Similarly the philosopher Theano, when her forearm once became uncovered and somebody jokingly said, “What a beautiful forearm !” replied “Yes, but not a public one.” And so the Empress, my mother, the image of dignity, the temple of holiness, did not only dislike shewing her arm or eyes to the public, but did not even like her voice to be carried to unaccustomed ears. Such a wonderful example of modesty was she! But since, as it is said, not even the gods can fight against necessity, she was obliged to accompany the Emperor on his frequent expeditions.
Her natural modesty would have kept her at home in the palace, but her devotion and ardent love for the Emperor drove her out of it even against her will for various reasons, the first of which was that the illness, which had attacked his feet, necessitated very constant care. For in consequence of this gouty affection, the Emperor had piercing pains and would not submit to anybody’s touch as readily as my mother’s, for by touching him carefully and rubbing skilfully she could assuage the pains to a certain extent. (And now let nobody accuse me of bragging, for I admire domestic virtues, nor suspect me of telling falsehoods about the Emperor, for I am only telling the truth.) The Emperor in very truth ever considered his own comfort and affairs as secondary to the welfare of the cities.
A combination of diseases
For nothing could separate him from his love of the Christians, neither pains nor pleasure nor the miseries of wars, nor anything either great or small, neither the blazing heat of summer, nor the biting cold of winter, nor any barbarian attack. He was quite undaunted by all these things, and if he did sink under a combination of diseases he would spring up again at the call for help. The second and more important reason why the Empress accompanied the Emperor was because so many plots cropped up on all sides that he needed constant guarding, and literally a many-eyed protecting power. For, as night wove plots for him, so did the middle of the day; the evening would bring forth some fresh evil and the morning devise the worst; God is witness of this.
Was it not necessary therefore that the Emperor against whom so many wicked men conspired, should be watched over by a thousand eyes? for some aimed their arrows at him, others whetted their sword in secret, and others, if opportunity for action was wanting, let loose their slanderous tongue and malicious talk. Who had more right to be by the Emperor’s side to help him than she, his natural counsellor? Who better than she looked after the Emperor and suspected the conspirators? for she was quick in seeing what would be to his advantage, but still quicker in detecting his enemies’ intrigues. For these reasons my mother was all in all to the ruler, my father, she was a sleepless eye at night, a most illustrious guardian by day, a good antidote to dangers at table and a salutary counter-potion to mischiefs arising from food.
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