After this they marched into the country of the Taochians five stages, thirty parasangs; and their provisions were running low, for the Taochians dwelt in strongholds, and in these strongholds they kept all their provisions stored away.
Now when the Greeks arrived at one of them which contained no town nor houses, but was only a place where men and women and a great number of cattle were gathered, Cheirisophus proceeded to attack this stronghold as soon as he reached it; and when his first battalion grew weary, another advanced to the attack, and yet another; for it was not possible for them to surround the place in continuous line, because its sides were precipitous.
The moment Xenophon came up with the rearguard, consisting of both peltasts and hoplites, Cheirisophus said to him: “You have come in the nick of time; for the place must be captured; for the army has no provisions unless we capture this place.”
Then they took counsel together, and when Xenophon asked what it was that prevented their effecting an entrance, Cheirisophus replied: “There is this one way of approach which you see, but when one tries to go along by this way, they roll down stones from this overhanging rock; and whoever gets caught, is served in this fashion”—and with the words he pointed out men with their legs and ribs crushed.
“But suppose they use up their stones,” said Xenophon, “there is nothing then, is there, to hinder one's passing? For surely there is nothing we can see on the other side except a few men yonder, and only two or three of them are armed.
Furthermore, as you can see for yourself, the distance we must traverse under attack is about a plethrum and a half. Now as much as a plethrum of that distance is covered with tall, scattered pine trees, and if men should stand behind them, what harm could they suffer either from the flying stones or the rolling ones? The remaining space, then, amounts to about half a plethrum, and that we must cross on the run at a moment when the stones stop coming.”
“But,” said Cheirisophus, “the very moment we begin to push out toward the trees, the stones fly in quantities.” “Precisely the thing we want,” said Xenophon, “for they will use up their stones the sooner. But let us make our way to a spot from which we shall have only a short distance to run across, in case we can do that, and an easy retreat, in case we choose to come back.”
Thereupon Cheirisophus and Xenophon set forth, and with them Callimachus of Parrhasia
, a captain; for he was the officer of the day in command of the captains of the rearguard; and the other captains remained in a place of safety. Following this lead about seventy men got out under shelter of the trees, not all together, but one by one, each protecting himself as best he could.
But Agasias of Stymphalus and Aristonymus of Methydrium, who were likewise captains of the rearguard, and others also, took places outside the cover of the trees, for not more than the one company1
could stand among them with safety.
At that moment Callimachus hit upon a scheme: he would run forward two or three steps from the particular tree he was under and, when the stones began to fly, would draw back without any trouble; and at every one of his dashes more than ten cart-loads of stones would be used up.
But when Agasias saw what Callimachus was doing, with the whole army for spectators, he became fearful that the other would be the first to make the run across to the stronghold; so without asking Aristonymus or Eurylochus of Lusi
(though the former was close by and both were his friends) or any one else to join him, he dashed forward himself and proceeded to go past everybody.
Callimachus, however, when he saw him going by, seized the rim of his shield; and at that moment Aristonymus of Methydrium
ran past both of them, and upon his heels Eurylochus of Lusi
. For all these four were rivals in valour and continually striving with one another; and in thus contending they captured the stronghold, for once they had rushed in not a stone came down from above.
Then came a dreadful spectacle: the women threw their little children down from the rocks and then threw themselves down after them, and the men did likewise. In the midst of this scene Aeneas of Stymphalus, a captain, catching sight of a man, who was wearing a fine robe, running to cast himself down, seized hold of him in order to stop him;
but the man dragged Aeneas along after him, and both went flying down the cliffs and were killed. In this stronghold only a very few human beings were captured, but they secured cattle and asses in large numbers and sheep.
From there they marched through the land of the Chalybians seven stages, fifty parasangs. These were the most valiant of all the peoples they passed through, and would come to hand-to-hand encounter. They had corselets of linen reaching down to the groin, with a thick fringe of plaited cords instead of flaps.
They had greaves also and helmets, and at the girdle a knife about as long as a Laconian dagger, with which they would slaughter whomever they might be able to vanquish; then they would cut off their heads and carry them along on their march, and they would sing and dance whenever they were likely to be seen by the enemy. They carried also a spear about five cubits long, with a point at only one end.2
These people would stay within their towns, and when the Greeks had passed by, they would follow them, always ready to fight. Their dwellings were in strongholds, and therein they had stored away all their provisions; hence the Greeks could get nothing in this country, but they subsisted on the cattle they had taken from the Taochians.
Leaving this land, the Greeks arrived at the Harpasus river, which was four plethra in width. From there they marched through the territory of the Scythinians four stages, twenty parasangs, over a level plain, and they arrived at some villages, and there remained for three days and collected provisions.
From there they journeyed four stages, twenty parasangs, to a large and prosperous inhabited city which was called Gymnias. From this city the ruler of the land sent the Greeks a guide, in order to lead them through territory that was hostile to his own.
When the guide came, he said that he would lead them within five days to a place from which they could see the sea;3
if he failed to do so, he was ready to accept death. Thus taking the lead, as soon as he had brought them into the hostile territory, he kept urging them to spread abroad fire and ruin, thereby making it clear that it was with this end in view that he had come, and not out of good-will toward the Greeks.
On the fifth day they did in fact reach the mountain;4
its name was Theches. Now as soon as the vanguard got to the top of the mountain, a great shout went up.
And when Xenophon and the rearguard heard it, they imagined that other enemies were attacking in front; for enemies were following behind them from the district that was in flames, and the rearguard had killed some of them and captured others by setting an ambush, and had also taken about twenty wicker shields covered with raw, shaggy ox-hides.
But as the shout kept getting louder and nearer, as the successive ranks that came up all began to run at full speed toward the ranks ahead that were one after another joining in the shout, and as the shout kept growing far louder as the number of men grew steadily greater, it became quite clear to Xenophon that here was something of unusual importance;
so he mounted a horse, took with him Lycius and the cavalry, and pushed ahead to lend aid; and in a moment they heard the soldiers shouting, “The Sea! The Sea!” and passing the word along. Then all the troops of the rearguard likewise broke into a run, and the pack animals began racing ahead and the horses.
And when all had reached the summit, then indeed they fell to embracing one another, and generals and captains as well, with tears in their eyes. And on a sudden, at the bidding of some one or other, the soldiers began to bring stones and to build a great cairn.
Thereon they placed as offerings a quantity of raw ox-hides and walking-sticks and the captured wicker shields; and the guide not only cut these shields to pieces himself, but urged the others to do so.5
After this the Greeks dismissed the guide with gifts from the common stock—a horse, a silver cup, a Persian dress, and ten darics; but what he particularly asked the men for was their rings, and he got a considerable number of them. Then he showed them a village to encamp in and the road they were to follow to the country of the Macronians, and, as soon as evening came, took his departure.