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The Alexiad: Book XV

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Victory over the Turks : The Orphanage : Heresy of the Bogomils : Last Illness and Death of Alexius (1116-18)


I The doings of the Emperor in Philippopolis and with regard to the Manichaeans were such as I have related; after that a fresh potion of troubles was brewed for him by the barbarians. For the Sultan Soliman was planning to devastate Asia again and assembled his forces from Chorosan and Chalep [*=Berroea (now Aleppo)] to see whether he might possibly be able to resist the Emperor successfully. As the whole of the Sultan Soliman's plan had already been reported to the Emperor, he contemplated advancing as far as Iconium. with his army and there forcing him into a closely contested battle. For that town formed the boundaries of the Sultanicium of Clitziasthlan. Therefore he solicited troops from foreign countries, and a large mercenary force, and called up his own army from all sides. Then, whilst these two generals were making preparations against each other, the old trouble in his feet attacked the Emperor. And forces kept coming in from all quarters, but only in driblets, not all together, because their countries were so far away, and the pain prevented the Emperor not merely from carrying out his projected plan, but even from walking at all. And he was vexed at being confined to his couch not so much because of the excessive pain in his feet, but by reason of the postponement of his expedition against the barbarians. The barbarian Clitziasthlan was well aware of this and consequently despoiled the whole of Asia at his leisure during this interval and made seven onslaughts upon the Christians. Never before had the Emperor suffered so severely from that pain; for before this it had only come on him at long intervals but now it did not come periodically but was continuous and the irritation unending. Now Clitziasthlan's followers thought that this suffering was only a pretence at illness, not really an illness, and that hesitation and indolence were disguised under the cloak of gout; and therefore often joked about it when drunk or drinking, and as natural orators the [391] barbarians wove moral talks about the Emperor's sufferings in his feet, and the trouble in his feet became the subject of comedies. For they would impersonate doctors and other people busied about the Emperor and place the Emperor himself in the middle, lying on a couch, and make a play of it. And these puerile games aroused much laughter among the barbarians. These doings did not escape the Emperor and they made him boil with anger and provoked him still more to war with them. After a short interval he was relieved from pain and commenced his projected journey. He ferried over to Damalis, then sailed across the straits between Cibotus and Aegiali, disembarked at Cibotus and went on to Lopadium to await the arrival of his armies and the mercenary army he had engaged. When they were all assembled he moved away from there with all his forces and occupied the fort of Lord George close to the lake outside Nicaea, and thence on to Nicaea. Then after three days he returned and encamped on this side of the bridge of Lopadium near the fountain of Caryx as it was called; for he thought best to send the army over the bridge first to pitch their tents in a suitable spot and then to cross himself by the same bridge and erect the imperial tent in company with all the army. But the wily Turks were devastating the plain lying at the foot of the Lentianian hills and the place called Cotoeraecia, and on hearing of the Emperor's advance against them, they were terrified and immediately lighted a number of beaconfires, thus giving beholders the illusion of a large army. And the sky was lighted up by these fires and frightened many of the inexperienced soldiers but nothing of all this troubled the Emperor. Then the Turks collected all the booty and prisoners and went away; and at dawn the Emperor hastened after them to the plain (already mentioned] with the desire of overtaking them on the spot, but he missed his quarry. On the contrary he found a number of Romans still breathing, and many corpses, which naturally enraged him. But he was very anxious to pursue the Turks so as not to lose all his prey, and, as it was impossible for the whole army to follow up the fugitives quickly, he pitched his palisades on the spot near Poemanenum and selecting at once a detachment of brave light-armed soldiers, he entrusted them with the pursuit of the barbarians and told them which road to take after the wretches. These soldiers overtook the Turks with all their booty and captives at a place called Cellia by the natives and rushed upon them like fire and soon killed [392] most of them but took a few alive and after collecting all the booty there they returned brilliantly victorious to the Emperor. After welcoming them and learning of the total destruction of the enemy he returned to Lopadium. When he reached it he stayed in that town for three whole months partly because of the want of water in the districts he would have to pass through (for it was the summer-season and the heat was intolerable) and partly because he was waiting for part of the mercenary army which had not yet arrived. But when they had all assembled, he shifted his camp and quartered his army between the ridges of Olympus and of the mountains called Malagni and himself occupied Aër. The Empress meanwhile was lodging at Principus, as from there she could more easily have news of the Emperor after his return to Lopadium. Directly the Emperor went to Aër, he sent the imperial galley to fetch her, firstly because he was always dreading the pain in his feet, and secondly through fear of his bosom enemies who were accompanying him, and thus he wanted her both for the extreme care she took of him, and for her most vigilant eye.

II Three days had not yet passed before the attendant of the imperial bedchamber came in towards morning and stood close to the royal couch. The Empress woke up and when she looked at him he said, "I have come to report that the Turks are upon us." When he further told her that they had already reached what was called George's fort, she motioned to him with her hand to be silent so as not to wake the Emperor. He had however heard all that was said, but remained for some time in the same position and unmoved, and when the sun rose he betook himself to his usual occupations, though his mind was completely absorbed by this man's warning. Before the third hour had passed another messenger came to say that the barbarians were already quite near. The Empress was still with the Emperor and though naturally frightened yet she awaited his decision. When their Majesties were hurrying to their lunch, yet another came, all blood-stained, and bowing himself to the ground at the Emperor's f eet he swore on oath that the danger was imminent, for the barbarians were already at his heels. Then the Emperor immediately gave the Empress permission to return to Byzantium, and she was dismayed but hid her fear in her inmost heart and did not shew it either by word or manner. For she was courageous and steady-minded, like the woman sung of by Solomon in the Proverbs, and shewed no feminine [393] cowardice such as we see so many women generally give way to directly they hear any terrible news. And even the colour of their face proves the cowardice of their soul and often too they utter shrill screams as if the danger threatened them closely. But although that Empress was afraid, her fear was for the Emperor lest an accident should befall him; and fear for herself came second. So on this occasion she did not do anything unworthy of her bravery but took leave of the Emperor though unwillingly, and often turned round to look at him again, yet she pulled herself together and braced herself up, so to say, as she reluctantly tore herself away from him. She went down from there to the sea and embarking on the galley set apart for their Majesties, she sailed past the coast of Bithynia, then was caught in a tempest and so anchored off Helenopolis and stayed there for a time. So far about the Empress.

The Emperor and all the soldiers and kinsmen who were with him at once got under arms ; and then mounted and rode towards Nicaea. But the barbarians had caught an Alanian and on hearing from him of the Emperor's advance against them they fled back along the paths by which they had come. But Strabobasilius and Michael Stypiota (let no one though when he hears this name think of Stypiota the semi-barbarian, for the latter was this man's bought slave and was afterwards given as a present to the Emperor, whereas this Stypiota belonged to the nobility), these two, who were very warlike and already counted among famous men, waited about on the ridges of the Germii and watched the roads around, in case perchance the barbarians might fall into, and be caught in, their nets, like a wild beast. When they had learnt of the Turks' approach they went down to the plains called . . . offered them battle and met them in a fierce fight in which they worsted them completely. The Emperor occupied first the fort- of George (which has been frequently mentioned) and then the village called Sagudai by its inhabitants but did not come across the Turks. But when he heard what had happened to them at the hands of the brave men aforementioned, I mean Stypiota and Strabobasilius and had expressed his appreciation of the Romans' daring from the very start and their victory, then he himself fixed his palisades in a spot outside that same fort. And on the following day he went down to Helenopolis to meet the Empress who was still held up there as the sea was not navigable. Then he related to her all that had happened to the Turks and how in [394] their desire for victory they had met with misfortune, and fancying themselves to be the masters had on the contrary been mastered and got the opposite to what they had expected. Having thus relieved her deep anxiety he left again for Nicaea; there he heard of a fresh inroad of the Turks, so went on to Lopadium. Here he stayed a little and on learning that a large Turkish army was on its way to Nima he collected his forces, turned off to Cius and, as he was informed that the Turks were marching on towards NicEea all through that night, he moved his camp again and passed through Nicaea to Miscura. Here he learnt for certain that the whole Turkish army had not yet arrived but that some few men had been sent by Monolycus and were lingering around Dolylum. and Nicaea in order to watch for the Emperor's arrival and to send Monolycus information about him continually. Consequently he sent Leo Nicerites with the troops under his command to Lopadium and bade him keep a sharp look-out the whole time, to watch the roads round about, and to let him know by letter whatever he found out about the Turks. The rest of the army he settled in suitable places and then decided that it would be better not to advance against the Sultan at present, for he guessed that the barbarians who had escaped would spread the news of the Romans' attack upon them amongst all the Turks in Asia, and would tell how they had met and attacked the Romans at various….., how they resisted valiantly, and how they had been worsted and some of them captured and others killed and only a few wounded had escaped. From this tale the barbarians would realize, he thought, that he was approaching, and consequently retreat even beyond Iconium, and thus all his trouble would be in vain. For these reasons, he turned round and marched to Nicomedia through Bithynia, with the idea that the barbarians would in consequence no longer expect his attack and each return to the place where he had formerly dwelt. Afterwards when they had regained courage and again dispersed for skirmishing, as was the Turks' way, and the Sultan himself recommenced his old tricks, and his own soldiers had had a brief rest and the horses and beasts of burden had fattened, he would shortly carry on the war against him more vigorously and attack him fiercely in battle. For these reasons he made for Nicomedia, as said, and taking with him all the soldiers he had, he billeted them in the villages close by so that the horses and beasts of burden might have sufficient food, as the land of Bithynia was rich in grass, [395] and the soldiers themselves too could easily fetch everything necessary for their use from Byzantium and its neighbourhood by crossing the bay. He enjoined them to give their full attention and much care to the horses and beasts of burden and not to use the horses for hunting or riding, so that when the need arrived they should be in good condition and able to carry their riders easily and would be useful for making cavalry-attacks upon the enemy.

III Having made all these, arrangements he sat down at a distance, like a look-out, after posting guards on every path. And as he intended remaining in that place for a good many days he sent for the Empress for the reason I have given several times, so that she might be with him until he was notified of the barbarians' incursions and should wish to move away from there. She came to Nicomedia with all haste; she noticed that some of his opponents were exulting, as it were, over the Emperor's having done nothing and were everywhere slandering him and muttering that in spite of his grand preparations for advancing on the barbarians and collecting large forces, he had accomplished nothing of importance, but retired to Nicomedia. This was not only whispered in comers but spoken of brazenly in the squares and on the high roads and crossroads, and annoyed and vexed her. But the Emperor who divined that the issue of his attack upon the enemy would be propitious (and he was clever in these ways), thought nothing of his adversaries' denunciations and malice but despised all that kind of thing as childish play and laughed at their infantile minds. And he cheered up the Empress by his sensible arguments and assured her that the very thing they sneered at would be the cause of a greater victory. Now I consider it courage when anybody gains a victory through using sound judgment; for high spirits and energy without judgment are to be condemned, and are rashness and not courage. For we have courage in war against men whom we can conquer; but we are rash against those whom we cannot overcome, and thus, when danger impends over us, we hesitate to attack from the front.

. . . and then we handle the war in a different way and endeavour to conquer the enemy without fighting. And the chief virtue of a general is to know how to obtain a victory without danger; for 'by skill,' as Homer says, I one charioteer prevails over another.' For even the proverb derived from Cadmus disparages a victory fraught with danger, to me it has always seemed best to carry out some [396] wily, yet strategic, move even during the battle itself, whenever one's army is not adequate compared with the strength of one's opponents. Anyone who likes can gather from history that a victory is not always achieved in the same way, or by the same means, but that from olden days down to the present it is gained by various efforts, hence we conclude that victory is indeed one and the same, but that the means by which generals obtain it, are diverse and varied in nature. For some of our former celebrated generals seem to have conquered their enemies by sheer strength . . . in this way; whereas others used different means and gained the victory. Now my father, the Emperor, sometimes overcame his adversaries by prowess, and at others by his quick wit, for even during a battle he occasionally thought out some clever device and by daringly using it at once carried off the victory. By making use of stratagems on some occasions, and on others by hard fighting he often and unexpectedly set up trophies. If there ever was a man who was fond of danger, it was he, and dangers could be seen continually rising up in his path, and at times he would walk into them bare-headed and come to close quarters with the barbarians, and at others again he would pretend to decline battle, and act the frightened man, if the occasion demanded it and circumstances advised it. Or to put the whole matter concisely, he prevailed when he fled, and conquered when he pursued, and falling he stood, and dropping down he was erect on the principle of caltrops which always stick upright however you throw them. But here again I must deprecate being censured on the score that I am caught bragging; for in my defence I have several times said that it is not love for my father that suggests these remarks, but the nature of the circumstances. For does anything on the side of truth itself prevent a person being fond of his father and fond of truth also? for I have chosen to write a truthful history and that of a good man ; but if that man happens to be the father of the historian, let the father's name be added to it as a mere appendage; but the history must be dedicated to natural truth. In other matters I have declared my love for my father and by so doing have sharpened the spears and whetted the swords of the ill-disposed against myself, as all those know who are acquainted with the facts of my life. But in shaping my history I would certainly not betray the truth. There is a time for shewing love to a father (and at such time I have shewn courage) and another time when [397] truth is the main consideration and now since that time has fallen my way, I cannot regard it lightly. But if, as I have said, this time also combines to shew me fond of my father, I do Dot fear men's censure for having suppressed the truth. However my story must now go back to its subject.

As long as the Emperor pitched his tent there (in Nicomedia) he had nothing else to do besides enrolling recruits in the army and training them carefully in the art of stretching the bow, wielding the spear, riding on horseback, and making various formations. He also taught the soldiers the new system of marshalling the lines which he had invented himself ; now and again he would ride with them and review the phalanxes and give seasonable suggestions. But the sun was now returning from its large circuits, and as the autumn equinox was passed, it was already inclining to the more southern circuits, this seemed a season well-adapted for taking the field, so with all his forces he marched straight for Iconium according to the plan he had originally proposed to himself. Then on reaching Nicaea he detached a body of light troops with experienced leaders from the rest of the army and ordered them to go on ahead and in separate divisions make sallies upon the Turks and go foraging. But, if God gave them the victory and they routed the enemy, he advised them in no case to continue their raid, but be satisfied with the victory given them and at once make an orderly retreat. So they all with the Emperor occupied a place situated . . . and locally called Gaita, and there the one lot went off, while he moved on from there with all his forces and held the bridge over the river Pithecas. Then in three days' march by way of Armenocastrum and the so-called Leucae he reached the plains of Doryleum. He saw that these were large enough for marshalling his troops and being anxious to review them all and find out exactly his military strength, he seized this opportune moment and drew up his soldiers, in very reality in the battle-order for which he had so long been yearning and so often described on paper when planning this arrangement (for he was well-versed in Aelian's tactics); and then he set up his camp in the plain. For he knew from very long experience that the Turkish battle-order did not agree at all with that of other nations, for with them "shield did not rest upon shield, and helmet upon helmet and man upon man " as Homer says, but the Turks' right and left wing, and centre were quite disconnected and the phalanxes stood as if severed from each other. [398] Consequently if you attacked the right or left wing, the centre would swoop down upon you and all the rest of the army posted behind it, and like whirlwinds throw the opposing body into confusion. Now for their weapons of war:-they do not use spears much, as the Franks do, but surround the enemy completely and shoot at him with arrows, and they make this defence from a distance. When he pursues, he captures his man with the bow; when he is pursued he conquers with his darts ; he throws a dart and the flying dart hits either the horse or its rider, and as it has been dispatched with very great force it passes right through the body; so skilled are they in the use of the bow. Having noticed this from long experience the Emperor arranged his lines and phalanxes in such a way that the Turks should shoot from the right side, the side on which the shields were advanced, and that our men should shoot from the left, the side on which the Turks' bodies were unprotected. And he himself imagined that this order of battle would be invincible, and marvelled at its strength and looked upon it as an arrangement directly inspired by God and a marshalling due to the angels. And everybody else admired and rejoiced in it and took fresh courage from the Emperor's invention. And when he himself thought about his forces and the plains through which he was soon to pass and reflected that his battle-order was solid and not easily broken, his hopes rose high and he prayed to God to bring them to fulfilment.

IV In this order of battle he reached Santabaris . . . and distributed all the leaders of this array [over the country]; Camytzes he sent to attack Polyboturn and Cedrus (this was a very strongly fortified town held by the satrap Pucheas) ; Stypiota he ordered to march on the barbarians in Amorium. . . . Two Scythians got wind of this plan and deserted to Pucheas and brought word to him of Camytzes' advance and also of the Emperor's approach. He was so stricken with f ear at this that at midnight he left the city and departed with all his countrymen. As day was dawning, Camytzes reached the place and found no Pucheas nor indeed any Turk at all. He found the fort, I mean Cedrea, full of spoil but did not waste any time over that for he was annoyed as huntsmen are when they lose the prey which was almost in their grasp. So without delay he turned his horse's head and marched to Polybotum. This he attacked unexpectedly and killed barbarians beyond number, then collected all the booty and captives and encamped close by awaiting the Emperor's [399] arrival. Stypiota did the same when he reached Poemanenum and returned to the Emperor, who himself arrived at Cedrea towards sunset. Immediately some soldiers came to him and said there were an immense number of barbarians in the small towns situated quite near of the once celebrated hero, Burtzes. Directly the Emperor had heard their report, he repared for action. He instantly summoned a descendant of 1he famous Burtzes, Bardas by name, and George Lebunes, and a Scythian called Pitican in his native tongue, brought up the troops under them to a sufficiently strong force and dispatched them against the Turks, and gave them orders that when they got there they were to send out foragers to lay waste all the neighbouring villages, and then drive out all the natives from their homes and bring them to him. So these men at once started on the journey assigned them, but the Emperor, holding to his former purpose, hastened to reach Polybotum and thence hurry on as far as Iconium. With these intentions he was on the point of commencing his task when he received reliable information that the barbarians and the Sultan Soliman himself on hearing of his approach, had set fire to all tile crops and plains in Asia, so that there was no sustenance at all for man or beast. Another incursion of barbarians from the higher countries was heralded too, and the rumour flew quickly throughout Asia. So he was afraid for one thing that during his march to lconium his whole army might fall a prey to famine owing to the lack of food, and for another he thought with suspicion and vexation of the barbarians he was likely to find there. Accordingly he formed a plan which was both prudent and audacious, namely, to enquire of God, whether he ought to abide by his decision of advancing on Iconium, or direct his attack against the barbarians round Philomelium. He wrote these questions on two papers, placed them on the Holy Table and spent the whole night in offering hymns and lengthy intercessions to God. At dawn the priest went in and picking up one of the two papers placed on the Table, opened it in the presence of all and read out to the Emperor that he was commanded to take the road to Philomelium. So much then about the Emperor.

Now Bardas, the descendant of Burtzes, whilst following the road we have already mentioned, saw a strong body hastening to join Monolycus by crossing the bridge at Zompi, consequently he at once got under arms, engaged them in battle in the plain of Amorium and defeated them severely. [400] But other Turks coming from an easterly direction and hurrying to Monolycus fell upon Burtzes' encampment before he had returned and carried off all the beasts of burden that were there and the soldiers' baggage. As Burtzes was returning victorious and bringing much plunder with him, he met one of the Turks coming from the camp and learnt from him how the Turks had stolen everything in his encampment and gone off with all the booty, so he meditated what he had better do. Although he wished to pursue the Turks, who journey very swiftly, yet he could not do so, because the horses were worn out. So he renounced the pursuit and to prevent anything worse happening he proceeded at a slow pace and in orderly manner and at dawn reached the aforementioned towns of Burtzes and ejected all the inhabitants. Then he gathered up the captives, took with him all the provisions the barbarians had, and after resting himself and his wearied soldiers for a short time in a suitable spot he took the road leading to the Emperor as the sun rose. On the way he met another Turkish force, and began a fight which flared up into a serious battle. The Turks sustained the combat for a long time and then asked for the captives and the spoil that had been taken from them, and promised faithfully that if this request were granted, they would undertake not to attack the Romans again but would go home. Burtzes, however, would not yield to the barbarians' request, but continued the battle and fought bravely.

As the Turks had not tasted water at all during the fight on the previous day, they now took possession of the banks of the river, and quenched their burning thirsts and then returned to the fight in batches. For while one party continued the battle, the other tired-out party refreshed itself by drinking the water. Burtzes seeing the barbarians' consummate boldness and worried to death by their numbers, felt quite helpless, and so did not send one of the common soldiers to carry news of his straits to the Emperor, but the George Lebunes I have already mentioned. As Lebunes could see no path which was not held by a number of Turks, he threw himself recklessly into the midst of them, pushed his way through and got safely to the Emperor. When the latter heard the news about Burtzes and found out fairly accurately the number of Turks, he realized that Burtzes required a large number of reinforcements, so he speedily got under arms himself and ordered the army to do likewise. Then with the army drawn up in phalanxes he advanced [401] against the barbarians in good order. The front wing was held by Prince [Michael], the right by Bryennius, the left by Gabras and the rear by Cecaumenus. As the Turks stood awaiting them at a distance, Nicephorus, the Empress' nephew, who was young and longing to fight, rode on ahead of the line and taking with him a few more devotees of Ares, engaged the first man who attacked him and received a wound in the knee, but struck the man who wounded him in the chest with his spear. And the Turk straightway fell from his horse and lay speechless on the ground, and the others behind him on seeing this at once turned their backs upon the Romans. The Emperor received the brave young man with delight and praised him highly and continued his march to Philomelium. He passed the lake of the Forty Martyrs and the next day occupied the place called Mesanacta, then moved on again and took Philomelium by assault. Next he selected various units from the whole army and placing them under brave leaders dispatched them to villages situated round about Iconium to despoil these and deliver the captives out of the Turks' hands. Accordingly they scattered themselves over the country like wild beasts, brought back the barbarians' prisoners in droves to the Emperor and then returned with the prisoners' baggage after freeing them all. And the inhabitants of those regions who were Romans followed them of their own accord fleeing from servitude to the barbarians; there were women with babies, even men, and children, all rushing to the Emperor as if to a place of refuge. He then drew up his lines in the new formation with all the captives, women and children enclosed in the centre, and returned by the same road as he had come, and whatever places he approached, he passed through with perfect safety. And had you seen it, you would have said a living walled city was walking, when the army was marching in the new formation we have described.

V As he proceeded further, the barbarians did not shew themselves, but Monolycus followed him and lay in wait for the army with a large force on either side of the road. While the Emperor was crossing the plain between Polybotum and the lake we just mentioned, a detachment of the barbarian army, without baggage, all light-armed, bold men, who had lain in wait for the army on both sides, suddenly appeared to them from the heights. And the arch-satrap, Monolycus, then saw this new formation for the first time. He was an old man, very experienced in wars and military [402] science, and when he beheld this new arrangement of the army he was struck dumb with surprise and asked the name of the general in command. He divined that the Emperor Alexius and no other must be the leader of the army and that new formation. And he wanted to attack, but did not dare; nevertheless he ordered them to raise the cry, 'to battle!' With the intention of giving the Romans the impression of a large army, he- told them to advance at the double, not in close formation, but in separate detached groups, their usual method, as we described above, hoping by the suddenness of their appearance and the trampling of the horses to deafen and dismay the Roman forces. But the Emperor rode before the line like a tower or pillar of fire or some divine and heavenly vision, exhorting his men and bidding them March on in the same formation and be of good cheer, and added that it was not for his own safety that he had undertaken this toilsome business but for the honour and glory of the Roman Empire, and moreover he was quite ready to die on behalf of them all. All took courage at his words and each kept his own place and went on marching at his ease; so much so that to the barbarians they did not even appear to be moving. Throughout the whole of the day the Turks kept attacking the Roman army without any success, for they were unable to break it up either entirely or even partially, so they ran back to the hills without accomplishing anything and lighted a great many bonfires and howled all through the night like wolves and occasionally made jeering remarks at the Romans; for there were some semi-barbarians among them who spoke Greek. When day dawned Monolycus with the same intention ordered the Turks to do the same as before. In the meantime Clitziasthlan [*=should be Melik] himself, the Sultan, arrived, and when he saw the perfect order of the army, he marvelled, but like a young man jeered at the old man, Monolycus, for having deferred battle with the Emperor. Monolycus replied, " I, because I am old or cowardly, have put off a close engagement with him up to the present ; but if you are so courageous, go yourself and have a try; the proof will lie in the result." Accordingly Clitziasthlan' at once attacked the rear, ordered some other satraps to attack the Emperor from the front, and yet others he bade open the battle on either flank. Now the Cxsar Nicephorus' Bryennius who held the right wing, noticed the battle in the rear, and longed ardently to go to the assistance of the men [403] at the back, but as he did not wish to prove his inexperience or his youth he restrained his raging anger against the barbarians and continued to march on in good order and the same formation. As the barbarians were fighting vigorously, the brother I held dearest, Andronicus Porphyrogenitus, who commanded the left wing, wheeled round and with his own troops made a fierce set upon the barbarians. He had just reached the most charming period of his life, in war he displayed prudent boldness, a quick hand, and abundant wisdom, and then prematurely he died, and when none would have expected it, he left us and vanished.

Oh, youth and physical beauty and your light leaps on horseback, where in the world have you gone? my grief compels me to utter a lament over him; the law of history, however, again restrains me. But it is wonderful that nowadays nobody is changed, as they say happened in former days, into a stone or bird or tree or some inanimate thing, changing his nature into such things under the force of great calamities; whether it is all a fable or truth. For perhaps it were better to exchange one's nature for another that is non-sentient, than to possess such a vivid perception of evil. If this had been possible, the ills that have befallen me would very likely have turned me into stone.

VI When Nicephorus saw that the battle had become a hand-to-hand contest, he dreaded a defeat and therefore wheeled round with all his troops and hastened to their aid. Hereupon the barbarians turned their backs and with the Sultan Clitziasthlan himself they fled at full speed and hurried back to the hills. Many fell in the battle on that occasion, but more were captured; and the survivors all scattered. The Sultan himself in desperate fear escaped with only his cupbearer and climbed up to a chapel built on a mountain top, round which very tall cypresses stood in rows, as he was hard pressed by three Scythians and the son of Uzas who were pursuing him; there he turned off in another direction, and, as he was not known to his pursuers, he himself escaped, but the cupbearer was seized by the Scythians and offered to the Emperor as a great prize. The Emperor rejoiced at this signal victory and in having prevailed over his enemies, but was vexed that the Sultan himself had not fallen into their hands too and been captured, but was saved 'by the skin of his teeth,' as the proverb goes. Evening had now overtaken them so he encamped on the spot, and the barbarians who had survived again mounted to the hilltops, [404] lighted exceedingly many fires and barked the whole night long at the Romans like dogs. But a certain Scythian deserted from the Roman army and finding his way to the Sultan said, "Do not think of fighting with the Emperor in the daytime ; for it will not be to your advantage. But since the plain is not very large, he has had the tents pitched very close together, so let your light archers go down to the foot of the hills and all night long discharge showers of darts upon them, and they will inflict no trifling damage on the Roman army." Upon this a semi-barbarian escaped without the Turks noticing and ran to the Emperor and related to him what the Scythian had come and suggested to the Sultan and explained to him clearly all that they were planning against the Roman army. On hearing this the Emperor formed the army into two divisions and ordered one half to keep watch inside the camp and keep sober, and the other half to arm themselves and leave the camp and go to meet the barbarians who were coming and engage them in battle. And throughout the night the barbarians surrounded the army and made many sallies round about the foot of the hills, and discharged showers of arrows against the army; but the Romans acting on the Emperor's advice protected themselves without breaking the line. When day dawned, they marched on in the same formation and again placed the booty and all the baggage and the prisoners with the women and children in the centre of the formation, and journeyed to Ampus. And there a serious and terrible battle awaited them.

For the Sultan had again collected his forces and now encircled the army and attacked it from every side; yet he did not manage to break through the close ranks of the Romans at any point, but as though he had attacked walls of adamant he had to retire without accomplishing anything. Therefore all through that night in vexation of spirit and despair he took counsel with Monolycus and the rest of the satraps, and when the light of day appeared he sued the Emperor for terms of peace, as all the satraps thought this the best thing to do. The Emperor did not reject, but received, their petition and immediately gave the order for the sounding of the recall, but ordered that the men should keep quiet and halt as they were, and not get off their horses or unload the baggage from the sumpter beasts, but halt protected by shield, helmet and spear as they had been throughout the whole journey. This order was given by the Emperor for no other reason but this, that, if confusion [405] arose, the line might perhaps be broken and in that case all could easily be captured. For he feared the host of Turks which be saw was very great, and was afraid they might attack the Roman army from all sides. Later he halted in a suitable spot and with all his kin and a goodly number of soldiers on either side he stood in front of them with his relations and connections to left and right and close to them a select band of soldiery, all mail-clad, and the fiery gleam that shone from their weapons illuminated the air more than the rays of the sun. And meanwhile the Sultan had approached with all his subject satraps, at the head of whom came Monolycus, as he surpassed all the Turks in Asia in age, experience and courage, and the Sultan met the Emperor in the plain between Augustopolis and Acronium. When the satraps espied the Emperor from a distance they got off their horses and offered the obeisance usually made to Kings. The Sultan several times attempted to dismount, but the Emperor would not allow it, the other however jumped down quickly and kissed the Emperor's foot, who gave him his hand and begged him to mount one of the noblemen's horses. When he had mounted and was riding close to the Emperor's side, the latter suddenly took off the cloak he was wearing and threw it round the Sultan's shoulders. After a short silence he made known to him all he had decided upon, saying, "If you are willing to submit to the Roman Empire and cease your onslaughts on the Christians, you shall enjoy favours and honour and live at peace for the rest of your life in the countries assigned you, where you formerly had your dwellings before Romanus Diogenes took over the reins of government and suffered that terrible defeat when he unfortunately joined battle with the Sultan and was captured by him. Therefore you ought to choose peace in preference to war, and keep your hands off the boundaries of the Roman Empire, and be content with your own. And if you listen to my words, who am giving you wise counsel, you will never repent, but even partake of many privileges -if you do not, then be assured that I shall be the destroyer of your race." The Sultan and his satraps readily agreed to these terms and said, " We should not have come here of our own accord, if we had not elected to embrace peace with your Majesty." After these speeches he dismissed them to the tents allotted to them, promising to ratify the treaty the next day. On the morrow the Emperor again interviewed the Sultan called Saisan and after completing [406] the treaty with him in the usual manner, made him a present of a very laTge sum of money and after giving his satraps gifts too he sent them away well satisfied. In the interval the Emperor had heard that the Sultan's bastard brother, Masut, was aiming at the sovereignty and had plotted Saisan's assassination . . . since some satraps had got round him, as nearly always happens. So the Emperor advised him to wait a little until he found out more details of the plot, and then through knowing what had happened, he would go away forewarned. But the Sultan disregarded the Emperor's advice and with full confidence in himself adhered to his decision. Now the Emperor did not wish to appear to have forcibly detained the Sultan who had come to him of his own will, and thus incur censure, so he yielded to the barbarian's decision, saying, "It would be wiser to wait a little while; but as your mind is set on going, you must do 'the next best thing' as they say, take a sufficient number of mail-clad Roman soldiers from us who will conduct you safely as far as Iconium." But the barbarian would not even consent to this, for these barbarians are ever arrogant in mind and imagine that they even overtop the clouds. Accordingly he took leave of the Emperor and after receiving a liberal gift of money, started on his homeward way. Bat a dream came to him at night, not a deceptive one, nor sent by Zeus, nor did it incite the barbarian to battle, as the sweet pmm says, 'in appearance like the son of Neleus,' but it predicted the truth to the barbarian. For he dreamt that while he was breakfasting swarms of mice encompassed him, and while he was eating they snatched the bread out of his hands; and, as he was disdainful of them and tried to drive them away, they suddenly changed into lions and overpowered him. On waking he told his dream to the Emperor's soldier who was accompanying him and enquired what it meant. The man interpreted the mice and lions of the dream as enemies, and yet the Sultan would not believe but pushed on his journey hurriedly and without taking precautions. He had indeed sent scouts ahead to look round and see whether any enemies had come out foraging. The scouts met Masut already approaching with a large army and after conversing with him, they agreed to his designs upon Saisan, and returned and assured the latter that they bad not seen anyone. Saisan believed their report and was journeying on unconcernedly when the barbarian forces, of Masat met him. Running out from the rank a man called Gazes, the son of [407] the satrap Asan Catuch, whom Saisan bad killed some time before, struck him with his spear. Saisan turned round quickly and snatched the spear from Gazes' hands, saying, "I did not know that even women bear spears against us now," and then he fled taking the road back to the Emperor. But he was checked by Pucheas, who had long ago joined Masut's party though pretending to be Saisan's friend, and now came forward and suggested a better plan. But in reality he was [laying] snares and digging a pit for him, he advised him not to return to the Emperor, but to turn aside a little from the road and enter Tyragium, a small town situated very near Philomelium. Saisan, the fool, followed Pucheas' advice and on reaching Tyragium, was received pleasantly by the Roman inhabitants who knew the Emperor's goodwill towards him. Soon the barbarians arrived and Masut encircled the walls and got ready for a siege. Then Saisan looked down from the walls and violently upbraided his fellow-barbarians, saying that the Roman forces with the Emperor were close at hand, and if they did not desist from fighting, they would suffer the worst. And the Romans inside resisted the Turks bravely. Pucheas who now shed his disguise and openly revealed the wolf hidden under his skin, came down from the walls after promising Saisan to encourage the inhabitants to make a bolder resistance, but really he threatened them, advising them to submit and open their gates to the Tarks, if they did not wish to fall victims to the barbarians for many forces were already on their way from Chorosan itself. And they, partly through fear of the multitude of barbarians, and partly because they were persuaded by Pucheas' advice, granted the Turks entry. The latter seized the Sultan Saisan and put out his eyes, and as they had not got the instrument used for this purpose, the candelabrum given to Saisan by the Emperor served as the instrument. On this occasion the vessel of light could be seen as the begetter of darkness and obscurity. But he could still see a little ray of light, and confided this to his nurse and also to his wife when he was led back- and arrived in Iconium. By some means this fact came even to the ears of Masut and deeply vexed the barbarian's soul, and overcome with rage he ordered Elegmus (one of the high-born satraps) to strangle him with a bow-string. To this sad end came the Sultan Saisan through his imprudence in not listening to the Emperor's suggestion. But the Emperor [408] continued his journey to the capital, and kept his army in the same perfect order all the way.

VII Anyone hearing the word 'line of battle' and 'phalanx' or 'captives' and 'booty' or again 'general' and' captains,' will think he is hearing about the things which every historian and poet mentions in his writings. Bat this battle-formation was new and seemed very strange to everybody and was such as had never been seen before or handed down to posterity by any historian. For while advancing along the road to Iconium, the army marched in regular order and moved forward in time to the music of a flute. And if you had seen the whole phalanx you would have said it was remaining motionless when in motion and when halting that it was moving. For thanks to the close formation of the shields and the men standing in serried lines it looked like the immovable mountains, and when it changed its route it moved like a very great beast, for the whole phalanx walked and turned as if directed by one mind. But after it had reached Philomelium and rescued men on all sides from the hand of the barbarians, as we have related before somewhere, and enclosed all the captives and the women too and the children and the booty in the centre it marched slowly on its return and moved forward leisurely, as it were, and at an ant's pace. Moreover since many of the women were with child and many of the men afflicted with disease, whenever a woman's time for bringing forth came, a trumpet was sounded at a nod from the Emperor and made all the men stop and the whole army halted on the instant. And when he knew the child was born, a different call, not the usual one, but provocative of motion, was sounded and stirred them all up to continue the journey. And if anyone died, the same procedure took place, and the Emperor would be at the side of the dying man, and the priests were summoned to sing the hymns for the dying and administer the sacraments to the dying. And after the rites for the dead had been duly performed and not until the dead had been put in the earth and buried, was the army allowed to move even a step. And when it was the Emperor's time for lunch he invited the men and women who were labouring under illness or old-age and placed the greater part of the victuals before them and invited those who lunched with him to do the same. And the meal was like a complete banquet of the gods for there were no instruments, not even flutes or drums or any disturbing music at all. In this way he made himself a source [409] of supply to such persons and when he reached Damalis (it was the evening), he did not wish to make a brilliant entry into the city, nor did he allow any regal pomp or theatrical preparations but reserved the crossing for the next day, as indeed was necessary. But he himself embarked on a small galley at once about lighting-up time and reached the palace. On the morrow he was fully occupied in caring for the captives and guests. The children who had lost their parents and were afflicted with the bitter evil of orphanhood he distributed among his relations and others who, as he knew, led a well-conducted life, or sent them to the abbots of the holy monasteries with orders to bring them up, not as slaves, but as free children and allow them a thorough education and instruction in the Holy Writings. Some he also admitted into the orphanage which he had established himself and which he had converted more or less into a school for those anxious to learn, and told the governors of it to give these orphans a good general education. For in the quarters near the Acropolis, where the mouth of the sea widens, he had discovered a very large church, dedicated to the great apostle Paul, and here he built up a second city inside the Queen of Cities. For as this church was on the highest spot in the city it stood out like a citadel. And the new city was laid out in a certain number of stades (someone may remember how many) both in length and breadth; and all round in a circle were a number of houses, dwellings for the poor and which shews even more his humane nature-residences for mutilated men. Here you could see them coming along singly, either blind, or lame, or with some other defect. You would have called it Solomon's porch on seeing it full of men maimed either in their limbs or in their whole bodies. This ring of houses is two-storied and semi-detached, for some of these maimed men and women live up above twixt earth and sky, while others creep along below on the ground-floor. As for its size, anyone who wants to visit them would begin in the morning and only complete the round in the evening. Such is this city and such are its inhabitants. They have no plots of ground or vineyards or any of those things over which we imagine men spend their time, but each man and woman, just like job, dwells in the house built for him and automatically receives everything for his food and shelter from the imperial hand.

The strangest point is that these indigent persons, just as if they were lords with large estates and rich reserves, [410] have as stewards and organisers of their life the Emperor himself and the Emperor's friends working diligently on their behalf. For wherever there was a farm in a good situation, granted it was easily accessible, he gave it to these brethren, so that wine flows down for them in rivers, and bread and all the things men eat with bread. And those who eat are beyond counting. And I say, audaciously perhaps, that the Emperor's work can be compared with my Saviour's miracle, I mean the feeding of the seven, and five, thousand. But on that occasion five thousand were filled with five loaves as it was God who worked the miracle, whilst on this the work of humanity results from the divine command; again in the former case there was a miracle and here an Emperor's bounty provides his brethren with sustenance. I myself have seen an old woman tended by a young one and a blind man led by the hand by one who saw, and a man without feet have feet, though not his own but another's, and a man without hands using other men's hands, and babies Dursed by other mothers, and paralytics waited upon by strong men. Thus the number of those who were nourished was double, for half were those who were ministered unto, and the other half were the ministers. The Emperor was unable to say to the paralytic, "Rise up and walk!" or to bid the blind to see, and him who had no feet to walk. This was only in the power of the Onlv begotten Son, who for our sakes became man and lived this life here below for the sake of men. But what was possible, that the Emperor did; he gave servants to every maimed man and the same care to the halt as to the healthy. So that anybody who wishes to understand this new city which my father had built from the foundations, would see that the city was fourfold, or rather multifold, for there were people below, people above and people waiting on the two lots of them. But who could estimate the number of those who were fed daily, or the daily expense, or the care bestowed on each individual? for I attribute to him the things that lasted after him. For he assigned to them benefits from land and sea, and he provided them with as much relief from pain as possible. One of the most prominent men acts as guardian of this populous city, and its name is the Orphanage. And it is called the Orphanage because of the Emperor's kindness to orphans and to men retired from service . . . and the name which came from his care for orphans, held its ground. For all these things there are judicial courts and accounts are demanded from those who administer the poor [411] men's money; and Golden Bulls allotting inalienable rights to the persons who are maintained. A large and important body of clergy was selected for the church of the great preacher Paul and there was also lavish expenditure on lights. And in that church you would notice the choir singing antiphon ally, for following Solomon's example he appointed male and female singers to the church. He also carefully arranged the work of the deaconesses, and took a great deal of trouble about the Iberian nuns domiciled there, who when they first migrated to Constantinople used to beg from door to door; but my father's solicitude built for them too a large convent and supplied them with food and fitting garments.

Now the famous Alexander of Macedonia may boast of his town Alexandria in Egypt, of Bucephale in Media and of Lysimachia in Ethiopia. But the Emperor Alexius would not be as proud of the towns raised by him, of which we know he built a number in all parts, as he is of this one.

On entering you would find the sanctuaries and monasteries to your left ; and on the right of the large sanctuary stood the grammar-school for orphans collected from every race, in which a master presided and the boys stood round him, some puzzled over grammatical questions, and others writing what are called grammatical analyses. There could be seen a Latin being trained, and a Scythian studying Greek, and a Roman handling Greek texts and an illiterate Greek speaking Greek correctly. And Alexius' interest in a training in logic was just as great. But the art of grammatical parsing was an invention of younger men of our generation. I pass over the Styliani and those called Lombards, and all who employed themselves collecting names of every kind, and the Attici and the members of the ecclesiastical college of our great church, whose Dames I omit. But now the study of these lofty matters and of the poets and historians and the wisdom to be gained from them do not receive even secondary attention ; but the absorbing occupation is the game of draughts and other unlawful things. I say this because I am grieved at the absolute neglect of general education and it makes me glow with anger because I myself spent so much time over the same things. And when I was released from that childish teaching and betook myself to the study of rhetoric and touched on philosophy and in between these sciences turned to the poets and historians, by means of these I polished the roughness of my speech, then with the aid of rhetoric I felt that the highly complex complications of grammatical parsing [412] were to be condemned. I had to add these few words, not as being outside the subject, but as a corollary to my argument.

VIII After this, in the course of the years of his reign, a very great cloud of heretics arose, and the nature of their heresy was new and hitherto quite unknown to the church. For two very evil and worthless doctrines which had been known in former times, now coalesced; the impiety, as it might be called, of the Manichaeans, which we also call the Paulician heresy, and the shamelessness of the Massalians. This was the doctrine of the Bogomils compounded of the Massalians and the Manichaeans. And probably it existed even before my father's time, but in secret; for the sect of the Bogomils is very clever in aping virtue. And you would not find any long-haired worldling belonging to the Bogomils, for their wickedness was hidden under the cloak and cowl. A Bogomil looks gloomy and is covered up to the nose and walks with a stoop and mutters, but within he is an uncontrollable wolf. And this most pernicious race, which was like a snake hiding in a hole, my father lured and brought out to the light by chanting mysterious spells. For now that he had rid himself of much of his anxiety about the East and the West he turned his attention to more spiritual matters. For in all things he was superior to other men; in teaching he surpassed those whose profession was teaching; in battles and strategy he excelled those who were admired for their exploits. By this time the fame of the Bogomils had spread everywhere. (For Basil, a monk, was very wily in handling the impiety of the Bogomils; he had twelve disciples whom he called 'apostles,' and also dragged about with him some female disciples, wretched women of loose habits and thoroughly bad, and he disseminated his wickedness everywhere.) This evil attacked many souls like fire, and the Emperor's soul could not brook it, so he began investigating the heresy. He had some of the Bogomils brought to the palace and all proclaimed a certain Basil as the teacher and chief representative of the Bogomilian heresy. Of these, one Diblatius was kept in prison, and as he would not confess when questioned, he was subjected to torture and then informed against the man called Basil, and the disciples he had chosen. Accordingly the Emperor entrusted several men with the search for him. And Satanael's arch-satrap, Basil, was brought to light, in monk's habit, with a withered countenance, clean shaven and tall of stature. The Emperor, wishing to elicit his inmost thoughts by compulsion under the disguise of [413] persuasion, at once invited the man on some righteous pretext. And he even rose from his chair to greet him, and made him sit by him and share his table, and threw out his whole fishing-line and fixed various baits on the hooks for this voracious whale to devour. And he made this monk, who was so many-sided in wickedness, swallow all the poison he offered him by pretending that he wished to become his disciple, and not he only, but probably his brother, the Sebastocrator Isaac, also; he pretended too to value all the words he spoke as if they came from a divine voice and to defer to him in all things, provided only that the villain Basil would effect his soul's salvation. " Most reverend father," he would say (for the Emperor rubbed sweets on the rim of the cup so that this demoniac should vomit forth his black thoughts), " I admire thee for thy virtue, and beseech thee to teach me the new doctrines thy Reverence has introduced, as those of our Churches are practically worthless and do not bring anybody to virtue." But the monk at first put on airs and he, that was really an ass, dragged about the lion's skin with him everywhere and shied at the Emperor's words, and yet was puffed up with his praises, for the Emperor even had him at his table. And in all this the Emperor's cousin [?] the Sebastocrator, aided and abetted him in the play; and finally Basil spued out the dogmas of his heresy. And how was this done ? A curtain divided the women's apartments from the room where the two Emperors sat with the wretch who blurted out and openly declared all he had in his soul; whilst a secretary sitting on the inner side of the curtain committed his words to writing. And the nonsense-monger seemed to be the teacher while the Emperor pretended to be the pupil, and the secretary wrote down his doctrines. And that man, stricken of God, spun together all that horrible stuff and did not shun any abominable dogma, but even despised our theology and misrepresented all our ecclesiastical administration. And as for the churches, woe is me! he called our sacred churches the temples of devils, and our consecration of the body and blood of our one and greatest High Priest and Victim he considered and condemned as worthless. And what followed? the Emperor threw off his disguise and drew the curtain aside ; and the whole senate was gathered together and the military contingent mustered, and the elders of the church were present too. The episcopal throne of the Queen of Cities was at that time occupied by that most blessed of patriarchs, Lord Nicholas, the [414] Grammarian. Then the execrable doctrines were read out, and proof was impossible to attack. And the defendant did not deny anything, but immediately bared his head and proceeded to counter-demonstrations and professed himself willing to undergo tire, scourging and a thousand deaths. For these erring Bogomils believe that they can bear any suffering without feeling pain, as the angels forsooth will pluck them out of the fire. And although all . . . and reproached him for his impiety, even those whom he had involved in his own ruin, he remained the same Basil, an inflexible and very brave Bogomil. And although he was threatened with burning and other tortures he clung fast to his demon and embraced his Satanael. After he was consigned to prison the Emperor frequently sent for him and frequently exhorted him to forswear his impiety, but all the Emperor's exhortations left him unchanged. But we must not pass over in silence the miracle which happened to him. Before the Emperor had begun to take severe measures against him, after his confession of impiety he would occasionally retire to a little house which had recently been prepared for him situated fairly close to the royal palace. It was evening and the stars above were shining in the clear air, and the moon was lighting up that evening, following the Synod. When the monk entered his cell about midnight, stones were automatically thrown, like hail, against his cell, and yet no hand threw them, nor was there any man to be seen stoning this devil's abbot. It was probably a burst of anger of Satanael's attendant demons who were enraged and annoyed because he had betrayed their [secrets ?] to the Emperor and roused a fierce persecution against their heresy. A man called Parasceviotes who had been appointed guard over that infatuated old man to prevent his having intercourse with others and infecting them with his mischief, swore most solemnly that he had heard the clatter of the stones as they were thrown on the ground and on the tiles, and that he had seen the stones coming in successive showers but had not caught a glimpse anywhere of anyone throwing the stones. This throwing of stones was followed by a sudden earthquake which had shaken the ground, and the tiles of the roof had rattled. However Parasceviotes, as he asserted, was quite unafraid before he suspected it was the work of demons, but when he noticed that the stones seemed to be poured down like rain from above and that the old heresiarch had slunk inside and had shut himself in, he attributed [415] the work to demons and was not able to whatever was happening.

IX Let this be sufficient about that miracle. I wished to expound the whole heresy of the Bogomils, but 'modesty prevents me,' as the beautiful Sappho says somewhere, for though a historian, I am a woman and the most honourable of the Porphyrogeniti and Alexius' eldest scion, and what is the talk of the vulgar had better be passed over in silence. I am desirous of writing so as to set forth a full account of the Bogomilian heresy; but I will pass it over, as I do not wish to defile my tongue. And those who wish to understand the whole heresy of the Bogomils I will refer to the book entitled Dogmatic Panoply, which was compiled by my father's order. For there was a monk called Zygabenus, known to my mistress, my maternal grandmother, and to all the members of the priestly roll, who had pursued his grammatical studies very far, was not unversed in rhetoric, and was the best authority on ecclesiastical dogma; the Emperor sent for him and commissioned him to expound all the heresies, each separately, and to append to each the holy Fathers' refutations of it; and amongst them too the heresy of the Bogomils, exactly as that impious Basil had interpreted it. TheEmperor named this book the Dogmatic Panoply, and that name the books have retained even to the present day. But now my story must return to Basil's death.

The Emperor had summoned Basil's disciples and fellow mystics from all over the world, especially the so-called twelve disciples and made trial of their opinions, and found that they were openly Basil's followers. For the evil had gone deep even into very great houses and had affected a very large number. Consequently he condemned those aliens to be burnt, the leader of the chorus and the chorus too. When the Bogomils who had been discovered, were assembled, some clung to their heresy, while others recanted absolutely and resisted their accusers strongly and expressed their abhorrence of the Bogomihan heresy. The Emperor was not inclined to believe them, and to prevent many a Christian being confounded with the Bogomils as being a Bogomil, and a Bogomil escaping as a Christian, he invented a new device for revealing clearly those who were really Christians. Accordingly the next day he took his seat on the imperial throne and many of the senate and the holy Synod were present and a chosen few of the monks who were learned men. Then all the Bogomils accused of heresy were placed together in [416] the centre and the Emperor commanded each to be examined again. Some confessed to being Bogomils and adhered stoutly to their heresy, while others denied it absolutely and called themselves Christians and when accused by others did not yield an inch, so he glowered at them and said, "Today two pyres shall be lighted and on one of them a cross shall befixed in the ground itself. Then you shall all be given your choice and those who are ready to die to-day for their Christian faith, can separate themselves from the others and walk to the pyre with the cross, while those who cling to the Bogomilian heresy shall be thrown on the other. For it is better that even Christians should die, than live to be persecuted as Bogomils and offend the consciences of many. Go now and let each one of vou choose his station." Withthis verdict against the Bogomils the Emperor pretended to have closed the matter. They were at once taken and led away and a large crowd had gathered and stood round about them. Then pyres were lighted, 'seven times as large as they were wont to be,' as the hymn-writer says, in the place called Tzycanisterin [*= the palace polo grounds]; the flames rose to the heavens, and the cross stood above the one; each of the condemned was given his choice to walk to which of the two pyres he wished, as all were destined to be burnt. Seeing that there was no escape, the orthodox among them walked to the pyre with the cross, ready really to suffer martyrdom; whereas the godless ones who clung to their abominable heresy turned to the other. And they were all on the point of being thrown on the pyres at the same time and the bystanders all grieved for the Christians who were now to be burnt, and were very wroth against the Emperor, for they were ignorant of his plan. But an order from the Emperor came just in time to prevent the executioners carrying out their duties. Having in this way obtained certain proof of those who were really Bogomils he released the Christians, who had been falsely accused, with many admonitions. The others he recommitted to prison, but had the impious Basil's apostles separated from the rest. And these he sent for daily, and taught some himself, exhorting them earnestly to abandon their hideous religion, and for the others he ordered some picked men of the hierarchy to come every day and teach them the orthodox faith and advise them to relinquish the Bogomilian heresy. And some of them did change for the better and were released [417] from confinement, but others were kept in prison and died in their heresy, but were amply supplied with food and clothing.

X However all the members of the holy synod and the chief monks, as well as the patriarch of that time, Nicholas, decreed that Basil who was the heresiarch and quite unrepentant, deserved to be burnt. The Emperor was of the same opinion and after conversing with him several times and recognizing that the man was mischievous and would not abandon his heresy, he finally had an immense pyre built in the Hippodrome. A very large trench was dug and a quantity of wood, all tall trees piled up together, made the structure look like a mountain. When the pile was lighted, a great crowd slowly collected on the floor and steps of the circus in eager expectation of what was to happen. On the opposite side a cross was fixed and the impious man was given a choice, for if he dreaded the fire and changed his mind, and walked to the cross, then he should be delivered from burning. A number of heretics were there watching their leader Basil. He shewed himself contemptuous of all punishment and threats, and while he was still at a distance from the fire he began to laugh and talk marvels, saying that angels would snatch him from the middle of the fire, and he proceeded to chant these words of David's, 'It shall not come nigh thee; only with thine eyes shalt thou behold.' But when the crowd stood aside and allowed him to have a free view of that terrifying sight, the burning pyre (for even at a good distance he could feel the fire, and saw the flames rising high and as it were thundering and shooting out sparks of fire which rose to the top of the stone obelisk which stands in the centre of the Hippodrome), then the bold fellow seemed to flinch from the fire and be disturbed. For as if wholly desperate, he constantly turned away his eyes and clapped his hands and beat his thigh. And yet in spite of being thus affected by the mere sight he was adamant. For the fire did not soften his iron will, nor did the messages sent by the Emperor subdue him. For either great madness had seized him under the present stress of misfortunes and he had lost his mind and had no power to decide about what was advantageous; or, as seems more likely, the devil that possessed his soul had steeped it in the deepest darkness. So there stood that abominable Basil, unmoved by any threat or fear, and gaped now at the fire and now at the bystanders. And all thought him quite mad for he did not rush to the pyre nor did he draw back, but stood fixed and immovable on the [418] spot he had first taken up. Now many tales were going round and his marvellous talk was bandied about on every tongue, so the executioners were afraid that the demons protecting Basil might perhaps, by God's permission, work some wonderful new miracle, and the wretch be seen snatched unharmed from the middle of the mighty fire and transported to some very frequented place. In that case the second state would be worse than the first, so they decided to make an experiment. For, while he was talking marvels and boasting that he would be seen unharmed in the middle of the fire, they took his cloak and said, "Now let us see whether the fire will touch your garments," and they threw it right into the middle of the pyre. But Basil was so uplifted by the demon that was deluding him that he said, "Look at my cloak floating up to the sky! " Then they 'recognizing the web from the edge,' took him and pushed him, clothes, shoes and all, into the middle of the pyre. And the flames, as if deeply enraged against him, ate the impious man up, without any odour arising or even a fresh appearance of smoke, only one thin smoky line could be seen in the midst of the flames. For even the elements are excited against the impious; whereas, to speak truthfully, they spare those beloved of God, just as once upon a time in Babylon the fire retreated from those young men who were dear to God, and enclosed them like a golden chamber. In this case the men who lifted up the accursed Basil had scarcely placed him on the pyre before the flames seemed to dart forward to snatch hold of him. Then the people looking on clamoured loudly and demanded that all the rest who belonged to Basil's pernicious sect should be thrown into the fire as well, but the Emperor did not allow it but ordered them to be confined in the porches and verandahs of the largest palace. After this the concourse was dismissed. Later, the godless ones were transferred to another very strong prison into which they were cast and after pining away for a long time died in their impiety. This was the last and crowning act of the Emperor's long labours and successes and it was an innovation of startling boldness.

And I think that men who lived then and associated with him must even now be marvelling at what was done then and think it was not real, and it must seem a dream and mere vision to them. For ever since the time when shortly after Diogenes' accession the barbarians first overstepped the boundaries of the Roman Empire and he at first start, [419] as they say, made his disastrous expedition against them, from that time right on to my father's reign the barbarian power was never checked, but swords and spears were whetted against the Christians and there were battles, wars and massacres. Cities were wiped out, countries were laid waste, and the whole Roman territory was defiled with the blood of Christians. For some perished miserably by darts or spears, while others were driven from their homes and led away captive to the cities of Persia. And dread seized them all and they hurried to hide themselves from the dangers that threatened, in the caves and groves and mountains and hills. Among these some lamented aloud over the ills which their friends who had been taken away to Persia were suffering; the few others who still survived in the Roman lands were sighing deeply, and lamenting, one for a son, another for a daughter; or weeping for a brother or a nephew cut off before his time, and shedding bitter tears like women. In fact there was no condition of life free from tears and groans. Of the Emperors not one except a few, I mean Tzimisces and the Emperor Basil, before my father's time ever dared touch the land of Asia at all, even with their toes.

XI But why am I writing of these things? for I notice that I have turned off from the high-road. The subject of history I have imposed upon myself necessitates a double duty, both to narrate and to lament the events that befell the Emperor, that is to say, to narrate his achievements on the one hand and on the other to compose a monody on the events which have wrung my heart. With these I would range his death and the destruction of all earthly fortune. But indeed I remember some words of my father's which disparaged history-writing, but incited one to elegies and lamentations. For I often heard him, and Once I even heard him checking the Empress, my mother, when she ordered wise men to write a history, and thereby hand down to posterity his labours and all his conflicts and trials, saying they had better lament over him and deplore his misfortunes.

A year and a half had not passed after my father's return from his expedition before a second terrible illness fell upon him, and wove the noose of death for him, or to speak the truth, the downfall and destruction of everything. But since the magnitude of my subject demands it, and as I was very dear to my father and mother from the cradle, I am going to transgress the laws of history and relate, little as I wish to do so, my father's death. [420] A race-meeting had taken place and in consequence of a violent wind which was blowing at the time, the rheumatics had ebbed, as it were, and retreated from his extremities and fixed themselves in one of his shoulders. The majority of the physicians did not appreciate the danger to us which this threatened. But Callicles Nicholas (for so he was styled), was a foreteller to us of our fearful ills and said he was very afraid that, as the rheumatics had retreated from the extremities and attacked another part, they would cause the danger to the sick man to become incurable. But we could not believe him because we did not wish to. And not one of the doctors at that time, except Callicles, urged the cleansing of his system by purgatives. And he was not accustomed to taking these purgatives, in fact he was quite unaccustomed to drinking medicine. And so the majority of the doctors and above all Pantechnes Michael absolutely forbade any purging. But Callicles foresaw the future and said to them most emphatically, " Now the matter has left the extremities and settled in the shoulder and throat; afterwards, if it is not evacuated by purgatives, it will flow into one of the principal members or into the heart itself, and cause irremediable mischief." For I was there myself by order of my mistress to adjudge the physicians' arguments, and I heard all they said and for my part agreed with Callicles' proposals. However the vote of the majority prevailed. Then at length the pain after exerting its sway over the imperial body for the usual number of days died away and the invalid recovered his health. Six months had not passed before a deadly sickness took hold of him, caused probably by his deep despondency over daily business and the mass of public duties. And I often heard him speaking about it to my mother, and, as it were, accusing it to her. "What in the world is this disease which has attacked my breathing? for I should like to take a deep, full breath and get rid of this trouble worrying my heart. I have tried to do it repeatedly, but cannot manage to lift even a particle of the weight that is oppressing me. For the rest it is as if a very heavy stone were lying on my heart which cuts my breathing when I sigh, and I cannot understand the reason of it nor what has brought this suffering upon me. And I will tell you something else too, dearest soul, partner of my afflictions and thoughts, a fit of gaping often attacks me and when I am inhaling my breath gets caught and causes me very great pain. If you know what this new illness of mine is, please [421] speak out." When the Empress listened to him and heard what he suffered she seemed to be suffering from the same disease herself and her breathing too was caught by asthma, so deeply affected was she by the Emperor's words. She frequently sent for the more skilled physicians and compelled them to enquire closely into the nature of the disease, and asked to be taught the immediate and the indirect cause of it. They placed their hands on his arteries and acknowledged that they found in every movement of the arteries proof of multifold irregularities, but they were quite unable to discover the cause. They knew too that the Emperor's diet was not rich, but exceedingly moderate and plain like that of athletes and soldiers and such as to prevent the rise of humours due to too rich a diet. Consequently they referred his difficulty in breathing to some other cause, and said that the immediate cause of his illness was nothing but his intense application to business and his continual and numerous worries, by which his heart got inflamed, and drew all that was superfluous out of the rest of the body. After this the dreadful disease which had seized the Emperor gave him no respite whatever, but throttled him like a noose. And the disease made so much progress daily that it no longer came on at intervals, but continuously and incessantly, and the Emperor was unable to lie on either side and had not the strength to draw a breath without making a violent effort. Then every physician was summoned and the Emperor's illness was the subject of their discussion. Theyweredivided in their opinions and at discord, and each one diagnosed it differently and tried to apply the treatment according with his diagnosis. But, however that was, the Emperor was in a very bad state; for not even for a moment could he draw breath freely. He was obliged to sit upright to breathe at all; and if by chance he lay on his back or on one side, alas I for the consequent suffocation. For he was unable to draw in or out even a tiny drift of the outer air by the channels for expiration and inspiration. And, whenever sleep pitied him and overpowered him, then also he was liable to suffocation; so that at all times whether sleeping or awake, the danger of strangulation hung over him. As he was not given purgatives they had recourse to phlebotomy, and they made an incision at the elbow; however, he derived no benefit from it, but breathed with just the same difficulty as before and there was always the danger that by breathing so little he would expire under our hands. But his condition [422] grew easier after he had been given an antidote of pepper. And in our delight we did not know how to shew our joy, but we offered up prayers of thanksgiving to God. However, it was all a delusion, for on the third or fourth day the same fits of suffocation and the same difficulties with the lungs attacked the Emperor again. I wonder whether he was not made worse by that draught, for it spread the humours without getting a hold over them, and drove them into the cavities of the arteries and aggravated his illness. From that time on we could not find any way of making him lie down comfortably, for the disease had reached its height. And the Emperor would pass the night from evening to dawn without getting any sleep, nor could he easily take nourishment nor any of the things that might have helped him. I have often, or rather continuously, seen my mother spending a sleepless night with the Emperor, sitting behind him on the bed and supporting him in her arms and relieving his breathing somewhat. And verily the tears she shed were more abundant than the waters of the Nile. The care she bestowed on him by day and night, and the work she did while nursing him and continually changing his position, and devising all kinds of changes in the bedding, these cannot be described. But by no means at all was he able to get any relief. For the illness followed, or rather accompanied the Emperor like a noose, and never left off strangling him. As no remedy could be found for the disease, the Emperor moved to the part of the palace which looked to the South. For during this oppression he found a little refreshment in being moved, and the Empress contrived that he should have it continually, for she had legs fitted at the head and foot of the Emperor's couch and then ordered men to lift him and carry him, and there were relays of men fort hisw ork. After this he was removed from the large palace to Mangana. But even when this had been done, it did not contribute to the Emperor's recovery. When the Empress saw that the disease was gaining ground and she quite despaired of any human help, she made still more fervent intercessions to God on his behalf, and had numbers of candles lighted in every sanctuary and continuous and endless hymns sung, and largess distributed to the dwellers in every land and on every sea. And all the monks who dwelt on mountains or in caves or led their solitary life elsewhere she stirred up to making lengthy supplications. And all those who were sick or confined in prison and worn out with suffering she made very rich by donations and invited [423] them to offer prayers for the Emperor. But when the Emperor's abdomen had swollen and become very prominent, and his feet had swollen too and fever mastered his imperial body, then the doctors had recourse to cautery and thought little of the fever. But all treatment was useless and vain, nor did the cauterization help, but his digestive and respiratory organs remained in the same bad state. And now as if from some other source the rheumatics introduced themselves into the uvula and the palate, as the medical fraternity term it and his gums became inflamed and his larynx congested and his tongue swollen; consequently the ducts, through which nourishment had to pass, were narrowed and closed up at their extremities and the terrible evil of starvation loomed before us. And yet, God knows, I occupied myself diligently with the preparation of his food and brought it to him daily with my own hands and tried to make it all easy to swallow. All remedies applied for healing the inflamed tumours seemed . . . and all our efforts and those of the physicians were vain. Eleven days had gone by since the final stage of the disease attacked him, rose to its height and threatened danger . . . his condition became worse and diarrhoea supervened. Thus one ill upon another was heaped upon us at that time. And now neither the disciples of Asclepius nor we who nursed the Emperor knew which way to look, nor . . . but all things pointed to the end. For the future all our outlook was in confusion and tempesttossed, our normal course of life was disturbed, and fear and danger hovered together over our heads. Yet even amidst these imminent dangers, the Empress retained her brave spirit, and during this crisis she shewed her courage most, for she curbed her passionate grief and stood like a conqueror in the Olympic games wrestling against those terribly cruel pains. For she was wounded in soul and anguished in heart at seeing the Emperor in such a state. But she pulled herself together and remained firm in face of these sufferings, and, though she was mortally wounded and pierced to the marrow with grief, nevertheless she bore up. And yet her tears fell in floods and the beauty of her face became withered, and her soul seemed suspended in her nostrils. It was the fifteenth of August and the Thursday of the week during which the death of our Immaculate Lady, the Mother of God, is celebrated. In the morning some of the Asclepiadae had anointed the Emperor's head, for so it seemed right to them, and then they went away home, not idly nor because of any pressing [424] necessity, but because they knew that danger was closely impending over the Emperor. His principal physicians were three, the excellent Nicholas Callicles, and the second, Michael Pantechnes, who got his surname from his family and the . . . the eunuch Michael. As for the Empress, the whole band of relations crowded round her and compelled her to take food . . . she had not had any sleep . . . but had watched several successive nights . . . nursing the Emperor . . . she obeyed. But when the last fainting fit attacked the Emperor ... she expecting the . . . threw herself down on the [floor] and kept on [lamenting] and beating her breast and bemoaning the ills that had befallen her, and wished to pour forth her life on the spot, but could not. Then, although he was dying, and pain was overwhelming him, the Emperor proved himself stronger than [suffering and] death, as it were, and was distressed about the Empress, and tried with one of his daughters to subdue her excessive anguish. This was the third one, the Porphyrogenita Eudocia. For Mary, acting like another Mary, though not sitting at his feet then, as the other did on that occasion, but up by his head, was busy giving him water to drink from a big goblet, not from a cup, so that drinking might not be too difficult for him, as his palate was inflamed and his tongue too and his larynx, and she wanted to refresh him. Then he addressed some firm and manly counsels to the Empress, which were his last ones. " Why do you abandon yourself in this way to your grief for my death, and compel us to anticipate the end which is hastening towards us ? why do you not think of yourself and your future difficulties, instead of giving yourself up entirely to the flood of grief that has overwhelmed you? " This he said to her, but it only tore open the Empress' wounds of sorrow the more. I myself tried every shift, and by God who knows all, I swear to the friends still living and to the men who will read this history later, that I was in no wise better than a madman, for I had become wholly absorbed in my grief. At that time indeed I despised philosophy and learning for I was wholly occupied with my father and in service for him. At one moment I watched the movements of his pulse and studied his respiration, then at another I would turn to my mother and cheer her up as much as possible. But ... the regions were quite incurable . . . the Emperor could not recover from his last faint and the Empress's soul was hastening to depart at the same time as the Emperor's. Thus [425] was I placed . . . and in very truth in the words of the Psalmist, "The pains of death encompassed " us at that hour. And then I felt I was losing my senses . . . for I had grown mad and did not know (what would become of me] and whither I should turn, when I looked at the Empress sunk in the sea of her troubles, and the Emperor, with his continual faints, drawing near to the end of his life. But he managed to recover from his second faint, as my dearest sister Mary sprinkled cold water and essence of roses on him, and he ordered her to do the same for the Empress. Soon he fen into his third faint ... and a change of place for the imperial couch seemed advisable ... on the part of those busied about his body, and we carried the Emperor on his couch to another part of the five-storied building, in the hope that he might breathe fresher air and recover from his faint. For that room looked to the North and there were no houses ... to the doors.

Now the Emperor's successor had already gone away secretly to the house set apart for him, seeing the Emperor's ... and hastened his going and hurried to the great palace. The city at that time ... was disturbed, but not entirely ... But the Empress said, " Let everything go to destruction " . . . and wailed " the diadem and the kingdom and the power and every Empire and thrones and principalities, and let us start the dirge." And I joined in her wailing, forgetting all else, and mourned with her and . . . they tore their hair with shrill lamentations. But we restored her to her senses. For the Emperor was at his last gasp and, as the saying is, was 'letting his soul break loose.' On the ground at his head the Empress had thrown herself still dressed ... and with her red shoes and . . . she was wounded and did not know how (to still] the burning sorrow of her heart. Some of the Asclepiadse came back again and after waiting a little, felt the Emperor's pulse ... the beating of his arteries ... all the same they dissembled about the fatal moment and held out fair hopes which were not justified. But they did this with a definite purpose for they thought that, when life departed from the Emperor's body, the Empress would breathe her last too. But the intelligent Empress did not know whether to believe or disbelieve them. She believed because she had long known them as skilled men, but she felt she must disbelieve them because she saw that the Emperor's life stood on the razor's edge. So standing on the balance, as it were, she often looked steadfastly at me and waited for my oracular decision as she [426] had been wont to do at other critical moments. And she waited for the prophecy I should give. And Mary, my mistress and dearest of my sisters, the ornament of our race, the constant woman, the stronghold of every virtue, stood between the Emperor and Empress, near his hand, and sometimes prevented her looking straight at the Emperor. But I again put my right hand on his wrist and watched the movement of his pulse, and ... her putting her hands to her face . . . the veil. For in the situation she was in she intended to change her imperial dress, but I stopped her, whenever I noticed a little strength . . . in the pulse. But I was mistaken ... for what seemed to me ... was not strength but since the great ... of breathing ... the working of the artery and of the lung was interrupted. Then I let go the Emperor's hand and . . . to the Empress ... I again applied [my hand] to his wrist ... asphyxia. She often signed to me as she wanted me to tell her the state of his pulse. But when . . . I touched it again and I recognized that all his strength was giving way and that the pulse in the arteries had finally stopped, then I bowed my head and, exhausted and fainting I looked down to the ground, said nothing, but clasped my hands over my face and stepped back and wept. The Empress understood what that meant and in absolute despair uttered a sudden loud, far-reaching shriek. How can I possibly picture the disaster which overtook the whole world? or how deplore my own condition? the Empress took off her royal veil and caught hold of a knife and cut off all her hair close to the skin and threw off the red shoes from her feet and demanded ordinary black sandals. And when she wanted to change her purple dress for a black garment, no dress could be found at hand, But the third of my sisters had garments suitable for the time and occasion, as she had already experienced the ills of widowhood, so the Empress took them and dressed herself and put on a plain dark veil on her head. And at this moment the Emperor resigned his holy soul to God, and my sun went down. . . . Persons who were addicted to emotion sang dirges, beat their breasts and raised their voices to heaven in shrill laments ... weeping for their benefactor who had . . . all things to them. But even to this day I am doubtful whether I am alive and writing this and recounting the Emperor's death, and I put my hands to my eyes and wonder whether the events I am relating now are not a dream, or if not a dream, whether it is not a delusion, and madness on my part, some strange and monstrous fancy. [427] For, as he has gone, why am I still numbered among the living and . . . or why did I not resign my soul too or expire directly he had expired and die without feeling? or, if that was not to be my fate, why did I not throw myself down from some high and lofty place or cast myself into the waves of the sea? I have recorded my life with its great misfortunes. But, as is said in the tragedy 'there is no ill or God-sent calamity whose weight I could not bear.' For verily God has made me the repository of many sorrows. I have lost the shining light of the world, the great Alexius; and verily his soul was master over his suffering body. Another very great light has been extinguished too, or rather that brightly shining moon, the great achievement and pride of the East and the West, the Empress Irene. And yet we live and breathe I One ill has followed upon another and hurricanes have beaten down upon us and we have been forced to see the climax of our troubles, the death of the Caesar, and we have been reserved for such terrible catastrophes. For some days the ill prevailed and skill failed and I let myself sink into an ocean of despondency and amidst it all I only grieved that my soul still lingered in my body. And, it seems likely, that if I had not been adamantine, or fashioned of some other such substance . . . and distracted from my real self, I should have perished at once; but now I live and have died a thousand deaths. We hear from some the wonderful story of Niobe . . . changed into stone by grief . . . then even after the change which transformed her into an insensitive substance her sufferings were immortal even in that insensitive substance. But I in truth am more unfortunate than she was, because after these very great and supreme misfortunes I am still alive and shall still feel others. It would have been better to be turned to senseless stone ... and to have remained with tears flowing ... without any feeling for sufferings . . . than to endure such ills ; and that intolerable troubles in the palace should be stirred up against me by men is more wretched than even Niobe's sufferings . . . the evils having proceeded so far . . . ceased. After the death of the imperial pair the loss of the Caesar and my consequent grief would have been sufficient for the contrition of my soul and body; but now like rivers flowing down from high mountains ... the rivers of ills ... into one torrent which is inundating my house. But now my history must be concluded, for if I were to describe sad events any longer I might become bitter.


Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
Book 7  | Book 8 | Book 9 | Book 10 | Book 11 | Book 12 | Book 13 | Book 14  | Book 15


Anna Comnena (Komnene). The Alexiad. Edited and translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. London: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1928.

Inquiries into the copyright on this text indicate that US copyright was not renewed, nor was any claim filed under the GATT. Barnes and Noble published the text in the US in 1967 with no claim of copyright, and thus under the laws at the time as a public domain work. Correspondence with Routledge (on file) indicated that they had no records whatsoever about the book, including the date of its first sale in the US (putting one copy on sale would constitute "publication" under GATT).


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