Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 4 – The March to the Sea

Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 4 – The March to the Sea

Chapter 1 – The Entry into Kurdestan

  • There was enough of the night left to cross the plain unnoticed from the summit. There, they had to pass through villages of the Carduchi, who had abandoned their houses & ran into the mountains
    • The Greeks left the Carduchi’s things alone because they thought they could curry favor with the people who hated the King. They did, however, help themselves to food. In spite of efforts to make make friendly with the Carduchi, they remained hostile
    • This trip took the whole day because of the narrow roads, & the rise & fall of the path. The Carduchi shot at them with stones & arrow quite successfully but not in large numbers. While the Greeks slept, the Carduchi sent beacons through the mountains to others warning them of the Greeks
    • The generals & captains decided to rid themselves of superfluous baggage animals & slaves who’d been slowing them down. Too many men had to be used to care for them. Once on the road, they moved faster & fought better
    • They marched through a storm while the enemy shot at them, slowing them down. They chased them off at every attack. Eventually, they couldn’t stop the whole army if are part got attacked. Xenophon blamed this for the loss of 2 of his best men. Chirisophus had to hurry to reach a pass before it got blocked
    • Xenophon planned to put some men aside to set up ambushed on the attackers either to kill them or capture them
    • 2 men who’d been captured were asked about alternate routes. One said the one they were on was the only way up. They killed him. The other said the first man was trying to get the Greeks to avoid the village where his daughter was living. He’d take them another way but they had to arrive there first to ensure the passage. This required an advance guard to go faster & to fight harder to occupy the pass

Chapter 2 – Fighting in the Mountains

  • The 2000 volunteers moved with a prisoner guide to attack the Carduchi ambushers. The plan was that once they cleared out the enemy from the hills, the army could move forward unimpeded. Xenophon’s rear guard was to provide a distraction while the front troops passed through unnoticed. However, the Carduchi threw boulders down at them all day & night
    • Those with the guide looked for higher ground – they didn’t know it but they were wrong. There was an even higher hill behind that one, guarded, but it was blocked from view by the mist
    • They pounced on the enemy but most of them ran off unharmed. Xenophon had to dislodge the ground or else be stranded from the other group. They moved, receiving arrows & stones, but eventually the enemy fled. The next hill was occupied. Xenophon didn’t want to abandon the hill they were on because it would just get taken by the enemy. He sent a smaller group to clear the enemy off their hill & then once that was done, they moved forward
    • There was a 3rd hill, much steeper. But the natives, for some reason, gave it up easily in order to attack the rear guard
    • Xenophon went to the summit & summoned others to follow. Word came in that Archagoras of Argos & his men had to abandon their will & others were killed before retreating. Xenophon sent an interpreter to ask for a truce & an exchange of the dead. During the conversation, native troops attacked, rolling logs & rocks on them. But in the end, they were able to rejoin the army & camped in abandoned village houses
      • After getting their dead back, they pressed on but got a lot of trouble from the natives. When the Greeks were able to get a hold of native bows, they turned them into spears

Chapter 3 – The Crossing into Armenia

  • They camped on the border of Armenia & the of the Carduchi. They had plenty of provisions & overcome hardships. In fact, the Carduchi gave them more trouble than the King’s army. They finally slept well
    • In the morning, the enemy’s cavalry were ready for action to prevent them from crossing the river. Above the cavalry on the high ground were infantry to prevent them from getting into Armenia – Armenian, Mardian & Chaldean mercenaries.
    • Crossing the river, the water rose to their chests. The riverbed was uneven & slippery. The undertoe overpowered them & made them vulnerable
      • The Greeks had a bump in the road for their morale. The river was difficult to cross & the enemy was ready to fight on the other side
  • Xenophon had a dream that he was tied up but the fetters fell off on their own & he was free to do as he pleased. He saw this as a sign that things would be all right
    • They made a sacrifice the next morning & then ate breakfast
    • Some young soldiers came to Xenophon & told him while they were gathering firewood, they saw, on the other side of the river, an old man, a woman & young girls hiding clothes in a hollow rock. They realized this area was easy to cross the river. They took the clothes & came back to camp
    • Xenophon gave the men a drink & toasted to the gods for the dream & the report. They told Chirisophus what they saw. Afterwards, they had a meeting of generals. They decided to split the army in 2. Chirisophus’s group would cross first, then the baggage train & civilian, then Xenophon’s group would cross
      • Once they all were ready, the 2 men led them to the cross. The enemy’s cavalry on the other side marched to keep pace with them. At the ford, Chirisophus put on a wreath on his head & led the march across. They crossed in columns. Some animals were sacrificed for a blessing. They sang the paen & raised a battle cry. Even the soldiers’ mistresses join in
      • They ran at full speed at the ford opposite the road into the Armenian mountains. When enemy saw how easily they were crossing & how Xenophon’s men were marching, they ran up to the river crossing further up the river.
      • Once Chirisophus’s men had crossed, they made for the high ground & then beared down on the enemy’s cavalry
    • Xenophon saw things going well & went back to his rear because the Carduchi were coming up on their river. With Chirisophus on high ground & baggage train now crossing, Xenophon’s men faced back to the Carduchi as each company crossed the river.
    • Greek archers lined the newly crossed side of the river to give cover to those in the midst of crossing. The enemy ran off & the Greeks rushed the crossing. Some Carduchi fined on the baggage train but the rear guard chased them off for good
      • An overall good crossing

Chapter 4 – They Sack the Camp of Tiribazus

  • After the crossing, they began to move through Armenia. There weren’t many villages due to all the wars between Armenia & the Carduchi
    • After a few days of travel, they met the governor of the region who was a close personal friend of the King. They agreed not to fight & provide the Greeks with provisions if they agreed not to pillage the villages
    • During their march, the governor, Tiribazus’s men kept pace with the Greeks with one mile between them
    • The Greeks slept near villages when a heave snowfall. They felt safe because the enemy would have difficulty traveling in snow. Some soldiers reported seeing camp fires in the distance, causing generals to make the army sleep together. They did what they could to stay warm using an ointment of lard, sesame, almonds & turpentine
    • After the snowfall, sleeping quarters were split up & soldiers started behaving like hooligans set some houses on fire
      • Democrates of Temenus was sent to where the fires were seen in the wilderness. He returned with a Persian armed with a bow & an Amazonian battleaxe
      • The prisoner said he was on his way to Tiribazus’s place to get provisions. Tiribazus was building an army of mercenaries to attack the Greeks as they passed through the mountains
    • The army decision to reassemble the army leaving a guard behind. They crossed the mountains & found the enemy’s camp & attacked it. The enemy ran off & the Greeks ransacked the camp. They returned to their own camp for the rest of the night

Chapter 5 – Marching Through the Snow

  • They decided to move as quickly as possible before the enemy could get back together & block the pass. They marched through the snow past where Tiribazus wanted to them
    • They crossed the Euphrates, which was only up to the waist. They marched on through the wind & snow, beginning to freeze people. They made a sacrifice to the wind. While the wind did die down, there was 6 feet of snow on the ground. Some animals & slaves, as well as 30 soldiers died in it
    • The next day was bad. Some died of starvation. Xenophon made sure they all ate well
    • While in a village, those who arrived on time camped out without the permission of the satrap. Those who didn’t show up slept without food or fire – some died. Some were left behind due to snowblindness or frostbite
    • Snowblindness was prevented by shielding the eyes from staring at the constant white of the snow. Frostbite was prevent by keeping on the move & taking off one’s shoes at night. Xenophon begged the men, threatened them & even told them lies about how close the enemy army were. The enemy actually was close & was making a lot of racket in the woods. The Greeks roared back & the enemy ran off
    • Xenophon arrived to find sleeping guard. After questioning them, they learned the troops in front had stopped. Xenophon went to see what was going on. They camped without fire or food. They met up with Chirisophus in the front near a village
      • Polycrates of Athens caught one village by surprise. The houses were built underground & they had tunnels for the animals. Men slept near a ladder going up to the ground. Animals slept in their houses
    • Xenophon convinced the village chief to eat with him. Xenophon told him they meant them no harm & would leave them just as he found them. They agreed & the Greeks spent the night. Later, they had feasts. The Armenians even gave them horses & tips on how to stop the horses from sinking in the snow (put bags around their feet)

Chapter 6 – They Capture a Pass by a Manoeuvre

  • They had stayed 8 days. A villager was given to Chirisophus as a guide, who wasn’t under restraint. They marched without finding any villages on the way (because there weren’t any), pissing off Chirisophus. The man was beaten & he ran off in the middle of the night
    • They marched to the Phasis River & on to a pass near a plain, blocked by the enemy. They stayed back, 3 miles away. The generals discussed plans
    • Chirisophus wanted to eat & think about crossing maybe that day, maybe the next. Cleanor wanted a battle as soon as possible before the enemy got any larger. Xenophon wanted minimal casualties. There was an undefended part of the mountain. They should take that & march up, instead of fighting on flat land. Moving at night in the mountains & not fighting is easier than moving in the day on flat land while fighting. The enemy wouldn’t be scrutinizing them at night. The Greeks would be far enough away not to be heard
    • They ate. Chirisophus’s men feigned an attack on the enemy to keep them busy while Xenophon’s men found a higher ground to occupy & start attacking the enemy. While they Xenophon’s men were engaged with the enemy, & doing very well against them, Chirisophus’ men joined them. The overwhelming numbers of Greeks caused the enemy to run away.
    • The Greeks continued up the mountains & then down to the plain

Chapter 7 – The Greeks Catch Sight of the Sea

  • 5 days & 90 miles later, they were Taochi country & were running low on food. The Taochi were well stocked in a fortification
    • Chirisophus’s men attacked in waves. Xenophon’s men showed up. They discussed. The people had been rolling boulders at them. What if they waited until the enemy used up their ammunition? They weren’t heavily armed apart from the boulders. The Greeks could hide behind trees during the intervals of boulder rolling & moved toward the fort. The faster they used up the boulders, the better. They had room to retreat if needed
    • Men stood behind trees individually. Some came out from behind to attract a boulder attack & ran back to hide.
    • Eventually the boulders ran out & the women began throwing their children down at the Greeks & then they threw themselves. After all of this, the place was nearly empty of people & the Greeks helped themselves to the food
    • They marched 7 days & 150 miles through the land of the Chalybes. These were very tough warriors, wearing linen body armor, greaves, helmets & daggers. If they caught someone, they’d cut the throat & cut off the heads to sing & dance with. They had 20 foot long spears. They’d hide in their houses & sneak up on the Greeks for a fight
    • The Greeks crossed the Harpasus river into Scytheni land for 4 days, & were able to restock provisions. Finally, they arrived at a large city, Gymnias. The governor gave them a guid for areas that were at war with him. He encouraged them to burn or take anything they wanted
    • After 5 days, they arrived at a mountain, Thekes. At the summit, the men in front saw the sea. Xenophon’s men still had enemies to deal with. They finally made it to the Black Sea
    • They guide was rewarded & sent home

Chapter 8 – They Arrive at Trapezus

  • They got to the border of the Lands of the Macrones separated from the Scytheni by a river. The trees along the river prevented from crossing. The Macrones were on the other side, ready for a fight
    • A peltast knew the Macrones’ language & asked Xenophon if he could speak to them. They said they were Macrones & they were going to fight them because the Greeks invaded their territory. The Greeks explained they’d been fighting with the King & wanted to go home to Greece, & at the moment, to get to the sea
    • They exchanged pledges not to fight each other & 1 Macrone spear for 1 Greek spear. The Macrones helped chop down trees on the river to allow the Greeks to cross. They mixed together & the Greeks were able to load up on supplies. They were brought to the Colchian territory
      • The Colchian army in the mountains were ready to fight . The generals debated how to approach them
        • Xenophon wanted to advance in columns. The lines would already be broken up by the climb. To move in columns would give them flexibility if attacked at any point. They’d be able to outflank the enemy & provide support when & where it was needed
      • Xenophon gave a speech saying this enemy was what was keeping them from the sea. They used that as inspiration
    • They attacked in 80 companies of 100 hoplites & 3 divisions of peltasts & archers with 600 men in each.
    • Chirisophus & Xenophone advanced outside the flanks of the enemy line, causing it to run up on them, splitting up their own cohesion
    • See this, the Arcadian division advanced & reached the mountain top. Others followed while charging the enemy, causing it to run away
  • The Greeks camped near the mountain villages. Men ate pots of honey causing them to get very sick – some even died. After a few days, they were able to continue
    • 2 days & 21 miles later, they got to Trapezus, a Greek city on the Euxine (Black Sea). It was a colony of Sinope. They stayed for 30 days, restored their food & booze supplies
      • They made a sacrifice of thanks to Zeus for getting them to the Sea. They held games – running, wrestling, horse racing, etc. They finally were able to have some fun

Author: knowit68

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