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Anabasis(37)

2006-09-07 20:48

  Book V I x-chapter:VIII

  It was further resolved that the generals themselves should undergo a judicial examination in reference to their conduct in past time. In course of investigation, Philesius and Xanthicles respectively were condemned to pay a sum of twenty minae, to meet a deficiency to that amount incurred during the guardianship of the cargoes of the merchantmen. Sophaenetus was fined ten minae for inadeqate performance of his duty as one of the chief officers selected. Against Xenophon a charge was brought by certain people, who asserted that they had been beaten by him, and framed the indictment as one of personal outrage with violence[1]. Xenophon got up and demanded that the first speaker should state "where and when it was he had received these blows." The other, so challenged, answered, "When we were perishing of cold and there was a great depth of snow." Xenophon said: "Upon my word, with weather such as you describe, when our provisions had run out, when the wine could not even be smelt, when numbers were dropping down dead beat, so acute was the suffering, with the enemy close on our heels; certainly, if at such a season as that I was guilty of outrage, I plead guilty to being a more outrageous brute than the ass, which is too wanton, they say, to feel fatigue. Still, I wish you would tell us," said he, "what led to my striking you. Did I ask you for something and, on your refusing it to me, did I proceed to beat you? Was it a debt, for which I demanded payment? or a quarrel about some boy or other? Was I the worse for liquor, and behaving like a drunkard?" When the man met each of these questions with a negative, he questioned him further: "Are you a heavy infantry soldier?" "No," said he. "A peltast, then?" "No, nor yet a peltast"; but he had been ordered by his messmates to drive a mule, although he was a free man. Then at last he recognised him, and inquired: "Are you the fellow who carried home the sick man?" "Yes, I am," said he, "thanks to your driving; and you made havoc of my messmates' kit." "Havoc!" said Xenophon: "Nay, I distributed it; some to one man, some to another to carry, and bade them bring the things safely to me; and when I got them back I delivered them all safely to you, and you, on your side, had rendered an account to me of the man. Let me tell you," he continued, turning to the court, "what the circumstances were; it is worth hearing:——

  [1] See the "Dict. of Antiq." 622 a. HYBREOS GRAPHE. In the case of common assaults as opposed to indecent assault, the prosecution seems to have been allowable only when the object of a wanton attack was a free person. Cf. Arist. "Rhet." ii. 24.

  "A man was left behind from inability to proceed farther; I recognised the poor fellow sufficiently to see that he was one of ours, and I forced you, sir, to carry him to save his life. For if I am not much mistaken, the enemy were close at our heels?" The fellow assented to this. "Well then," said Xenophon, "after I had sent you forward, I overtook you again, as I came up with the rearguard; you were digging a trench with intent to bury the man; I pulled up and said something in commendation; as we stood by the poor fellow twitched his leg, and the bystanders all cried out, 'Why, the man's alive!' Your remark was: 'Alive or not as he likes, I am not going to carry him' Then I struck you. Yes! you are right, for it looked very much as if you knew him to be alive." "Well," said he, "was he any the less dead when I reported him to you?" "Nay," retorted Xenophon, "by the same token we shall all one day be dead, but that is no reason why meantime we should all be buried alive?" Then there was a general shout: "If Xenophon had given the fellow a few more blows, it might have been better." The others were now called upon to state the grounds on which they had been beaten in each case; but when they refused to get up, he proceeded to state them himself.

  "I confess, sirs, to having struck certain men for failure in discipline. These were men who were quite content to owe their safety to us. Whilst the rest of the world marched on in rank and did whatever fighting had to be done, they preferred to leave the ranks, and rush forward to loot and enrich themselves at our expense. Now, if this conduct were to be the rule, general ruin would be the result. I do not deny that I have given blows to this man or the other who played the poltroon and refused to get up, helplessly abandoning himself to the enemy; and so I forced them to march on. For once in the severe wintry weather I myself happened to sit down for a long time, whilst waiting for a party who were getting their kit together, and I discovered how difficult it was to get up again and stretch one's legs. After this personal experience, whenever I saw any one else seated in slack and lazy mood, I tried to spur him on. The mere movement and effort to play the man caused warmth and moisture, whereas it was plain that sitting down and keeping quiet helped the blood to freeze and the toes to mortify, calamities which really befell several of the men, as you yourselves are aware.

  "I can imagine a third case, that of some straggler stopping behind, merely to rest for rest's sake, and hindering you in front and us behind alike from pressing on the march. If he got a blow with the fist from me it saved him a thrust with the lance from the enemy. In fact, the opportunity they enjoy to-day of taking vengeance on me for any treatment which I put upon them wrongfully, is derived from their salvation then; whereas, if they had fallen into the enemy's hands, let them ask themselves for what outrage, however great, they could expect to get satisfaction now. My defence," he continued, "is simple: if I chastised any one for his own good, I claim to suffer the same penalties as parents pay their children or masters their boys. Does not the surgeon also cauterise and cut us for our good? But if you really believe that these acts are the outcome of wanton insolence, I beg you to observe that although to-day, thank God! I am heartier than formerly, I wear a bolder front now than then, and I drink more wine, yet I never strike a soul; no, for I see that you have reached smooth water. When storm arises, and a great sea strikes the vessel amidships, a mere shake of the head will make the look-out man furious with the crew in the forecastle, or the helmsman with the men in the stern sheets, for at such a crisis even a slight slip may ruin everything. But I appeal to your own verdict, already recorded, in proof that I was justified in striking these men. You stood by, sirs, with swords, not voting tablets, in your hands, and it was in your power to aid the fellows if you liked; but, to speak the honest truth, you neither aided them nor did you join me in striking the disorderly. In other words, you enabled any evilly-disposed person among them to give rein to his wantonness by your passivity. For if you will be at pains to investigate, you will find that those who were then most cowardly are the ringleaders to-day in brutality and outrage.

  "There is Boiscus the boxer, a Thessalian, what a battle he fought then to escape carrying his shield! so tired was he, and to-day I am told he has stripped several citizens of Cotyora of the clothes on their backs. If then you are wise, you will treat this personage in a way the contrary to that in which men treat dogs. A savage dog is tied up on the day and loosed at night, but if you are wise you will tie this fellow up at night and only let him loose in the day.

  "But really," he added, "it does surprise me with what keenness you remember and recount the times when I incurred the hatred of some one; but some other occasions when I eased the burden of winter and storm for any of you, or beat off an enemy, or helped to minister to you in sickness and want, not a soul of you remembers these. Or when for any noble deed done by any of you I praised the doer, and according to my ability did honour to this brave man or that; these things have slipped from your memories, and are clean forgotten. Yet it were surely more noble, just, and holy, sweeter and kindlier to treasure the memory of good rather than of evil."

  He ended, and then one after another of the assembly got up and began recalling incidents of the kind suggested, and things ended not so unpleasantly after all.

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