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5.

Every horseman should know at what distance a horse can overtake a man on foot, and how much start a slow horse needs to escape from a fast one. A cavalry commander should also be able to judge of the ground where infantry has an advantage over cavalry and where cavalry has an advantage over infantry. [2] He must also have sufficient ingenuity to make a small company of horse look large, and conversely, to make a large one look small; to seem to be absent when present, and present when absent; to know how to deceive, not merely how to steal the enemy's possessions, but also how to conceal his own force and fall on the enemy unexpectedly. [3] Another neat ruse is to create a scare among the enemy when your own position is precarious, so that he may not attack, and to put him in good heart, when it is strong, so that he may make an attempt. Thus you are least likely to come to harm yourself and most likely to catch the enemy tripping. [4]

That I may not seem to demand impossibilities, I will add a solution of the problems that seem most puzzling. Success in an attempt to pursue or retreat depends on experience of horses and their powers. But how are you to get this experience? By watching the friendly encounters of the sham fights and noticing what condition the horses are in after the pursuits and flights. [5]

When your object is to make the number of your cavalry look large, first take it for an axiom, if possible, not to attempt the ruse when you are near the enemy: for distance gives safety and increases the illusion. Secondly you must know that horses look many when crowded, owing to the animal's size, but are easily counted when scattered. [6] Another way of exaggerating the apparent strength of your force is to arm the grooms with lances or even imitation lances, and put them between the cavalrymen, whether you display the cavalry at the halt or wheel it into line. Thus the bulk of the company is bound to look denser and more massive. [7]

On the other hand, if your object is to make a large number look small, then, assuming that your ground affords cover, you can obviously conceal your cavalry by having part in the open and part hidden. If, however, the whole of the ground is exposed, you must form the files into rows and wheel, leaving a gap between each two rows1; and the men in each file who are next the enemy must hold their lances upright, while the rest keep theirs low down out of sight. [8]

The means to employ for scaring the enemy are false ambuscades, false reliefs and false information. An enemy's confidence is greatest when he is told that the other side is in difficulties and is preoccupied. [9]

But given these instructions, a man must himself invent a ruse to meet every emergency as it occurs. For there is really nothing more profitable in war than deception. [10] Even children are successful deceivers when they play “Guess the number”; they will hold up a counter or two and make believe that they have got a fist-full, and seem to hold up few when they are holding many; so surely men can play similar tricks when they are intent on deceiving in earnest. [11] And on thinking over the successes gained in war you will find that most of them, and these the greatest, have been won with the aid of deception. For these reasons either you should not essay to command, or you should pray to heaven that your equipment may include this qualification, and you should contrive on your own part to possess it. [12]

For those near the sea two effective ruses are, to strike on land while fitting out ships, and to attack by sea while ostensibly planning a land attack. [13]

Another duty of a cavalry commander is to demonstrate to the city the weakness of cavalry destitute of infantry as compared with cavalry that has infantry attached to it. Further, having got his infantry, a cavalry commander should make use of it. A mounted man being much higher than a man on foot, infantry may be hidden away not only among the cavalry but in the rear as well. [14]

For the practical application of these devices and any others you may contrive for the undoing of your foes by force or craft, I counsel you to work with God, so that, the gods being propitious, fortune too may favour you. [15]

Another ruse that proves highly effective at times is to feign excess of caution and reluctance to take risks. For this pretence often lures the enemy into making a more fatal blunder through want of caution. Or once come to be thought venturesome, and you can give the enemy trouble by merely sitting still and pretending that you are on the point of doing something.


1 The enemy will not know a) the number of files when posted one behind another, nor b) the depth of the line when the files have wheeled.

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