THE LAST OF TISSAPHERNES
 DURING the time that the Hellenes rested in the villages Tissaphernes
disappeared from sight, but on the fourth day, when they came out from under
cover, they found him again pursuing them with his whole army.
It was an anxious time for the Hellenes, for a large number of them were
incapacitated from fighting. Besides the wounded, there were those who
carried the wounded in litters, and those again who carried the armour of
the litter-bearers. The wagons in which the sick might have journeyed had
been burnt when they had declared war against the Great King.
The generals were of opinion that in this crippled condition they were no
match for the enemy in the open field, and that it would be useless to
attempt to march and fight at the same time, as hitherto. So when they found
that the Persians were coming against them, they determined to halt at the
first village they should reach, and place the wounded in safety, while the
able-bodied could easily put the Persians to flight from under the cover of
the huts. Once routed, they knew that the Persians would give them no more
trouble that night, for they were so terribly afraid of being surprised by
the Hellenes that they always pitched their camp at least six miles away
This plan was carried out, and the Persians were driven back from the
village. Then, as soon as they were out of sight, the Hellenes made a fresh
start, and marched on for another six miles before encamping for the night,
so that the next day when they began their march, they had twelve miles
start of the enemy.
All that day and all the next day they were able to march steadily on
without fighting, for the Barbarians were too far behind to attack them, but
during, the third night Tissaphernes also made an extra, or as it is called,
a forced march.
The Satrap had the great advantage of being able to get every information as
to the districts through which they were marching, and knowing that the flat
plain that they had been traversing ever since the last skirmish would now
be succeeded by mountainous country, he sent forward a detachment of his
troops to get in advance of the Hellenes by taking another road, and seize a
hill overlooking the way by which they must pass.
When the Hellene vanguard approached the hill, they found it already in
possession of the enemy, and Cheirisophus sent to the rear for Xenophon. It
was clear that the Persians must be dislodged without a moment's delay, for
already the main body of the Barbarian army, commanded by Tissaphernes
himself, could be seen approaching in the distance.
Xenophon looked long and carefully at the height occupied by the Persians,
and saw that from the very top of the mountain above it there was a road
down to the place. "We must get up to the top of the mountain," he said,
"and from thence charge down upon the enemy and drive them from their post.
There is not a moment to lose. If you will remain here with the rest of the
army, I will attack the mountain with the light-armed troops, or else if you
will lead them thither, I will remain below."
"You may choose," said Cheirisophus.
"Very well then," answered Xenophon, "I will climb the mountain, for I am the
He set off at once with the troops assigned to him, and for a time they were
concealed from the enemy by the trees and bushes which clothed the hillside.
But as soon as the Persians perceived their intention, they also made for
the higher peak, hoping to reach it before the Hellenes. And now began a
race, Hellenes and Persians climbing each by a different road, and watching
eagerly the progress of the other party. Now one side would seem to have the
advantage and now the other, while all the time incessant shouts from below
stimulated their efforts, for on both sides it was well known how much
depended on the issue.
Xenophon rode on horseback beside his men, urging them to do their utmost.
"Remember," he said, that this toil is to make it possible for you to return
to your homes, your wives, and your children. Yet a little more effort, and
all the rest will be easy!
One of the soldiers, who was named Soteridas, was a lazy, sullen fellow, and
looking enviously at Xenophon, he said, "It is all very well for you to
talk, Xenophon, for you can ride at your ease, but I am groaning beneath the
weight of this heavy shield."
Instantly Xenophon sprang from his horse, seized the shield of Soteridas,
pushed him aside, and taking his place in the ranks, struggled up the hill
like a private soldier, although be was encumbered with the heavy armour
worn for riding.
The other men were delighted at this, and they did not scruple to express
their contempt for Soteridas by blows as well as taunts, until at last the
unhappy man was constrained to implore Xenophon to let him take back his
shield and share the toil of his comrades.
To this Xenophon consented, and remounting his horse, he rode as long as it
was possible to do so, but soon the road became so bad that he was obliged
to dismount and climb on foot for the rest of the way.
The Persians were but a very little distance from the crest of the mountain
when the first Hellenes reached it. The advantage was now with them, and
they at once charged. Back fled the Persians by any path they could find,
and soon there was no longer a trace either of the detachment that had been
posted on the hill, or of the main army advancing along the plain.
The road was free, and a short march brought the Hellenes to some villages
where they could rest after the fatigues of the day. There they found
abundance of food, and were able moreover to take as spoil a number of cows
and other animals, for it happened, fortunately for the Hellenes, that a
great number were just then collected at that place in order to be ferried
across the Tigris.
This was their last encounter with Tissaphernes. Since his shameful betrayal
of their generals, he had
for twenty days been following in their track, as a pack of hounds pursues a
noble stag, who nevertheless saves himself by his courage and endurance.
Taking into consideration the enormous difference in point of numbers, the
loss sustained by the Hellenes during these twenty days was very slight.
They had been more than a match for Tissaphernes and his great army, and
might well feel proud of their superiority to the cowardly mob of
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics