previous next

Such was the end of that day. On the next the generals called an assembly of the soldiers, and they decided to invite the Sinopeans to join them in deliberating about the rest of their journey. For if they should have to proceed by land, it seemed that the Sinopeans would be useful to them, by virtue of their acquaintance with Paphlagonia; and if they were to go by sea, there was still need, they thought, of the Sinopeans, inasmuch as they were the only people who could provide ships enough for the army. [2] They accordingly invited the ambassadors in and proceeded to take counsel with them, asking them, as Greeks dealing with Greeks, to make a beginning of their kindly reception by showing friendliness and offering the best advice. [3]

Then Hecatonymus rose and, in the first place, defended himself in the matter of his remark that they would make a friend of the Paphlagonian, by saying that he did not mean that his own people would make war upon the Greeks, but rather that despite the opportunity they had to be friends of the barbarians they would choose the Greeks instead. But when they told him to proceed to give some advice, he began with a prayer to the gods as follows: [4] “If I should give the advice which in my judgment is best, may many blessings come to me; otherwise, the opposite. For what men term ‘sacred counsel’1 seems verily to be my portion; since to-day if I be found to have given good counsel, there will be many to praise me, but if it be ill, there will be many among you to curse me. [5] Now I know that we shall have far more trouble if you are conveyed by sea, for upon us will fall the duty of providing the ships; while if you journey by land, upon you will fall the task of doing the fighting. [6] Nevertheless, I must say what I believe; for I am acquainted with both the country of the Paphlagonians and their power. Their country possesses these two things, the fairest plains and the loftiest mountains. [7] And, in the first place, I know at once where you must make your entry: there is no place save where the peaks of the mountains rise high on either side of the road; holding these peaks a mere handful of men could command the pass, and if they are so held, not all the men in the world could effect a passage. All this I could even point out if you should care to send some one to the spot with me. [8] Secondly, I know that they have plains and a cavalry which the barbarians themselves regard as superior to the whole of the King's cavalry. Indeed, only now these Paphlagonians have failed to present themselves when the King summoned them, for their ruler is too proud to obey. [9]

“If you should, after all, find yourselves able not only to seize the mountains, whether by stealth or by anticipating the enemy, but also on the plain to conquer in battle both their cavalry and their more than one hundred and twenty thousand infantry, you will come to the rivers. First is the Thermodon, three plethra in width, which I fancy would be difficult to cross, especially with great numbers of the enemy in front and great numbers following behind; second, the Iris, likewise three plethra wide; third, the Halys, not less than two stadia in width, which you could not cross without boats—and who will there be to supply you with boats?—and similarly impassable is the Parthenius also, to which you would come if you should get across the Halys. [10]

“For my part, therefore, I believe that this journey is not merely difficult for you, but a thing of utter impossibility. If you go by sea, however, you can coast along from here to Sinope, and from Sinope to Heracleia; and from Heracleia on there is no difficulty either by land or by water, for there are ships in abundance at Heracleia.” [11]

When he had thus spoken, some of his hearers were suspicious that he spoke as he did out of friendship for Corylas, for he was his official representative at Sinope; others imagined that he even had the idea of obtaining gifts on account of this advice; while still others suspected that the real purpose of his speech was to prevent the Greeks from going by land and so doing some harm to the territory of the Sinopeans. At any rate, however, the Greeks voted to make the journey by sea. [12] After this Xenophon said: “Men of Sinope, my troops have chosen the route which you advise; but the matter stands in this way: if there are to be ships enough so that not so much as one man will be left behind here, we shall set sail; but if the plan should be to let some of us stay behind and others sail, we shall not set foot on the ships. [13] For we know that wherever we hold the upper hand, we should be able both to keep ourselves safe and to obtain provisions; but let us once get caught where we are weaker than the enemy, and it is perfectly clear that we shall be in the position of slaves.” Upon hearing these words the Sinopeans told them to send ambassadors. [14] And they sent Callimachus the Arcadian, Ariston the Athenian, and Samolas the Achaean. These men accordingly set out. [15]

At this time, as Xenophon's eyes rested upon a great body of Greek hoplites, and likewise upon a great body of peltasts, bowmen, slingers, and horsemen also, all of them now exceedingly efficient through constant service and all there in Pontus,2 where so large a force could not have been gathered by any slight outlay of money, it seemed to him that it was a fine thing to gain additional territory and power for Greece by founding a city. [16] It would become a great city, he thought, as he reckoned up their own numbers and the peoples who dwelt around the Euxine. And with a view to this project, before speaking about it to any of the soldiers, he offered sacrifices, summoning for that purpose Silanus the Ambraciot, who had been the soothsayer of Cyrus. [17] Silanus, however, fearing that this thing might come to pass and that the army might settle down somewhere, carried forth to the troops a report that Xenophon wanted them to settle down, so that he could found a city and win for himself a name and power. [18] As for Silanus, his own desire was to reach Greece as quickly as possible; for the three thousand darics, which he had received from Cyrus at the time when he sacrificed for him and had told the truth about the ten days,3 he had brought safely through. [19]

When the soldiers heard this report, some of them thought it was best to settle down, but the majority thought otherwise. And Timasion the Dardanian and Thorax the Boeotian said to some Heracleot and Sinopean merchants who were there, that if they did not provide pay for the troops so that they would have provisions for the voyage from Cotyora, there would be danger of that great force remaining in Pontus. “For Xenophon,” they went on, “wishes and is urging that as soon as the ships come, we should then say all of a sudden to the army: [20] `Soldiers, now we see that you are without means either to supply yourselves with provisions on the homeward voyage, or to do anything for your people at home when you have got back there; but if you wish to pick out some spot in the country that lies round about the Euxine and put to shore wherever you may wish—he who so desires to go back home and he who so desires to stay behind—here are your ships, so that you could make a sudden attack at whatever point you may wish.'” [21]

Upon hearing this statement the merchants carried it back to their cities; and along with them Timasion the Dardanian sent Eurymachus the Dardanian and Thorax the Boeotian to tell the same story. When the Sinopeans and Heracleots heard it, they sent to Timasion and urged him to take in charge, for a fee, the matter of getting the army to sail away. [22] He received this proposal gladly, and when the soldiers were gathered in assembly addressed them as follows: “You ought not, soldiers, to set your thoughts on remaining here, nor to esteem anything more highly than Greece. But I hear that certain people are offering sacrifices over this matter, with not so much as a word to you. [23] Now I promise, in case you set sail from here, to provide you with pay from the first of the month at the rate of a Cyzicene4 per month to each man; and I will take you to Troas, the place from which I am an exile, and my city will be at your service; for they will receive me willingly. [24] Then I myself will lead you to places from which you will get an abundance of wealth. I am acquainted with Aeolis, Phrygia, Troas, and the entire province of Pharnabazus,5 partly because I come from that region, and partly because I have campaigned there with Clearchus and Dercylidas.”6 [25]

Next rose Thorax the Boeotian, who was at odds with Xenophon over the generalship of the army, and said that once they got out of the Euxine they would have the Chersonese, a fair and prosperous country, where any one who so desired might dwell, while any who did not desire to do this, might return home. It was ridiculous, he said, when there was plenty of fertile land in Greece, to be hunting for it in the domain of the barbarians. [26] “And until you reach that spot,” he continued, “I also, like Timasion, promise you regular pay.” All this he said with full knowledge of what the Heracleots and the Sinopeans were promising Timasion for getting the army to sail away. Xenophon meanwhile was silent. [27]

Then Philesius and Lycon the Achaeans rose and said that it was outrageous for Xenophon to be privately urging people to settle down and sacrificing with a view to that plan, while publicly saying not a word about the matter. Thus Xenophon was compelled to rise and speak as follows: [28] “I offer, soldiers, as you see, all the sacrifices I can both on your behalf and my own in order that I may perchance say and think and do such things as will be fairest and best both for you and me. And in the present case I was sacrificing for guidance on this point only, whether it was better to begin to speak before you and to act regarding this project, or not to touch the matter at all. [29] Now Silanus, the soothsayer, answered me in respect to the main issue that the omens were favourable (for he knew well enough that I was not unacquainted with divination, from being always present at the sacrifices); but he said that there appeared in the omens a kind of fraud and plot against me, manifestly because he knew that he was himself plotting to traduce me before you. For he spread abroad the report that I was intending to do these things at once, without getting your consent. [30] Now if I saw that you were without resources, I should be looking about for a plan by which you might get possession of a city, with the provision that afterwards he who chose might sail back home at once, while he who did not wish to go at once might return after he had accumulated enough to bestow a little something upon his people at home. [31] But since, in fact, I see that the Heracleots and Sinopeans are sending you the ships in which to sail away, and that men are promising you pay from the first of the month, it seems to me it is a fine thing to be carried safely where we want to go and at the same time to receive pay for our preservation; therefore I renounce that other project for myself, and I say, to all those who have come to me and expressed the view that it ought to be carried out, that they also should renounce it. [32]

“For I hold this opinion: standing together and in force, as you are now, I think you will be held in honour and will have provisions, for in strength lies the opportunity to wrest away the possessions of the weaker; but let yourselves get separated and your force broken up into small parts, and you would neither be able to obtain food to live on nor would you come off unharmed. [33] I think, therefore, just as you do, that we should set out for Greece, and that if it does come to pass that any man is caught deserting before the entire army is in a place of safety, he should be brought to trial as a wrong-doer. And whoever is of this opinion,” he continued, “let him raise his hand.” Up went every hand. [34]

Silanus, however, began shouting, and attempted to say that it was fair for any one who so chose to leave the army. But the soldiers would not allow him to speak, and they threatened him that as surely as they caught him running away, they would inflict due punishment upon him. [35] After that, when the Heracleots learned that it had been voted to sail away, and that Xenophon himself had put the question to vote, they did send the ships, but in the matter of the money they had promised to Timasion and Thorax they turned out to be deceivers. [36] Consequently the men who had promised the pay were panic-stricken, and stood in fear of the army. They therefore took with them the other generals to whom they had communicated their earlier doings—namely, all the generals except Neon the Asinaean, who was acting as lieutenant for Cheirisophus because Cheirisophus had not yet returned—and came to Xenophon, with the message that they had changed their minds and thought it was best to sail to the Phasis, inasmuch as there were ships at hand, and seize the land of the Phasians. [37] Their king, as it chanced, was a grandson of Aeetes. Xenophon replied that he would not say a word to the army about this plan; “but,” he went on, “gather the men together and speak to them yourselves, if you wish.” Then Timasion the Dardanian declared it as his opinion that they should not hold an assembly, but that each general should first endeavour to persuade his own captains. So they went away and set about doing this.

1 Hecatonymus alludes to the proverb “Counsel is a sacred thing,” i.e. it must be given honestly.

2 Xenophon uses the term πόντος both of the Euxine Sea and of the region along its south-eastern coast. See below.

3 See Xen. Anab. 1.7.18.

4 A gold coin of Cyzicus, an important Greek city on the Propontis. It was equivalent in weight of gold to l lls. l d. or $7.56; but see note on Xen. Anab. 1.1.9.

5 Persian satrap of Lesser Phrygia and Bithynia.

6 A Spartan general. He had taken part in the Peloponnesian War, and was the commander under whom the Ten Thousand later served.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1904)
hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 956
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 706
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: