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Anabasis

Page: 81

This proposal was carried, and they formed into columns by companies (1). Then Xenophon, returning from the right wing to the left, addressed the soldiers. "Men," he said, "these men whom you see in front of you are the sole obstacles still interposed between us and the haven of our hopes so long deferred. We will swallow them up whole, without cooking (2), if we can."

 (1) For this formation, see "The Retreat of the Ten Thousand; a
    military study for all time," by Lieut.-General J. L. Vaughan,
    C.B.

 (2) Or, "we will gobble them up raw." He is thinking of the Homeric
    line ("Iliad", iv. 35) "Perchance wert thou to enter within the
    gates and long walls and devour Priam raw, and Priam's sons and
    all the Trojans, then mightest thou assuage thine anger."—Leaf.

The several divisions fell into position, the companies were formed into columns, and the result was a total of something like eighty companies of heavy infantry, each company consisting on an average of a hundred men. The light infantry and bowmen were arranged in three divisions—two outside to support the left and the right respectively, and the third in the centre—each division consisting of about six hundred men (3).

 (3) This suggests 1800 as the total of the peltasts, 8000 as the total
    of the hoplites, but the companies were probably not limited to
    100, and under "peltasts" were probably included other light
    troops.

Before starting, the generals passed the order to offer prayer; and with the prayer and battle hymn rising from their lips they commenced their advance. Cheirisophus and Xenophon, and the light infantry with them, advanced outside the enemy's line to right and left, and the enemy, seeing their advance, made an effort to keep parallel and confront them, but in order to do so, as he extended partly to right and partly to left, he was pulled to pieces, and there was a large space or hollow left in the centre of his line. Seeing them separate thus, the light infantry attached to the Arcadian battalion, under command of Aeschines, an Arcarnanian, mistook the movement for flight, and with a loud shout rushed on, and these were the first to scale the mountain summit; but they were closely followed up by the Arcadian heavy infantry, under command of Cleanor of Orchomenus.

When they began running in that way, the enemy stood their ground no longer, but betook themselves to flight, one in one direction, one in another, and the Hellenes scaled the hill and found quarters in numerous villages which contained supplies in abundance. Here, generally speaking, there was nothing to excite their wonderment, but the numbers of bee-hives were indeed astonishing, and so were certain properties of the honey (4). The effect upon the soldiers who tasted the combs was, that they all went for the nonce quite off their heads, and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, with a total inability to stand steady on their legs. A small dose produced a condition not unlike violent drunkenness, a large one an attack very like a fit of madness, and some dropped down, apparently at death's door. So they lay, hundreds of them, as if there had been a great defeat, a prey to the cruellest despondency. But the next day, none had died; and almost at the same hour of the day at which they had eaten they recovered their senses, and on the third or fourth day got on their legs again like convalescents after a severe course of medical treatment.

          

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