The fact which I just stated, that the King was terrified by the approach of the Greeks, was made clear by the following circumstance: although on the day before he had sent and ordered them to give up their arms, he now, at sunrise, sent heralds to negotiate a truce.
When these heralds reached the outposts, they asked for the commanders. And when the outposts reported, Clearchus, who chanced at the time to be inspecting the ranks, told the outposts to direct the heralds to wait till he should be at leisure.
Then after he had arranged the army so that it should present a fine appearance from every side as a compact phalanx, with no one to be seen outside the lines of the hoplites, he summoned the messengers; and he himself came forward with the best armed and best looking of his own troops and told the other generals to do likewise.
Once face to face with the messengers, he inquired what they wanted. They replied that they had come to negotiate for a truce, and were empowered to report the King's proposals to the Greeks and the Greeks' proposals to the King.
And Clearchus answered: “Report to him, then, that we must have a battle first; for we have had no breakfast, and there is no man alive who will dare to talk to Greeks about a truce unless he provides them with a breakfast.”
Upon hearing these words the messengers rode away, but were speedily back again, which made it evident that the King, or someone else who had been charged with carrying on these negotiations, was somewhere near. They stated that what the Greeks said seemed to the King reasonable, and that they had now brought guides with them who would lead the Greeks, in case a truce should be concluded, to a place where they could get provisions.
Thereupon Clearchus asked whether he was making a truce merely with the men who were coming and going, or whether the truce would bind the others also. “Every man of them,” they replied, “until your message is carried to the King.”
When they had said this, Clearchus had them retire and took counsel about the matter; and it was thought best to conclude the truce speedily, so that they could go and get the provisions without being molested.
And Clearchus said: “I, too, agree with this view; nevertheless, I shall not so report at once, but I shall delay until the messengers get fearful of our deciding not to conclude the truce; to be sure,” he said, “I suppose that our own soldiers will also feel the same fear.” When, accordingly, it seemed that the proper time had come, he reported that he accepted the truce, and directed them to lead the way immediately to the provisions.
They proceeded, then, to lead the way, but Clearchus, although he had made the truce, kept his army in line of battle on the march, and commanded the rearguard himself. And they kept coming upon trenches and canals, full of water, which could not be crossed without bridges. They made bridges of a kind, however, out of the palm trees which had fallen and others which they cut down themselves.
And here one could well observe how Clearchus commanded; he had his spear in his left hand and in his right a stick, and whenever he thought that anyone of the men assigned to this task was shirking, he would pick out the right man and deal him a blow, while at the same time he would get into the mud and lend a hand himself; the result was that everyone was ashamed not to match him in energy.
The men detailed to the work were all those up to thirty years of age, but the older men also took hold when they saw Clearchus in such energetic haste.
Now Clearchus was in a far greater hurry because he suspected that the trenches were not always full of water in this way, for it was not a proper time to be irrigating the plain; his suspicion was, then, that the King had let the water into the plain just in order that the Greeks might have before their eyes at the very start many things to make them fearful about their journey.
The march at length brought them to villages where the guides directed them to get provisions. In these villages was grain in abundance and palm wine and a sour drink made from the same by boiling.
As for the dates themselves of the palm, the sort that one can see in Greece
were set apart for the servants, while those laid away for the masters were selected ones, remarkable for their beauty and size and with a colour altogether resembling that of amber; others, again, they would dry and store away for sweetmeats. These made a pleasant morsel also at a symposium, but were apt to cause headache.
Here also the soldiers ate for the first time the crown of the palm, and most of them were surprised not alone at its appearance, but at the peculiar nature of its flavour. This, too, however, was exceedingly apt to cause headache. And when the crown was removed from a palm, the whole tree would wither.
In these villages they remained three days; and there came to them, as messengers from the Great King, Tissaphernes and the brother of the King's wife and three other Persians; and many slaves followed in their train. When the Greek generals met them, Tissaphernes, through an interpreter, began the speaking with the following words:
“Men of Greece
, in my own home I am a neighbour of yours, and when I saw plunged into many difficulties, I thought it would be a piece of good fortune if I could in any way gain permission from the King to take you back safe to Greece
. For I fancy I should not go without thanks, both from you and from all Greece
After reaching this conclusion I presented my request to the King, saying to him that it would be fair for him to do me a favour, because I was the first to report to him that Cyrus was marching against him, because along with my report I brought him aid also, and because I was the only man among those posted opposite the Greeks who did not take to flight, but, on the contrary, I charged through and joined forces with the King in your camp, where the King had arrived after slaying Cyrus and pursuing the barbarians of Cyrus' army with the help of these men now present with me, men who are most faithful to the King. And he promised me that he would consider this request of mine,
but, meanwhile, he bade me come and ask you for what reason you took the field against him. Now I advise you to answer with moderation, that so it may be easier for me to obtain for you at his hands whatever good thing I may be able to obtain.”
Hereupon the Greeks withdrew and proceeded to take counsel; then they gave their answer, Clearchus acting as spokesman: “We neither gathered together with the intention of making war upon the King nor were we marching against the King, but Cyrus kept finding many pretexts, as you also are well aware, in order that he might take you unprepared and bring us hither.
When, however, the time came when we saw that he was in danger, we felt ashamed in the sight of gods and men to desert him, seing that in former days we had been putting ourselves in the way of being benefited by him.
But since Cyrus is dead, we are neither contending with the King for his realm nor is there any reason why we should desire to do harm to the King's territory or wish to slay the King himself, but rather we should return to our homes, if no one should molest us. If, however, anyone seeks to injure us, we shall try with the help of the gods to retaliate. On the other hand, if anyone is kind enough to do us a service, we shall not, so far as we have the power, be outdone in doing a service to him.”
So he spoke, and upon hearing his words Tissaphernes said: “This message I shall carry to the King, and bring back his to you; and until I return, let the truce continue, and we will provide a market.1
The next day he did not return, and the Greeks, consequently, were anxious; but on the third day he came and said that he had secured permission from the King to save the Greeks, although many opposed the plan, urging that it was not fitting for the King to allow those who had undertaken a campaign against him to escape.
In conclusion he said: “And now you may receive pledges from us that in very truth the territory you pass through shall be friendly and that we will lead you back to Greece
without treachery, providing you with a market; and wherever it is impossible to buy provisions, we will allow you to take them from the country.
And you, on your side, will have to swear to us that in very truth you will proceed as you would through a friendly country, doing no damage and taking food and drink from the country only when we do not provide a market, but that, if we do provide a market, you will obtain provisions by purchase.”
This was resolved upon, and Tissaphernes and the brother of the King's wife made oath and gave their right hands in pledge to the generals and captains of the Greeks, receiving the same also from the Greeks.
After this Tissaphernes said: “Now I am going back to the King; but when I have accomplished what I desire, I shall return, fully equipped to conduct you back to Greece
and to go home myself to my own province.”