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It was now late afternoon, and they ordered the volunteers to take a snatch of food and set out. They also bound the guide and turned him over to the volunteers, and made an agreement with them that in case they should capture the height, they were to guard it through the night and give a signal at daybreak with the trumpet; then those on the height were to proceed against the Carduchians who were holding the visible way out,1 while the main army was to come to their support, pushing forward as fast as it could. [2] This agreement concluded, the volunteers, about two thousand in number, set out on their march; and there was a heavy downpour of rain; at the same time Xenophon with the rearguard began advancing toward the visible way out, in order that the enemy might be giving their attention to that road and that the party2 taking the roundabout route might, so far as possible, escape observation. [3] But as soon as the troops of the rearguard were at a gorge which they had to cross before marching up the steep hill, at that moment the barbarians began to roll down round stones large enough for a wagon-load, with larger and smaller ones also; they came down with a crash upon the rocks below and the fragments of them flew in all directions, so that it was quite impossible even to approach the ascending road. [4] Then some of the captains, unable to proceed by this route, would try another, and they kept this up until darkness came on. It was not until they imagined that their withdrawal would be unobserved that they went back to dinner—and it chanced that they had had no breakfast either. The enemy, however, never stopped rolling down their stones all through the night, as one could judge from the noise. [5]

Meanwhile the party with the guide, proceeding by a roundabout route, found the guards3 sitting around a fire, and after killing some of them and chasing away the others they remained at the post themselves, supposing that they held the height. [6] In fact, they were not holding it, for it was a round hill above them and past it ran this narrow road upon which the guards had been sitting. Nevertheless, from the place they did hold there was a way of approach to the spot, upon the visible road,4 where the main body of the enemy were stationed. [7] At this place, then, they passed the night, and when day was beginning to break, they took up their march silently in battle array against the enemy; for there was a mist, and consequently they got close up to them without being observed. When they did catch sight of one another, the trumpet5 sounded and the Greeks raised the battle cry and rushed upon the enemy. And the Carduchians did not meet their attack, but abandoned the road and took to flight; only a few of them, however, were killed, for they were agile fellows. [8] Meanwhile Cheirisophus and his command, hearing the trumpet, charged immediately up the visible road; and some of the other generals made their way without following any road from the points where they severally chanced to be and, clambering up as best they could, pulled one another up with their spears; [9] and it was they who were first to join the troops that had already gained possession of the place.

But Xenophon with half the rearguard set out by the same route which the party with the guide had followed, because this was the easiest route for the baggage animals; and behind the baggage animals he posted the other half of the rearguard. [10] As they proceeded they came upon a hill above the road which had been seized by the enemy, and found themselves compelled either to dislodge them or be completely separated from the rest of the Greeks; and while, so far as the troops themselves were concerned, they might have taken the same route that the rest6 followed, the baggage animals could not get through by any other road than this one7 by which Xenophon was proceeding. [11] Then and there, accordingly, with words of cheer to one another, they charged upon the hill with their companies in column, not surrounding it, but leaving the enemy a way of retreat in case they chose to use it. [12] For a while, as the Greeks were climbing up by whatever way they severally could, the barbarians discharged arrows and other missiles upon them; they did not let them get near, however, but took to flight and abandoned the place. No sooner had the Greeks passed by this hill, than they saw a second one ahead similarly occupied by the enemy, and decided to proceed against this one in its turn. [13] Xenophon, however, becoming apprehensive lest, if he should leave unoccupied the hill he had just captured, the enemy might take possession of it again and attack the baggage train as it passed (and the train stretched out a long way because of the narrowness of the road it was following), left three captains upon the hill, Cephisodorus, son of Cephisophon, an Athenian, Amphicrates, son of Amphidemus, also an Athenian, and Archagoras, an Argive exile; while he himself with the rest of the troops proceeded against the second hill, which they captured in the same fashion as the first. [14]

There still remained a third round hill,8 far the steepest of them all, the one that rose above the guard post, by the fire, which had been captured during the night by the volunteers. [15] But when the Greeks got near this hill, the barbarians abandoned it without striking a blow, so that everybody was filled with surprise and imagined that they had quit the place out of fear that they might be surrounded and blockaded. As it proved, however, they had seen, looking down from their height, what was going on farther back, and were all setting out to attack the Greek rearguard.9 [16] Meanwhile Xenophon proceeded to climb the abandoned height with his youngest troops, ordering the rest to move on slowly in order that the hindmost companies might catch up; then they were to advance along the road and halt under arms on the plateau10 at the top of the pass. [17]

At this time Archagoras the Argive came up in flight and reported that the Greeks had been dislodged lodged from the first hill, that Cephisodorus and Amphicrates had been killed, and likewise all the rest except such as had leaped down the rocks and reached the rearguard.11 [18] After accomplishing this achievement the barbarians came to a hill opposite the round hill,12 and Xenophon, through an interpreter, held a colloquy with them in regard to a truce and asked them to give back the bodies of the Greek dead. [19] They replied that they would give them back on condition that the Greeks should not burn their houses. To this Xenophon agreed. But while the rest of the army was passing by and they were engaged in this conference, all the enemy from that neighbourhood had streamed together to the spot; [20] and as soon as Xenophon and his men began to descend from the round hill, in order to join the rest of the Greeks at the place where they were halted under arms, the enemy took this opportunity to rush upon them in great force and with a great deal of uproar. When they had reached the crest of the hill from which Xenophon was descending, they proceeded to roll down stones. They broke one man's leg, and Xenophon found himself deserted by the servant who was carrying his shield; [21] but Eurylochus of Lusi, a hoplite, ran up to him and, keeping his shield held out in front of them both, fell back with him; and the rest also made good their retreat to the main array. [22]

Then the entire Greek army united, and the troops took up quarters there in many fine houses and in the midst of abundant supplies; for the inhabitants had wine in such quantities that they kept it in cemented cisterns. [23] Meanwhile Xenophon and Cheirisophus effected an arrangement by which they recovered the bodies of their dead and gave back the guide; and they rendered to the dead, so far as their means permitted, all the usual honours that are paid to brave men. [24]

On the next day they continued their march without a guide, while the enemy, by fighting and by seizing positions in advance wherever the road was narrow, tried to prevent their passage. [25] Accordingly, whenever they blocked the march of the van, Xenophon would push forward from the rear to the mountains and break the blockade of the road for the van by trying to get higher than those who were halting it, [26] and whenever they attacked the rear, Cheirisophus would sally forth and, by trying to get higher than the obstructing force, would break the blockade of the passage-way for the rear; in this way they continually aided one another and took zealous care for one another. [27] There were times, indeed, when the barbarians caused a great deal of trouble even to the troops who had climbed to a higher position, when they were coming down again; for their men were so agile that even if they took to flight from close at hand, they could escape; for they had nothing to carry except bows and slings. [28] As bowmen they were most excellent; they had bows nearly three cubits long and their arrows were more than two cubits, and when they shot, they would draw their strings by pressing with the left foot against the lower end of the bow; and their arrows would go straight through shields and breastplates.13 Whenever they got hold of them, the Greeks would use these arrows as javelins, fitting them with thongs. In these regions the Cretans made themselves exceedingly useful. They were commanded by a Cretan named Stratocles.

1 See Xen. Anab. 4.1.20.

2 i.e. the volunteers.

3 i. e., “the guards” whom they expected to find upon “the” height mentioned (Xen. Anab. 4.1.25, Xen. Anab. 4.2.l). See below.

4 i. e., the one mentioned in Xen. Anab. 4.1.20, 23, Xen. Anab. 4.2.1.

5 The signal agreed upon ( 1 above).

6 Cheirisophus and his command.

7 Which “could be traversed even by baggage animals,” Xen. Anab. 4.1.24.

8 The one originally mentioned by the Carduchian guide. See Xen. Anab. 4.1.25, Xen. Anab. 4.2.6.

9 i. e. the three companies left upon the first hill, which the main body of Xenophon's troops had now passed by. See below.

10 Into which the ἔκβασις, or “way out,” ultimately led.

11 In this case the reference is manifestly to the division behind the baggage train (sec. 9).

12 See sec. 14 above.

13 See Xen. Anab. 4.1.18.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 448
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HASTA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SAGITTA
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
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