War with Scyths part 7


IV When the troops entrenched at Choereni learnt of the advances of incredibly large Scythian armies, they sent word of this to the Emperor who was still at Aenus. He at once embarked in a coracle and sailing along the coast, entered the river at its mouth and effected a junction with his entire army, As he saw that his own forces were infinitely smaller than the Scythians he fell into great perplexity and fear, for as far as man could see, he had no one to help him. Yet he did not give way or shew weakness but was lost in a welter of reflections. Four days later he saw far off in quite a different direction an army of the Comans approaching, about forty thousand strong.

Amongst a crowd of other captains in the Coman army

Accordingly he reflected that if these made common cause with the Scythians, they would begin a terrible war against him (from which no other result could be expected than utter destruction), so he judged it wise to conciliate them; for it was he himself who had previously sent for them. Amongst a crowd of other captains in the Coman army, Togortac, Maniac and a few very valiant men stood out preeminent. The Emperor was afraid when he saw the multitude of approaching Comans, for knowing of old their easily-led nature, he feared that his one-time allies might become his foes and enemies, and inflict grievous harm on him.

He thought it would be safer to take away the whole army and recross the river, but before doing so he determined to invite the chiefs of the Comans to a conference. They straightway came to him, Maniac himself too, though later than the others as at first he demurred. So Alexius ordered the cooks to spread a gorgeous banquet for them. When they had dined well he received them very graciously and presented them with various gifts, and then, as he was suspicious of their treacherous character, he asked them to give him an oath and hostages.

They fulfilled his demands readily, and requested to be allowed to fight with the Patzinaks for three days; and if God should give them the victory they promised to divide all the booty that accrued to them into two parts and assign one half to the Emperor. He granted them permission to-pursue the Scythians, not only for three days, but for ten whole days in whatever way they liked, and gave them permission to keep the whole of the booty they took from them, if within that time God granted them the victory.

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