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Anabasis(47)

2006-09-07 20:51

  Book VII I x-chapter:IV

  But the next day Seuthes burnt the villages to the ground; he left not a single house, being minded to inspire terror in the rest of his enemies, and to show them what they also were to expect, if they refused obedience; and so he went back again. As to the booty, he sent off Heracliedes to Perinthus to dispose of it, with a view to future pay for the soldiers. But for himself he encamped with the Hellenes in the lowland country of the Thynians, the natives leaving the flats and betaking themselves in flight to the uplands.

  There was deep snow, and cold so intense that the water brought in for dinner and the wine within the jars froze; and many of the Hellenes had their noses and ears frost-bitten. Now they came to understand why the Thracians wear fox-skin caps on their heads and about their ears; and why, on the same principle, they are frocked not only about the chest and bust but so as to cover the loins and thighs as well; and why on horseback they envelop themselves in long shawls which reach down to the feet, instead of the ordinary short rider's cloak. Seuthes sent off some of the prisoners to the hills with a message to say that if they did not come down to their homes, and live quietly and obey him, he would burn down their villages and their corn, and leave them to perish with hunger. Thereupon down they came, women and children and the older men; the younger men preferred to quarter themselves in the villages on the skirts of the hills. On discovering this, Seuthes bade Xenophon take the youngest of the heavy infantry and join him on an expedition. They rose in the night, and by daybreak had reached the villages; but the majority of the inhabitants made good their escape, for the hills were close at hand. Those whom he did catch, Seuthes unsparingly shot down.

  Now there was a certain Olynthian, named Episthenes; he was a great lover of boys, and seeing a handsome lad, just in the bloom of youth, and carrying a light shield, about to be slain, he ran up to Xenophon and supplicated him to rescue the fair youth. Xenophon went to Seuthes and begged him not to put the boy to death. He explained to him the disposition of Episthenes; how he had once enrolled a company, the only qualification required being that of personal beauty; and with these handsome young men at his side there were none so brave as he. Seuthes put the question, "Would you like to die on his behalf, Episthenes?" whereat the other stretched out his neck, and said, "Strike, if the boy bids you, and will thank his preserver." Seuthes, turning to the boy, asked, "Shall I smite him instead of you?" The boy shook his head, imploring him to slay neither the one nor the other, whereupon Episthenes caught the lad in his arms, exclaiming, "It is time you did battle with me, Seuthes, for my boy; never will I yield him up," and Seuthes laughed: "what must be must," and so consented.

  In these villages he decided that they must bivouac, so that the men on the mountains might be still further deprived of subsistence. Stealthily descending he himself found quarters in the plain; while Xenophon with his picked troops encamped in the highest village on the skirts of the hills,; and the rest of the Hellenes hard by, among the highland Thracians[1], as they are called.

  [1] Cf. "Highlanders."

  After this, not many days had idly slipt away before the Thracians from the mountains came down and wished to arrange with Seuthes for terms of truce and hostages. Simultaneously came Xenophon and informed Seuthes that they were camped in bad quarters, with the enemy next door; "it would be pleasanter too," he added, "to bivouac in a strong position in the open, than under cover on the edge of destruction." The other bade him take heart and pointed to some of their hostages, as much as to say "Look there!" Parties also from the mountaineers came down and pleaded with Xenophon himself, to help arrange a truce for them. This he agreed to do, bidding them to pluck up heart, and assuring them that they would meet with no mischief, if they yielded obedience to Seuthes. All their parleying, however, was, as it turned out, merely to get a closer inspection of things. This happened in the day, and in the following night the Thynians descended from the hill country and made an attack. In each case, the guide was the master of the house attacked; otherwise it would have taxed their powers to discover the houses in the dark, which, for the sake of their flocks and herds, were palisaded all round with great stockades. As soon as they had reached the doors of any particular house, the attack began, some hurling in their spears, others belabouring with their clubs, which they carried, it was said, for the purpose of knocking off the lance points from the shaft. Others were busy setting the place on fire; and they kept calling Xenophon by name: "Come out, Xenophon, and die like a man, or we will roast you alive inside."

  By this time too the flames were making their appearance through the roof, and Xenophon and his followers were within, with their coats of mail on, and big shields, swords, and helmets. Then Silanus, a Macistian[2], a youth of some eighteen years, signalled on the trumpet; and in an instant, out they all leapt with their drawn swords, and the inmates of other quarters as well. The Thracians took to their heels, according to their custom, swinging their light shields round their backs. As they leapt over the stockade some were captured, hanging on the top with their shields caught in the palings; others missed the way out, and so were slain; and the Hellenes chased them hotly, till they were outside the village.

  [2] "Of Macistus," a town in the Triphylia near Scillus.

  A party of Thynians turned back, and as the men ran past in bold relief against a blazing house, they let fly a volley of javelins, out of the darkness into the glare, and wounded two captains, Hieronymus, an Euodean[3], and Theogenes, a Locrian. No one was killed, only the clothes and baggage of some of the men were consumed in the flames. Presently up came Seuthes to the rescue with seven troopers, the first to hand, and his Thracian trumpeteer by his side. Seeing that something had happened, he hastened to the rescue, and ever the while his bugler wound his horn, which music added terror to the foe. Arrived at length, he greeted them with outstretched hand, exclaiming, "I thought to find you all dead men."

  [3] If this is the same man as Hieronymus of Elis, who has been mentioned two or three times already, possibly the word {Euodea} points to some town or district of Elis; or perhaps the text is corrupt.

  After that, Xenophon begged him to hand over the hostages to himself, and if so disposed, to join him on an expedition to the hills, or if not, to let him go alone. Accordingly the next day Seuthes delivered up the hostages. They were men already advanced in years, but the pick of the mountaineers, as they themselves gave out. Not merely did Seuthes do this, but he came himself, with his force at his back (and by this time he had treble his former force, for many of the Odrysians, hearing of his proceedings, came down to join in the campaign); and the Thynians, espying from the mountains the vast array of heavy infantry and light infantry and cavalry, rank upon rank, came down and supplicated him to make terms. "They were ready," they professed, "to do all that he demanded; let him take pledges of their good faith." So Seuthes summoned Xenophon and explained their proposals, adding that he should make no terms with them, if Xenophon wished to punish them for their night attack. The latter replied: "For my part, I should think their punishment is great enough already, if they are to be slaves instead of free men; still," he added, "I advise you for the future to take as hostages those who are most capable of doing mischief, and to let the old men abide in peace at home." So to a man they gave in their adhesion in that quarter of the country.

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