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Anabasis

Page: 34





V

After this they reached the river Zapatas (1), which is four hundred feet broad, and here they halted three days. During the interval suspicions were rife, though no act of treachery displayed itself. Clearchus accordingly resolved to bring to an end these feelings of mistrust, before they led to war. Consequently, he sent a messenger to the Persian to say that he desired an interview with him; to which the other readily consented. As soon as they were met, Clearchus spoke as follows: "Tissaphernes," he said, "I do not forget that oaths have been exchanged between us, and right hands shaken, in token that we will abstain from mutual injury; but I can see that you watch us narrowly, as if we were foes; and we, seeing this, watch you narrowly in return. But as I fail to discover, after investigation, that you are endeavouring to do us a mischief—and I am quite sure that nothing of the sort has ever entered our heads with regard to you—the best plan seemed to me to come and talk the matter over with you, so that, if possible, we might dispel the mutual distrust on either side. For I have known people ere now, the victims in some cases of calumny, or possibly of mere suspicion, who in apprehension of one another and eager to deal the first blow, have committed irreparable wrong against those who neither intended nor so much as harboured a thought of mischief against them. I have come to you under a conviction that such misunderstandings may best be put a stop to by personal intercourse, and I wish to instruct you plainly that you are wrong in mistrusting us. The first and weightiest reason is that the oaths, which we took in the sight of heaven, are a barrier to mutual hostility. I envy not the man whose conscience tells him that he has disregarded these! For in a war with heaven, by what swiftness of foot can a man escape?—in what quarter find refuge?—in what darkness slink away and be hid?—to what strong fortress scale and be out of reach? Are not all things in all ways subject to the gods? is not their lordship over all alike outspread? As touching the gods, therefore, and our oaths, that is how I view this matter. To their safe keeping we consigned the friendship which we solemnly contracted. But turning to matters human, you I look upon as our greatest blessing in this present time. With you every path is plain to us, every river passable, and of provisions we shall know no stint. But without you, all our way is through darkness; for we known nothing concerning it, every river will be an obstacle, each multitude a terror; but, worst terror of all, the vast wilderness, so full of endless perplexity. Nay, if in a fit of madness we murdered you, what then? in slaying our benefactor should we not have challenged to enter the lists against us a more formidable antagonist in the king himself? Let me tell you, how many high hopes I should rob myself of, were I to take in hand to do you mischief.

          

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