Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library
  PREVIOUSNEXT  

CONTENTS · GENERAL INDEX · QUICK INDEX · SONGS & LYRICS · BIOGRAPHIES
READER’S DIGEST · STUDENT’S COURSE · PORTRAITS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Hardships in the Snow
By Xenophon (c. 430–c. 350 B.C.)
 
From the ‘Anabasis’

THE NEXT day it was thought necessary to march away as fast as possible, before the enemy’s force should be reassembled, and get possession of the pass. Collecting their baggage at once, therefore, they set forward through a deep snow, taking with them several guides; and having the same day passed the height on which Tiribazus had intended to attack them, they encamped. Hence they proceeded three days’ journey through a desert tract of country, a distance of fifteen parasangs, to the river Euphrates, and passed it without being wet higher than the middle. The sources of the river were said not to be far off. From hence they advanced three days’ march, through much snow and a level plain, a distance of fifteen parasangs; the third day’s march was extremely troublesome, as the north wind blew full in their faces, completely parching up everything and benumbing the men. One of the augurs, in consequence, advised that they should sacrifice to the wind: and a sacrifice was accordingly offered; when the vehemence of the wind appeared to every one manifestly to abate. The depth of the snow was a fathom, so that many of the baggage cattle and slaves perished, with about thirty of the soldiers. They continued to burn fires through the whole night, for there was plenty of wood at the place of encampment. But those who came up late could get no wood; those therefore who had arrived before, and had kindled fires, would not admit the late comers to the fire unless they gave them a share of the corn or other provisions that they had brought. Thus they shared with each other what they respectively had. In the places where the fires were made, as the snow melted, there were formed large pits that reached down to the ground; and here there was accordingly opportunity to measure the depth of the snow.  1
  From hence they marched through snow the whole of the following day, and many of the men contracted the bulimia. Xenophon, who commanded in the rear, finding in his way such of the men as had fallen down with it, knew not what disease it was. But as one of those acquainted with it told him that they were evidently affected with bulimia, and that they would get up if they had something to eat, he went round among the baggage: and wherever he saw anything eatable, he gave it out, and sent such as were able to run, to distribute it among those diseased; who as soon as they had eaten, rose up and continued their march. As they proceeded, Cheirisophus came, just as it grew dark, to a village; and found at a spring in front of the rampart, some women and girls belonging to the place fetching water. The women asked them who they were; and the interpreter answered in the Persian language that they were people going from the King to the satrap. They replied that he was not there, but about a parasang off. However, as it was late, they went with the water-carriers within the rampart, to the head-man of the village; and here Cheirisophus, and as many of the troops as could come up, encamped: but of the rest, such as were unable to get to the end of the journey spent the night on the way without food or fire; and some of the soldiers lost their lives on that occasion. Some of the enemy too, who had collected themselves into a body, pursued our rear, and seized any of the baggage cattle that were unable to proceed, fighting with one another for the possession of them. Such of the soldiers, also, as had lost their sight from the effects of the snow, or had had their toes mortified by the cold, were left behind. It was found to be a relief to the eyes against the snow, if the soldiers kept something black before them on the march; and to the feet, if they kept constantly in motion, and allowed themselves no rest, and if they took off their shoes in the night: but as to such as slept with their shoes on, the straps worked into their feet, and the soles were frozen about them; for when their old shoes had failed them, shoes of raw hides had been made by the men themselves from the newly skinned oxen. From such unavoidable sufferings, some of the soldiers were left behind,—who, seeing a piece of ground of a black appearance, from the snow having disappeared there, conjectured that it must have melted; and it had in fact melted in that spot from the effect of a fountain, which was sending up vapor in a woody hollow close at hand. Turning aside thither, they sat down and refused to proceed farther. Xenophon, who was with the rear-guard, as soon as he heard this, tried to prevail on them by every art and means not to be left behind, telling them at the same time that the enemy were collected, and pursuing them in great numbers. At last he grew angry; and they told him to kill them, as they were quite unable to go forward. He then thought it the best course to strike a terror, if possible, into the enemy that were behind, lest they should fall upon the exhausted soldiers. It was now dark, and the enemy were advancing with a great noise, quarreling about the booty that they had taken; when such of the rearguard as were not disabled started up and rushed towards them, while the tired men, shouting as loud as they could, clashed their spears against their shields. The enemy, struck with alarm, threw themselves into the snow of the hollow, and no one of them afterwards made himself heard from any quarter.  2
  Xenophon and those with him, telling the sick men that a party should come to their relief next day, proceeded on their march; but before they had gone four stadia they found other soldiers resting by the way in the snow, and covered up with it, no guard being stationed over them. They roused the men, but the latter said that the head of the army was not moving forward. Xenophon, going past them, and sending on some of the ablest of the peltasts, ordered them to ascertain what it was that hindered their progress. They brought word that the whole army was in that manner taking rest. Xenophon and his men, therefore, stationing such a guard as they could, took up their quarters there without fire or supper. When it was near day, he sent the youngest of his men to the sick, with orders to rouse them and oblige them to proceed. At this juncture Cheirisophus sent some of his people from the villages to see how the rear were faring. The young men were rejoiced to see them, and gave them the sick to conduct to the camp, while they themselves went forward; and before they had gone twenty stadia, found themselves at the village in which Cheirisophus was quartered. When they came together, it was thought safe enough to lodge the troops up and down in the villages. Cheirisophus accordingly remained where he was; and the other officers, appropriating by lot the several villages that they had in sight, went to their respective quarters with their men.  3
  Here Polycrates, an Athenian captain, requested leave of absence: and taking with him the most active of his men, and hastening to the village which Xenophon had been allotted, surprised all the villagers and their head-men in their houses, together with seventeen colts that were bred as a tribute for the King, and the head-man’s daughter, who had been but nine days married; her husband was gone out to hunt hares, and was not found in any of the villages. Their houses were under ground: the entrance like the mouth of a well, but spacious below; there were passages dug into them for the cattle, but the people descended by ladders. In the houses were goats, sheep, cows, and fowls, with their young; all the cattle were kept on fodder within the walls. There were also wheat, barley, leguminous vegetables, and barley-wine in large bowls: the grains of barley floated in it even with the brims of the vessels, and reeds also lay in it, some larger and some smaller, without joints; and these, when any one was thirsty, he was to take in his mouth and suck. The liquor was very strong unless one mixed water with it, and a very pleasant drink to those accustomed to it.  4
  Xenophon made the chief man of his village sup with him, and told him to be of good courage, assuring him that he should not be deprived of his children, and that they would not go away without filling his house with provisions in return for what they took, if he would but prove himself the author of some service to the army till they should reach another tribe. This he promised; and to show his good-will, pointed out where some wine was buried. This night, therefore, the soldiers rested in their several quarters in the midst of great abundance; setting a guard over the chief, and keeping his children at the same time under their eye. The following day Xenophon took the head-man and went with him to Cheirisophus; and wherever he passed by a village, he turned aside to visit those who were quartered in it, and found them in all parts feasting and enjoying themselves: nor would they anywhere let them go till they had set refreshments before them; and they placed everywhere upon the same table lamb, kid, pork, veal, and fowl, with plenty of bread both of wheat and barley. Whenever any person, to pay a compliment, wished to drink to another, he took him to the large bowl, where he had to stoop down and drink, sucking like an ox. The chief they allowed to take whatever he pleased, but he accepted nothing from them; where he found any of his relatives, however, he took them with him.  5
  When they came to Cheirisophus, they found his men also feasting in their quarters, crowned with wreaths made of hay, and Armenian boys in their barbarian dresses waiting upon them,—to whom they made signs what they were to do, as if they had been deaf and dumb. When Cheirisophus and Xenophon had saluted one another, they both asked the chief man, through the interpreter who spoke the Persian language, what country it was. He replied that it was Armenia. They then asked him for whom the horses were bred; and he said that they were a tribute for the king, and added that the neighboring country was that of the Chalybes, and told them in what direction the road lay. Xenophon then went away, conducting the chief back to his family: giving him the horse that he had taken, which was rather old, to fatten and offer in sacrifice (for he had heard that it had been consecrated to the sun); being afraid, indeed, that it might die, as it had been injured by the journey. He then took some of the young horses, and gave one of them to each of the other generals and captains. The horses in this country were smaller than those of Persia, but far more spirited. The chief instructed the men to tie little bags round the feet of the horses and other cattle when they drove them through the snow; for without such bags they sunk up to their bellies.  6
 
 
CONTENTS · GENERAL INDEX · SONGS & LYRICS · BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY
READER’S DIGEST · STUDENT’S COURSE · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.