And yet he was very brave and a most valiant soldier; but when he was put into Cilicia, far away from a master’s hand and had full authority, he abandoned himself to all sorts of wantonness. Consequently when the moment of the siege arrived, that wretched Armenian, who was steadily growing more effeminate and leading a loose life, shewed that he had become quite helpless in face of that most patient soldier, Tancred. For his hearing was not disturbed by the thunder of his threats and when Tancred came wielding the thunderbolt through scenes of devastation to Cilicia, he did not even glance up at the lightning.
Tancred suddenly led out his enormous army from Antioch and, forming it into two divisions, sent half overland to the towns of Mopsus, the other half he embarked on triremes and took them by sea into the mouth of the river Saron. This river runs down from the Taurus mountains, and flows between the two cities of Mopsus, the one in ruins, the other newly built, and empties itself into the Syrian sea.
Aspietes most strangely
Tancred’s ships sailed from this sea and when they had entered the mouth of this river, they went up it as far as the bridges which unite the two cities. In this way the city was encircled and attacked on both sides. For Tancred’s men were able easily to fight against the city from the sea on the one side, while on the other the army could fight and harass it from the land. As if nothing out of the common were happening, and no mighty swami of soldiers were buzzing round the city, Aspietes most strangely, and in a manner quite unworthy of his courage, paid little heed to these things. This caused him to be most heartily hated by the imperial army.
What then was likely to be the fate of the Cilician cities when captured by such a man? for besides being the strongest of all his contemporaries and one of the most respected for military experience, Tancred was most deadly in the art of besieging a town. Now any one reading as far as this might wonder that the Emperor was not aware of Aspietes’ lack of military experience. But I would say in defence of my father that the nobility of his descent influenced the Emperor and that the brilliance of his ancestry and the fame of his name contributed much to Aspietes’ receiving this appointment. For he held the highest rank among the Arsacidoe and was born of royal blood.
Read More about Domestic Conflicts part 11