Cyrus remained there for a while with his army1
and showed that they were ready to do battle, if any one should come out. But as no one did come out against him, he withdrew as far as he thought proper and encamped. And when he had stationed his outposts and sent out his scouts, he called together his own men, took his place in their midst, and addressed them as follows:
“Fellow-citizens of Persia
, first of all I praise the2
gods with all my soul; and so, I believe, do all of you; for we not only have won a victory, but our lives have been spared. We ought, therefore, to render to the gods thank-offerings of whatsoever we have. And I here and now commend you as a body, for you have all contributed to this glorious achievement; but as for the deserts of each of you individually, I shall try by word and deed to give every man his due reward, when I have ascertained from proper sources what credit each one deserves.
But as to3
Captain Chrysantas, who fought next to me, I have no need to make enquiry from others, for I myself know how gallant his conduct was; in everything else he did just as I think all of you also did; but when I gave the word to retreat and called to him by name, even though he had his sword raised to smite down an enemy he obeyed me at once and refrained from what he was on the point of doing and proceeded to carry out my order; not only did he himself retreat but he also with instant promptness passed the word on to the others; and so he succeeded in getting his division out of range before the enemy discovered that we were retreating or drew their bows or let fly their javelins. And thus by his obedience he is unharmed himself and he has kept his men unharmed.
But others,” said he, “I see wounded; and when I have enquired at what moment of the engagement they received their wounds, I will then express my opinion concerning them. But Chrysantas, as a mighty man of war, prudent and fitted to command and to obey—him I now promote to a colonelship. And when God shall vouchsafe some further blessing, then, too, I shall not forget him.
“I wish also to leave this thought with all of4
you,” he went on: “never cease to bear in mind what you have just seen in this day's battle, so that you may always judge in your own hearts whether courage is more likely to save men's lives than running away, and whether it is easier for those to withdraw who wish to fight than for those who are unwilling, and what sort of pleasure victory brings; for you can best judge of these matters now when you have experience of them and while the event is of so recent occurrence.
And if you would always keep this in mind, you would be more valiant men.
“Now go to dinner, as men beloved of God and brave and wise; pour libations to the gods, raise the song of victory, and at the same time be on the lookout for orders that may come.”
When he had said this, he mounted his horse and rode away to Cyaxares. They exchanged congratulations, as was fitting, and after Cyrus had taken note of matters there and asked if there were anything he could do, he rode back to his own army. Then he and his followers dined, stationed their pickets duly, and went to rest.
The Assyrians, on the other hand, inasmuch as5
they had lost their general and with him nearly all their best men, were all disheartened, and many of them even ran away from the camp in the course of the night. And when Croesus and the rest of their allies saw this, they too lost heart; for the whole situation was desperate; but what caused the greatest despondency in all was the fact that the leading contingent of the army had become thoroughly demoralized. Thus dispirited, then, they quitted their camp and departed under cover of the night.
And when it became day and the enemy's camp was found to be forsaken of men, Cyrus at once led his Persians first across the entrenchments. And many sheep and many cattle and many wagons packed full of good things had been left behind by the enemy. Directly after this, Cyaxares also and all his Medes crossed over and had breakfast there.
And when they had breakfasted, Cyrus called together his captains and spoke as follows:
“What good things, fellow-soldiers, and how great, have we let slip, it seems, while the gods were delivering them into our hands! Why, you see with your own eyes that the enemy have run away from us; when people behind fortifications abandon them and flee, how would any one expect them to stand and fight, if they met us in a fair and open field? And if they did not stand their ground when they were yet unacquainted with us, how would they withstand us now, when they have been defeated and have suffered heavy loss at our hands? And when their bravest men have been slain, how would their more cowardly be willing to fight us?”
“Why not pursue them as swiftly as possible,”6
said one of the men; “now that the good things we have let slip are so manifest to us?”
“Because,” he replied, “we have not horses enough; for the best of the enemy, those whom it were most desirable either to capture or to kill, are riding off on horseback. With the help of the gods we were able to put them to flight, but we are not able to pursue and overtake them.”
“Then why do you not go and tell Cyaxares this?” said they.
“Come with me, then, all of you,” he answered, “so that he may know that we are all agreed upon this point.”
Thereupon they all followed and submitted such arguments as they thought calculated to gain their object.
Now Cyaxares seemed to feel some little jealousy because the proposal came from them; at the same time, perhaps, he did not care to risk another engagement; then, too, he rather wished to stay where he was, for it happened that he was busily engaged in making merry himself, and he saw that many of the other Medes were doing the same. However that may be, he spoke as follows:7
“Well, Cyrus, I know from what I see and hear that you Persians are more careful than other people not to incline to the least intemperance in any kind of pleasure. But it seems to me that it is much better to be moderate in the greatest pleasure than to be moderate in lesser pleasures; and what brings to man greater pleasure than success, such as has now been granted us?
“If, therefore [when we are successful], we follow up our success with moderation, we might, perhaps, be able to grow old in happiness unalloyed with danger. But if we enjoy it intemperately and try to pursue first one success and then another, see to it that we do not share the same fate that they say many have suffered upon the sea, that is, because of their success they have not been willing to give up seafaring, and so they have been lost; and many others, when they have gained a victory, have aimed at another and so have lost even what they gained by the first.
And that is the way with us; for if it were because they were inferior to us in numbers that the enemy are fleeing from us, perhaps it might be safe for us actually to pursue this lesser army. But, as it is, reflect with what a mere fraction of their numbers we, with all our forces, have fought and won, while the rest of theirs have not tasted of battle; and if we do not compel them to fight, they will remain unacquainted with our strength and with their own, and they will go away because of their ignorance and cowardice. But if they discover that they are in no less danger if they go away than if they remain in the field, beware lest we compel them to be valiant even against their will.
And let me assure you that you are not more eager to capture their women and children than they are to save them. And bethink you that even wild swine flee with their young, when they are discovered, no matter how great their numbers may be; but if any one tries to catch one of the young, the old one, even if she happens to be the only one, does not think of flight but rushes upon the man who is trying to effect the capture.
And now, when they had shut themselves up in their fortifications, they allowed us to manage things so as to fight as many at a time as we pleased. But if we go against them in an open plain and they learn to meet us in separate detachments, some in front of us (as even now), some on either flank, and some in our rear, see to it that we do not each one of us stand in need of many hands and many eyes. And besides,” said he, “now that I see the Medes making merry, I should not like to rout them out and compel them to go into danger.”
“Nay,” said Cyrus in reply; “please do not8
place anybody under compulsion; but allow those who will volunteer to follow me, and perhaps we may come back bringing to you and each of your friends here something for you all to make merry with. For the main body of the enemy we certainly shall not even pursue; for how could we ever overtake them? But if we find any detachment of their army straggling or left behind, we shall bring them to you.
And remember,” he added, “that we also, when you asked us, came a long journey to do you a favour; and it is therefore only fair that you should do us a favour in return, so that we may not have to go home empty-handed nor always be looking to your treasury here for support.”
“Very well,” said Cyaxares then; “if indeed9
any one will volunteer to follow you, I for my part should be really grateful to you.”
“Well, then,” said he, “send with me some one of these notables in positions of trust to announce your commands.”
“Take any of them you wish,” said the other, “and go.”
Now it happened that the man who had once10
pretended to be a kinsman of his and had got a kiss from him was present there. Cyrus, therefore, said at once: “This man will do.”
“Let him follow you, then,” said Cyaxares. “And do you,” he added to Artabazus, “say that whoever will may go with Cyrus.”
So then he took the man and went away. And when they had come out, Cyrus said: “Now then, you shall prove if you spoke the truth when you said that you liked to look at me.”
“If you talk that way,” said the Mede, “I shall never leave you.”
“Will you do your best, then, to bring others also with you?” asked Cyrus.
“Yes, by Zeus,” he answered with an oath, “to such an extent that I shall make you also glad to look at me.”
Then, as he had his commission from Cyaxares also, he not only gave his message to the Medes with enthusiasm, but he added that, for his part, he himself would never leave the noblest and best of men, and what was more than all, a man descended from the gods.