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Anabasis(41)

2006-09-07 20:49

  Book VI I x-chapter:IV

  During this day they contented themselves with bivouacking there on the beach at the harbour. The place which goes by the name of Calpe Haven is in Asiatic Thrace, the name given to a region extending from the mouth of the Euxine all the way to Heraclea, which lies on the right hand as you sail into the Euxine. It is a long day's voyage for a war-ship, using her three banks of oars, from Byzantium to Heraclea, and between these two there is not a single Hellenic or friendly city, but only these Bithynian Thracians, who have a bad reputation for the savagery with which they treat any Hellenes cast ashore by shipwreck or otherwise thrown into their power.

  Now the haven of Calpe lies exactly midway, halving the voyage between Byzantium and Heraclea. It is a long promontory running out into the sea; the seaward portion being a rocky precipice, at no point less than twenty fathons high; but on the landward side there is a neck about four hundred feet wide; and the space inside the neck is capable of accommodating ten thousand inhabitants, and there is a haven immediately under the crag with a beach facing the west. Then there is a copious spring of fresh water flowing on the very marge of the sea commanded by the stronghold. Again, there is plenty of wood of various sorts; but most plentiful of all, fine shipbuilding timber down to the very edge of the sea. The upland stretches into the heart of the country for twenty furlongs at least. It is good loamy soil, free from stones. For a still greater distance the seaboard is thickly grown with large timber trees of every description. The surrounding country is beautiful and spacious, containing numerous well populated villages. The soil produces barley and wheat, and pulse of all sorts, millet and sesame, figs in ample supply, with numerous vines producing sweet wines, and indeed everything else except olives. Such is the character of the country.

  The tents were pitched on the seaward-facing beach, the soldiers being altogether averse to camping on ground which might so easily be converted into a city. Indeed, their arrival at the place at all seemed very like the crafty design of some persons who were minded to form a city. The aversion was not unnatural, since the majority of the soldiers had not left their homes on so long a voyage from scantiness or subsistence, but attracted by the fame of Cyrus's virtues; some of them bringing followers, while others had expended money on the expedition. And amongst them was a third set who had run away from fathers and mothers; while a different class had left children behind, hoping to return to them with money or other gains. Other people with Cyrus won great success, they were told[1]; why should it not be so with them? Being persons then of this description, the one longing of their hearts was to reach Hellas safely.

  [1] I.e. "his society was itself a passport to good fortune."

  It was on the day after their meeting that Xenophon sacrificed as a preliminary to a military expedition; for it was needful to march out in search of provisions, besides which he designed burying the dead. As soon as the victims proved favourable they all setout, the Arcadians following with the rest. The majority of the dead, who had lain already five days, they buried just where they had fallen, in groups; to remove their bodies now would have been impossible. Some few, who lay off the roads, they got together and buried with what splendour they could, considering the means in their power. Others they could not find, and for these they erected a great cenotaph[2], and covered it with wreaths. When it was all done, they returned home to camp. At that time they supped, and went to rest.

  [2] "Cenotaph", i.e. "an empty tomb." The word is interesting as occuring only in Xenophon, until we come to the writers of the common dialect. Compare "hyuscyamus," hogbean, our henbane, which we also owe to Xenophon. "Oecon." i. 13, see Sauppe, "Lexil. Xen." s.vv.

  Next day there was a general meeting of the soldiers, collected chiefly by Agasias the Stymphalian, a captain, and Hieronymus, an Eleian, also a captain, and other seniors of the Arcadians; and they passed a resolution that, for the future, whoever revived the idea of breaking up the army should be punished by death. And the army, it was decided, would now resume its old position under the command of its former generals. Though Cheirisophus, indeed, had already died under medical treatment for fever[3]; and Neon the Asinaean had taken his place.

  [3] This I take to be the meaning of the words, which are necessarily ambiguous, since {pharmakon}, "a drug," also means "poison." Did Cheirisophus conceivably die of fever brought on by some poisonous draught? or did he take poison whilst suffering from fever? or did he die under treatment?

  After these resolutions Xenophon got up and said: "Soldiers, the journey must now, I presume, be conducted on foot; indeed, this is clear, since we have no vessels; and we are driven to commence it at once, for we have no provisions if we stop. We then," he continued, "will sacrifice, and you must prepare yourselves to fight now, if ever, for the spirit of the enemy has revived."

  Thereupon the generals sacrificed, in the presence of the Arcadian seer, Arexion; for Silanus the Ambraciot had chartered a vessel at Heraclea and made his escape ere this. Sacrificing with a view to departure, the victims proved unfavourable to them. Accordingly they waited that day. Certain people were bold enough to say that Xenophon, out of his desire to colonise the place, had persuaded the seer to say that the victims were unfavourable to departure. Consequently he proclaimed by herald next morning that any one who liked should be present at the sacrifice; or if he were a seer he was bidden to be present and help to inspect the victims. Then he sacrificed, and there were numbers present; but though the sacrifice on the question of departure was repeated as many as three times, the victims were persistently unfavourable. Thereat the soldiers were in high dudgeon, for the provisions they had brought with them had reached the lowest ebb, and there was no market to be had.

  Consequently there was another meeting, and Xenophon spoke again: "Men," said he, "the victims are, as you may see for yourselves, not yet favourable to the march; but meanwhile, I can see for myself that you are in need of provisions; accordingly we must narrow the sacrifice to the particular point." Some one got up and said: "Naturally enough the victims are unfavourable, for, as I learnt from some one on a vessel which arrived here yesterday by accident, Cleander, the governor at Byzantium, intends coming here with ships and men-of-war." Thereat they were all in favour of stopping; but they must needs go out for provisions, and with this object he again sacrificed three times, and the victims remained adverse. Things had now reached such a pass that the men actually came to Xenophon's tent to proclaim that they had no provisions. His sole answer was that he would not lead them out till the victims were favourable.

  So again the next day he sacrificed; and nearly the whole army, so strong was the general anxiety, flocked round the victims; and now the very victims themselves failed. So the generals, instead of leading out the army, called the men together. Xenophon, as was incumbent on him, spoke: "It is quite possible that the enemy are collected in a body, and we shall have to fight. If we were to leave our baggage in the strong place" (pointing overhead) "and sally forth prepared for battle, the victims might favour us." But the soldiers, on hearing this proposal, cried out, "No need to take us inside that place; better sacrifice with all speed." Now sheep there were none any longer. So they purchased oxen from under a wagon and sacrificed; and Xenophon begged Cleanor the Arcadian to superintend the sacrifice on his behalf, in case there might be some change now. But even so there was no improvement.

  Now Neon was general in place of Cheirisophus, and seeing the men suffering so cruelly from want, he was willing to do them a good turn. So he got hold of some Heracleot or other who said he knew of villages close by from which they could get provisions, and proclaimed by herald: "If any one liked to come out and get provisions, be it known that he, Neon, would be their leader." So out came the men with spears, and wine skins and sacks and other vessels——two thousand strong in all. But when they had reached the villages and began to scatter for the purpose of foraging, Pharnabazus's cavalry were the first to fall upon them. They had come to the aid of the Bithynians, wishing, if possible, in conjunction with the latter, to hinder the Hellenes from entering Phrygia. These troopers killed no less than five hundred of the men; the rest fled for the lives up into the hill country.

  News of the catastrophe was presently brought into camp by one of those who had escaped, and Xenophon, seeing that the victims had not been favourable on that day, took a wagon bullock, in the absence of other sacrificial beasts, offered it up, and started for the rescue, he and the rest under thirty years of age to the last man. Thus they picked up the remnant of Neon's party and returned to camp. It was now about sunset; and the Hellenes in deep despondency were making their evening meal, when all of a sudden, through bush and brake, a party of Bithynians fell upon the pickets, cutting down some and chasing the rest into camp. In the midst of screams and shouts the Hellenes ran to their arms, one and all; yet to pursue or move the camp in the night seemed hardly safe, for the ground was thickly grown with bush; all they could do was to strengthen the outposts and keep watch under arms the livelong night.

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