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Anabasis

Page: 94

"So much for the mountain barrier. But the next thing I know is that there are plains and a cavalry which the barbarians themselves hold to be superior to the entire cavalry of the great king. Why, only the other day these people refused to present themselves to the summons of the king; their chief is too proud for that.

"But now, supposing you were able to seize the mountain barrier, by stealth, or expedition, before the enemy could stop you; supposing further, you were able to win an engagement in the plain against not only their cavalry but their more than one hundred and twenty thousand infantry—you will only find yourself face to face with rivers, a series of them. First the Thermodon, three hundred feet broad, which I take it will be difficult to pass, especially with a host of foes in front and another following behind. Next comes the Iris river, three hundred feet broad; and thirdly, the Halys, at least two furlongs broad, which you could not possibly cross without vessels, and who is going to supply you with vessels? In the same way too the Parthenius is impassable, which you will reach if you cross the Halys. For my part, then, I consider the land-journey, I will not say difficult, but absolutely impossible for you. Whereas if you go by sea, you can coast along from here to Sinope, and from Sinope to Heraclea. From Heraclea onwards there is no difficulty, whether by land or by sea; for there are plenty of vessels at Heraclea."

After he had finished his remarks, some of his hearers thought they detected a certain bias in them. He would not have spoken so, but for his friendship with Corylas, whose official representative he was. Others guessed he had an itching palm, and that he was hoping to receive a present for his "sacred advice." Others again suspected that his object was to prevent their going by foot and doing some mischief to the country of the Sinopeans. However that might be, the Hellenes voted in favour of continuing the journey by sea. After this Xenophon said: "Sinopeans, the army has chosen that method of procedure which you advise, and thus the matter stands. If there are sure to be vessels enough to make it impossible for a single man to be left behind, go by sea we will; but if part of us are to be left while part go by sea, we will not set foot on board the vessels. One fact we plainly recognise, strength is everything to us. So long as we have the mastery, we shall be able to protect ourselves and get provisions; but if we are once caught at the mercy of our foes, it is plain, we shall be reduced to slavery." On hearing this the ambassadors bade them send an embassy, which they did, to wit, Callimachus the Arcadian, and Ariston the Athenian, and Samolas the Achaean.

So these set off, but meanwhile a thought shaped itself in the mind of Xenophon, as there before his eyes lay that vast army of Hellene hoplites, and that other array of peltasts, archers, and slingers, with cavalry to boot, and all in a state of thorough efficiency from long practice, hardened veterans, and all collected in Pontus, where to raise so large a force would cost a mint of money. Then the idea dawned upon him: how noble an opportunity to acquire new territory and power for Hellas, by the founding of a colony—a city of no mean size, moreover, said he to himself, as he reckoned up their own numbers—and besides themselves a population planted on the shores of Pontus. Thereupon he summoned Silanus the Ambraciot, the soothsayer of Cyrus above mentioned, and before breathing a syllable to any of the soldiers, he consulted the victims by sacrifice.


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