Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE SEA! THE SEA!
 THE next country through which the Hellenes had to make their way was
inhabited by the Chalybeans, who like the Taochians, were a free people, not
subject to the Great King. In their country were iron mines which they had
worked from the most ancient times, and they knew how to smelt the iron and
make it into steel.
When they went out to fight, the Chalybeans wore a cuirass made of many
folds of linen, with a thick fringe at the bottom, of twisted cords. They
wore also greaves and helmet, and carried a spear twenty-two feet in length,
and a short curved sword, with which they cut off the heads of their fallen
enemies. These they carried about, singing and dancing, and displayed them
to the foe with horrible delight.
Like the Taochians, the Chalybeans were possessed of strong castles, to
which they had carried off all the food in the country, and the Hellenes
would have fared badly but for the cattle which they had recently taken from
It was not the custom of the Chalybeans to meet their enemies in the open
field, and they contented themselves with harassing the Hellenes whenever
could do so at an advantage, although if their castles had been attacked,
they would have defended them with the utmost bravery. As it was, the
Hellenes suffered considerable loss during the seven days that they spent in
passing through this country, and at the end of the whole march, Xenophon
declared that the Chalybeans were the most warlike of all the many tribes
with whom they had exchanged blows in Asia.
After leaving their country, the Hellenes marched for four days through the
land of the Scythinians, until they came to some villages where they rested
for three days, and took in a fresh supply of food.
From thence, four more marches brought them to the rich and populous city of
Gymnias, which derived its wealth mainly from the produce of a silver mine.
It was the first city the Hellenes had seen for many long weeks, and here
they met with the agreeable surprise of being received as friends. The
governor paid them, unasked, the most welcome of all attentions in sending
them a guide, who undertook to bring them, within five days, to a mountain
from whence they could look down upon the Black Sea. At hearing this promise
the hearts of the Ten Thousand leapt for joy, for hitherto they had been
marching on and on without in the least knowing how many more weary miles
yet lay between them and the sea.
But first the guide led them through a country of which the inhabitants were
at feud with the city of Gymnias, and desired them to lay waste the land
with fire and sword. It then appeared that the governor of Gymnias had
received them so kindly because be hoped to make use of them. The Hellenes
rendered him the
service he required, and ravaged the country, taking abundance of spoil.
Soon afterwards they came to the mountain of which the guide had spoken, and
began to ascend it. Suddenly Xenophon and the rear heard a cry from the van,
who had now reached the top, and the cry swelled louder and louder as rank
after rank came up to the place. Thinking that there must be some unexpected
attack, Xenophon urged on his horse, and galloped forward to see what was
But as he came nearer, he perceived that it was no war-cry, but a shout of
joy. "Thalatta! Thalatta!" was the cry, "The sea! The sea!" And there, on
the distant horizon, glittering in the sunlight, was a narrow, silver
streak, the long-looked-for goal of all their hopes.
The soldiers burst into tears of joy, poured forth congratulations one to
the other, threw themselves into the arms of their comrades and their
officers. Then some one suggested that they should raise a trophy to
commemorate the occasion, and all ran to get stones. These they piled one
upon another, and covered them with skins of animals for decoration, and
with shields which they had taken as spoil from the enemy.
The guide had kept his word, and was generously rewarded, for out of their
poverty, the Hellenes presented him with a horse, a silver cup, a Persian
dress, and ten darics, equal to about ten guineas of our money. He begged
moreover for some of the rings that the soldiers wore on their fingers, and
a good many were given to him.
The Hellenes loved the sea as the Swiss love their
Alps. Hardly anywhere is there a country so sea-girt as Hellas. A glance at
the map will show the numberless bays and inlets by which the sea makes its
way to all parts of the country. Almost every Hellene had been born within
reach of the fresh salt breeze, had been familiar with the sea from his
childhood, had sailed over it in all directions, and was accustomed to
cherish for it the same sort of feeling as for that which he regarded as the
greatest of all blessings, namely freedom.
Now the sea was actually in sight, and a few more marches would bring the
weary soldiers to the Hellene colonies which lay scattered all along its
coast. There they would hear once more their own mother-tongue, and be again
among friends, among men of their own race, whose help they could count upon
in case of need.
For the last five months, ever since the battle of Cunaxa, they had been
engaged in a desperate struggle with difficulties of every kind, surrounded
on all sides by enemies of foreign race and alien tongue. Now they saw
before them the end of all their toils.