The Revolt of the Comneni part 17

For, as the whole army was veering to his side and advocating his claims while it did not favour Isaac even in the slightest, Alexius saw that strength and power and the realization of his hopes would come from that quarter, and so he supported his brother in his intrigues for the throne, knowing that nothing untoward to himself would result from so doing, provided he for his part were raised up by force, as it were, by the whole army to the pinnacle of earthly honours and he flattered his brother in words only and made a pretence forsooth of yielding the power to him.

Reminded Alexius of the prophecy

After some time had been spent in this manner, the whole soldiery were assembled near the General’s tent in a great state of excitement and each anxious for the accomplishment of his wish. Then Isaac rose and taking the red buskin tried to put it on to his brother’s foot; but the latter refused several times until Isaac cried, “Let me do it, for through you God wishes to restore the dignity of our family.” He also reminded Alexius of the prophecy once addressed, to him by a man who- appeared, to them somewhere near Carpianum as they were returning home from the palace. For they had reached that spot when a man suddenly met them, perhaps belonging to a race higher than mortal, but in any case gifted with very clear insight into the future.

From his appearance he seemed to be a priest, with his bare head, grey hair and shaggy beard; he took hold of Alexius’ leg and being on foot himself, he dragged down Alexius, who was on horseback, by the ear and recited to him this line of David’s psalm: “In thy majesty ride on prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness,” and address him by the title Emperor Alexius! ” With these words which sounded like a prophecy he vanished. And Alexius could not capture him though he looked round carefully in all directions in order, if possible, to catch sight of him, and then pursued him at full speed if perchance he might catch, him and ask more in detail who he was and whence he came.

But what had been seen had completely vanished. On their return home Isaac was very inquisitive about this vision and asked Alexius to disclose the secret: and as he insisted strongly, Alexius at first made a feint of refusing but finally repeated what had been said to him in secret. Now in discussing this openly with his brother he treated the words and incident as a fraud and deception, but in his private meditations upon this man in priestly garb who had appeared to him, he likened him to the theologian, the Son of Thunder [*St. John the Theologian]. Therefore when Isaac saw what the old man had prophesied was being fulfilled in deed and expressed in words, he insisted more vehemently and by force put the red buskin on his brother’s foot, especially because he saw the fervid longing of all the soldiers for Alexius.

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