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Anabasis

Page: 65

They were, moreover, excellent archers, using bows nearly three cubits long and arrows more than two cubits. When discharging the arrow, they draw the string by getting a purchase with the left foot planted forward on the lower end of the bow. The arrows pierced through shield and cuirass, and the Hellenes, when they got hold of them, used them as javelins, fitting them to their thongs. In these districts the Cretans were highly serviceable. They were under the command of Stratocles, a Cretan.





III

During this day they bivouacked in the villages which lie above the plain of the river Centrites (1), which is about two hundred feet broad. It is the frontier river between Armenia and the country of the Carduchians. Here the Hellenes recruited themselves, and the sight of the plain filled them with joy, for the river was but six or seven furlongs distant from the mountains of the Carduchians. For the moment then they bivouacked right happily; they had their provisions, they had also many memories of the labours that were now passed; seeing that the last seven days spent in traversing the country of the Carduchians had been one long continuous battle, which had cost them more suffering than the whole of their troubles at the hands of the king and Tissaphernes put together. As though they were truly quit of them for ever, they laid their heads to rest in sweet content.

 (1) I.e. the Eastern Tigris.

But with the morrow's dawn they espied horsemen at a certain point across the river, armed cap-a-pie, as if they meant to dispute the passage. Infantry, too, drawn up in line upon the banks above the cavalry, threatened to prevent them debouching into Armenia. These troops were Armenian and Mardian and Chaldaean mercenaries belonging to Orontas and Artuchas. The last of the three, the Chaldaeans, were said to be a free and brave set of people. They were armed with long wicker shields and lances. The banks before named on which they were drawn up were a hundred yards or more distant from the river, and the single road which was visible was one leading upwards and looking like a regular artificially constructed highway. At this point the Hellenes endeavoured to cross, but on their making the attempt the water proved to be more than breast-deep, and the river bed was rough with great slippery stones, and as to holding their arms in the water, it was out of the question—the stream swept them away—or if they tried to carry them over the head, the body was left exposed to the arrows and other missiles; accordingly they turned back and encamped there by the bank of the river.

At the point where they had themselves been last night, up on the mountains, they could see the Carduchians collected in large numbers and under arms. A shadow of deep despair again descended on their souls, whichever way they turned their eyes—in front lay the river so difficult to ford; over, on the other side, a new enemy threatening to bar the passage; on the hills behind, the Carduchians ready to fall upon their rear should they once again attempt to cross. Thus for this day and night they halted, sunk in perplexity. But Xenophon had a dream. In his sleep he thought that he was bound in fetters, but these, of their own accord, fell from off him, so that he was loosed, and could stretch his legs as freely as he wished (2). So at the first glimpse of daylight he came to Cheirisophus and told him that he had hopes that all things would go well, and related to him his dream.

          

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