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Now we come to duties that the cavalry commander must perform himself. First, he must sacrifice to propitiate the gods on behalf of the cavalry; secondly, he must make the processions during the festivals worth seeing; further, he must conduct all the other obligatory displays before the people with as much splendour as possible, that is to say, the reviews in the Academy, in the Lyceum, at Phalerum, and in the Hippodrome.1

These again are only brief notes; and I will now explain exactly how the details of these various functions may be carried out with most splendour. [2]

As for the processions, I think they would be most acceptable both to the gods and to the spectators if they included a gala ride in the market place. The starting point would be the Herms2; and the cavalry would ride round saluting the gods at their shrines and statues. So at the Great Dionysia the dance of the choruses forms part of the homage offered to the Twelve and to other gods.

When the circuit is completed and the cavalcade is again near the Herms, the next thing to do, I think, is to gallop at top speed by regiments as far as the Eleusinium. [3] I will add a word on the position in which the lances should be held to prevent crossing. Every man should point his lance between his horse's ears, if the weapons are to look fearsome, stand out distinctly, and at the same time to convey the impression of numbers. [4]

The gallop finished and the goal reached, the right plan is to ride back to the temples by the same route, but at a slow pace: thus every effect that can be obtained from a horse with a man on his back3 will be included in the display, to the satisfaction of gods and men alike. [5]

I know that our cavalrymen are not accustomed to these movements: but I am sure that they are desirable and beautiful, and will delight the spectators. I am aware, too, that the cavalry have exhibited other novel feats of skill in days when the cavalry commanders had sufficient influence to get their wishes carried out. [6]

During the parade at the Lyceum, before the javelin-throwing, the right way is to ride in two divisions in line of battle, each division consisting of five regiments with its commander at the head and the colonels; and the line should be so extended that the whole breadth of the course will be covered. [7] As soon as they reach the highest point looking down on the Theatre opposite,4 I think it would clearly be useful if you displayed your men's ability to gallop downhill in fairly large companies. [8] To be sure, I know well enough that, if they feel confident of their ability to gallop, they will welcome the opportunity of showing off their skill: but you must see that they are not short of practice, or the enemy will compel them to do it against their will. [9]

The formation that would add most to the beauty of the exercises at the inspections5 has already been explained. Provided his horse is strong enough, the leader should ride round with the file that is on the outside every time. He will be galloping all the time himself, and the file whose turn it is to be on the outside with him will also be galloping. Thus the eyes of the Council will always be on the galloping file, and the horses will get a breathing space, resting by turns.6 [10]

When the Hippodrome is the scene of the display, the right plan would be that the men should first be drawn up on a front broad enough to fill the Hippodrome with horses and drive out the people standing there. [11] In the sham fight when the regiments pursue and fly from one another at the gallop in two squadrons of five regiments, each side led by its commander, the regiments should ride through one another. How formidable they will look when they charge front to front; how imposing when, after sweeping across the Hippodrome, they stand facing one another again; how splendid, when the trumpet sounds and they charge once more at a quicker pace! [12] After the halt, the trumpet should sound once more, and they should charge yet a third time at top speed; and when they have crossed, they should all range themselves in battle line preparatory to being dismissed, and ride up to the Council, just as you are accustomed to do. [13] I think that these manoeuvres would look more like war and would have the charm of novelty. It is unworthy of his high rank that a cavalry commander should gallop at a slower pace than the colonels, and ride in the same way as they do. [14]

When the ride is to take place in the Academy on the hard ground, I have the following recommendations to make. To avoid being thrown the riders should throw the body back in charging, and collect their horses when wheeling, to keep them from falling. In the straight, however, they should gallop. The Council will thus watch a safe as well as a beautiful performance.

1 Nothing in the sequel refers to manoeuvres at Phalerum; accordingly it has been proposed to omit καὶ τὰ Φαληροῖ as spurious. The Hippodrome was probably in the N.W. district of the Piraeus. This treatise gives the only information that we possess about these functions.

2 The Herms stood in two rows between the “Stoa Basileios” and the “Poicile.” The Eleusinium, probably lay at the western foot of the Acropolis. See Frazer, Pausanias vol. 2., p. 121 and p. 131. Some think the site was at the east foot.

3 The Greek text is unreliable here.

4 The Theatre of Dionysus, facing them as they come westwards from the Lyceum.

5 The allusion is not to the inspection of recruits by the Council, but to the manoeuvres enumerated in 3.l. The formation is that proposed in 2.

6 As it is not known precisely what evolutions took place at the displays, it is impossible to make out what changes Xenophon proposes.

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  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DIONY´SIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PANATHENAEA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PHYLARCHI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ATHE´NAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), A´TTICA
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