Now Elissus is a fort built on a hill and quite impregnable, and looks down upon Dyrrachium in the plains, as the saying is ; and it is so secure that both by land and sea it can afford great assistance to Dyrrachium. Of this fort Elissus the Emperor Alexius made use in order to help the city of Epidamnus both from the side of the river Drymon which was navigable, and from the land-side he strengthened Dyrrachium and brought in necessaries by land and water, everything, in fact, that was required for the sustenance of the soldiers and citizens in it or in the way of arms and equipment forfighting. This river Drymon (for I must add a few words about this stream) runs down from the lake Lychnis through some hundred channels, which we call ‘bridges.’
The present corrupted language calls this lake Achris, after the King of the Bulgarians, who lived in the time of the Emperors Constantine and Basilius Porphyrogeniti, and was at first called Mocrus, and latterly Samu
Indeed, when Landulph saw Bohemund crossing the sea with this dread array and with transports carrying myriads of men, as we have already more accurately described, he sailed away a little from Valona as he was unable to fight against such numbers and gave Bohemund a free entry. The latter made use of his good fortune and crossed from Bari to Valona and disembarked all the army he had brought over the sea on the opposite coast, and then first of all devastated the whole sea-coast. For he brought an incredibly large army of Franks and Gauls, and men from the island of Thule who usually fought for the Romans, but through force of circumstances had on this occasion joined him; and besides this there were many of the Germanic race and of the Celtiberians.
Famous Demetrius Poliorcetes
Next he dispersed all these troops which he had mustered over the whole country along the Adriatic sea and after ravaging that systematically he attacked Epidamnus, which we call Dyrra
So he sailed with the other Dukes and kept a careful watch on the intervening straits from Valona; he placed scouts on the ridge of the hill called Jason to keep a lookout over the sea and watch for the ships. A Frank who had just crossed from Italy assured them that Bohemund was on the very point of starting. On being informed of this, the Contostephani who shrank with dread from a naval battle with Bohemund (and were indeed terror-stricken by the mere thought of it) pretended they were ill and must therefore go to the baths.
Landulph, commander of the whole fleet, who had a long and varied experience of sea-craft and of naval battles, kept exhorting them to be continually on their guard, and to expect Bohemund’s arrival. But the Contostephani, when leaving for Chimara to take the baths, left the man called the second Drungaire of the fleet with the monoreme Excussatum on watch near the promontory Glossa which is not very far from Valona. And Landulph remained at Va
There he approached the apostolic seat, and conversed with the Pope and raised his fierce ire against the Romans and fanned the ancient grudge of those barbarians against our race. And in order to excite the Pope’s and his Italians’ rage still further, Bohemund brought in the captured Scythians as a convincing proof that the Emperor Alexius was hostile to the Christians, as he used unbelieving barbarians and monstrous mounted archers to wield weapons and draw their bows against Christians. And in every conversation of this kind he drew the Pope’s attention to those Scythians who were in Scythian dress and, as usual, looked extremely barbaric; and all the time he kept calling them I pagans’; as the Latins’ habit is, and mocking at their name and appearance.
Very cunningly, as you see, he handled this affair of the war against the Christians, in order that he might convince the high-priestly mind that he had good reason to be aroused to enmity w
He also continually sent letters to his nephew Alexius, the Duke of Dyrrachium, stirring him up and bidding him keep a sharp look-out and to order those who were at guard on the sea to do the same, to prevent Bohemund’s crossing secretly, but to send word of his crossing at once by letter. That is what the Emperor did.
Now Contostephanus’ only orders were to watch the straits of Lombardy carefully and to prevent the ships crossing which Bohemund was sending ahead to carry all his apparatus from the one coast to the other-in fine, not to allow anything whatever to be conveyed from Lombardy to Illyria. When he departed he did not even know the likeliest spot from which the ships would sail across to Illyria, and not only that, but he disregarded orders and crossed to Hydruntum, which is a town situated on the coast of Lombardy.
This town was commanded by a woman, Tancred’s mother, it was said, whether she was the sister of Bohemund (so often menti
But if he would not listen, John was to oppose him with a large force and resist him manfully by land and sea. When Gregory Taronites heard he was coming he at once left for Colonea (a very strong and impregnable fort) in order to call Tanismanes to his aid. John was informed of this as he was starting, so he detached the Franks and some picked Roman troops from his army, and sent them against Gregory. They overtook him and engaged him in a fierce battle, in which two brave soldiers attacked him with their spears and struck him down from his horse. They then conducted him to John, who led him captive to the Emperor though he had sworn not even to see him, still less to deign him worthy of conversation on the way.
And yet he interceded strongly for him to the Emperor, who pretended that he intended to deprive him of his eyes. At last the Emperor reluctantly avowed his hypocrisy, yielded to John’s prayers but exhorted him repeatedly not to let their conversation be div
But I attribute it all to God’s providence, which on this occasion delivered the man from the gouging out of his eyes. For it seems probable that it was God who moved us on that day to take pity on the man. For the messenger of salvation hastened and reached this side of the arch on which the bronze Hands are fixed, gave the letter granting the pardon to the men leading Michael, took him and came back with him, and on reaching a tower, built close to the palace, confined him there, for such were his orders.
VII Michael had not yet been liberated from prison before Anemas’prison received Gregory again. Forthistower was one of those in the city-walls near the palace of Blachernae, and was called the ‘Tower of Anemas’ just as if it had got this name by fate as Anemas was first to be confined there in chains and was to spend a long time in it. For in the course of the twelfth Indiction the Gregory already mentioned who had long been hatching rebellion,
And I in my desire to rescue the man from such misery repeatedly implored the Empress, my mother, to come and see the procession. For to tell the truth we were concerned about the men for the Emperor’s sake, for in them he would be deprived of such good soldiers, especially Michael on whom the heaviest sentence had been pronounced. Accordingly, when I saw how humbled he was by his misfortune, I tried to force my mother, as I was saying, in order that the men might perchance, be saved from the danger which stood so near them. For the conductors were leading the procession very slowly with the purpose of giving an opportunity for pardon being granted to the guilty.
God before the Mother of God
But as she delayed coming (for she was sitting with the Emperor and they were conjointly making intercessions to God before the Mother of God) I went down and standing fearfully outside the doors, for I did not dare to go in, I tried to draw her out by signs. And fina
He wanted to ask them a few questions, and as he had long known that they were very simple-minded, he thought he would easily learn the details of the plot. But in answer to his repeated questions they denied everything; then the Sebastocrator Isaac approached them and nodding to Solomon said, “Solomon, you know well the goodness of my brother, the Emperor. Now if you will give a full account of the plot you will be granted an immediate pardon, but, if not, then you will be handed over to horrible tortures.” Solomon looked fixedly at him, and then at the barbarians standing in a circle round the Sebastocrator, brandishing their one-edged axes on their shoulders, and forthwith fell to trembling, and revealed everything and gave the names of his fellow-plotters, but insisted that he knew nothing about any intention to murder. They were then handed over to the men assigned to guard them and put into separate prisons.
Murderous feelings against the Emperor
Accordingly they embraced Solomon as if he were the chief leader of the party. Involved in this plot were also Sclerus, and Xerus, who had then completed his term of office as- Prefect of Constantinople. Now, as said above, Solomon was of a light-headed disposition and as he understood nothing of what was meditated by Exazenus and Hyaleas and the Anemades themselves, imagined he already held the Roman Empire in his grasp, and would talk to people and try to win them over by promises of gifts and honours.
Once Michael Anemas, the chief actor in the drama, went to him and seeing him talk to somebody asked what he was saying; Solomon with his usual simplicity replied, “He asked me for a certain post, and on my promising it he agreed to become one of us in the plot.” Michael cursed his foolishness and grew very frightened as he realized that the other was incapable of holding his tongue, and consequently did not visit him as frequently as before.