Page: 75After this they marched seven stages at the rate of five parasangs a day, to the banks of the river Phasis (1), which is a hundred feet broad: and thence they marched another couple of stages, ten parasangs; but at the pass leading down into the plain there appeared in front of them a mixed body of Chalybes and Taochians and Phasianians. When Cheirisophus caught sight of the enemy on the pass at a distance of about three or four miles, he ceased marching, not caring to approach the enemy with his troops in column, and he passed down the order to the others: to deploy their companies to the front, that the troops might form into line. As soon as the rearguard had come up, he assembled the generals and officers, and addressed them: "The enemy, as you see, are in occupation of the mountain pass, it is time we should consider how we are to make the best fight to win it. My opinion is, that we should give orders to the troops to take their morning meal, whilst we deliberate whether we should cross the mountains to-day or to-morrow." "My opinion," said Cleanor, "is, that as soon as we have breakfasted, we should arm for the fight and attack the enemy, without loss of time, for if we fritter away to-day, the enemy who are now content to look at us, will grow bolder, and with their growing courage, depend upon it, others more numerous will join them."
(1) Probably a tributary of the Araxes = modern Pasin-Su.
After him Xenophon spoke: "This," he said, "is how I see the matter; if fight we must, let us make preparation to sell our lives dearly, but if we desire to cross with the greatest ease, the point to consider is, how we may get the fewest wounds and throw away the smallest number of good men. Well then, that part of the mountain which is visible stretches nearly seven miles. Where are the men posted to intercept us? except at the road itself, they are nowhere to be seen. It is much better to try if possible to steal a point of this desert mountain unobserved, and before they know where we are, secure the prize, than to fly at a strong position and an enemy thoroughly prepared. Since it is much easier to march up a mountain without fighting than to tramp along a level when assailants are at either hand; and provided he has not to fight, a man will see what lies at his feet much more plainly even at night than in broad daylight in the midst of battle; and a rough road to feet that roam in peace may be pleasanter than a smooth surface with the bullets whistling about your ears (2). Nor is it so impossible, I take it, to steal a march, since it is open to us to go by night, when we cannot be seen, and to fall back so far that they will never notice us. In my opinion, however, if we make a feint of attacking here, we shall find the mountain chain all the more deserted elsewhere, since the enemy will be waiting for us here in thicker swarm.