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Anabasis

Page: 85

On hearing this, Xenophon pushed forward his heavy infantry to the edge of the ravine, and there ordered them to take up a position, while he himself with the officers crossed over to determine whether it were better to withdraw the party already across, or to bring over the heavy infantry also, on the supposition that the fortress might be taken. In favour of the latter opinion it was agreed that the retreat must cost many lives, and the officers were further disposed to think, they could take the place. Xenophon consented, relying on the victims, for the seers had announced, that there would be a battle, but that the result of the expedition would be good. So he sent the officers to bring the heavy troops across, while he himself remained, having drawn off all the light infantry and forbidden all sharp-shooting at long range. As soon as the heavy infantry had arrived, he ordered each captain to form his company, in whatever way he hoped to make it most effective in the coming struggle. Side by side together they stood, these captains, not for the first time to-day competitors for the award of manly virtue. While they were thus employed, he—the general—was engaged in passing down his order along the ranks of the light infantry and archers respectively to march with the javelin on its thong and the arrow to the string, ready at the word "shoot" to discharge their missiles, while the light troops were to have their wallets well stocked with slingstones; lastly, he despatched his adjutants to see to the proper carrying out of these orders.

And now the preparations were complete: the officers and lieutenants and all others claiming to be peers of these, were drawn up in their several places. With a glance each was able to command the rest in the crescent-like disposition which the ground invited. Presently the notes of the battle hymn arose, the clarion spoke, and with a thrilling cry in honour of the warrior-god, commenced a rush of the heavy infantry at full speed under cover of a storm of missiles, lances, arrows, bullets, but most of all stones hurled from the hand with ceaseless pelt, while there were some who brought firebrands to bear. Overwhelmed by this crowd of missiles, the enemy left their stockades and their bastion towers, which gave Agasias the Stymphalian and Philoxenus of Pellene a chance not to be missed; laying aside their heavy arms, up they went in bare tunics only, and one hauled another up, and meantime another had mounted, and the place was taken, as they thought. Then the peltasts and light troops rushed in and began snatching what each man could. Xenophon the while, posted at the gates, kept back as many of the hoplites as he could, for there were other enemies now visible on certain strong citadel heights; and after a lapse of no long time a shout arose within, and the men came running back, some still clutching what they had seized; and presently here and there a wounded man; and mighty was the jostling about the portals. To the questions which were put to them the outpouring fugitives repeated the same story: there was a citadel within and enemies in crowds were making savage sallies and beating the fellows inside.


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