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The time came when it was no longer possible to obtain provisions and return to the camp on the same day. Then Xenophon took some Trapezuntians for guides and led forth half the army to the country of the Drilae, leaving the other half behind to guard the camp—because the Colchians, since they had been driven out of their houses, were now gathered together in one great body and had taken a position on the heights above the camp. [2] For the Trapezuntians would not lead the Greeks to districts from which provisions could be secured easily, because they were friendly to the people of those districts; but they were eager to lead them into the territory of the Drilae, at whose hands they were continually suffering losses, though their country was mountainous and difficult to traverse and its inhabitants the most warlike of all that dwell upon the Euxine. [3]

When the Greeks had reached the highlands, the Drilae set fire to such of their strongholds as seemed to them easy to capture, and fell back; and the Greeks could secure nothing except an occasional pig or ox or other animal that had escaped the fire. There was one stronghold, however, which was their metropolis, and into this they had all streamed. Around it was an exceedingly deep ravine, and the approaches to the place were difficult. [4] Now the peltasts, who had run five or six stadia ahead of the hoplites, crossed this ravine and, seeing quantities of sheep and other property, essayed an attack upon the stronghold; in their train there followed a considerable number of spearmen who had set out after provisions, so that the party that crossed the ravine amounted to more than a thousand men. [5] But when they found themselves unable with all their fighting to capture the place (for there was a wide trench around it, backed by a rampart, and upon the rampart palisades had been set and wooden towers constructed at frequent intervals), their next move was to try to withdraw; and then the enemy pressed hard upon them. [6] To get away by running proved impossible, inasmuch as the descent from the stronghold to the ravine only allowed them to go in single file, and they accordingly sent a messenger to Xenophon, who was at the head of the hoplites. The messenger came and reported: [7] “There is a stronghold full of all kinds of stores. We cannot capture it, for it is strong; and we cannot easily get away, for the defenders rush out and attack us, and the road that leads back is a difficult one.” [8]

Upon hearing this message Xenophon led on to the ravine, ordered the hoplites to halt there under arms, and himself crossed over with the captains and looked about to see whether it was better to withdraw the troops that had already crossed, or to lead over the hoplites also, on the presumption that the stronghold could be captured. [9] The withdrawal, it seemed clear, could not be accomplished without the loss of many lives, while the capture of the place, in the opinion of the captains, was feasible, and Xenophon fell in with their opinion, in reliance upon his sacrifices; for the seers had declared that while there would be fighting to do, the issue of the expedition would be fortunate. [10] Accordingly he sent the captains to bring over the hoplites, while he himself remained on the further side, having drawn back the entire body of peltasts and forbidding any one to shoot at long range. [11] Upon the arrival of the hoplites he ordered each of the captains to form his company in the way he thought it would fight most effectively; for near one another were the captains who had all the time been vieing with one another in valour. [12] This order they proceeded to carry out, and meanwhile Xenophon passed word to all the peltasts to advance with hand on the thong, so that they could discharge their javelins when the signal should be given, to the bowmen to have their arrows upon the string, ready to shoot upon the signal, and to the slingers to have their bags full of stones; and he despatched the proper persons to look after all these things. [13]

When all preparations had been made and the captains, lieutenants, and those among the men who claimed to be not inferior to them in bravery were all grouped together in the line1 and, moreover, watching one another (for the line was crescent-shaped, to conform with the position they were attacking), [14] then they struck up the paean and the trumpet sounded, and then, at the same moment, they raised the war cry to Enyalius, the hoplites charged forward on the run, and the missiles began to fly all together—spears, arrows, sling-stones, and very many stones thrown by hand, while some of the men employed firebrands also. [15] By reason of the quantity of the missiles the enemy abandoned both their ramparts and their towers, so that Agasias the Stymphalian, putting aside his arms and clad only in his tunic, climbed up, then pulled up another man, and meanwhile another had made the climb, so that the capture of the stronghold was accomplished, as it seemed. [16]

Thereupon the peltasts and the light troops rushed in and proceeded to snatch whatever plunder they severally could; but Xenophon, taking his stand at the gates, kept out as many as he could of the hoplites, for the reason that other enemies were coming into view upon certain strong heights. [17] After no long interval a shout arose within and men came pouring forth in flight, some carrying with them what they had seized, then soon a number of men that were wounded; and there was a deal of pushing about the gates. When those who were tumbling out were questioned, they said that there was a citadel within, that the enemy were numerous, and that they had sallied forth and were dealing blows upon the men inside. [18] Then Xenophon ordered Tolmides the herald to proclaim that whoever wanted to get any plunder should go in. At that many proceeded to rush into the gates, and the crowd that was pushing in overcame the crowd that was tumbling out and shut up the enemy again in their citadel. [19] So everything outside the citadel was seized and carried off by the Greeks, and the hoplites took up their position, some about the ramparts, others along the road leading up to the citadel. [20] Meanwhile Xenophon and the captains were looking to see whether it was possible to capture the citadel, for in that case their safety was secured, while otherwise they thought it would be very difficult to effect their withdrawal; but the upshot of their consideration was, that the place was quite impregnable. [21]

Then they made preparations for the withdrawal: they tore down the palisades, each division taking those on its own front, and sent off the men who were unfit for service or were carrying burdens, and likewise the greater part of the hoplites, the captains keeping behind only those troops that they each relied upon. [22] But the moment they began to retire, there rushed out upon them from within a great crowd of men armed with wicker shields, spears, greaves, and Paphlagonian helmets, while others set about climbing to the tops of the houses that were on either side of the road leading up to the citadel. [23] The result was that even a pursuit in the direction of the gates that led into the citadel was unsafe; for they would hurl down great logs from above, so that it was difficult either to remain or to retire. And the approach of night was also a cause for fear. [24]

In the midst of their fighting and perplexity some god gave to the Greeks a means of salvation. For of a sudden one of the houses on the right, set on fire by somebody or other, broke into a blaze; and as it began to fall in, there began a general flight from the other houses on the right side of the road. [25] The moment Xenophon grasped this lesson which chance had given him, he gave orders to set fire to the houses on the left also, which were of wood and so fell to burning very quickly. The result was that the people in these houses likewise took to flight. [26] It was only the enemy in their front who were now left to trouble the Greeks and manifestly intended to attack them as they passed out and down the hill. At this stage Xenophon sent out orders that all who chanced to be out of range of the missiles should set about bringing up logs and put them in the open space between their own forces and the enemy. As soon as enough logs had been collected, they set fire to them; and meanwhile they set fire also to the houses which were close along the palisade, so that the enemy's attention might be occupied with these. [27] It was in this way that they effected, with difficulty, their withdrawal from the stronghold, by putting fire between themselves and the enemy. And the whole city was burned down, houses, towers, palisades, and everything else except the citadel. [28]

On the next day the Greeks were for returning to camp with their provisions. But inasmuch as they feared the descent to Trapezus (for the way was steep and narrow), they laid a sham ambuscade: [29] a man of Mysia, who likewise bore the name of Mysus,2 took ten of the Cretans, stayed behind in a bit of undergrowth, and pretended to be trying to keep out of sight of the enemy; but their shields, which were of bronze, would now and then gleam through the bushes. [30] So the enemy, catching glimpses of these proceedings, were fearful that it was an ambuscade; and meanwhile the Greek army was making its descent. When it seemed that they had got down far enough, a signal was given to the Mysian to flee at the top of his speed, and he and his companions arose and took to flight. [31] The Cretans of the party (finding, as they said, that they were like to be overtaken in the running) plunged out of the road into the woods, and by tumbling down through the ravines made their escape, [32] but the Mysian held to the road in his flight and kept shouting for help; and they did go to his aid, and picked him up wounded. Then the rescuers in their turn proceeded to retreat, faces to the front, while the enemy kept throwing missiles at them and some of the Cretans replied with their arrows. In this way they all reached the camp safe and sound.

1 A formation which the captains judged to be the “most effective” ( 11 above).

2 Which itself means “Mysian”—just as “English” might be the family name of an Englishman.

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