Page: 16From this place Cyrus advanced one stage—three parasangs—with the whole body of his troops, Hellenic and barbarian alike in order of battle. He expected the king to give battle the same day, for in the middle of this day's march a deep sunk trench was reached, thirty feet broad, and eighteen feet deep. The trench was carried inland through the plain, twelve parasang's distance, to the wall of Media (1). (Here are canals, flowing from the river Tigris; they are four in number, each a hundred feet broad, and very deep, with corn ships plying upon them; they empty themselves into the Euphrates, and are at intervals of one parasang apart, and are spanned by bridges.)
(1) For "the wall of Media" see Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. ix. p. 87 and foll. note 1 (1st ed.), and various authorities there quoted or referred to. The next passage enclosed in () may possibly be a commentator's or editor's note, but, on the whole, I have thought it best to keep the words in the text instead of relegating them, as heretofore, to a note. Perhaps some future traveller may clear up all difficulties.
Between the Euphrates and the trench was a narrow passage, twenty feet only in breadth. The trench itself had been constructed by the great king upon hearing of Cyrus's approach, to serve as a line of defence. Through this narrow passage then Cyrus and his army passed, and found themselves safe inside the trench. So there was no battle to be fought with the king that day; only there were numerous unmistakable traces of horse and infantry in retreat. Here Cyrus summoned Silanus, his Ambraciot soothsayer, and presented him with three thousand darics; because eleven days back, when sacrificing, he had told him that the king would not fight within ten days, and Cyrus had answered: "Well, then, if he does not fight within that time, he will not fight at all; and if your prophecy comes true, I promise you ten talents." So now, that the ten days were passed, he presented him with the above sum.
But as the king had failed to hinder the passage of Cyrus's army at the trench, Cyrus himself and the rest concluded that he must have abandoned the idea of offering battle, so that next day Cyrus advanced with less than his former caution. On the third day he was conducting the march, seated in his carriage, with only a small body of troops drawn up in front of him. The mass of the army was moving on in no kind of order: the soldiers having consigned their heavy arms to be carried in the wagons or on the backs of beasts.
It was already about full market time (1) and the halting-place at which the army was to take up quarters was nearly reached, when Pategyas, a Persian, a trusty member of Cyrus's personal staff, came galloping up at full speed on his horse, which was bathed in sweat, and to every one he met he shouted in Greek and Persian, as fast as he could ejaculate the words: "The king is advancing with a large army ready for battle." Then ensued a scene of wild confusion. The Hellenes and all alike were expecting to be attacked on the instant, and before they could form their lines. Cyrus sprang from his carriage and donned his corselet; then leaping on to his charger's back, with the javelins firmly clutched, he passed the order to the rest, to arm themselves and fall into their several ranks.