the way out, and so were slain; and the Hellenes chased them hotly, till they were outside the village.

 (2) "Of Macistus," a town in the Triphylia near Scillus.

A party of Thynians turned back, and as the men ran past in bold relief against a blazing house, they let fly a volley of javelins, out of the darkness into the glare, and wounded two captains, Hieronymus, an Euodean (3), and Theogenes, a Locrian. No one was killed, only the clothes and baggage of some of the men were consumed in the flames. Presently up came Seuthes to the rescue with seven troopers, the first to hand, and his Thracian trumpeteer by his side. Seeing that something had happened, he hastened to the rescue, and ever the while his bugler wound his horn, which music added terror to the foe. Arrived at length, he greeted them with outstretched hand, exclaiming, "I thought to find you all dead men."

          

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