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Anabasis

Page: 50

After this Cheirisophus spoke. He said: "If there is anything else to be done, beyond what Xenophon has mentioned, we shall be able to carry it out presently; but with regard to what he has already proposed, it seems to me the best course to vote upon the matters at once. Those who are in favour of Xenophon's proposals, hold up their hands." They all held them up. Xenophon rose again and said: "Listen, sirs, while I tell you what I think we have need of besides. It is clear that we must march where we can get provisions. Now, I am told there are some splendid villages not more than two miles and a half distant. I should not be surprised, then, if the enemy were to hang on our heels and dog us as we retire, like cowardly curs which rush out at the passer-by and bite him if they can, but when you turn upon them they run away. Such will be their tactics, I take it. It may be safer, then, to march in a hollow square, so as to place the baggage animals and our mob of sutlers in greater security. It will save time to make the appointments at once, and to settle who leads the square and directs the vanguard; who will take command of the two flanks, and who of the rearguard; so that, when the enemy appears, we shall not need to deliberate, but can at once set in motion the machinery in existence.

"If any one has any better plan, we need not adopt mine; but if not, suppose Cheirisophus takes the lead, as he is a Lacedaemonian, and the two eldest generals take in charge the two wings respectively, whilst Timasion and I, the two youngest, will for the present guard the rear. For the rest, we can but make experiment of this arrangement, and alter it with deliberation, as from time to time any improvement suggests itself. If any one has a better plan to propose, let him do so."... No dissentient voice was heard. Accordingly he said: "Those in favour of this resolution, hold up their hands." The resolution was carried. "And now," said he, "it would be well to separate and carry out what we have decreed. If any of you has set his heart on seeing his friends again, let him remember to prove himself a man; there is no other way to achieve his heart's wish. Or is mere living an object with any of you, strive to conquer; if to slay is the privilege of victory, to die is the doom of the defeated. Or perhaps to gain money and wealth is your ambition, strive again for mastery; have not conquerors the double gain of keeping what is their own, whilst they seize the possessions of the vanquished?"





III

The speaking was ended; they got up and retired; then they burnt the wagons and the tents, and after sharing with one another what each needed out of their various superfluities, they threw the remnant into the fire. Having done that, they proceeded to make their breakfasts. While they were breakfasting, Mithridates came with about thirty horsemen, and summoning the generals within earshot, he thus addressed them: "Men of Hellas, I have been faithful to Cyrus, as you know well, and to-day I am your well-wisher; indeed, I am here spending my days in great fear: if then I could see any salutory course in prospect, I should be disposed to join you with all my retainers. Please inform me, then, as to what you propose, regarding me as your friend and well-wisher, anxious only to pursue his march in your company." The generals held council, and resolved to give the following answer, Cheirisophus acting as spokesman: "We have resolved to make our way through the country, inflicting the least possible damage, provided we are allowed a free passage homewards; but if any one tries to hinder us, he will have to fight it out with us, and we shall bring all the force in our power to bear." Thereat Mithridates set himself to prove to them that their deliverance, except with the king's good pleasure, was hopeless. Then the meaning of his mission was plain. He was an agent in disguise; in fact, a relation of Tissaphernes was in attendance to keep a check on his loyalty. After that, the generals resolved that it would be better to proclaim open war, without truce or herald, as long as they were in the enemy's country; for they used to come and corrupt the soldiers, and they were even successful with one officer—Nicarchus (1), an Arcadian, who went off in the night with about twenty men.

          

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