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Anabasis

Page: 68

Cheirisophus himself placed a wreath upon his brows, and throwing off his cloak (3), resumed his arms, passing the order to all the rest to do the same, and bade the captains form their companies in open order in deep columns, some to left and some to right of himself. Meanwhile the soothsayers were slaying a victim over the river, and the enemy were letting fly their arrows and slingstones; but as yet they were out of range. As soon as the victims were favourable, all the soldiers began singing the battle hymn, and with the notes of the paean mingled the shouting of the men accompanied by the shriller chant of the women, for there were many women (4) in the camp.

 (3) Or, "having doffed it," i.e. the wreath, an action which the
    soldiers would perform symbolically, if Grote is right in his
    interpretation of the passage, "Hist. of Greece," vol. ix. p. 137.

 (4) Lit. "comrade-women."

So Cheirisophus with his detachment stepped in. But Xenophon, taking the most active-bodied of the rearguard, began running back at full speed to the passage facing the egress into the hills of Armenia, making a feint of crossing at that point to intercept their cavalry on the river bank. The enemy, seeing Cheirisophus's detachment easily crossing the stream, and Xenophon's men racing back, were seized with the fear of being intercepted, and fled at full speed in the direction of the road which emerges from the stream. But when they were come opposite to it they raced up hill towards their mountains. Then Lycius, who commanded the cavalry, and Aeschines, who was in command of the division of light infantry attached to Cheirisophus, no sooner saw them fleeing so lustily than they were after them, and the soldiers shouted not to fall behind (5), but to follow them right up to the mountains. Cheirisophus, on getting across, forbore to pursue the cavalry, but advanced by the bluffs which reached to the river to attack the enemy overhead. And these, seeing their own cavalry fleeing, seeing also the heavy infantry advancing upon them, abandoned the heights above the river.

 (5) Or, "to stick tight to them and not to be outdone"; or, as others
    understand, "the (infantry) soldiers clamoured not to be left
    behind, but to follow them up into the mountains."

Xenophon, as soon as he saw that things were going well on the other side, fell back with all speed to join the troops engaged in crossing, for by this time the Carduchians were well in sight, descending into the plain to attack their rear.

Cheirisophus was in possession of the higher ground, and Lycius, with his little squadron, in an attempt to follow up the pursuit, had captured some stragglers of their baggage-bearers, and with them some handsome apparel and drinking-cups. The baggage animals of the Hellenes and the mob of non-combatants were just about to cross, when Xenonphon turned his troops right about to face the Carduchians. Vis-a-vis he formed his line, passing the order to the captains each to form his company into sections, and to deploy them into line by the left, the captains of companies and lieutenants in command of sections to advance to meet the Carduchians, while the rear leaders would keep their position facing the river. But when the Carduchians saw the rearguard so stript of the mass, and looking now like a mere handful of men, they advanced all the more quickly, singing certain songs the while. Then, as matters were safe with him, Cheirisophus sent back the peltasts and slingers and archers to join Xenophon, with orders to carry out his instructions. They were in the act of recrossing, when Xenophon, who saw their intention, sent a messenger across, bidding them wait there at the river's brink without crossing; but as soon as he and his detachment began to cross they were to step in facing him in two flanking divisions right and left of them, as if in the act of crossing; the javelin men with their javelins on the thong, and the bowmen with their arrows on the string; but they were not to advance far into the stream. The order passed to his own men was: "Wait till you are within sling-shot, and the shield rattles, then sound the paean and charge the enemy. As soon as he turns, and the bugle from the river sounds for 'the attack,' you will face about to the right, the rear rank leading, and the whole detachment falling back and crossing the river as quickly as possible, every one preserving his original rank, so as to avoid tramelling one another: the bravest man is he who gets to the other side first."

The Carduchians, seeing that the remnant left was the merest handful (for many even of those whose duty it was to remain had gone off in their anxiety to protect their beasts of burden, or their personal kit, or their mistresses), bore down upon them valorously, and opened fire with slingstones and arrows. But the Hellenes, raising the battle hymn, dashed at them at a run, and they did not await them; armed well enough for mountain warfare, and with a view to sudden attack followed by speedy flight, they were not by any means sufficiently equipped for an engagement at close quarters. At this instant the signal of the bugle was heard. Its notes added wings to the flight of the barbarians, but the Hellenes turned right about in the opposite direction, and betook themselves to the river with what speed they might. Some of the enemy, here a man and there another, perceived, and running back to the river, let fly their arrows and wounded a few; but the majority, even when the Hellenes were well across, were still to be seen pursuing their flight. The detachment which came to meet Xenophon's men, carried away by their valour, advanced further than they had need to, and had to cross back again in the rear of Xenophon's men, and of these too a few were wounded.


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