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Anabasis(3)

2006-09-07 20:39

  Book I I x-chapter:III

  At Tarsus Cyrus and his army halted for twenty days; the soldiers refusing to advance further, since the suspicion ripened in their minds, that the expedition was in reality directed against the king; and as they insisted, they had not engaged their services for that object. Clearchus set the example of trying to force his men to continue their march; but he had no sooner started at the head of his troops than they began to pelt him and his baggage train, and Clearchus had a narrow escape of being stoned to death there and then. Later on, when he perceived that force was useless, he summoned an assembly of his own men; and for a long while he stood and wept, while the men gazed in silent astonishment. At last he spoke as follows: "Fellow soldiers, do not marvel that I am sorely distressed on account of the present troubles. Cyrus has been no ordinary friend to me. When I was in banishment he honoured me in various ways, and made me also a present of ten thousand darics. These I accepted, but not to lay them up for myself for private use; not to squander them in pleasure, but to expend them on yourselves. And, first of all, I went to war with the Thracians, and with you to aid, I wreaked vengeance on them in behalf of Hellas; driving them out of the Chersonese, when they wanted to deprive its Hellenic inhabitants of their lands. But as soon as Cyrus summoned me, I took you with me and set out, so that, if my benefactor had any need of me, I might requite him for the good treatment I myself had received at his hands. . . . But since you are not minded to continue the march with me, one of two things is left to me to do; either I must renounce you for the sake of my friendship with Cyrus, or I must go with you at the cost of deceiving him. Whether I am about to do right or not, I cannot say, but I choose yourselves; and, whatever betide, I mean to share your fate. Never shall it be said of me by any one that, having led Greek troops against the barbarians[1], I betrayed the Hellenes, and chose the friendship of the barbarian. No! since you do not choose to obey and follow me, I will follow after you. Whatever betide, I will share your fate. I look upon you as my country, my friends, my allies; with you I think I shall be honoured, wherever I be; without you I do not see how I can help a friend or hurt a foe. My decision is taken. Wherever you go, I go also."

  [1] Lit. "into the country of the barbarian."

  Such were his words. But the soldiers, not only his own, but the rest also, when they heard what he said, and how he had scouted the idea of going up to the great king's palace[2], expressed their approval; and more than two thousand men deserted Xenias and Pasion, and took their arms and baggage-train, and came and encamped with Clearchus. But Cyrus, in despair and vexation at this turn of affairs, sent for Clearchus. He refused to come; but, without the knowledge of the soldiers, sent a message to Cyrus, bidding him keep a good heart, for that all would arrange itself in the right way; and bade him keep on sending for him, whilst he himself refused to go. After that he got together his own men, with those who had joined him, and of the rest any who chose to come, and spoke as follows: "Fellow soldiers, it is clear that the relations of Cyrus to us are identical with ours to him. We are no longer his soldiers, since we have ceased to follow him; and he, on his side, is no longer our paymaster. He, however, no doubt considers himself wronged by us; and though he goes on sending for me, I cannot bring myself to go to him: for two reasons, chiefly from a sense of shame, for I am forced to admit to myself that I have altogether deceived him; but partly, too, because I am afraid of his seizing me and inflicting a penalty on the wrongs which he conceives that I have done him. In my opinion, then, this is no time for us to go to sleep and forget all about ourselves, rather it is high time to deliberate on our next move; and as long as we do remain here, we had better bethink us how we are to abide in security; or, if we are resolved to turn our backs at once, what will be the safest means of retreat; and, further, how we are to procure supplies, for without supplies there is no profit whatsoever in the general or the private soldier. The man with whom we have to deal is an excellent friend to his friends, but a very dangerous enemy to his foes. And he is backed by a force of infantry and cavalry and ships such as we all alike very well see and know, since we can hardly be said to have posted ourselves at any great distance from him. If, then, any one has a suggestion to make, now is the time to speak." With these words he ceased.

  [2] Or "how he insisted that he was not going up."

  Then various speakers stood up; some of their own motion to propound their views; others inspired by Clearchus to dilate on the hopeless difficulty of either staying, or going back without the goodwill of Cyrus. One of these, in particular, with a make-believe of anxiety to commence the homeward march without further pause, called upon them instantly to choose other generals, if Clearchus were not himself prepared to lead them back: "Let them at once purchase supplies" (the market being in the heart of the Asiatic camp), "let them pack up their baggage: let them," he added, "go to Cyrus and ask for some ships in order to return by sea: if he refused to give them ships, let them demand of him a guide to lead them back through a friendly district; and if he would not so much as give them a guide, they could but put themselves, without more ado, in marching order, and send on a detachment to occupy the pass——before Cyrus and the Cilicians, whose property," the speaker added, "we have so plentifully pillaged, can anticipate us." Such were the remarks of that speaker; he was followed by Clearchus, who merely said: "As to my acting personally as general at this season, pray do not propose it: I can see numerous obstacles to my doing so. Obedience, in the fullest, I can render to the man of your choice, that is another matter: and you shall see and know that I can play my part, under command, with the best of you."

  After Clearchus another spokesman stood up, and proceeded to point out the simplicity of the speaker, who proposed to ask for vessels, just as if Cyrus were minded to renounce the expedition and sail back again. "And let me further point out," he said, "what a simple-minded notion it is to beg a guide of the very man whose designs we are marring. If we can trust any guide whom Cyrus may vouchsafe to us, why not order Cyrus at once to occupy the pass on our behoof? For my part, I should think twice before I set foot on any ships that he might give us, for fear lest he should sink them with his men-of-war; and I should equally hesitate to follow any guide of his: he might lead us into some place out of which we should find it impossible to escape. I should much prefer, if I am to return home against the will of Cyrus at all, to give him the slip, and so begone: which indeed is impossible. But these schemes are simply nonsensical. My proposal is that a deputation of fit persons, with Clearchus, should go to Cyrus: let them go to Cyrus and ask him: what use he proposes to make of us? and if the business is at all similar to that on which he once before employed a body of foreigners——let us by all means follow: let us show that we are the equals of those who accompanied him on his much up formerly. But if the design should turn out to be of larger import than the former one——involving more toil and more danger——we should ask him, either to give us good reasons for following his lead, or else consent to send us away into a friendly country. In this way, whether we follow him, we shall do so as friends, and with heart and soul, or whether we go back, we shall do so in security. The answer to this shall be reported to us here, and when we have heard it, we will advise as to our best course."

  This resolution was carried, and they chose and sent a deputation with Clearchus, who put to Cyrus the questions which had been agreed upon by the army. Cyrus replied as follows: That he had received news that Abrocomas, an enemy of his, was posted on the Euphrates, twelve stages off; his object was to march against this aforesaid Abrocomas: and if he were still there, he wished to inflict punishment on him, "or if he be fled" (so the reply concluded), "we will there deliberate on the best course." The deputation received the answer and reported it to the soldiers. The suspicion that he was leading them against the king was not dispelled; but it seemed best to follow him. They only demanded an increase of pay, and Cyrus promised to give them half as much again as they had hitherto received——that is to say, a daric and a half a month to each man, instead of a daric. Was he really leading them to attack the king? Not even at this moment was any one apprised of the fact, at any rate in any open and public manner.

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