Turkish War part 18


These were afraid that amidst the popular concourse on the morrow a few men might make a dash at the Emperor and cut him to pieces on the throne, as men often carried their swords under their garments, as that rascal did who in guise of suppliant came to him when he was playing polo. (The only way to meet this difficulty seemed to be to strip the people of all the hopes they had centred on Diogenes by spreading abroad a rumour that he had been secretly blinded.) So they collected and sent out a few men to impart this news as a secret to everybody, although such an idea had never yet entered the Emperor’s mind. And this report, though slight at first, yet proceeded to do its work, as my story will soon make clear.

When the sun bad stepped over the horizon and leapt up in his glory, those of the Emperor’s suite who had not been parties to Diogenes’ treachery, and the soldiers who from of old were his appointed bodyguard, came to the Emperor’s tent first, some wearing swords, others carrying spears or their heavy iron axes on their shoulders and ranged themselves in the form of a crescent at a certain distance from his throne, embracing him as it were; they were all under the sway of anger, and if they did not whet their swords, they certainly did their souls.

All crowded towards the tent

‘Me body of his kinsmen and connections stood close to the throne, and to the right and left of those were the armour-bearers. The Emperor sat, an imposing figure, on his seat, clad in military, rather than imperial, garb, but did not seem to be seated very high, as his stature was not tall. But his throne was overlaid with gold, and gold too was above his head. His brows were drawn together, and emotion had dyed his cheeks a deeper red, his eyes, tense with anxiety, were an index to the thoughts that filled his mind. All crowded towards the tent, in a state of fear, and by reason of their terror were almost constrained to belch forth their souls into thin air, some were pricked by their conscience more sharply than by an arrow, while others dreaded vain suspicion.

Not a sound was uttered by anybody, but they all stood scared, looking fixedly at the man standing guard at the door of the tent. This man was wise in speech and powerful in action and his name was Taticius. The Emperor glanced at this man and by his look signified to him to let the people outside enter. Whereupon he at once granted them entrance. And in spite of being frightened they came in with their eyes averted and walking slowly. When they had taken up their positions in rows, they waited eagerly for what would happen, each afraid and feeling as if he were about to run the last lap of his life’s course.

Read More about Turkish War part 16


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