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4.

On the following day, after Seuthes had burned up the villages completely and left not a single house, in order that he might inspire the rest of his enemies also with fear of the sort of fate they would suffer if they did not yield him obedience, he went back again. [2] Then he dispatched Heracleides to Perinthus to sell the booty, so that he might get money to pay the soldiers with; while he himself and the Greeks encamped on the plain of the Thynians, the inhabitants abandoning their homes and fleeing to the mountains. [3] There was deep snow on the plain, and it was so cold that the water which they carried in for dinner and the wine in the jars would freeze, and many of the Greeks had their noses and ears frost-bitten. [4] Then it became clear why the Thracians wear fox-skin caps on their heads and over their ears, and tunics not merely about their chests, but also round their thighs, and why, when on horseback, they wear long cloaks reaching to their feet instead of mantles. [5] And now Seuthes allowed some of his captives to go off to the mountains with word that if the Thynians did not come down to the plain to live and did not yield him obedience, he would burn up their villages also and their corn, and they would perish with hunger. Thereupon the women, children, and older men did come down, but the younger men bivouacked in the villages under the mountain. [6] And Seuthes, upon learning of this, ordered Xenophon to take the youngest of the hoplites and follow him. So they arose during the night, and at daybreak reached the villages. Now most of the villagers made their escape, for the mountain was close at hand; but all that he did capture, Seuthes shot down unsparingly. [7]

There was a certain Episthenes of Olynthus who was a lover of boys, and upon seeing a handsome boy, just in the bloom of youth and carrying a light shield, on the point of being put to death, he ran up to Xenophon and besought him to come to the rescue of a handsome lad. [8] So Xenophon went to Seuthes and begged him not to kill the boy, telling him of Episthenes' turn of mind, how he had once assembled a battalion with an eye to nothing else save the question whether a man was handsome, and that with this battalion he proved himself a brave man. [9] And Seuthes asked: “Would you even be willing, Episthenes, to die for this boy's sake?” Then Episthenes stretched out his neck and said, “Strike, if the lad bids you and will be grateful.” [10] Seuthes asked the boy whether he should strike Episthenes in his stead. The boy forbade it, and besought him not to slay either. Thereupon Episthenes threw his arms around the boy and said: “It is time, Seuthes, for you to fight it out with me for this boy; for I shall not give him up.” [11] And Seuthes laughed and let the matter go. He resolved, however, to establish a camp where they were, in order that the people on the mountain should not be supplied with food from these villages, either.1 So he himself went quietly down the mountain and encamped upon the plain, while Xenophon with his picked men took quarters in the uppermost village below the summit and the rest of the Greeks close by, among the so-called “mountain” Thracians. [12]

Not many days had passed after this when the Thracians on the mountain came down and entered into negotiations with Seuthes in regard to a truce and hostages. And Xenophon came and told Seuthes that his men were in bad quarters and the enemy were close at hand; he would be better pleased, he said, to bivouac in the open in a strong position than to be in the houses and run the risk of being destroyed. But Seuthes bade him have no fear and showed him hostages that had come from the enemy. [13] Meanwhile some of the people on the mountain came down and actually requested Xenophon himself to help them obtain the truce. He agreed to do so, told them to have no fear, and gave them his word that they would suffer no harm if they were obedient to Seuthes. But they, as it proved, were talking about this matter merely in order to spy out the situation. [14]

All this happened during the day, but in the night that followed the Thynians issued from the mountain and made an attack. And the master of each separate house acted as guide to that house; for in the darkness it would have been difficult to find the houses in these villages in any other way; for each house was surrounded by a paling, made of great stakes, to keep in the cattle. [15] When they had reached the doors of a particular house, some would throw in javelins, others would lay on with their clubs, which they carried, so it was said, to knock off the heads of hostile spears, and still others would be setting the house on fire, meanwhile calling Xenophon by name and bidding him come out and be killed, or else, they said, he would be burned up then and there. [16] And now fire was already showing through the roof, and Xenophon and his men inside the house had equipped themselves with breastplates and were furnished with shields and swords and helmets, when Silanus the Macistian, a lad of about eighteen years, gave a signal with the trumpet; and on the instant they leaped forth with swords drawn, and so did the Greeks from the other houses. [17] Then the Thracians took to flight, swinging their shields around behind them, as was their custom; and some of them who tried to jump over the palings were captured hanging in the air, with their shields caught in the stakes, while others missed the ways that led out and were killed; and the Greeks continued the pursuit till they were outside the village. [18] Some of the Thynians, however, turned about in the darkness and hurled javelins at men who were running along past a burning house, throwing out of the darkness toward the light; and they wounded Hieronymus the Epitalian, a captain, and Theogenes the Locrian, also a captain; no one, however, was killed, but some men had clothes and baggage burned up. [19] Meanwhile, Seuthes came to their aid with seven horsemen of his front line and his Thracian trumpeter. And from the instant he learned of the trouble, through all the time that he was hurrying to the rescue, every moment his horn was kept sounding; the result was, that this also helped to inspire fear in the enemy. When he did arrive, he clasped their hands and said that he had supposed he should find many of them slain. [20]

After this Xenophon asked Seuthes to give over the hostages to him and to join him on an expedition to the mountain, if he so pleased; otherwise, to let him go by himself. [21] On the next day, accordingly, Seuthes gave over the hostages—men already elderly and the most powerful, so it was said, of the mountaineers—and came himself with his troops. Now by this time Seuthes had a force quite three times as large as before; for many of the Odrysians, hearing what success Seuthes was enjoying, came down from the upper country to take service with him. [22] And when the Thynians saw from their mountain masses of hoplites, masses of peltasts, and troops of horsemen, they descended and besought him to grant them a truce, agreeing to do anything and everything and urging him to receive pledges. [23] Thereupon Seuthes summoned Xenophon, disclosed to him the proposals they were making, and said that he should not grant them a truce if Xenophon wanted to punish them for their attack. [24] And Xenophon said: “Why, for my part I think I have abundant satisfaction as it is, if these people are to be slaves instead of free men.” He added, however, that he advised Seuthes to take as hostages in the future those who were most capable of doing harm and to leave the old men at home. Thus it was that all the people in this region surrendered.

1 Supplies from the villages in the plain having already been cut off ( 5).

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
    • Smith's Bio, Heracleides
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