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Anabasis

Page: 84

This last proposal was met by loud cries and protestations against the idea of going by land at all. So, perceiving their infatuation, he did not put the question to the vote, but eventually persuaded the cities voluntarily to construct roads by the suggestion, "If you get your roads in good order, we shall all the sooner be gone." They further got a fifty-oared galley from the Trapezuntines, and gave the command of it to Dexippus, a Laconian, one of the perioeci (1). This man altogether neglected to collect vessels on the offing, but slunk off himself, and vanished, ship and all, out of Pontus. Later on, however, he paid the penalty of his misdeeds. He became involved in some meddling and making in Thrace at the court of Seuthes, and was put to death by the Laconian Nicander. They also got a thirty-oared galley, the command of which was entrusted to Polycrates, an Athenian, and that officer brought into harbour to the camp all the vessels he could lay his hands on. If these were laden, they took out the freights and appointed guards to keep an eye on their preservation, whilst they used the ships themselves for transport service on the coast. While matters stood at this point, the Hellenes used to make forays with varying success; sometimes they captured prey and sometimes they failed. On one occasion Cleanetus led his own and another company against a strong position, and was killed himself, with many others of his party.

 (1) A native of the country parts of Laconia.





II

The time came when it was no longer possible to capture provisions, going and returning to the camp in one day. In consequence of this, Xenophon took some guides from the Trapezuntines and led half the army out against the Drilae, leaving the other half to guard the camp. That was necessary, since the Colchians, who had been ousted from their houses, were assembled thickly, and sat eyeing them from the heights above; on the other hand the Trapezuntines, being friendly to the native inhabitants, were not for leading the Hellenes to places where it was easy to capture provisions. But against the Drilae, from whom they personally suffered, they would lead them with enthusiasm, up into mountainous and scarcely accessible fortresses, and against the most warlike people of any in the Pontus.

But when the Hellenes had reached the uplands, the Drilae set fire to all their fastnesses which they thought could be taken easily, and beat a retreat; and except here and there a stray pig or bullock or other animal which had escaped the fire there was nothing to capture; but there was one fastness which served as their metropolis: into this the different streams of people collected; round it ran a tremendously deep ravine, and the approaches to the place were difficult. So the light infantry ran forward five or six furlongs in advance of the heavy infantry, and crossed the ravine; and seeing quantities of sheep and other things, proceeded to attack the place. Close at their heels followed a number of those who had set out on the foray armed with spears, so that the storming party across the ravine amounted to more than two thousand. But, finding that they could not take the place by a coup-de-main, as there was a trench running round it, mounded up some breadth, with a stockade on the top of the earthwork and a close-packed row of wooden bastions, they made an attempt to run back, but the enemy fell upon them from the rear. To get away by a sudden rush was out of the question, since the descent from the fortress into the ravine only admitted of moving in single file. Under the circumstances they sent to Xenophon, who was in command of the heavy infantry. The messenger came and delivered his message: "There is a fastness choke full of all sorts of stores, but we cannot take it, it is too strong; nor can we easily get away; the enemy rush out and deliver battle, and the return is difficult."


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