The Revolt of the Comneni part 20

IX Now when Botaniates, saw the size of the army of the Comneni and its composition of men of all races, and that it was already approaching the gates of the city, and that Melissenus Nicephorus had reached Damalis with no less a force than theirs and was likewise a claimant for the throne, he knew not what to do, and was quite unfit to contend against two foes. For old age had chilled his spirit and made him over-fearful, though in youth he had been very brave, and now he only breathed freely as long as he was encircled by the walls, and he had already ideas of abdicating.

The city would be difficult

Hence the citizens were naturally seized with alarm and unrest and thought the whole place could easily be captured from any side. The Comneni on their side thought the taking of the city would be difficult (for their forces were composed of various nationalities besides natives, and wherever there is a mixed crowd, their temper also is wont to be mixed), so Alexius, the newly-shod Emperor, seeing the city would be difficult to capture, and suspecting the unstable character of his soldiers, adopted a new plan which was by flattery and promises to suborn some of the guards of the walls, and by thus stealing, so to say, their goodwill, to capture the city.

After thinking out these things all night he went into the Caesar’s tent at early morning and told him his intention and asked him to accompany him on a tour round the walls in order to investigate the defences and their guards (who were chosen from different regiments), and to determine how it would be possible to take the city.

The Caesar, however, was annoyed at this order, for he had only adopted the monastic habit very lately and naturally shrank from going near the walls for he felt he would be laughed at by the men on the walls and battlements. And so it fell out. For when he followed Alexius under compulsion, directly the men spied him from the walls they jeeringly called him “Father” and added some insulting remark. However he knitted his brows and though inwardly insulted, disregarded them but gave his full attention to the purpose in hand. For men of firm disposition can fix their mind on the matter before them and overlook external disturbances.

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