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Cyrus and his army remained here at Tarsus twenty days, for the soldiers refused to go any farther; for they suspected by this time that they were going against the King, and they said they had not been hired for that. Clearchus was the first to try to force his men to go on, but they pelted him and his pack-animals with stones as often as they began to go forward. [2] At that time Clearchus narrowly escaped being stoned to death; but afterwards, when he realized that he could not accomplish anything by force, he called a meeting of his own troops. And first he stood and wept for a long time, while his men watched him in wonder and were silent; then he spoke as follows: [3]

“Fellow-soldiers, do not wonder that I am distressed at the present situation. For Cyrus became my friend and not only honoured me, an exile from my fatherland, in various ways, but gave me ten thousand darics. And I, receiving this money, did not lay it up for my own personal use or squander it in pleasure, but I proceeded to expend it on you. [4] First I went to war with the Thracians, and for the sake of Greece I inflicted punishment upon them with your aid, driving them out of the Chersonese when they wanted to deprive the Greeks who dwelt there of their land. Then when Cyrus' summons came, I took you with me and set out, in order that, if he had need of me, I might give him aid in return for the benefits I had received from him. [5] But you now do not wish to continue the march with me; so it seems that I must either desert you and continue to enjoy Cyrus' friendship, or prove false to him and remain with you. Whether I shall be doing what is right, I know not, but at any rate I shall choose you and with you shall suffer whatever I must. And never shall any man say that I, after leading Greeks into the land of the barbarians, betrayed the Greeks and chose the friendship of the barbarians; [6] nay, since you do not care to obey me, I shall follow with you and suffer whatever I must. For I consider that you are to me both fatherland and friends and allies; with you I think I shall be honoured wherever I may be, bereft of you I do not think I shall be able either to aid a friend or to ward off a foe. Be sure, therefore, that wherever you go, I shall go also.” [7]

Such were his words. And the soldiers—not only his own men, but the rest also—when they heard that he said he would not go on to the King's capital, commended him; and more than two thousand of the troops under Xenias and Pasion took their arms and their baggage train and encamped with Clearchus. [8] But Cyrus, perplexed and distressed by this situation, sent repeatedly for Clearchus. Clearchus refused to go to him, but without the knowledge of the soldiers he sent a messenger and told him not to be discouraged, because, he said, this matter would be settled in the right way. He directed Cyrus, however, to keep on sending for him, though he himself, he said, would refuse to go. [9]

After this Clearchus gathered together his own soldiers, those who had come over to him, and any others who wanted to be present, and spoke as follows: “Fellow-soldiers, it is clear that the relation of Cyrus to us is precisely the same as ours to him; that is, we are no longer his soldiers, since we decline to follow him, and likewise he is no longer our paymaster. [10] I know, however, that he considers himself wronged by us. Therefore, although he keeps sending for me, I decline to go, chiefly, it is true, from a feeling of shame, because I am conscious that I have proved utterly false to him, but, besides that, from fear that he may seize me and inflict punishment upon me for the wrongs he thinks he has suffered at my hands. [11] In my opinion, therefore, it is no time for us to be sleeping or unconcerned about ourselves; we should rather be considering what course we ought to follow under the present circumstances. And so long as we remain here we must consider, I think, how we can remain most safely; or, again, if we count it best to depart at once, how we are to depart most safely and how we shall secure provisions—for without provisions neither general nor private is of any use. [12] And remember that while this Cyrus is a valuable friend when he is your friend, he is a most dangerous foe when he is your enemy; furthermore, he has an armament—infantry and cavalry and fleet—which we all alike see and know about; for I take it that our camp is not very far away from him. It is time, then, to propose whatever plan any one of you deems best.” With these words he ceased speaking. [13]

Thereupon various speakers arose, some of their own accord to express the opinions they held, but others at the instigation of Clearchus to make clear the difficulty of either remaining or departing without the consent of Cyrus. [14] One man in particular, pretending to be in a hurry to proceed back to Greece with all speed, proposed that they should choose other generals as quickly as possible, in case Clearchus did not wish to lead them back; secondly, that they should buy provisions—the market was in the barbarian army!—and pack up their baggage; then, to go to Cyrus and ask for vessels to sail away in; and if he would not give them vessels, to ask him for a guide to lead them homeward through a country that was friendly; and if he would not give them a guide, either, to form in line of battle with all speed and likewise to send a force to occupy the mountain heights in advance, in order that neither Cyrus nor the Cilicians should forestall them—“and we have in our possession,” he said, “many of these Cilicians and much of their property that we have seized as plunder.” Such were the words of this speaker. [15]

After him Clearchus said merely this: “Let no one among you speak of me as the man who is to hold this command, for I see many reasons why I should not do so; say rather that I shall obey to the best of my ability the man whom you choose, in order that you may know that I understand as well as any other person in the world how to be a subordinate also.” [16] After he had spoken another man arose to point out the foolishness of the speaker who had urged them to ask for vessels, just as if Cyrus were going home again, and to point out also how foolish it was to ask for a guide “from this man whose enterprise we are ruining. Indeed, if we propose to trust the guide that Cyrus gives us, what is to hinder us from directing Cyrus also to occupy the heights for us in advance? [17] For my part, I should hesitate to embark on the vessels that he might give us, for fear of his sinking us with his war-ships, and I should be afraid to follow the guide that he might give, for fear of his leading us to a place from which it will not be possible to escape; my choice would be, in going off without Cyrus' consent, to go off without his knowledge—and that is not possible. [18] Now in my own opinion the plans just proposed are nonsense; rather, I think we should send to Cyrus men of the proper sort, along with Clearchus, to ask him what use he wishes to make of us; and if his enterprise is like the sort of one in which he employed mercenaries before,1 I think that we also should follow him and not be more cowardly than those who went up with him on the former occasion; [19] if, however, his enterprise is found to be greater and more laborious and more dangerous than the former one, we ought to demand that he should either offer sufficient persuasion2 and lead us on with him, or yield to our persuasion and let us go home in friendship; for in this way, if we should follow him, we should follow as friends and zealous supporters, and if we should go back, we should go back in safety. I propose, further, that our representatives should report back to us whatever reply he may make, and that we after hearing it should deliberate about the matter.” [20]

This plan was adopted, and they chose representatives and sent them with Clearchus; and they proceeded to put to Cyrus the questions resolved upon by the army. He replied that he had heard that Abrocomas, a foe of his, was at the Euphrates river, twelve stages distant. It was against him, therefore, he said, that he desired to march. And if he were there, he wished to inflict due punishment upon him; “but if he has fled,” he continued, “we will deliberate about the matter then and there.” [21] Upon hearing this reply the deputies reported it to the soldiers, and they, while suspecting that Cyrus was leading them against the King, nevertheless thought it best to follow him. They asked, however, for more pay, and Cyrus promised to give them all half as much again as they had been receiving before, namely, a daric and a half a month to each man instead of a daric; but as regards the suspicion that he was leading them against the King, no one heard it expressed even then—at any rate, not openly.

1 As described in Xen. Anab. 1.1.2.

2 i.e. in the form of extra pay.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 518
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 704
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    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.1.2
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