A Passage to Remember
And some brought accusations against Xenophon, professing they had been beaten by him, and they made the accusation that he did this out of insolence.
Xenophon stood up and bade the first who had spoken to say at what point of the march he had been struck. He answered, “When we were perishing with the cold and there was so much snow.” And Xenophon said, “But surely, if it was such a bad winter as you say, and our food was failing us, and it was impossible to get even a whiff of wine, and with many of us giving out under the burden of our labors, and with the enemy closely following us, if I was insolent on such an occasion, I agree that I am more insolent even than asses are, of which they say that because of their insolence they never suffer fatigue. Nevertheless, tell us also why you were struck. Was I asking you for something, and did I strike you when you did not give it to me? Was I asking you to return something? Was I fighting over a favorite? Was I abusive because I was drunk?” When he said it was none of these things, he asked him if he were a hoplite. He said that he was not. He asked him next if he were a peltast. He said, “Not even this, but even though I am a free person, I have been assigned by my messmates to drive a mule.” At this point Xenophon recognized him and asked, “Are you the one who was bringing the sick person along?” “Yes, by Zeus,” he said, “for you compelled me to do so, and you scattered the baggage of my messmates.” “But,” said Xenophon, “the ‘scattering’ was something like this: I distributed the baggage to others to bring along, and I ordered them to bring it back to me. When I got it all back safe, I returned it to you, when you too showed me the man. But hear, all of you, how this episode was,” he said, “for it is worth hearing.
“A man was being left behind because he was no longer able to march. I knew the man only to this extent, that he was one of us. I compelled you to bring him along so that he might not perish for, as I think, the enemy was following us.” The fellow agreed to this. “Then,” said Xenophon, “after I sent you onward, I overtook you again as I marched along with the rear guard, and you were digging a pit, as if about to bury the person. And I stopped and praised you. But when, with several of us standing by, the man bent his leg, those present shouted out, ‘The man is alive!’ You said, ‘Yes, as much as he wishes, but I, at least, am not going to bring him along.’ At this point I struck you, so what you say is true, for you seemed to me like one who knew that he was alive.” “What of it?” he said. “Did he die any less after I showed him to you?” “We all will die,” said Xenophon, “so should we therefore all be buried alive?”