For that day again1
they found quarters in the villages that lie above the plain bordering the Centrites river, which is about two plethra in width and separates Armenia
and the country of the Carduchians. There the Greeks took breath, glad to behold a plain; for the river was distant six or seven stadia from the mountains of the Carduchians.
At the time, then, they went into their quarters very happily, for they had provisions and likewise many recollections of the hardships that were now past. For during all the seven days of their march through the land of the Carduchians they were continually fighting, and they suffered more evils than all which they had suffered taken together at the hands of the King and Tissaphernes. In the feeling, therefore, that they were rid of these troubles they lay down happily to rest.
At daybreak, however, they caught sight of horsemen at a place across the river, fully armed and ready to dispute their passage, and likewise foot-soldiers drawn up in line of battle upon the bluffs above the horsemen, to prevent their pushing up into Armenia
All these were the troops of Orontas2
and consisted of Armenians, Mardians, and Chaldaean mercenaries. The Chaldaeans were said to be an independent and valiant people; they had as weapons long wicker shields and lances.
Now the bluffs just mentioned, upon which these troops were drawn up, were distant three or four plethra from the river, and there was only one road to be seen that led up them, apparently an artificial road; so at this point4
the Greeks undertook to cross the river.
When they made the attempt, however, the water proved to be more than breast deep and the river bed was rough with large, slippery stones; furthermore, they could not carry their shields in the water, for if they tried that, the current would snatch them away, while if a man carried them on his head, his body was left unprotected against arrows and other missiles; so they turned back and went into camp there by the side of the river.
Meanwhile, at the point where they had themselves spent the previous night, on the mountain side, they could see the Carduchians gathered together under arms in great numbers. Then it was that deep despondency fell upon the Greeks, as they saw before them a river difficult to cross, beyond it troops that would obstruct their crossing, and behind them the Carduchians, ready to fall upon their rear when they tried to cross.
That day and night, accordingly, they remained there, in great perplexity. But Xenophon had a dream; he thought that he was bound in fetters, but that the fetters fell off from him of their own accord, so that he was released and could take as long steps5
as he pleased. When dawn came, he went to Cheirisophus, told him he had hopes that all would be well, and related to him his dream.
Cheirisophus was pleased, and as soon as day began to break, all the generals were at hand and proceeded to offer sacrifices. And with the very first victim the omens were favourable. Then the generals and captains withdrew from the sacrifice and gave orders to the troops to get their breakfasts.
While Xenophon was breakfasting, two young men came running up to him; for all knew that they might go to him whether he was breakfasting or dining, and that if he were asleep, they might awaken him and tell him whatever they might have to tell that concerned the war.
In the present case the young men reported that they had happened to be gathering dry sticks for the purpose of making a fire, and that while so occupied they had descried across the river, among some rocks that reached down to the very edge of the river, an old man and a woman and some little girls putting away what looked like bags of clothes in a cavernous rock.
When they saw this proceeding, they said, they made up their minds that it was safe for them to cross, for this was a place that was not accesible to the enemy's cavalry. They accordingly stripped, keeping only their daggers, and started across naked, supposing that they would have to swim; but they went on and got across without wetting themselves up to the middle; once on the other side, they took the clothes and came back again.
Upon hearing this report Xenopohon immediately proceeded to pour a libation himself, and directed his attendants to fill a cup for the young men and to pray to the gods who had revealed the dream and the ford, to bring to fulfilment the other blessings also.6
The libation accomplished, he at once led the young men to Cheirisophus, and they repeated their story to him.
And upon hearing it Cheirisophus also made libation. Thereafter they gave orders to the troops to pack up their baggage, while they themselves called together the generals and took counsel as to how they might best effect a crossing so as to defeat the enemy in front without suffering any harm from those in their rear.
The decision was, that Cheirisophus should take the lead with half the army and attempt a crossing, that the other half with Xenophon should stay behind for a while, and that the baggage animals and camp followers should cross between the two divisions.
When these arrangements had been satisfactorily made, they set out, the young men leading the way and keeping the river on the left; and the distance to the ford was about four stadia.
As they proceeded, the squadrons of the enemy's cavalry kept along opposite to them. When they reached the ford, they halted under arms, and Cheirisophus put a wreath upon his head,7
threw off his cloak, and took up his arms, giving orders to all the others to do the same; he also directed the captains to lead their companies in column, part of them upon his left and the rest upon his right. Meanwhile the soothsayers were offering sacrifice to the river,
and the enemy were shooting arrows and discharging slings,
but not yet reaching their mark; and when the sacrifices proved favourable, all the soldiers struck up the paean and raised the war shout, while the women, everyone of them, joined their cries with the shouting of the men—for there were a large number of women in the camp.
Then Cheirisophus and his division proceeded into the river; but Xenophon took the nimblest troops of the rearguard and began running back at full speed to the ford8
that was opposite the road which led out into the Armenian mountains, pretending that he meant to cross at that point and thus cut off9
the horsemen who were by the side of the river.
The enemy thereupon, when they saw Cheirisophus and his division crossing the river without difficulty and likewise saw Xenophon and his men running back, were seized with fear that they might be cut off, and they fled at full speed to reach the road which led up from the river. This road once gained, they hastened on upward in the direction of the mountain.
Then Lycius, who commanded the squadron of Greek cavalry, and Aeschines, commander of the battalion of peltasts that was with Cheirisophus, upon seeing the enemy in full flight set off in pursuit, while the rest of the Greek troops shouted to them not to fall behind, but to follow the fugitives right up to the mountain.
As for Cheirisophus, after getting across he chose not to pursue the hostile cavalry, but immediately pushed up over the bluffs that reached down to the river against the infantry on top of them.10
And these troops, seeing their own cavalry in flight and hoplites advancing upon them, abandoned the heights above the river.
Xenophon no sooner saw that all was going well on the other side than he started back with all speed to join the troops that were crossing, for by this time the Carduchians could be seen descending into the plain with the manifest intention of attacking the hindmost.
Meanwhile Cheirisophus was in possession of the bluffs, and Lycius, venturing a pursuit with his small squadron,11
had captured the straggling portion of the enemy's baggage train, and with it fine apparel and drinking cups.
And now, with the Greek baggage train and the camp followers in the very act of crossing, Xenophon wheeled his troops so that they took a position facing the Carduchians, and gave orders to the captains that each man of them should form his own company by squads,12
moving each squad by the left into line of battle; then the captains and squad leaders were to face toward the Carduchians and station file closers on the side next to the river.
But as soon as the Carduchians saw the rearguard stripped of the crowd of camp followers and looking now like a small body, they advanced to the attack all the more rapidly, singing a kind of songs. As for Cheirisophus, since everything was safe on his side, he sent back to Xenophon the peltasts, slingers, and bowmen, and directed them to do whatever Xenophon might order.
But when he saw them beginning to cross, Xenophon sent a messenger and directed them to stay where they were, on the bank of the river, without crossing; at the moment, however, when his own men should begin to cross, they were to enter the river opposite them, on this side and that, as though they were going to cross it, the javelin men with hand on the thong and the bowmen with arrow on the string; but they were not to proceed far into the river.
The orders he gave to his own men were, that when sling-stones reached them and shields rang, they were to strike up the paean and charge upon the enemy, and when the enemy turned to flight and the trumpeter on the river-bank sounded the charge,13
they were to face about to the right, the file closers were to take the lead, and all of them were to run and cross as fast as they could with every man keeping his proper place in the line, so that they should not interfere with one another; and he that got to the other side first would be the best man.
Now the Carduchians, seeing that those who were left were by this time few in number (for many even of those detailed to stay had gone off to look after pack animals or baggage or women, as the case might be), at that moment proceeded to press upon them boldly and began to sling stones and shoot arrows.
Then the Greeks struck up the paean and charged at them on the run, and they did not meet the attack; for while they were equipped well enough for attack and retreat in the mountains, their equipment was not adequate for hand-to-hand fighting.
At that instant the Greek trumpeter sounded his signal; and while the enemy began to flee much faster than before, the Greeks turned about and set out on their own flight through the river at top speed.
Some few of the enemy, perceiving this movement, ran back to the river and wounded a few Greeks with arrows, but most of them, even when the Greeks were on the other side, could still be seen continuing their flight.
But the troops that came to meet Xenophon, behaving like men and advancing farther than they should have gone, crossed back again in the rear of Xenophon's command; and some of them also were wounded.