, the people who had thus far been conveyed by sea1
went on as before, while the rest continued their journey by land.
When they reached the boundary of the Mossynoecians,2
they sent to them Timesitheus the Trapezuntian, who was official representative of the Mossynoecians at Trapezus
, and asked whether in marching through their country they were to regard it as friendly or hostile. The Mossynoecians replied that they would not permit them to pass through;
for they trusted in their strongholds. Then Timesitheus told the Greeks that the Mossynoecians who dwelt farther on were hostile to these people, and it was decided to summon them and see whether they wanted to conclude an alliance; so Timesitheus was sent to them, and brought back with him their chiefs.
When they arrived, these chiefs of the Mossynoecians and the generals of the Greeks met together;
and Xenophon spoke as follows, Timesitheus acting as interpreter: “Mossynoecians, we desire to make our way to Greece
in safety by land, for we have no ships; but these people, who, as we hear, are your enemies, are trying to block our passage.
If you wish, therefore, it is within your power to secure us as allies, to exact vengeance for any wrong these people have ever done you, and to make them henceforth your subjects.
But if you dismiss us with a refusal, where, bethink you, could you ever again secure so large a force to help fight your battles?”
To these words the chief of the Mossynoecians replied that they desired this arrangement and accepted the alliance.
“Well, then,” said Xenophon, “what use will you want to make of us if we become your allies, and what assistance will you, in your turn, be able to render us in the matter of our passage through this territory?”
They replied: “We are able to invade this land of your enemies and ours from the opposite side, and to send to you here not only ships, but men who will aid you in the fighting and will guide you on your way.”
After confirming this agreement by giving and receiving pledges they departed. The next day they returned, bringing with them three hundred canoes, each made out of a single log and each containing three men, two of whom disembarked and fell into line under arms, while the third remained in the canoe.
Then the second group took their canoes and sailed back again, and those who stayed behind marshalled themselves in the following way. They took position in lines of about a hundred each, like choral dancers ranged opposite one another, all of them with wicker shields covered with white, shaggy ox-hide and like an ivy leaf in shape, and each man holding in his right hand a lance about six cubits long, with a spearhead at one end3
and a round ball at the butt end of the shaft.
They wore short tunics which did not reach their knees and were as thick as a linen bag for bedclothes, and upon their heads leathern helmets just such as the Paphlagonian helmets, with a tuft in the middle very like a tiara in shape; and they had also iron battle-axes.
After they had formed their lines one of them led off, and the rest after him, every man of them, fell into a rhythmic march and song, and passing through the battalions and through the quarters of the Greeks they went straight on against the enemy, toward a stronghold which seemed to be especially assailable.
It was situated in front of the city which is called by them Metropolis and contains the chief citadel of the Mossynoecians. In fact, it was for the possession of this citadel that the war was going on; for those who at any time held it were deemed to be masters of all the other Mossynoecians, and they said that the present occupants did not hold it by right, but that it was common property and they had seized it in order to gain a selfish advantage.
The attacking party was followed by some of the Greeks, not under orders from their generals, but seeking plunder. As they approached, the enemy for a time kept quiet; but when they had got near the stronghold, they sallied forth and put them to flight, killing a considerable number of the barbarians and some of the Greeks who had gone up the hill with them, and pursuing the rest until they saw the Greeks coming to the rescue;
then they turned and fell back, and after cutting off the heads of the dead men displayed them to the Greeks and to their own enemies, at the same time dancing to a kind of strain which they sang.
And the Greeks were exceedingly angry, not only because the enemy had been made bolder, but because the Greeks who went to the attack with the barbarians had taken to flight, though in very considerable numbers—a thing which they had never done before in the course of the expedition.
Then Xenophon called the Greeks together and said: “Fellow-soldiers, do not by any means lose heart on account of what has happened; for be sure that a good thing also has happened, no less important than the evil thing.
In the first place, you know that those who are to guide us are really enemies to the people whose enemies we also are compelled to be; secondly, and touching our own men, those among them who took little thought of the battle formation we use and got the idea that they could accomplish the same results in company with the barbarians as they could with us, have paid the penalty,—another time they will be less likely to leave our ordered lines.
But you must make ready to prove to our friends among the barbarians that you are better men than they, and to show the enemy that they are not going to fight against the same sort of men now as the disorderly mass they met before.”
It was thus that the Greeks spent that day; but on the next, after obtaining favourable omens from their sacrifices, they took breakfast, formed the companies in column, and began the march, with the barbarians in the same formation posted on the left, the bowmen distributed in the spaces between the companies, and the van of the hoplites a little farther back.
For the enemy had some nimble troops who kept running down the hill and pelting the Greeks with stones, and these fellows were held back by the bowmen and peltasts. The rest of the Greek army, proceeding at a walk, advanced first against the stronghold from which the barbarians and those with them had been put to flight on the preceding day; for it was there that the enemy were now drawn up to oppose them.
The barbarians did, indeed, meet the attack of the peltasts and engaged them in battle, but when the hoplites got near them, they turned to flight. The peltasts at once made after them and pursued them up the hill to the city, while the hoplites followed along, still keeping their lines.
When they were at the top and near the houses of Metropolis, at that moment all the troops of the enemy massed together and did battle; they hurled their lances, and with other spears which they had, so thick and long that a man could only carry them with difficulty, tried to defend themselves in hand to hand fighting.
As the Greeks, however, refused to give way, but kept pushing on to close quarters, the barbarians took to flight from that point also, every man of them abandoning the fortress. Their king in his wooden tower built upon the citadel, whom all the people jointly maintain and guard in his abiding place there, refused to come forth, as did also the commander of the stronghold4
which had been captured earlier, so they were burned up where they were, along with their towers.
In plundering the strongholds the Greeks found in the houses ancestral stores, as the Mossynoecians described them, of heaped up loaves, while the new corn was laid away with the straw, the most of it being spelt.
They also found slices of dolphin salted away in jars, and in other vessels dolphin blubber, which the Mossynoecians used in the same way as the Greeks use olive oil;
and on the upper floors of the houses there were large quantities of flat nuts, without any divisions.5
Out of these nuts, by boiling them and baking them into loaves, they made the bread which they used most. The Greeks also found wine, which by reason of its harshness appeared to be sharp when taken unmixed, but mixed with water was fragrant and delicious.
When they had breakfasted there, the Greeks took up their onward march, after handing over the fortress to the Mossynoecians who had helped them in the fighting. As for the other strongholds which they passed by, belonging to those who sided with the enemy, the most accessible were in some cases abandoned by their occupants, in other cases surrendered voluntarily.
The greater part of these places were of the following description: The towns were eighty stadia distant from one another, some more, and some less; but the inhabitants could hear one another shouting from one town to the next, such heights and valleys there were in the country.
And when the Greeks, as they proceeded, were among the friendly Mossynoecians, they would exhibit to them fattened children of the wealthy inhabitants, who had been nourished on boiled nuts and were soft and white to an extraordinary degree, and pretty nearly equal in length and breadth, with their backs adorned with many colours and their fore parts all tattooed with flower patterns.
These Mossynoecians wanted also to have intercourse openly with the women who accompanied the Greeks, for that was their own fashion. And all of them were white, the men and the women alike.
They were set down by the Greeks who served through the expedition, as the most uncivilized people whose country they traversed, the furthest removed from Greek customs. For they habitually did in public the things that other people would do only in private, and when they were alone they would behave just as if they were in the company of others, talking to themselves, laughing at themselves, and dancing in whatever spot they chanced to be, as though they were giving an exhibition to others.