Anabasis eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about Anabasis.

It was already about full market time[1] and the halting-place at 1 which the army was to take up quarters was nearly reached, when Pategyas, a Persian, a trusty member of Cyrus’s personal staff, came galloping up at full speed on his horse, which was bathed in sweat, and to every one he met he shouted in Greek and Persian, as fast as he could ejaculate the words:  “The king is advancing with a large army ready for battle.”  Then ensued a scene of wild confusion.  The Hellenes and all alike were expecting to be attacked on the instant, and before they could form their lines.  Cyrus sprang from his carriage and donned his corselet; then leaping on to his charger’s back, with the javelins firmly clutched, he passed the order to the rest, to arm themselves and fall into their several ranks.

[1] I.e. between 9 and 10 A.M.

The orders were carried out with alacrity; the ranks shaped themselves.  Clearchus held the right wing resting on the Euphrates, Proxenus was next, and after him the rest, while Menon with his troops held the Hellenic left.  Of the Asiatics, a body of Paphlagonian cavalry, one thousand strong, were posted beside Clearchus on the right, and with them stood the Hellenic peltasts.  On the left was Ariaeus, Cyrus’s second in command, and the rest of the barbarian host.  Cyrus was with his bodyguard of cavalry about six hundred strong, all armed with corselets like Cyrus, and cuirasses and helmets; but not so Cyrus:  he went into battle with head unhelmeted[2].  So too all the horses with Cyrus wore forehead-pieces and breast-pieces, and the troopers carried short Hellenic swords.

[2] The MSS. add, “to expose oneself to the risks of war bareheaded
    is, it is said, a practice common to the Persians,” which I regard
    as a commentator’s note, if not an original marginal note of some
    early editor, possibly of the author himself.  The “Cyropaedeia” is
    full of such comments, “pieces justificatives” inserted into the
    text.

It was now mid-day, and the enemy was not yet in sight; but with the approach of afternoon was seen dust like a white cloud, and after a considerable interval a black pall as it were spread far and high above the plain.  As they came nearer, very soon was seen here and there a glint of bronze and spear-points; and the ranks could plainly be distinguished.  On the left were troopers wearing white cuirasses.  That is Tissaphernes in command, they said, and next to these a body of men bearing wicker-shields, and next again heavy-armed infantry, with long wooden shields reaching to the feet.  These were the Egyptians, they said, and then other cavalry, other bowmen; all were in national divisions, each nation marching in densely-crowded 10 squares.  And all along their front was a line of chariots at considerable intervals from one another—­the famous scythe-chariots, as they were named—­having their scythes fitted to the axle-trees and stretching out slantwise, while others protruded under the chariot-seats, facing the ground, so as to cut through all they encountered.  The design was to let them dash full speed into the ranks of the Hellenes and cut them through.

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Anabasis from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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