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thalassa, thalassa

Xenophon describes a dramatic moment, approaching the Black Sea near Trebizond:

'When the men in front reached the summit and caught sight of the sea there was great shouting. Xenophon and the rearguard heard it and thought that there were enemies attackng in the front. However, the shouting got louder and drew nearer. Those who were constantly going forward started running towards the men in front, who kept on shouting. And the more there were of them, the more shouting there was. It looked then as though this was something of considerable importance. So Xenophon mounted his horse, and taking Lycus and the cavalry with him, rode forward to give support.

And quite soon they heard the soldiers shouting out thalassa, thalassa, 'The sea!, the sea!' and passing the word down the column. Then certainly they all began to run, the rearguard and all, and drove on the bagagge animals and the horses at full speed; and when they had all got to the top, the soldiers, with tears in their eyes, embraced each other and their generals and captains. In a moment, at somebody or other's suggestion, they collected stones and made a great pile of them. On top they put a lot of raw ox-hides and staves and shields which they had captured.'

Xenophon The Persian Expedition, translated Rex Warner, Penguin 1949, 1972, page 211


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