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1[The preceding narrative has described all that took place on the upward march until the time of the battle, all that happened after the battle during the truce concluded by the King and the Greeks who had made the upward march in company with Cyrus, and likewise the whole course of the warfare carried on against the Greeks after the King and Tissaphernes had broken the truce, when the Persian army was hanging upon the Greek rear. [2] When the Greeks finally reached a point where the Tigris river was quite impassable by reason of its depth and width, and where there was no passage-way alongside the river, since the Carduchian mountains hung sheer and close above it, the generals were forced to the conclusion that they must make their way through the mountains. [3] For they heard from the prisoners who were taken that once they had passed through the Carduchian mountains and reached Armenia, they could there cross the headwaters of the Tigris river, if they so desired, or, if they preferred, could go round them. They were also informed that the headwaters of the Euphrates were not far from those of the Tigris,—and such is indeed the case. [4] Now they conducted their invasion of the country of the Carduchians in the following way, since they were seeking not only to escape observation, but at the same time to reach the heights before the enemy could take possession of them.] [5]

When it was about the last watch, and enough of the night remained to allow them to cross the plain in the dark, at that time they arose upon the word of command and set out on their march; and they reached the mountain at daybreak. [6] Here Cheirisophus, with his own division and all the light-armed troops, led the van, while Xenophon followed behind with the hoplites of the rearguard, but without any light troops at all; for there seemed to be no danger of any pursuit from behind while they were proceeding uphill.2 [7] And Cheirisophus reached the summit of the pass before any of the enemy perceived him; then he led on slowly, and each division of the army as it passed over the summit followed along to the villages which lay in the hollows and nooks of the mountains. [8] Then it was that the Carduchians abandoned their houses and fled to the mountains with their wives and children. As for provisions, there was an abundance for the Greeks to take, and the houses were also supplied with bronze vessels in great numbers; the Greeks, however, did not carry off any of these, and did not pursue the people themselves, refraining from harshness on the chance that the Carduchians might perhaps be willing to let them pass through their country in friendship, seeing that they also were enemies of the King; [9] but they did take whatever they chanced upon in the way of provisions, for that was necessary. The Carduchians, however, would neither listen when they called to them nor give any other sign of friendliness. [10] And when the rearguard of the Greeks was descending from the summit of the pass to the villages—and by this time it was dark, for on account of the road being narrow their ascent and descent lasted through the entire day—at this moment some of the Carduchians gathered together and attacked the hindmost Greeks; and they killed some and wounded others severely with stones and arrows, though they were themselves but few in number; for the Greek army had come upon them unexpectedly. [11] If, however, a larger number of them had gathered together at that time, a great part of the army would have been in danger of being destroyed. Thus the Greeks bivouacked for that night in the villages, while the Carduchians kindled many fires round about upon the mountains and kept shouting to one another. [12]

At daybreak the generals and captains of the Greeks came together and resolved to keep with them on the march only the indispensable and most powerful baggage animals and to leave the rest behind; likewise, to let go all the newly-taken captives that were in the army, to the last man. [13] For the baggage animals and the captives, numerous as they were, made the march slow, and the large number of men who had charge of them were thus taken out of the fighting line; besides, with so many people to feed it was necessary to procure and to carry twice the amount of provisions. This decision once reached, they published the order to carry it into effect. [14]

When they had breakfasted and were setting out upon the march, the generals quietly stationed men in the defile and proceeded to take away from the troops such of the things specified as had not been given up if they found any; and the soldiers submitted, except in cases where a man had smuggled through a handsome boy or woman, for example, that he had set his heart upon. So they went on for that day, now fighting a little and now resting. [15] On the next day there was a heavy storm, but they had to continue their march, for they had not an adequate supply of provisions; and Cheirisophus led the way while Xenophon commanded the rearguard. [16] Here the enemy began a vigorous attack, and in the narrow places on the road came close up to discharge their bows and slings. The result was that the Greeks were forced to give chase and then fall back, and hence made but slow progress; and time after time, when the enemy pressed them hard, Xenophon would send word to Cheirisophus to wait a little. [17] Now while Cheirisophus was accustomed to wait whenever such word was given, on this occasion he did not do so, but led on rapidly and passed back the order to keep up with him. It was evident, therefore, that something was the matter, but there was no time to go forward and find out the reason for his haste; consequently the progress of the rearguard became more like a flight than a march. [18] Then it was that a brave man was killed, Leonymus the Laconian, who was pierced in the side by an arrow that went through his shield and cuirass; also Basias the Arcadian, who was shot clean through the head. [19]

As soon as they reached a halting place, Xenophon went straight to Cheirisophus, just as he was, and proceeded to reproach him for not waiting, but compelling them to flee and fight at the same time; “and now,” he went on, “two fine, brave fellows have lost their lives, and we were not able to pick up their bodies or bury them.” [20] Cheirisophus' reply was, “Take a look,” said he, “at the mountains, and observe how impassable all of them are. The only road is the one there, which you see, a steep one, too, and on that you can see the great crowd of people who have taken possession of it and are guarding our way out. [21] That's the reason why I was hurrying and why I would not wait for you, for I hoped to reach the pass and occupy it before they did. The guides that we have say there is no other road.” [22] And Xenophon answered, “Well, I also have two men. For at the time when the enemy were giving us trouble, we set an ambush. It allowed us, for one thing, to catch our breath; but, besides, we killed a number of them, and we took especial pains to get some prisoners for this very purpose, of being able to employ as guides men who know the country.” [23]

They brought up the two men at once and questioned them separately as to whether they knew any other road besides the one that was in plain sight. The first man said he did not, despite all the numerous threats that were made to him; and since he would give no information, he was slaughtered before the eyes of the second one. [24] The latter now said that the reason why this first man had maintained that he did not know any other road, was because he chanced to have a daughter living in that neighbourhood with a husband to whom he had given her; but as for himself, he said that he would lead the Greeks by a road that could be traversed even by baggage animals. [25] Upon being asked whether there was any point on it which was difficult to pass, he replied that there was a height which they could not possibly pass unless they should seize it beforehand. [26]

Thereupon it was decided to call together the captains, both of peltasts and hoplites, to set forth to them the existing situation, and to ask if there was any one among them who would like to prove himself a brave man and to undertake this expedition as a volunteer. [27] Volunteers came forward, from the hoplites Aristonymus of Methydrium and Agasias of Stymphalus, while in rivalry with them Callimachus of Parrhasia said that he was ready to make the expedition and take with him volunteers from the entire army; “for I know,” he continued, “that many of the young men will follow if I am in the lead.” [28] Then they asked whether any one among the captains of light troops wanted to join in the march. The volunteer was Aristeas of Chios, who on many occasions proved himself valuable to the army for such services.

1 The MSS. here prefix the following summary of the preceding narrative.

2 It will be remembered that light troops had proved more serviceable than hoplites in the recent skirmishes with the Persians. cp. Xen. Anab. 3.4.15-17, 24-30, 38-43.

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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PELLIS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), APSARUS
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
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