August 13, 2020

War with Scyths part 20

They handed him the Emperor’s letter in which the Emperor stated that he hoped to marry the boy to one of my sisters, and after a long talk with him, they persuaded him to send his son back. On his return the Emperor only ratified the marriage-contract by the usual legal formalities and gave him into the charge of one of the Empress’ attendants, the eunuch Michael, and as the lad lived in the palace he bestowed a great deal of care on him, tried to amend his manners and had him thoroughly trained in all military exercises.

But like most young men, he did not relish having to obey, and was vexed at not being treated, as he thought, with sufficient respect. In addition to this he disliked his tutor and began to consider how he could escape to his own father, when he ought rather to have been grateful for all the attention bestowed on him. He did not stop at merely meditating flight, but tried to put it into execution.

Consequently he revealed his secret to a few; these were George, the son of Decanus, Eustathius Camytzes and the cupbearer Michael, generally called ‘Pincema’ by the imperial household. These were all warriors and among the Emperor’s close intimates, one of them, Michael, went to the Emperor and acquainted him with the whole matter; but the latter could not believe it and refused to listen.

Secretly abstracted the sacred nail

When (Gregory) Gabras began to insist and wanted to hurry on his flight, those loyal to the Emperor said “Unless you will guarantee your plot to us by an oath, we will not accompany you.” As he assented to this, they showed him where the sacred “nail ” was kept with which the lawless soldiers pierced my Saviour’s side, and advised him to steal it and bring it out so that he could swear by Him who was pierced by it. Gabras listened to this advice, entered (the church) and secretly abstracted the sacred nail.

Then one of the men who had already notified the Emperor of the conspiracy, came running in and said, “Look, here is Gabras, and the sacred nail is in his bosom.” Thereupon Gabras was immediately brought in at the Emperor’s bidding, and the nail was taken out of his bosom. On being questioned he admitted everything without hesitation, also revealed the names of his fellow-conspirators and the whole scheme.

The Emperor found him guilty and sent him to the Duke of Philippopolis, George Mesopotamites, to keep him prisoner in the citadel. George, the son of Decanus, he dispatched with letters to Leo Nicerita who was at that time Duke of the districts round the Danube, ostensibly to help him in guarding the district, but really for Nicerita to keep him prisoner there. As for Eustathius, son of Camytzes, and the rest, he banished and imprisoned them.

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