It was likewise resolved that the generals should undergo an inquiry with reference to their past conduct. When they presented their statements, Philesius and Xanthicles were condemned, for their careless guarding of the merchantmen's cargoes,1
to pay the loss incurred, namely, twenty minas, and Sophaenetus, for neglect of duty in the office to which he had been chosen,2
was fined ten minas.
Accusations were also made against Xenophon by certain men who claimed that he had beaten them, and so brought the charge of wanton assault.
Xenophon bade the first man who spoke to state where it was that he had struck him. He replied, “In the place where we were perishing with cold and there was an enormous amount of snow.”
And Xenophon said, “Well, really, with weather of the sort you describe and provisions used up and no chance even to get a smell of wine, when many of us were becoming exhausted with hardships and the enemy were at our heels, if at such a time as that I wantonly abused you, I admit that I am more wanton even than the ass, which, because of its wantonness, so the saying runs, is not subject to fatigue. Nevertheless, do tell us,” he said, “for what reason you were struck.
Did I ask you for something, and then strike you because you would not give it to me? Did I demand something back? Was it in a fight over a favourite? Was it an act of drunken violence?”
When the man replied that it was none of these things, Xenophon asked him if he was a hoplite. He said no. Was he a peltast, then? No, not that either, he said, but he had been detailed by his messmates, although he was a free man, to drive a mule.
At that Xenophon recognized him, and asked: “Are you the fellow who carried the sick man?” “Yes, by Zeus,” he replied, “for you forced me to do so; and you scattered my messmates' baggage all about.”
“Why, the scattering,” said Xenophon, “was after this fashion: I distributed it among others to carry and directed them to bring it back to me, and when I got it back, I returned the whole of it to you intact when you, for your part, had shown me the sick man. But listen, all of you,” he continued, “and hear how the affair happened; for the story is worth hearing.
“A man was being left behind because he was unable to keep going any longer. I was acquainted with the man only so far as to know that he was one of our number, and I forced you, sir, to carry him in order that he might not perish; for, as I remember, the enemy were following after us.” To that the fellow agreed.
“Well,” Xenophon continued, “after I had sent you on ahead, I overtook you again, as I came along with the rearguard, and found you digging a hole to bury the man in, and I stopped and commended you.
But when, as we were standing by, the man drew up his leg, all of us cried out, `The man is alive'; and you said, `Let him be alive just as much as he pleases, I, for my part, am not going to carry him.' Then I struck you; your story is true; for it looked to me as if you knew that he was alive.”
“Well, what of that,” the fellow said; “didn't he die all the same after I had shown him to you?” “Why,” said Xenophon, “all of us are likewise going to die; but should we on that account be buried alive?”
As for this fellow, everybody cried out that Xenophon had given him fewer blows than he deserved. Then he directed the rest to state the reason why each one of them had been struck.
When they failed to rise, he went on himself: “I admit, soldiers, that I have indeed struck men for neglect of discipline, the men who were content to be kept safe by you who marched in due order and fought wherever there was need, while they themselves would leave the ranks and run on ahead in the desire to secure plunder and to enjoy an advantage over you. For if all of us had behaved in this way, all of us alike would have perished.
Again, when a man behaved like a weakling and refused to get up, preferring to leave himself a prey to the enemy, I did indeed strike him and use violence to compel him to go on. For once during the severe weather I myself remained seated for quite a long time, waiting for some people who were packing up, and I discovered that it was hard work to get up and stretch my legs.
Having tested the matter, then, in my own case, I used after that to drive on any other man whom I might see sitting down and shirking; for getting into motion and acting like a man produced a certain amount of warmth and suppleness, while sitting and keeping quiet tended, as I saw, to make the blood freeze and the toes rot off, just the misfortunes which many people suffered, as you know for yourselves.
In still another case, the man, perhaps, who fell behind somewhere out of indolence and prevented both you in the van and us in the rear from going on, I struck such a one with the fist in order that the enemy might not strike him with the lance.
Indeed, that is the reason why these people, having been saved, now have it in their power to obtain satisfaction for whatever they suffered unjustly at my hands. But if they had fallen into the hands of the enemy, what suffering would they have experienced so great that they would now be asking to obtain satisfaction for it?3
“My defence,” he continued, “is simple: if it was for his good that I punished any one, I think I should render the sort of account that parents render to sons and teachers to pupils; for that matter, surgeons also burn and cut patients for their good;
but if you believe it was out of wantonness that I did these things, take note that now, by the blessing of the gods, I am more confident than I was then and that I am bolder now than then and drink more wine, but nevertheless I strike no man—for the reason that I see you are in calm waters.
But when it is stormy weather and a high sea is running, do you not observe that even for a mere nod the lookout gets angry with the people at the prow and the helmsman angry with the people at the stern? For in such a situation even small blunders are enough to ruin everything.
But you rendered judgment yourselves that I was justified in striking those men; for you stood by, with swords, not ballots, in your hands, and it was within your power to come to their aid if you chose; but, by Zeus, you would neither give those people aid nor would you join with me in striking such as violated discipline.
Consequently you gave the bad among them freedom to act wantonly by thus letting them alone.
“For I think, if you care to look into the matter, you will find it is the very same men who were then most cowardly that are now most wanton.
At any rate, Boiscus the boxer, of Thessaly
, then fought hard to escape carrying his shield, on the plea that he was tired, but now, as I hear, he has already stripped off the clothes of many Cotyorites.
If you are wise, therefore, you will do to this fellow the opposite of what people do to dogs; for dogs that are savage are tied up by day and let loose by night, but this fellow, if you are wise, you will tie up by night and let loose by day.
“But really,” he continued, “I am surprised that if ever I incurred the ill-will of any one among you, you remember that and are not silent about it, while if I protected any one from the cold, or warded off an enemy from him, or helped to provide something for him when he was sick or in want, these acts, on the other hand, are not remembered by anybody; nor, again, if I praised a man for a deed well done, or honoured according to my ability a man who was brave, do you remember any of these things.
Yet surely it is more honourable and fair, more righteous and gracious to remember good deeds than evil.”
Then people began getting up and recalling past incidents, and in the end all was pleasant.