since a horse which cannot endure fatigue will clearly be unable to overhaul the foeman or effect escape; and in the second place, you will have to See to it the animals are tractable, since, clearly again, a horse that will not obey is only fighting for the enemy and not his friends. So, again, an animal that kicks when mounted must be cast; since brutes of that sort may often do more mischief than the foe himself. Lastly, you must pay attention to the horses' feet, and see that they will stand being ridden over rough ground. A horse, one knows, is practically useless where he cannot be galloped without suffering.
And now, supposing that your horses are all that they ought to be, like pains must be applied to train the men themselves. The trooper, in the first place, must be able to spring on horseback easily — a feat to which many a man has owed his life ere now. And next, he must be able to ride with freedom over every sort of ground, since any description of country may become the seat of war. When, presently, your men have got firm seats, your aim should be to make as many members of the corps as possible not only skilled to hurl the javelin from horseback with precision, but to perform all other feats expected of the expert horseman. Next comes the need to arm both horse and man in such a manner as to minimise the risk of wounds, and yet to increase the force of every blow delivered. This attended to, you must contrive to make your men amenable to discipline, without which neither good horses, nor a firm seat, nor splendour of equipment will be of any use at all.
The general of cavalry, as patron of the whole department, is naturally responsible for its efficient working. In view, however, of the task imposed upon that officer had he to carry out these various details single-handed, the state has chosen to associate with him certain coadjutors in the persons of the
- Or, "to press home a charge d' outrance, or retire from the field unscathed."
- Lit. "so that whilst least likely to be wounded themselves, they may most be able to injure the enemy."
- See Mem. III. iii.
- Cf. Theophr. xxix. The Oligarchic Man: "When the people are deliberating whom they shall associate with the archon as joint directors of the procession" (Jebb).