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Anabasis

Page: 56

But when it was late afternoon, the time had come for the enemy to withdraw, since the habit of the barbarian was never to encamp within seven or eight miles of the Hellenic camp. This he did in apprehension of a night attack, for a Persian army is good for nothing at night. Their horses are haltered, and, as a rule, hobbled as well, to prevent their escaping, as they might if loose; so that, if any alarm occurs, the trooper has to saddle and bridle his horse, and then he must put on his own cuirass, and then mount—all which performances are difficult at night and in the midst of confusion. For this reason they always encamped at a distance from the Hellenes.

When the Hellenes perceived that they were preparing to retire, and that the order was being given, the herald's cry, "Pack up for starting," might be heard before the enemy was fairly out of earshot. For a while the Asiatics paused, as if unwilling to be gone; but as night closed in, off they went, for it did not suit their notions of expediency to set off on a march and arrive by night. And now, when the Hellenes saw that they were really and clearly gone, they too broke up their camp and pursued their march till they had traversed seven and a half miles. Thus the distance between the two armies grew to be so great, that the next day the enemy did not appear at all, nor yet on the third day; but on the fourth the barbarians had pushed on by a forced night march and occupied a commanding position on the right, where the Hellenes had to pass. It was a narrow mountain spur (9) overhanging the descent into the plain.

 (9) Lit. "a mere nail tip."

But when Cheirisophus saw that this ridge was occupied, he summoned Xenophon from the rear, bidding him at the same time to bring up peltasts to the front. That Xenophon hesitated to do, for Tissaphernes and his whole army were coming up and were well within sight. Galloping up to the front himself, he asked: "Why do you summon me?" The other answered him: "The reason is plain; look yonder; this crest which overhangs our descent has been occupied. There is no passing, until we have dislodged these fellows; why have you not brought up the light infantry?" Xenophon explained: he had not thought it desirable to leave the rear unprotected, with an enemy appearing in the field of view. "However, it is time," he added, "to decide how we are to dislodge these fellows from the crest." At this moment his eye fell on the peak of the mountain, rising immediately above their army, and he could see an approach leading from it to the crest in question where the enemy lay. He exclaimed: "The best thing we can do, Cheirisophus, is to make a dash at the height itself, and with what speed we may. If we take it, the party in command of the road will never be able to stop. If you like, stay in command of the army, and I will go; or, if you prefer, do you go to the mountain, and I will stay here."—"I leave it to you," Cheirisophus answered, "to choose which you like best." Xenophon remarking, "I am the younger," elected to go; but he stipulated for a detachment from the front to accompany him, since it was a long way to fetch up troops from the rear. Accordingly Cheirisophus furnished him with the light infantry from the front, reoccupying their place by those from the centre. He also gave him, to form part of the detachment, the three hundred of the picked corps (10) under his own command at the head of the square.

          

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