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Anabasis

Page: 9

From this point he marched two stages—ten parasangs—to the river Psarus, which is two hundred feet broad, and from the Psarus he marched a single stage—five parasangs—to Issi, the last city in Cilicia. It lies on the seaboard—a prosperous, large and flourishing town. Here they halted three days, and here Cyrus was joined by his fleet. There were thirty-five ships from Peloponnesus, with the Lacedaemonian admiral Pythagoras on board. These had been piloted from Ephesus by Tamos the Egyptian, who himself had another fleet of twenty-five ships belonging to Cyrus. These had formed Tamos's blockading squadron at Miletus, when that city sided with Tissaphernes; he had also used them in other military services rendered to Cyrus in his operations against that satrap. There was a third officer on board the fleet, the Lacedaemonian Cheirisophus, who had been sent for by Cyrus, and had brought with him seven hundred hoplites, over whom he was to act as general in the service of Cyrus. The fleet lay at anchor opposite Cyrus's tent. Here too another reinforcement presented itself. This was a body of four hundred hoplites, Hellenic mercenaries in the service of Abrocomas, who deserted him for Cyrus, and joined in the campaign against the king.

From Issi, he marched a single stage—five parasangs—to the gates of Cilicia and Syria. This was a double fortress: the inner and nearer one, which protects Cilicia, was held by Syennesis and a garrison of Cilicians; the outer and further one, protecting Syria, was reported to be garrisoned by a body of the king's troops. Through the gap between the two fortresses flows a river named the Carsus, which is a hundred feet broad, and the whole space between was scarcely more than six hundred yards. To force a passage here would be impossible, so narrow was the pass itself, with the fortification walls stretching down to the sea, and precipitous rocks above; while both fortresses were furnished with gates. It was the existence of this pass which had induced Cyrus to send for the fleet, so as to enable him to lead a body of hoplites inside and outside the gates; and so to force a passage through the enemy, if he were guarding the Syrian gate, as he fully expected to find Abrocomas doing with a large army. This, however, Abrocomas had not done; but as soon as he learnt that Cyrus was in Cilicia, he had turned round and made his exit from Phoenicia, to join the king with an army amounting, as report said, to three hundred thousand men.

From this point Cyrus pursued his march, through Syria a single stage—five parasangs—to Myriandus, a city inhabited by Phoenicians, on the sea-coast. This was a commercial port, and numerous merchant vessels were riding at anchor in the harbour. Here they halted seven days, and here Xenias the Arcadian general, and Pasion the Megarian got on board a trader, and having stowed away their most valuable effects, set sail for home; most people explained the act as the outcome of a fit of jealousy, because Cyrus had allowed Clearchus to retain their men, who had deserted to him, in hopes of returning to Hellas instead of marching against the king; when the two had so vanished, a rumour spread that Cyrus was after them with some ships of war, and some hoped the cowards might be caught, others pitied them, if that should be their fate.

But Cyrus summoned the generals and addressed them: "Xenias and Pasion," he said, "have taken leave of us; but they need not flatter themselves that in so doing they have stolen into hiding. I know where they are gone; nor will they owe their escape to speed; I have men-of-war to capture their craft, if I like. But heaven help me! if I mean to pursue them: never shall it be said of me, that I turn people to account as long as they stay with me, but as soon as they are minded to be off, I seize and maltreat them, and strip them of their wealth. Not so! let them go with the consciousness that our behaviour to them is better than theirs to us. And yet I have their children and wives safe under lock and key in Tralles; but they shall not be deprived even of these. They shall receive them back in return for their former goodness to me." So he spoke, and the Hellenes, even those who had been out of heart at the thought of marching up the country, when they heard of the nobleness of Cyrus, were happier and more eager to follow him on his path.

After this Cyrus marched onwards four stages—twenty parasangs—to the river Chalus. That river is a hundred feet broad, and is stocked with tame fish which the Syrians regard as gods, and will not suffer to be injured—and so too the pigeons of the place. The villages in which they encamped belonged to Parysatis, as part of her girdle money (1). From this point he marched on five stages—thirty parasangs—to the sources of the river Dardas, which is a hundred feet broad. Here stood the palace of Belesys, the ruler of Syria, with its park—which was a very large and beautiful one, and full of the products of all the seasons in their course. But Cyrus cut down the park and burnt the palace. Thence he marched on three stages—fifteen parasangs—to the river Euphrates, which is nearly half a mile broad. A large and flourishing city, named Thapsacus, stands on its banks. Here they halted five days, and here Cyrus sent for the generals of the Hellenes, and told them that the advance was now to be upon Babylon, against the great king; he bade them communicate this information to the soldiers and persuade them to follow. The generals called an assembly, and announced the news to the soldiers. The latter were indignant and angry with the generals, accusing them of having kept secret what they had long known; and refused to go, unless such a bribe of money were given them as had been given to their predecessors, when they went up with Cyrus to the court of his father, not as now to fight a battle, but on a peaceful errand—the visit of a son to his father by invitation. The demand was reported to Cyrus by the generals, and he undertook to give each man five silver minae as soon as Babylon was reached, and their pay in full, until he had safely conveyed them back to Ionia again. In this manner the Hellenic force were persuaded—that is to say, the majority of them. Menon, indeed, before it was clear what the rest of the soldiers would do—whether, in fact they would follow Cyrus or not—collected his own troops apart and made them the following speech; "Men," he said, "if you will listen to me, there is a method by which, without risk or toil, you may win the special favour of Cyrus beyond the rest of the soldiers. You ask what it is I would have you to do? I will tell you. Cyrus at this instant is begging the Hellenes to follow him to attack the king. I say then: Cross the Euphrates at once, before it is clear what answer the rest will make; if they vote in favour of following, you will get the credit of having set the example, and Cyrus will be grateful to you. He will look upon you as being the heartiest in his cause; he will repay, as of all others he best knows how; while, if the rest vote against crossing, we shall go back again; but as the sole adherents, whose fidelity he can altogether trust, it is you whom Cyrus will turn to account, as commandants of garrisons or captains of companies. You need only ask him for whatever you want, and you will get it from him, as being the friends of Cyrus."

          

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