War with Scyths part 4


This would be a soldier’s joke quite free from danger, yet with a spice of fear in it; for before they were seriously alarmed, they would be reassured by seeing the Emperor behind. In this way the Emperor harmlessly scared those they met. All the men with Palaeologus were overcome with fear at what they saw, but he himself of fax greater experience than they all, and knowing too how fertile in devices Alexius was, immediately understood that this was such a device, and therefore regained confidence himself, and urged the others to do so.

By this time, the whole crowd of his kinsmen and connections was rushing out from the capital, for they were hurrying, as they thought, to overtake the Emperor according to their agreement with him. For, as mentioned above, they agreed to meet him after Sexagesima Sunday in Quinquagesima week. However they did not succeed in leaving the city before the Emperor re-entered it in triumph. When they met him on arrival they would not have believed that the Emperor alone had gained trophies and achieved a victory so quickly, had they not seen the heads of the Scythians fixed on the spear-heads and many others, who had escaped the sword, with their hands bound behind their backs, being dragged and pushed along, one after the other, as prisoners.

A little tale about George Palaeologus

People were amazed at the swiftness of the campaign; but I heard a little tale about George Palaeologus (told me by some who were present), which was, that he complained bitterly and blamed himself for having been too late for the battle and not having been with the Emperor who had reaped so much glory by his unexpected victory over the barbarians. For he would have dearly liked to have had a share in that meed of fame. But with regard to the Emperor one could say that the words of the song in Deuteronomy were then visibly accomplished, namely, ‘How should one chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight?’

For at that juncture the Emperor faced the overwhelming mass of barbarians practically single-handed, and carried through that whole weighty war successfully right up to victory. And were one to enquire ‘Who or what were his companions?’ and then compare the Emperor’s stratagems and his versatility, combined with his valour and daring with the barbarians’ numbers and strength, he would only discover that the Emperor had achieved the victory alone.

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