When seven days had passed, Xenophon gave over the village chief to Cheirisophus to act as guide, leaving his family behind with the exception of his son, who was just coming into the prime of youth; this son he gave into the keeping of Pleisthenes of Amphipolis
, in order that the father, if he should serve them well as guide, might take him also back with him. Then, after putting into his house as large a quantity of supplies as they could,1
they broke camp and set out upon the march.
The village chief, who was not bound,2
guided their way through the snow; but by the time they were on the third stage Cheirisophus got angry with him for not leading them to villages. He replied that there were none in this region.
Then Cheirisophus struck him, but neglected to bind him. The result was that he stole away during the night, leaving his son behind. And this was the only cause of difference between Cheirisophus and Xenophon during the course of the march, this ill-treatment of the guide and carelessness in not guarding him. Pleisthenes, however, fell in love with the boy, took him home with him, and found him absolutely faithful.
After this they marched seven stages at the rate of five parasangs a day to the Phasis river, which was a plethrum in width.
From there they marched two stages, ten parasangs; and on the pass leading over to the plain they encountered a body of Chalybians, Taochians, and Phasians.
As soon as Cheirisophus caught sight of the enemy on the pass, he halted, while still at a distance of about thirty stadia, in order not to get near the enemy while his troops were marching in column; and he gave orders to the other officers also to move along their companies so as to bring the army into line of battle.3
When the rearguard had come up, he called generals and captains together and spoke as follows: “The enemy, as you see, are in possession of the pass over the mountain, and it is time for us to take counsel as to how we can best make our fight.
My own view is, that we should give orders to the soldiers to get their breakfast while we ourselves consider whether it is best to attempt to cross over the mountain today or to-morrow.”
“My opinion is,” said Cleanor, “that as soon as we have breakfasted, we should arm ourselves and advance upon these men with all the strength we have. For if we waste this day, not only will the enemy who are now looking at us become bolder, but others, in greater numbers, when these are once emboldened, are likely to join them.”
After Cleanor had spoken, Xenophon said: “And I think this way: if it is necessary for us to fight, our preparation should have this end in view, to make the strongest possible fight; but if we wish to effect a passage in the easiest way we can, then, in my opinion, our consideration should be on this point, how we may sustain the fewest wounds and sacrifice the fewest lives.
Now this mountain—or the part of it that we see—extends over more than sixty stadia, but as for men to guard it against us, none are to be seen anywhere except on the road above; it is far better, therefore, to turn to the unoccupied part of the mountain and try either to steal a position by eluding the enemy's observation or to seize it by getting ahead of them, in whatever way we can, rather than to fight against strong places and men prepared.
For it is far easier to march uphill without fighting than over level ground with enemies on this side and that; one can see what is in front of him more easily by night if he is not fighting than by day if he is fighting; and the rough road is more comfortable to men who are going over it without fighting than the smooth road to men who are being pelted on the head.
And as for stealing a position, that does not seem to me impossible, for we can go during the night so as not to be seen, and we can get far enough away from the enemy so as not to be heard. I do think, however, that if we should make a feint of attacking here, we should find the rest of the mountain all the more deserted, for the enemy would be more likely to remain in a body where they are.
But why should I be the man to make suggestions about stealing? For, as I hear, Cheirisophus, you Lacedaemonians, at least those among you who belong to the peers,4
practise stealing even from childhood, and count it not disgraceful but honourable to steal anything that the law does not prevent you from taking.
And in order that you may steal with all possible skill and may try not to be caught at it, it is the law of your land that, if you are caught stealing, you are flogged. Now, therefore, is just the time for you to display your training, and to take care that we do not get caught stealing any of the mountain, so that we shall not get a beating.”
“Well, for all that,” said Cheirisophus, “I hear on my side that you Athenians are terribly clever at stealing the public funds, even though it is terribly dangerous for the stealer, and, in fact, that your best people do it most, at least if they really are your best who are deemed worthy to rule; hence it is time for you also to be displaying your training.”
“Well,” said Xenophon, “I am ready to set out with the rearguard, as soon as we have dined, to seize possession of the mountain. And I have guides, too; for the light troops set an ambush and captured some of the stealing rascals who are following us. From these fellows I also learn that the mountain is not impassable, but is pastured with goats and cattle; therefore if we once get possession of any part of the mountain, our pack animals also will find it passable.
And I hope that the enemy will remove themselves from our way as soon as they see us on a level with them upon the heights; for they are not willing now to come down and meet us on our level.”
Then Cheirisophus said: “But why should you be the one to go, and leave your post with the rearguard? Send others rather, unless some good men offer themselves as volunteers.”
At that, Aristonymus of Methydrium
, commanding hoplites, came forward, and Aristeas the Chian with light troops, and Nicomachus the Oetaean with light troops; and they made an agreement that as soon as they were in possession of the heights, they would kindle a number of fires.
This agreement concluded, they proceeded to take breakfast; and immediately after breakfast Cheirisophus led the whole army forward about ten stadia toward the enemy, in order to make them quite certain that he was going to advance upon them by this road.
After they had had dinner and night had come on, the men appointed to the task set forward and gained possession of the mountain, while the remainder of the troops rested where they were. And when the enemy perceived that the mountain was occupied, they staid awake and kept many fires burning through the night.
As soon as day came Cheirisophus offered sacrifice and led the army forward along the road, while the party that had seized the mountain, advanced along the heights.
As for the enemy, the majority remained at the pass over the mountain, but a part of them went to meet the detachment on the heights. Now before the two main bodies got near one another, those upon the heights came to close combat, and the Greeks were victorious and began their pursuit.
Meanwhile the main body of the Greeks was moving upward from the plain, the peltasts charging at a run upon the enemy's battleline and Cheirisophus following at a quick-step with the hoplites.
But the enemy on the road no sooner saw their detachment on the heights being defeated than they took to flight; and while not many of them were killed, a great number of wicker shields were captured, which the Greeks rendered useless by slashing them with their sabres.
When they had climbed to the top of the pass, after offering sacrifice and setting up a trophy they descended into the plain on the farther side, and reached villages full of many good things.