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From there the Greeks marched through the country of the Macronians three stages, ten parasangs. On the first of these days they reached the river which separated the territory of the Macronians from that of the Scythinians. [2] There they had on the right, above them, an exceedingly difficult bit of ground, and on the left another river, into which the boundary stream that they had to cross emptied. Now this stream was fringed with trees, not large ones, but of thick growth, and when the Greeks came up, they began felling them in their haste to get out of the place as speedily as possible. [3] But the Macronians, armed with wicker shields and lances and hair tunics, were drawn up in line of battle opposite the place where the Greeks must cross, and they were cheering one another on and throwing stones, which fell into the stream; for they never reached the Greeks or did them any harm. [4]

At this moment one of the peltasts came up to Xenophon, a man who said that he had been a slave at Athens, with word that he knew the language of these people; “I think,” he went on, “that this is my native country, and if there is nothing to hinder, I should like to have a talk with them.” [5] “Well, there is nothing to hinder,” said Xenophon; “so talk with them, and learn, to begin with, who they are.” In reply to his inquiry they said, “Macronians.” “Well, then,” said Xenophon, “ask them why they are arrayed against us and want to be our enemies.” [6] They replied, “Because you are coming against our land.” The generals directed the man to say, “We have not come to do you any harm whatever, but we have been at war with the King and are on our way back to Greece, and we want to reach the sea.” [7] The Macronians asked whether they would give pledges to this effect. They replied that they were ready both to give and to receive pledges. Thereupon the Macronians gave the Greeks a barbarian lance and the Greeks gave them a Greek lance, for the Macronians said that these were pledges; and both sides called the gods to witness. [8]

After this exchange of pledges the Macronians at once began to help the Greeks cut down the trees and to build the road in order to get them across, mingling freely with the Greeks; and they supplied as good a market1 as they could, and conducted the Greeks on their way for three days, until they brought them to the boundaries of the Colchians. [9] At this place was a great mountain, and upon this mountain the Colchians were drawn up in line of battle. At first the Greeks formed an opposing line of battle, with the intention of advancing in this way upon the mountain, but afterwards the generals decided to gather together and take counsel as to how they could best make the contest. [10]

Xenophon accordingly said that in his opinion they should give up the line of battle and form the companies in column.2 “For the line,” he continued, “will be broken up at once; for we shall find the mountain hard to traverse at some points and easy at others; and the immediate result will be discouragement, when men who are formed in line of battle see the line broken up. [11] Furthermore, if we advance upon them formed in a line many ranks deep, the enemy will outflank us, and will use their outflanking wing for whatever purpose they please; on the other hand, if we are formed in a line a few ranks deep, it would be nothing surprising if our line should be cut through by a multitude both of missiles and men falling upon us in a mass; and if this happens at any point, it will be bad for the whole line. [12] But it seems to me we should form the companies in column and, by leaving spaces between them, cover enough ground so that the outermost companies should get beyond the enemy's wings; in this way not only shall we outflank the enemy's line, but advancing in column our best men will be in the van of the attack, and wherever it is good going, there each captain will lead forward his men. [13] And it will not be easy for the enemy to push into the space between the columns when there are companies on this side and that, and not any easier for him to cut through a company that is advancing in column. Again, if any one of the companies is hard pressed, its neighbour will come to its aid; and if one single company can somehow climb to the summit, not a man of the enemy will stand any longer.” [14]

This plan was decided upon, and they proceeded to form the companies in column. And as Xenophon was going back from the right wing to the left,3 he said to the troops: “Soldiers, these men yonder whom you see are the only ones who still stand in the way of our being forthwith at the place we have long been striving to reach; if we possibly can, we must simply eat these fellows raw.”4 [15]

When the officers had got to their several positions and had formed their companies in column, the result was about eighty companies of hoplites with each company numbering close upon one hundred;5 the peltasts and the bowmen, on the other hand, they formed in three divisions, one beyond the left wing of the hoplites, the second beyond the right, and the third in the centre, each division numbering about six hundred men.6 [16] After this the generals passed along the order to offer prayer, and when they had prayed and sung the paean they set forth. Now Cheirisophus and Xenophon7 and the peltasts with them got beyond the wings of the enemy's line in their advance; [17] and when the enemy saw this, they ran out, some to the right and others to the left, to confront them, with the result that their line was pulled apart and a large portion of it in the centre was left deserted. [18] Then the peltasts of the Arcadian division, who were commanded by Aeschines the Acarnanian, getting the idea that the enemy were in flight, set up a shout and began to run; and they were the first to reach the summit of the mountain, while following close after them came the Arcadian division of hoplites, under the command of Cleanor of Orchomenus. [19] As for the enemy, once the peltasts began to run they no longer stood their ground, but betook themselves hither and thither in flight.

After accomplishing the ascent the Greeks took up quarters in numerous villages, which contained provisions in abundance. [20] Now for the most part there was nothing here which they really found strange; but the swarms of bees in the neighbourhood were numerous, and the soldiers who ate of the honey all went off their heads, and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, and not one of them could stand up, but those who had eaten a little were like people exceedingly drunk, while those who had eaten a great deal seemed like crazy, or even, in some cases, dying men. [21] So they lay there in great numbers as though the army had suffered a defeat, and great despondency prevailed. On the next day, however, no one had died, and at approximately the same hour as they had eaten the honey they began to come to their senses; and on the third or fourth day they got up, as if from a drugging. [22]

From there they marched two stages, seven parasangs, and reached the sea at Trapezus, an inhabited Greek city on the Euxine Sea, a colony of the Sinopeans in the territory of Colchis. There they remained about thirty days in the villages of the Colchians, and from these as a base plundered Colchis. [23] And the Trapezuntians supplied a market for the army, received the Greeks kindly, and gave them oxen, barley-meal, and wine as gifts of hospitality. [24] They likewise took part in negotiations with the Greeks in behalf of the near-by Colchians, who dwelt for the most part on the plain, and from these people also the Greeks received hospitable gifts of oxen. [25]

After this they made ready the sacrifice which they had vowed;8 and a sufficient number of oxen had come to them so that they could pay their thank-offerings to Zeus for deliverance, to Heracles for guidance, and to the other gods according as they had vowed. They instituted also athletic games on the mountain side, just where they were encamped; and they chose Dracontius, a Spartan, who had been exiled from home as a boy because he had accidentally killed another boy with the stroke of a dagger, to look out for a race-course and to act as manager of the games. [26] When, accordingly, the sacrifice had been completed, they turned over the hides9 to Dracontius and bade him lead the way to the place he had fixed upon for his race-course. He pointed out the precise spot where they chanced to be standing, and said, “This hill is superb for running, wherever you please.” “How, then,” they said, “can men wrestle on ground so hard and overgrown as this is?” And he replied, “The one that is thrown will get hurt a bit more.” [27] The events were, a stadium race10 for boys, most of them belonging to the captives, a long race,11 in which more than sixty Cretans took part, wrestling, boxing, and the pancratium;12 and it made a fine spectacle; for there were a great many entries and, inasmuch as the comrades of the contestants were looking on, there was a great deal of rivalry. [28] There were horseraces also, and the riders had to drive their horses down the steep slope, turn them around on the shore, and bring them back again to the altar.13 And on the way down most of the horses rolled over and over, while on the way up, against the exceedingly steep incline, they found it hard to keep on at a walk; so there was much shouting and laughter and cheering.

1 See note on Xen. Anab. 1.2.18.

2 See Xen. Anab. 4.6.6, and note. Of course it is the opposite movement that is now in contemplation.

3 Cheirisophus was commander of the van, Xenophon of the rear. The van of an army on the march became the right wing of the line of battle and the rear the left wing. It was at Cheirisophus' post, on the right, that the council was held.

4 A phrase as old as Homer ( 35).

5 A total of 8000 as compared with an original strength of 11,700.

6 One thousand eight hundred as compared with an original 2300.

7 On the right and left wings respectively. See note on 14 above.

8 See Xen. Anab. 3.2.9.

9 The hides of the sacrificial victims, which were to be offered as prizes in the games. Cp. Hom. Il. 10.159.

10 The regular short race in the Greek games, corresponding closely to our 220 yards dash.

11 The δόλιχος seems to have varied from six to twenty-four stadia.

12 A combination of boxing and wrestling.

13 The altar on which the sacrifices had been offered served as a starting-point for the races.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 3.94
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.1024
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LUCTA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PHONOS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), APSARUS
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