War with the Scyths part 23


As he was expecting the Scythians to attack he did not sleep at all nor even doze a little, but the whole night long he kept calling for soldiers, especially those who were proficient archers, and told them a great deal about the Scythians, thus stirring them up to battle, as it were, and giving them useful hints for the battle which he expected on the morrow, for instance, how to stretch the bow and direct their darts, also when to hold their horses back and when to let them go, and when to dismount even if necessary.

This was his work in the night ; after which he slept for a short time. As day dawned, all the Scythians crossed the river and seemed eager to begin a battle, and thus the Emperor’s conjecture was proved correct (he was wonderful in foreseeing what would happen, for from his almost daily battles he had gained wide experience); he at once mounted his horse, ordered the attack to be sounded, drew up his lines and himself took his stand before them.

Emperor held the centre of the army

When he noticed that the Scythians were coming to the attack more recklessly than of late, he ordered the skilled archers to dismount and proceed on foot and to keep their bows bent continuously, the rest of the troops followed them and the Emperor held the centre of the army. The archers made a bold attack on the Scythians who, when the battle was well under way, became frightened either by the thick clouds of darts or by the sight of the close ranks of our army and the Emperor’s spirited fighting ; and they turned back, anxious to cross the river in their flight to their wagons.

But the Romans pursued them at full speed, some hit them in the back with their spears, while others hurled javelins. Many indeed were slain before they reached the edge of the river, still more, fleeing with all speed, fell into the torrent and were carried away and drowned. The ones who fought most bravely of all that day were the Emperor’s household retainers, for they were all in the prime of life. As for the Emperor he was clearly the champion of the day, and being proclaimed victor be returned to his camp.

Read More about Rinconete and Cortadillo part 6


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