Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 6 – The March to the Bosporus

Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon (370 BC), Book 6 – The March to the Bosporus

Chapter 1 – Xenophon Refuses the Offer of the Supreme Command

  • They lived partly on what they could buy & partly on what they could steal from the natives, the Paphlogonians. The Paphlogonians attacked them at night in their camps. Their governor, Corylas, sent ambassadors to make a truce
    • The Greeks had to discuss the matter. They sacrificed & had a feast. Afterwards, they drank, sang & danced. They had mock fights that looked to be fairly gruesome – this spooked the ambassadors. The dancing continued with a mock robbery & other dances in full armor – all very impressive to the outsiders. A slave girl danced a Spartan war dance & the evening ended
    • The next day, the Greeks agreed to a truce. They boarded their ships, sufficient in number & sailed west to Sinope. The Paphlagonians sent them 4000 bushels of barley & 1500 jars of wine
    • Chirisophus showed up again with a trireme. He could only bring a message of congratulations to the army from the Spartan navy, as well as a promise from the Spartan admiral, Anaxibius, to give them pay once they were outside the Euxine
    • They weren’t far from Greece. They felt like they didn’t want to come home empty-handed. Maybe they could appoint one man commander-in-chief to make better use of the army. Perhaps secrets would be better kept & decisions made faster & better
      • Xenophon was an obvious choice for many. He was tempted by the idea. He’d get a better name for himself in Athens if the rest of the voyage went well. But if it ended badly, his name would be mud. He made 2 sacrifices to Zeus, his consultant god, who he thought had sent him the dream to keep the army from crumbling. A bird appeared & was a sign of possible hardship
      • The god indicated that he shouldn’t seek additional power & he should not accept it if given to him. They army did elect him
        • He responded: I’m very flattered by your trust & esteem. But I’m not the right man, especially with all these qualified Spartans in our numbers. I’ll be willing to submit to someone else’s authority. I’ve consulted with the gods & I’m following their advice
    • Chirisophus was elected. He spoke: I’m honored & would’ve worked under someone else, just like Xenophon said. But as it is, we sail for Heraclea tomorrow

Chapter 2 – The Army Splits into Three

  • They sailed for 3 days, along “Jason’s Beach”, where the Argo was said to have been moored on various rivers. Then they got to Heraclea – a colony of Megara in the land of Maryandyni. They anchored near the Acherusian Peninsula, where Heracles was said to have descended into hell to get Cerberus.
    • The people were friendly, giving them barley, wine, oxen & sheep
    • The soldiers had a group meeting to decide if they were going to continue by sea or land
      • Lycon from Achaea: I’m surprised the generals don’t have more money for us to buy food. These gifts won’t last long & there are no other options. I think we ought to ask the locals for more help
      • Chirisophus & Xenophon didn’t like the idea. The city was kind enough to put them up for a while & gave them probably more than they could afford to part with.
      • But Lycon & others went around threatening locals if they didn’t get what they wanted. They didn’t like the idea of Peloponnesians being under the command of a Spartan or even an Athenian, neither one of whom brought many troops of their own. They felt that they themselves did all the hard work to survive & the rest were freeloaders. Arcadians & Achaeans in Chirisophus’s & Xenophon’s command left & elected 10 of their own generals who would act according to majority rule.
        • Chirisophus’s command only lasted a week
    • Xenophon wanted to travel with others but was convinced to go on his own. Chirisophus told Xenophon that the governor of Byzantium would be sending triremes to transport them & that they should keep this fact from the Arcadians & Achaeans.
      • Xenophon wanted to go home as quickly as possible & to patch things up with the others would only delay that
      • The army split into 3:
        • 1 – Arcadians & Achaeans with 4000 men
        • 2 – Chirisophus with 2000 men
        • 3 – Xenophon with 2000 men
      • Arcadians got ships from the locals with the idea to plunder other areas of the Black Sea
      • Chirisophus headed on foot until they reached Thrace where he became sick
      • Xenophon sailed until Thrace & went on foot

Chapter 3 – Xenophon Rescues the Arcadians

  • The Arcadians sailed west to Calpe. They marched inland & into a village, deciding to fight the locals for supplies
    • The local Thracians who got away regrouped & attacked the Arcadians. They wiped out one Arcadian company & had the others on the run. The Thracians were confidant after the skirmish.
    • The next day, they attacked the Greeks, who were only an infantry force on a hill. The Greeks fell back & were eventually cut off from all supplies & communication
      • Both Chirisophus & Xenophon were making their way west independently
        • Xenophon’s horsemen scouted & found out about the Arcardians’ plight. Xenophon didn’t like his own prospects if the Arcadians, who were a much larger group, were having problems with the locals. They had to go to the Arcardians’ aid, if just for their own safety. They had no way of out of the area except through fighting local forces. It also gave them the moral high ground with the heavens for rescuing those who’d abandoned them
        • Xenophon’s men burned any sign of life they came across as they made their way to the battlefield. It was night & they set up on another hill but established communication with the Arcadians. Apparently, just the presence of additional troops was enough to scare the Thracians off

Chapter 4 – The Army Reunited, Difficulties about Provisions

  • They went back to Calpe – considered part of Asiatic Thrace
    • It was a long day’s sail from Byzantium to Heraclea with no territory friendly to Greeks in between. Thracians & Bithynians were famous for treating stranded Greeks badly
      • They were able to find a place with good water, good provisions & enough wood to build ships. Some men thought this choice of a resting spot was suspiciously like a place to found a city. But they were too eager to get back home
      • Xenophon needed to get provisions & bury the day from the days before
    • Senior soldiers held a meeting. They resolved not to split up the army again. Chirisophus was dead from a fever & now Neon of Asine was in charge
      • Xenophon spoke: It seems we’ll have to carry on on foot. Supplies are low. We’re almost home but we still have a ways to go
      • Bad omens appeared to Xenophon as he was sacrificing. Provisions were low but they had to get going. They decided to wait until omens were good.
      • Xenophon wanted to hold up in a fortification due to these bad omens but the soldiers were anxious to move on
      • Neon saw both sides of this. He knew a guy from Heraclea who knew of some villages to get supplies & a guide. 200 men went there to get supplies & were attacked by Pharnabazus’s (Persian governor of the area) cavalry. The cavalry killed 500+ men & the rest ran into the mountains
    • The Greeks were in a sad state. The Bithynians attacked them during dinner at their camp. They had to run into the woods & hills to spend the rest of the night

Chapter 5 – A Greek Victory

  • They let the night pass & in the morning, the soldiers headed for a defensive position. By breakfast, they’d dug trenches & built a palisade. A ship from Heraclea brought in provisions
    • Xenophon examined the omens & saw they were favorable – an eagle flying overhead was a good indicator
    • After the meal, they crossed the trench. Most of the soldiers came with him, leaving behind many of the best in the fortification. They had to pass by many dead bodies & buried them
    • By afternoon, they’d arrive in villages to get provisions, but the enemy appeared over the ridge, so the Greeks prepared for a fight. The omens were still good
      • Xenophon devised a system of reserve soldiers to relieve tired ones & to attack the enemy once it’d lost its election. The key was not to let the enemy rest, reconvene or retreat in an orderly manner
      • With the tactics set up, Xenophon & his men marched forward to a wooded gulley, not knowing if it should be crossed or not. The generals chatted about the plusses & minuses of crossing it
        • Xenophon: I’ve always been conservative. It’s better to stay alive than worry about a courageous reputation. But we can’t leave here without fighting. If we don’t attack, the enemy will follow us, & will chase us if we retreat. We have to decide if it’s best to fight them head on & prepared or retreat being chased. Retreat looks bad to us & it makes them more confident. I’d be much happier in attacking them. We don’t even know if they’ll engage in battle. But we know they’ll feel confident in following us if we retreat. Even if we retreat successfully, we’ve got no clear direction to go in. Let’s fight now since we’re prepared.
        • No one objected to Xenophon’s ideas.
    • They crossed the gulley, making sure the army was as compact as it could be. Xenophon reminded them that a retreat would doom them. They were almost home & this might be the last battle for them
      • The enemy stood still as the Greeks approached & then ran to them. The enemy was able to drive the peltasts back but the onslaught of hoplites singing the paean was too much for them & they fled. Those who ran off were killed
      • The Greeks attacked the Thracian right wing. It broke up & most of the men ran off. Pharnabazus’s cavalry attacked the tired Greeks & then retreated into another gully. The Greeks didn’t pursue them. They were 6 miles from camp by nightfall

Chapter 6 – Some Trouble with the Spartans

  • The enemy moved all of its possessions & family far off
    • The Greeks waited for triremes that were supposed to be coming. In the meantime, straying far away from camp to get provisions wasn’t as dangerous as was before. Plunder was considered a private thing – i.e. individuals got to keep for themselves anything they took, so long as it wasn’t the whole army doing the plundering. In that case, the plunder was considered public property
    • Greek cities were bringing in food to sell as they were starting to hear that a city was forming. Even non-Greek hostiles asked to be on friendly terms with them.
      • Cleander arrived with 2 triremes but no transport ships. A Spartan man, Dexippus accused men from stealing from the public property of plunder. Some of the soldiers stoned him after he falsely accused a man of theft. The triremes took off once they saw thing.
      • Xenophon tried to propose damage control: If word got out about this, cities like Byzantium & Heraclea will consider them outlaws & were either to be punished or at least not traded with. We ought to offer to Cleander the instigator of the stoning for a trial so we don’t get branded as outlaws
      • Agasias tried to prevent Cleander’s man, Dexippus, from arresting the man spoke: Xenophon, you never told me to rescue the man. I saw a good soldier being arrested wrongly. He’d been following the rules. If you want, I’ll take the man’s place or at least smooth things pver
      • The generals spoke to Cleander: If you want justice, go ahead try anyone you want
      • Agasias repeated his story to Cleander. He had only the purest of intentions. While Cleander didn’t approve of Agasias’s actions but wanted a trial for the man. The man spoke up, saying there was a misunderstanding of how property was treated & Dexippus wasn’t even listening to his argument
    • Xenophon called a dinner meeting. They resolved to beg Cleander to release any man he’d arrested in the whole story. It was all just a big misunderstanding.
      • Cleander allowed it. The stories were too confusing & he probably overreacted. This calmed things down & things were better
    • Plundering parties ran out of villages to take from & so they headed into Bithynian country. Some went on to Chrysopolis to sell their booty

Author: knowit68

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