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After this the Greeks and Ariaeus, encamped close by one another, waited for Tissaphernes more than twenty days. During this time Ariaeus' brothers and other relatives came to him and certain Persians came to his followers, and they kept encouraging them and bringing pledges to some of them from the King that the King would bear them no ill-will because of their campaign with Cyrus against him or because of anything else in the past. [2] While these things were going on, it was evident that Ariaeus and his followers paid less regard to the Greeks; this, accordingly, was another reason why the greater part of the Greeks were not pleased with them, and they would go to Clearchus and the other generals and say: [3] “Why are we lingering? Do we not understand that the King would like above everything else to destroy us, in order that the rest of the Greeks also may be afraid to march against the Great King? For the moment he is scheming to keep us here because his army is scattered, but when he has collected his forces again, there is no question but that he will attack us. [4] Or perhaps he is digging a trench or building a wall somewhere to cut us off and make our road impassable. For never, if he can help it, will he choose to let us go back to Greece and report that we, few as we are, were victorious over the King at his very gates, and then laughed in his face and came home again.” [5] To those who talked in this way Clearchus replied: “I too have in mind all these things; but I reflect that if we go away now, it will seem that we are going away with hostile intent and are acting in violation of the truce. And then, in the first place, no one will provide us a market or a place from which we can get provisions; secondly, we shall have no one to guide us; again, the moment we take this course Ariaeus will instantly desert us; consequently we shall have not a friend left, for even those who were friends before will be our enemies. [6] Then remember the rivers—there may be others, for aught I know, that we must cross, but we know about the Euphrates at any rate, that it cannot possibly be crossed in the face of an enemy. Furthermore, in case fighting becomes necessary, we have no cavalry to help us, whereas the enemy's cavalry are exceedingly numerous and exceedingly efficient; hence if we are victorious, whom could we kill1? And if we are defeated, not one of us can be saved. [7] For my part, therefore, I cannot see why the King, who has so many advantages on his side, should need, in case he is really eager to destroy us, to make oath and give pledge and forswear himself by the gods and make his good faith unfaithful in the eyes of Greeks and barbarians.” Such arguments Clearchus would present in abundance. [8]

Meanwhile Tissaphernes returned with his own forces as if intending to go back home, and likewise Orontas2 with his forces; the latter was also taking home the King's daughter as his wife. [9] Then they finally began the march, Tissaphernes taking the lead and providing a market; and Ariaeus with Cyrus' barbarian army kept with Tissaphernes and Orontas on the march and encamped with them. [10] The Greeks, however, viewing them all with suspicion, proceeded by themselves, with their own guides. And the two parties encamped in every case a parasang or more from one another, and kept guard each against the other, as though against enemies—a fact which at once occasioned suspicion. [11] Sometimes, moreover, when Greeks and barbarians were getting firewood from the same place or collecting fodder or other such things, they would come to blows with one another, and this also occasioned ill-will. [12]

After travelling three stages they reached the so called wall of Media,3 and passed within it. It was built of baked bricks, laid in asphalt, and was twenty feet wide and a hundred feet high; its length was said to be twenty parasangs, and it is not far distant from Babylon. [13] From there they proceeded two stages, eight parasangs, crossing on their way two canals, one by a stationary bridge and the other by a bridge made of seven boats. These canals issued from the Tigris river, and from them, again, ditches had been cut that ran into the country, at first large, then smaller, and finally little channels, such as run to the millet fields in Greece.

Then they reached the Tigris river, near which was a large and populous city named Sittace, fifteen stadia from the river. [14] The Greeks accordingly encamped beside this city, near a large and beautiful park, thickly covered with all sorts of trees, while the barbarians had crossed the Tigris before encamping, and were not within sight of the Greeks. [15] After the evening meal Proxenus and Xenophon chanced to be walking in front of the place where the arms were stacked, when a man came up and asked the outposts where he could see Proxenus or Clearchus—he did not ask for Menon, despite the fact that he came from Ariaeus, Menon's friend. [16] And when Proxenus said “I am the one you are looking for,” the man made this statement: “I was sent here by Ariaeus and Artaozus, who were faithful to Cyrus and are friendly to you; they bid you be on your guard lest the barbarians attack you during the night, for there is a large army in the neighbouring park. [17] They also bid you send a guard to the bridge over the Tigris river, because Tissaphernes intends to destroy it during the night, if he can, so that you may not cross, but may be cut off between the river and the canal.” [18] Upon hearing these words they took him to Clearchus and repeated his message. And when Clearchus heard it, he was exceedingly agitated and full of fear. [19]

A young man who was present, however, fell to thinking, and then said that the two stories, that they intended to attack and intended to destroy the bridge, were not consistent. “For it is clear,” he went on, “that if they attack, they must either be victorious or be defeated. Now if they are victorious, why should they need to destroy the bridge? For even if there were many bridges, we should have no place to which we could flee and save ourselves. [20] But if it is we who are victorious, with the bridge destroyed they will have no place to which they can flee. And, furthermore, though there are troops in abundance on the other side, no one will be able to come to their aid with the bridge destroyed.” [21]

After hearing these words Clearchus asked the messenger about how extensive the territory between the Tigris and the canal was. He replied that it was a large tract, and that there were villages and many large towns in it. [22] Then it was perceived that the barbarians had sent the man with a false message out of fear that the Greeks might destroy the bridge and establish themselves permanently on the island, with the Tigris for a defence on one side and the canal on the other; in that case, they thought, the Greeks might get provisions from the territory between the river and the canal, since it was extensive and fertile and there were men in it to cultivate it; and furthermore, the spot might also become a place of refuge for anyone who might desire to do harm to the King. [23]

After this the Greeks went to rest, yet they did, nevertheless, send a guard to the bridge; and no one attacked the army from any quarter, nor did anyone of the enemy, so the men on guard reported, come to the bridge. [24] When dawn came, they proceeded to cross the bridge, which was made of thirty-seven boats, as guardedly as possible; for they had reports from some of the Greeks who were with Tissaphernes that the enemy would attack them while they were crossing. But these reports were false. To be sure, in the course of their passage Glus did appear, with some others, watching to see if they were crossing the river, but once he had seen, he went riding off. [25]

From the Tigris they marched four stages, twenty parasangs, to the Physcus river, which was a plethrum in width and had a bridge over it. There was situated a large city named Opis, near which the Greeks met the bastard brother of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, who was leading a large army from Susa and Ecbatana to the support, as he said, of the King; and he halted his own army and watched the Greeks as they passed by. [26] Clearchus led them two abreast, and halted now and then in his march; and whatever the length of time for which he halted the van of the army, just so long a time the halt would necessarily last through the entire army; the result was that even to the Greeks themselves their army seemed to be very large, and the Persian was astounded as he watched them. [27] From there they marched through Media, six desert stages, thirty parasangs, to the villages of Parysatis,4 the mother of Cyrus and the King. And Tissaphernes, by way of insulting Cyrus,5 gave over these villages—save only the slaves they contained—to the Greeks to plunder. In them there was grain in abundance and cattle and other property. [28] From there they marched four desert stages, twenty parasangs, keeping the Tigris river on the left. Across the river on the first stage was situated a large and prosperous city named Caenae, from which the barbarians brought over loaves, cheeses and wine, crossing upon rafts made of skins.

1 Hoplites, because of their heavy equipment, were ineffective in a pursuit, especially when an enemy fled, as in “the battle” of I. viii., long before they were within striking distance. Horsemen, of course, were at their best in following up a routed enemy.

2 Satrap of Armenia

3 See note on Xen. Anab. 1.7.15. The Greeks had twice already, once on the advance and again on the retreat, crossed the original line of this wall. Now, turning to the eastward (see the map), they reach it at a point where it is still standing, and pass “within it,” i.e. to the south-eastern, or Babylonian, side of it.

4 cp. Xen. Anab. 1.4.9.

5 i.e. through the mother who “loved him better than her reigning son Artaxerxes” (Xen. Anab. 1.1.4).

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hide References (9 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
    • Harper's, Mediae Murus
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HOSPI´TIUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), JUSJURANDUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TUBA
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter VI
    • Smith's Bio, Orontes
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