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Anabasis

Page: 66

(2) It is impossible to give the true sense and humour of the passage in English, depending, as it does, on the double meaning of {diabainein} (1) to cross (a river), (2) to stride or straddle (of the legs). The army is unable to cross the Centrites; Xenophon dreams that he is fettered, but the chains drop off his legs and he is able to stride as freely as ever; next morning the two young men come to him with the story how they have found themselves able to walk cross the river instead of having to swim it. It is obvious to Xenophon that the dream is sent from Heaven.

The other was well pleased, and with the first faint gleam of dawn the generals all were present and did sacrifice; and the victims were favourable in the first essay. Retiring from the sacrifice, the generals and officers issued an order to the troops to take their breakfasts; and while Xenophon was taking his, two young men came running up to him, for every one knew that, breakfasting or supping, he was always accessible, or that even if asleep any one was welcome to awaken him who had anything to say bearing on the business of war. What the two young men had at this time to say was that they had been collecting brushwood for fire, and had presently espied on the opposite side, in among some rocks which came down to the river's brink, an old man and some women and little girls depositing, as it would appear, bags of clothes in a cavernous rock. When they saw them, it struck them that it was safe to cross; in any case the enemy's cavalry could not approach at this point. So they stripped naked, expecting to have to swim for it, and with their long knives in their hands began crossing, but going forward crossed without being wet up to the fork. Once across they captured the clothes, and came back again.

Accordingly Xenophon at once poured out a libation himself, and bade the two young fellows fill the cup and pray to the gods, who showed to him this vision and to them a passage, to bring all other blessings for them to accomplishment. When he had poured out the libation, he at once led the two young men to Cheirisophus, and they repeated to him their story. Cheirisophus, on hearing it, offered libations also, and when they had performed them, they sent a general order to the troops to pack up ready for starting, while they themselves called a meeting of the generals and took counsel how they might best effect a passage, so as to overpower the enemy in front without suffering any loss from the men behind. And they resolved that Cheirisophus should lead the van and cross with half the army, the other half still remaining behind under Xenophon, while the baggage animals and the mob of sutlers were to cross between the two divisions.


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