Mosaics of Hagia Sophia

Not only did Andronikos treat Alexios savagely and cruelly in this fashion but he also apprehended and imprisoned the most notable of his attendants. Not long afterwards, seizing the noblest of these in large numbers, he deprived them of their eyes. He singled out a certain Mamalos, who was numbered among Alexios's secretaries, reserving him for the last course of his Cyclopean feast. Andronikos carved up the meat and smothered it with a rich sauce so that it would be worthy to delight no other banqueter except himself and would not fall short of the dainties served at the feasts of the Furies and at the banquets of the Telachines, the like of which no cook ever had dressed and garnished for them. Mamalos was to be consigned to the flames in the Hippodrome.

The fire was ignited, and the flame shot up high into the air along the turn of the racecourse, equal to that of the Chaldean furnace; kindled by naphtha and brushwood, it burned seven times hotter than usual. Mamalos was brought forward bound by ropes and as naked as when he first saw the light of day as he emerged from his mother's womb. The furnace workers who stood beside the youth, garlanded, with the first down upon his lip and cheeks, prodded him with long poles, as though he were a sacrificial victim, into the midst of the flames. As he neared the furnace and felt great pain, he became fainthearted, as would any man, and hoping to escape what was already an unavoidable death, he now threw himself against the thrusting poles, deeming the pain inflicted by them to be less than that of the licking flames spreading out from the charcoals; but pushed again into the midst of the fire by the stokers and engulfed by the flames, he would then jump out of the furnace like the quick-darting serpents,892 running for his life and bounding higher than the Thessalian leap. This drama continued for some time, moving the spectators to tears. Finally exhausted, he fell back, and the raging flames engulfed his flesh and quickly snuffed out his life. The savor of burnt flesh ascending upwards to the heavens polluted the air, while the stench of the acrid smoke and soot was unbearable for the bystanders.

0 fierce flame! 0 burnt offering, most welcomed by demons! 0 sacrificial victim of the Telachines! 0 whole offering of avenging spirits! 0 that which is not the smell of sweetness which the Lord smells but instead a dance of Furies! The evildoer Andronikos, hearing that the ancients sacrificed oxen and honored the gods with the savor of burnt sacrifice, did not deign to do the same, but nurturing a soul more ruthless than that of the worst men who ever lived, he wickedly applied himself to human sacrifice. Was it some insane Cambyses, or cruel Tarquinius, or the savage and beastly Echetos and Phalaris who perpetrated these crimes? Or which of the Tauro-Scythians, who have given the sanction of law to the murder of strangers, and whose conventions were copied by this far-roaming old man, imposed and inflicted such penalties?

Andronikos inflicted the punishment-not without cause but as the result of an earlier crime-and with Mamalos he burned certain books that apparently dealt with the reigns of future emperors which Mamalos had read in secret to Alexios in an attempt to convince him that they spoke of him as ascending the throne.

Andronikos later regretted these actions, or else he was deflected from doing the same again. For example, when George Dishypatos (he was a member of the order of lectors who serve the Great Church) was seized and imprisoned, he was made to suffer only because he had criticized Andronikos for the wrongs he had perpetrated, and the latter threatened to have him impaled through and through on spits, roasted over char- coals, and then to be brought before his wife. And, indeed, the corpulent Dishypatos should have been spitted like a suckling pig, roasted, placed in some capacious, I dare say, basket, and, as a delicacy, brought in before the members of his household and placed in front of his wife, had not her father, Leon Monasteriotes, checked Andronikos's impetuosity and forcefully restrained him from the undertaking. For, like a lion terri- fying wild beasts, Monasteriotes roared out his opinions on the events of the day to Andronikos, who called him the mouth of the Senate. When reports came flying in from everywhere to announce that the Sicilians had taken Epidamnos and were marching on Thessaloniki without battle, Andronikos's wits were troubled and distraught, and for a brief spell his zeal to inflict human torments slackened.

Dishypatos, confined in prison, raised his hands but did not, however, pray after the fashion of David with the words, "Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to thy name, 0 Lord";898 neither did he utter the words of Jonah, "Shall I indeed look again toward thy holy temple? Rather, he prayed as follows, "Blot me out, 0 Lord, from the memory of Andronikos, and let me be out of his sight and hearing from year to year, and from month to month, and from day to day; withdraw my name from the book of the living90' as long as Andronikos lives." And it was -God, in truth, who removed Dishypatos from the hands of Andronikos.

That he was too distrusting to value his chief ministers, his ardent admirers, and the executioners of his wishes, Andronikos demonstrated by his inhuman executions of both Constantine Makrodoukas and Andronikos Doukas, the first of whom, as mentioned, he had raised to the dignity of panhypersebastos902 and the other had adopted as his son and had entered in the register of his most cherished friends. He clearly showed the fickleness of his mind and his inability to sustain good will towards his partisans when he blinded Constantine Tripsychos, a long prayed-for man903 in his need, a man versatile in the services he rendered to Andronikos's tyranny. Such was his excessive love for Andronikos, and such his zealous devotion, that he nearly surpassed all those who supported the cause of Andronikos. Nonetheless, Tripsychos was hindered from carrying absolute victory for himself alone because his rival, and antagonist, in unsurpassed eagerness was Stephanos Hagiochristophorites; one prize was to be divided into two, and for Tripsychos the crown of cruelty was being plaited.

Tripsychos was blinded for a minor annoyance which should have been overlooked rather than being subjected to investigation that resulted in his punishment for speaking out of turn, and this while he was much loved and no less devoted to Andronikos. But during the time of Andro- nikos, men had to give account for their every idle word;904 Tripsychos, the examiner of such tattle, subjected many to torture, stripping them bare of all their goods on the grounds that they had spat out a word of complaint against Andronikos or that they had expressed reproach for some grievous inward thought. Now Tripsychos fell cruel victim to similar charges. In the measure that he often measured out, punishment was measured out to him in return, but compacted, pressed down, and running over, and he obligingly fell into the pit that he had often dug for his neighbors (I praise thee, 0 Justice!) and rolled over himself the stone he had many times heaved against his next of kin.

When one of his relatives informed against him to Andronikos, reporting that he had grumbled against Andronikos as though he were one of those who had received no benefactions or had not been treated well by Andronikos (Tripsychos, who had been deluged by so many favors, who had been raised to the highest dignities, and who was referred to in the imperial letters as beloved son and rarest of men in these present times, rich in blessings, a grandee!), Andronikos was cut to the heart, and, convinced of everyone's disloyalty, he became anxious. These charges kindled his anger, and his wrath was lashed into a fury of indignation. When the informer saw Andronikos's growing anger, he felt the need to launch another attack of even sharper words so that Andronikos should be lifted up like a violent blast of wind, or like that bloodstained tempestuous sea of wrath blowing forth and opening up into a yawning chasm to envelop the wretched Tripsychos as another Egyptian captain. He said to Andronikos, therefore, "Tripsychos continually disparages your son John-successor to your throne, legitimate heir of the empire, the fairest of men, who is received by all with open arms-with words of madness and proclaims him an abomination should he be established in the holy place of sovereignty. Once, when Emperor John was passing by in procession and was being acclaimed by large numbers, Tripsychos laughed and derided him by calling him Zintziphitzes, and heaving a great sigh he said, "0 ill-starred realm of Romans, that you must hope in such an emperor!" Zintziphitzes was a most hideous-looking little man who haunted the chariot rails of the racehorses; most of his limbs were disproportionate, and he was small in stature and corpulent. Moreover, he had a ready wit and was skilled in striking terror in the hearts of palace officials with ribaldry and indelicate gibes, and he was a consummate actor who provoked laughter with his torrent of poetic verse.

Andronikos was unable to bear the accusations which, like missiles, pierced his heart, and like a blast of wind he dissipated Tripsychos's privileges and placed him on parole; later he deprived him of the light of his eyes. Thus did Tripsychos's dominance come to an end, and, so it seems, the words of Solomon, "There are ways that seem at first to be right to a man, but the end of them looks towards death,"909 were spoken clearly of him and consummated in him.

The Sicilian forces were divided into three parts: one part remained in Thessaloniki, the second advanced on Serrai, determined to subdue and plunder everything in the vicinity, and the third took a smooth road, where no one fell into their hands or opposed them, and encamped at Mosynopolis, subjugating the land round about.91°

Andronikos's first concern was to dispatch a commander to defend Epidamnos, and John Branas made his appearance there [before 21 June 1185]. A few days later, the Italians alighted upon Epidamnos, like birds and creatures of the air, and quickly planted their legs astride to scale the battlements of the walls with impunity [24 June 1185]. Branas was taken captive to Sicily.9i1 Afterwards, Andronikos wrote to David, the governor of Thessaloniki, and commanded him to keep diligent watch over the city and not to fear the Latin shoe stitchers913 who jump and bite and sting, to use Andronikos's own words. Since it was Andronikos who had composed the letters in this vein, only he their author understood their meaning; the contents of the letters provoked laughter among the citizens who loved to scoff, and rejecting them, they altered their meaning with obscene and vulgar words which need not be mentioned.

Assembling, moreover, the Roman forces, both eastern and western, and dividing them into divisions, Andronikos assigned one to the command of his son, Emperor John, who was sojourning in the province of Philippopolis; the second he committed to Choumnos, the chartoularios; the third to Andronikos Palaiologos; and the fourth to the eunuch Nikephoros, who was held in honor by Andronikos and exulted in the dignity of parakoimomenos. He also dispatched Alexios Branas with another force

Andronikos's son indulged himself in the chase in the vicinity of Philippopolis, imagining that the sacking of Thessaloniki was as remote as the taking of the gates of Cadiz or the pulling down of the Dionysian small pillars; the others did not venture to draw near and provide assistance to the beleaguered city. Pitching their tents at a great distance, they were informed by scouts and couriers who stole their way into the enemy camp as to the goings on about Thessaloniki. Only Theodore Choumnos took it upon himself to draw close in order to come to the aid of the Thessalonians by engaging the enemy forces who were blockading the city or, if possible, by slipping inside. But he fell short of the mark on both counts and retreated most shamefully. His companions, unable to bear the sight of the front of the enemy's helm, turned their backs and fled without a backward glance, acquitting themselves like men in but one thing along- side the rest of their countrymen, namely, never to remain supine but to examine with their own eyes the enemy as reported to them by their spies, and from their deeds to learn how impetuous these men were in battle.

When famed Thessaloniki fell, the Sicilian forces were divided, as I have already recounted; one could say that, like the mythical Chimaera, formerly united in nearly equal parts, they were then separated. The forepart, being the strongest, like the lion advanced directly upon the queen of cities; the middle part grazed in the regions of Amphipolis and Serrai; and the hinder part, the fleet, crawled like a serpent over the waters,92' and kept watch over the metropolis of the Thessalonians. Even though the Romans were not of one accord, shooting missiles at one camp and engaging a small enemy force in close combat, they took courage. The enemy troops, after occupying Mosynopolis, were preparing to move forward, since not a single Roman soldier had shown himself. The Romans had earlier occupied the mountain flanks in those parts and had no need to descend to the plain and await the fury of the enemy's charge. Therefore, the Italians decided to delay no longer, but to march in close order together and to direct themselves towards a single goal, the assault and capture of the fair city of Constantine.

Alexios Komnenos, who accompanied them but was not given a turn as commander, incited them as he pondered on things that were not to be brought to pass.922 The stupid Alexios, who was unworthy even to lead sheep, intended to labor on behalf of the king of Sicily, this Melitides.923 He pranced about as though he had already been invested with the impe- rial insignia and elected emperor, and addressing the alien troops, he contended that his own desire to assume the majesty of his paternal uncle, Emperor Manuel, was no less than that of the Constantinopolitans and that he would be as welcome by the Romans as the sun which shines by day and would be deemed as necessary a good as is the breathing in of air.924 Such then were these events.

Meanwhile, Andronikos made the rounds of the city walls and gave orders that those sections that had fallen into disrepair because of the ravages of time be shored up and restored. The work was begun forth- with. Therefore, all the houses attached to the outside of the walls, conse- quently making the area inside accessible to the enemy, were demolished. Some one hundred long ships were anchored along the seashore, ready to sail out to the aid of those cities threatened by the Sicilian fleet, to give assistance to the Constantinopolitans (for they were expecting the imminent arrival of the enemy), and from time to time to blockade the bay of the sea which runs in like the channel of a river to wash the shore of Blachernai.

Having disposed of these common concerns, he slackened his efforts, satisfied that he had taken all adequate and necessary measures to resist and subdue the approaching enemy of the Romans. Informed that Thessaloniki had fallen, he proceeded to maltreat the kinsmen of David whom he had appointed guardian of this city, as we have already seen, and taking them into custody, he cast them into prison. In a public address, he asserted that the event was neither of great consequence nor was it an accomplishment worthy of the boasts of the Sicilians; this was not the first time, for in the past, Time was delighted in bringing about the fall of cities, and victory shifts from man to man.926 When bom- barded with alarming reports brought in one after the other by mes- sengers-such as, the enemy has now taken Amphipolis, and, again, that having plundered the provinces beyond, they are now encamped opposite Mosynopolis - he dismissed them as not being calamitous and claimed that he would march out against the enemy and utterly destroy them in the manner that hunters kill boars, one at a time. Coming forth briefly from their lair in which they are confined, ravenous for the meat exposed as bait and a snare, the boars are impaled on the spear or deeply wounded in their guts. In the same way, the Italians, who had become careless because they had met no resistance, would continue to advance, motivated by the lust for more spoils, but, to their surprise, they would meet their final destruction, and their unrighteousness would come down on their own crowns.

These were nothing more than the obviously deceptive excuses of a man who resisted the natural order of events, mere songs to soothe a citizenry already seething against him; and although he resorted to these and every other device, Andronikos was not man enough to repel the barbarians. Despite such, and so many, present evils, and despite the fact that everyone expected the most pitiable tribulations and wailed aloud as though they were already present and impending, he suffered these intol- erable conditions with equanimity and assumed a philosophical attitude toward them, as though these horrors pertained to others. And all this while, craving power and lusting for the throne, he plunged headlong into inhuman habits and surpassed by far all tyrants who ever lived.

He would often set out from the City with a troupe of courtesans and concubines to search out the most deserted locations where the climate was abundantly clement, looking about in the manner of wild beasts at the meeting of glens and forcing his way into verdant groves. He was followed by his ladyloves, like a cock by barnyard hens, or a he-goat leading the she-goats of the herd, or like Semele's son Dionysos escorting the Thyades, Sobades, Maenads, and Bacchantes; only he did not put on a fawn skin and wear the saffron-colored robe. On fixed days he could be seen by some of his courtiers, among these his nearest kinsmen, as though from behind a curtain, opening wide every passageway to flute girls and courtesans with whom he indulged himself at all times in the pleasure of intercourse. He amused himself in voluptuous entertainments, like Sardanapolos who carved out as his epitaph the words, "His wealth consisted of all that he ate and all that he reveled in. He was a follower of both Epicurus and Chrysippos, and, suffering from lechery, he sought to attain the sexual prowess of the cuttlefish. Madly ravenous for sexual intercourse, he truly emulated Herakles in his despoiling of the fifty-one daughters of Thyestes.93' But he did not have powers of licentiousness equal with him who summoned loleos to assist him against the many-headed Hydra, so he also sought help in revitalizing his genitals for the purpose of sexual intercourse by resorting to ointments and extravagant preparations. He ate of a Nilotic animal, very similar to the crocodile,932 repugnant to those who deem such things inedible but which excites and arouses those who engage in intercourse to sexual fulfillment.

On his return to the palace from his out-of-doors merrymaking and many amusements, he was escorted by his bodyguard of barbarian units, pestilent fellows who delighted in their lack of education and most of whom did not understand the Hellenic tongue. From among such ill-bred companies, he always chose his guards and watchmen. Finally, he procured for himself a shark-toothed watchdog such as brings lions to bay and unhorses a heavily armed cavalryman with its snarl. At night, the bodyguards slept at some distance from the imperial bedchamber while the dog was tied to the doors. The possessor of a yelp of brass, it would jump up and bark loud and long at the slightest sound.

Continuing in this fashion, Andronikos delighted in the stupidity of the Constantinopolitans and ridiculed them as being pulled around by the nose; he poked fun at their eagerness to pay court to, and to fawn on, the sovereigns; even the horns of the deer that he had hunted and which excited wonder because of their height, he suspended from the arches of the agora, ostensibly to show the size of the wild beasts that he had caught but in actuality mocking the citizenry and defaming their wives for their incontinence.933

Whatever day he arose and returned to the megalopolis from the extravagant amusements and delightful sites along the Propontis was considered an unlucky one; it seemed that he came back for no other reason than to slaughter and kill whomever he suspected of plotting against him. Andronikos's arrival meant loss and despair for many, or the departure from this life, and the worst possible evil of which he could think. He let down the fine and delicate plumb line of his cruelty to the very bottom of his soul; straitening his every action according to its measure, he considered the day wholly lost on which he had not devoured the flesh of some notable, or had not put out the lights of the body,934 or had not contentiously upbraided someone, frightening him out of his wits with his scowl and Titanic indignation. He was like some grave pedagogue who often brings the whip down on the children, reproving them whether they deserve it or not, and is irritated by any sound unpleasant to his ears.

At that time, men lived in gloom and despair. Not for many was sleep carefree, soft and ignorant of grief. Settling down at the edge of the eyes, it would fly away,935 often deceived or frightened away by Andronikos appearing in an evil dream;936 such was the state of those upon whom this savage, overpowering, and implacable man had but incidentally visited the wrath of his cruelty. It was as the God-Man had foretold would take place in the last days, namely, that "there shall be two men in one bed; one shall be taken and the other shall be left.""' And this actually took place in those days when husband or wife suddenly would be seized and taken away to be physically punished.

Even women were not spared his vengeance and abominations; many lost the light of their eyes and suffered hunger, incarceration, and physical tortures. The father ignored his children, and the sons took no heed of their father; five of one house were divided three against two and two against three. Fleeing the wrath of Andronikos as though it were the conflagration of Sodom,940 families became fugitives from their own country, but they would have been spared all injury had they measured out their exile with Andronikos's life. Now, however, when they laid claim to their household possessions, they were neither crystallized into a pillar of salt as was Lot's wife, nor did they become dead salt,942 but otherwise losing their savor, they perished wretchedly.

Thus Andronikos, who was irascible by nature and boasted of a savage and cruel character, who was immutable in his disposition to inflict pun- ishment, who made sport of the misfortunes and sufferings of those close to him and of the destruction of others, was convinced that he was consolidating his rule and strengthening the throne for his sons, and in this knowledge increased the pleasure of his soul. And yet he did participate in many virtuous actions, for not towards everyone was he inclined in a hostile manner, parading death and destruction before them. He comforted the indigent with gifts, especially if there was some hope that the suppliant was not terrified by Andronikos's crimes and did not violently hate him, and this was like finding a highly prized panacea and salutary antidote in the flesh of that serpent [Satan], or plucking a sweet-smelling rose from thorns, or preparing a delicious feast of starlings and quails from hellebore and hemlock.

He so punished the greed of the very powerful, and, thanks to his diligent searching, he so restricted the hands of those who reached out for the properties of others, that the majority of the provinces increased their population. For every man, according to the prophet's pronouncement, reclined in the shade of his trees,944 and, gathering the fruit of the vine and harvesting the crops of the earth, he ate with gladness and slept sweetly, unafraid of the tax collector's threat, untroubled by the thought of the avaricious exactor, unvexed by the extortioner, and not terrified by the despoiler. Rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, he was free of any demand that he pay double and multiply his talent;946 heretofore, one was required to give his coat and was forced to cough up his very soul in sore distress. An appeal to Andronikos was like a deadly enchantment, a spell that dispersed the tax collectors, a bugbear terrible to the ear of those who collected more than was authorized, and a benumbing paralysis of the hands which heretofore were concerned only with taking first. The voluntary gift of many was sent back, for their riches were considered as corrupting as the moth or some other corroding power that destroys whatever it touches. He sent out, in some cases, public officials who commanded very large salaries, and with threats of dire consequences should they ignore his orders. But he refused to sell these public offices to those who wanted them, to hand them out to the baseborn for a sum; instead, he carefully selected them and appointed them to office without receiving payment in return. Consequently, those who in the past were swept aside by time and were brought down to Death by the ills of public affairs, shook off their prolonged, heavy sleep and put away from themselves their mortification of old as though some archangel had sounded a trumpet in their ears;949 and as Ezekiel's vision wishes it to be, bones were drawn to bones and joints to joints. Within a short time the greater number of cities revived and recovered their former prosperity. Perhaps it would be fitting to add here the words of the psalmist David: "He turns a wilderness into pools of water, and a dry land into streams of water. Andronikos recalled the public officials in order to bring an end to the physical abuse administered by the tax collectors and to limit the many successive tax demands which the clever tax gatherers had fabricated and confirmed as an annual obligation, thus devouring the broken people as though they were a piece of bread.

There was,, it seems, a most irrational custom which prevailed only among the Romans. (It is this: ships that are overtaken by a storm, swaying backwards and forwards in the winds as the sea roars, are to receive help from no one as they are driven in upon any harbor or place and cast ashore by the waves. On the contrary, those who happen to live nearby prove to be worse than the storm by breaking up the ships and seizing everything not swept away by the sea). Andronikos stormed against such wickedness and transformed the tempestuous zeal of so many to capsize the ships into a gentle breeze, so that this one deed alone was sufficient to merit him acclaim. The officials at court had considered the evil to be incurable or absolutely immutable, like some acquired habit that can only get worse. Many Roman emperors in the past had wished to bring an end to this absurd custom, and dispatching bundles of imperial decrees, they threatened with utter ruin those who took up arms against shipwrecks and seized their cargoes, but these imperial constitutions re- mained a dead letter; it was as if the cresting waves of this tempestuous evil washed away the imperial red ink so that it appeared as though the scribes had written on water, making it impossible to discern the specific ordinances.

Such were the words that they spoke, but Andronikos, looking keenly at those standing round about him, sighed deeply and said,

"There is no wrong that cannot be set aright by the emperors, nor is there any transgression of the law which lies beyond their power. The former emperors, it seems, were slack, or they pretended to be vexed over these grievous ills. For if they had truly wished to put a stop to these life-destroying acts and to promote openly those things which constitute the observance of the law, they would have set aside the red ink, and, disregarding the papyrus as being totally ineffective, they would have considered those who mourn in blood and lament not with tears. Finding those plunderers harsher than the squalls and shallow reefs which caused their ships to be cast ashore by the billows, they would have used against them the sword which is borne not in vain and without purpose, and they would have executed the lawless. I am now convinced that when they wrote, they wrote wickedness, and exhibiting no laudable suffering over the evils of others, they joined in the assault on the suffering and thereby strengthened the contemptible customs from whose correction they voluntarily withdrew."

Having said these things, he added,

"Men, you who are related to me by blood, and those of you whose loyalty to me has been rewarded by my favor, and all the rest standing about, those of you who have been admitted to the senate, as well as those who have been appointed to serve the empire of the Romans in some other capacity, hearken to me, hearken! The words that I shall speak loud and clear will not be carried away by the wind without fulfillment, but those of my words which are not implemented in due course will move me, who decrees what must be done, to wrath, and my fury shall fall with grievous and unbearable consequences upon those who disobey my commands and take no heed whatsoever of the imperial dictates. It is necessary that all pernicious actions by the Romans, those detrimental to the public weal, cease. Let it be known by those who pursue the avaricious life
that, if they do not voluntarily desist from desiring the properties of others, they will be deprived of their own possessions and will sigh with the indigent, just as the dust is blown away from the face of the earth by a furious storm; and this shall be so especially for those who fall upon ships and plunder their cargoes, sometimes wrecking and dismantling them, If any of you, therefore, administers an office on behalf of our throne, and if any of you is the owner of landed properties along the seabord, foster first in yourself and then in your subjects the fear of God, and deference and reverence towards my rule; otherwise, any wrongdoing on the part of the governor of a province or the land-owner shall be required of your soul many times over, and, if you be innocent in hands and pure in heart, then your assistants will pay for the unlawful deed. When the pestilent master is flogged, then his attendants will come to their senses; and should the subject be wont to emulate his master by following him in his former reprehensible actions, then, by his being flogged and forced to learn a new lesson, his subject will follow, treading on the heels of the common good as the child follows in the step of its mother."

"So you should know now the manner of exacting satisfaction from him who disobeys my command: he shall be suspended from the mast of the ship, and should the roaring waves have swept it away, on a hilltop near the sea, he shall be fastened to a huge upright beam hewed from the nearby mountains, so that he may be clearly visible to all those sailing the boundless seas like a sail dis- played from the yardarm and like a man shipwrecked on land; he shall stand as a symbol that no one should ever again dismantle ships and plunder their cargoes, in the same manner that God stretched his bow in the sky as a sign that never again shall there be water for a deluge."

After speaking these words, he directed his mind to other purposes, portraying himself as extremely agitated and utterly inflexible in the resolutions he had taken or in making any compassionate concession in those matters on which he had given his verdict. They who heard his words were nearly petrified from fear (for they knew from experience that An- dronikos neither knew how to jest nor how to hide one thing in his mind and say another); later, when they had regained their composure, they wrote letters and dispatched them by couriers to the overseers of their own estates and to those who administered their public offices in their stead, solemnly entreating and urgently imploring them to be on the watch, vigilant lest some ship should suffer shipwreck and sustain some damage, and, if possible, to rebuke the very winds or,958 as in the mythic tale of Aiolos, to bottle up the winds in bags so that they should blow up no squalls which violently churn the sea.

Henceforth, no ship buffetted by heavy seas was to have any of its cargo plundered, or any part of its decks dismantled, or its mast taken down, or its anchor removed, or deprived of any of its munitions down to every slender cord; but whatever was washed up on the land by the tempestuous winds, or dashed against the reefs, or shattered by the jutting rocks was regarded warily by the passing people as though they were the barks of Charon bringing up the souls of the dead from the cave of the netherworld; or they were honored like the ancient sacred ships carry- ing envoys to the oracles, and with trembling the mass of the people, together with the public officials, saw to it that nothing was lost on land that had not been destroyed by the surge of the sea. It was indeed a bright calm coming out of a storm, and the spectacle was a change truly wrought by the most holy right hand of God.960

At great expense Andronikos rebuilt the ancient underground aqueduct which ran to the middle of the agora bringing up rainwater which was not stagnant and pestilential but sweeter than running water. He had the Hydrales River conducted through sluices into this water conduit, and near the streams that fed the river at its source, he erected a tower and buildings especially suited as a summer resort. Now all those whose dwellings happen to be in the vicinity of Blachernai and beyond are supplied with water from this source. He did not, however, restore the entire cistern so that the water could be channeled into the center of the agora, for the thread of his life had reached its end. Such was the concern of those who reigned after him, especially those who presently hold sway, to complete this work of common utility that Isaakios, who removed Andronikos from both throne and life, demolished the tower and razed these most delightful buildings in envy of Andronikos's magnificent work.

Reviving the office of praetor, Andronikos appointed notables and the noblest members of the senate to these posts. He exalted them with bountiful gifts and sent them forth nourished, so to speak, on benefices, thereby taking care that they be sent to the cities without imposing any burden and with resolve to attend diligently to the cause of the lowly with compassion and judgment. With sufficient resources at hand at all times (for they were paid at the rate of forty and eighty minas [pounds] of silver coin), they spared the imperial treasury, which was enriched by the vol- untary contributions of some who thereby were saved from the hands of the ruler, or they received in return some other benefit. As a result, the cities quickly grew in population, the land yielded crops a hundredfold, and the necessities of life were sold for little.

Andronikos was very affable towards anyone who had any accusation to make against those who use the right of might, and being no respecter of persons, he did not deny the righteous man his right. In his judgments, he listened with equal attention to the man of humble station and the great man of family and wealth. He would roundly rebuke the guilty, and if a man who was proud and of ill-repute was accused by an indigent, and had been discovered in the act of wrongdoing, or extortion, or smiting his fellow man with his fist, he would impose a suitable punishment.

Once, certain rustics presented themselves to him and inveighed against Theodore Dadibrenos, who had lodged with them while making a tour of inspection; procuring those things of which he and his servants and all his carriages had need, he had made no payment when he departed. This was the Dadibrenos who, as mentioned above, had participated with others in strangling Emperor Alexios. Andronikos conducted the trial between him and the country folk, and, finding that the charges were true, he sentenced him to twelve lashes and commanded the officials of the imperial fist to pay the expenses many times over.

Then, as now, there was a convention of declaiming publicly on divine doctrines, but Andronikos did not wish to discuss or listen to newfangled ideas about God, even though he had tasted of our wisdom [Holy Scriptures], and not only with the tip of his forefinger. He rebuked Euthymios, bishop of New Patras, a man of prodigious learning and John Kinnamos inside the imperial tent when they were debating at Lopadion on the saying of the God-Man, "My father is greater than I,i963 and, flying into a rage, he also threatened to cast them into the Rhyndakos River if they did not desist debating about God. This is not to say that Andronikos had become a complete savage. To the contrary, he regarded learning highly and did not keep the fathers at a distance from the purple but brought them near to the throne and warmed them with frequent gifts, paying them no small honor. He showed himself to be one who greatly esteemed divine philosophy as of much value and praised the eloquent professor of rhetoric, and the experts in law.

To prepare his burial place in the huge temple dedicated to the Holy Forty Martyrs which was raised in the very heart of the City and was extremely beautiful," he diligently restored the dilapidated parts of the temple and rekindled the beauteous form which had been extinguished. The icon of our Savior Christ, through which, it is reported, Christ spoke long ago with Emperor Maurice, he covered over with precious adorn- ment.965 From the small garden of the Great Palace he took the huge porphyry washing basin around whose rims are two terrifying serpents coiled round another, a marvel to behold, and placed it near the outer door of the temple, and to the temple he also transported the remains of his wife from the Monastery of Angourion, where they had been laid to rest. Outside, near the perforated gates of the temple facing north in the direction of the agora, he set up a huge painted panel of himself, not arrayed as an emperor or wearing the imperial golden ornaments, but dressed in the garb of a laborer, of turquoise color and slit all around and reaching down to the buttocks; his legs were covered up to the knees in white boots, and he held a huge curved sickle in his hand, heavy and strong,966 that caught in its curved shape and snared as in a net a lad, handsome as a statue, with only his neck and shoulders showing forth. With this representation, raised higher than all other pillars and inscribed monuments, Andronikos instructed the passers-by and made conspicuous to those who wished to understand the lawless deeds he had perpetrated in putting to death the heir and wooing and winning for himself both his throne and his wife.

Near the four-sided bronze monument that rose high above the ground called Anemodoulion, on which were represented nude Erotes pelting one another with apples, he planned to set up a bronze statue of himself on a column. He had earlier ordered that the paintings of Empress Xene, Emperor Alexios's mother, whom he had ordered strangled, be done over so that she appeared as a shriveled-up old woman because he was suspicious of the pity elicited by these radiant and very beautiful portrayals, worthy of the admiration of the passers-by and spectators. Now he yielded to those who wished to obliterate most of these images and re- place them either with Andronikos shown as emperor, accompanied by Alexios's bride, or with the figure of Andronikos worked in relief.

Moreover, he erected costly buildings near the Temple of the Forty Martyrs to house him whenever he should be visiting the shrine. Because he could not ornament the buildings with paintings or delicate mosaics of diverse colors depicting his recent deeds, having accomplished none, he resorted to showing his deeds before he became emperor. In addition to chariot races, there were scenes of the chase, with clucking birds and baying hounds; deer, hare, and wild boar hunts; and with the zoumbros run through with a hunting spear (this animal is larger than the high-spirited bear or spotted leopard and is bred and raised by the Tauro-Scythians). There were also scenes of rustic life, of tent dwellers, and of common feasting on game, with Andronikos cutting up deer meat or pieces of wild boar with his own hands and carefully roasting them over the fire. Similar scenes also depicted the way of life of the man who is confident in the use of bow, sword, and swift-footed horses and who flees his country because of his own foolishness or virtue.

Andronikos compared his fate to that of David and contended that he, too, had been forced to escape the traps of envy and often migrate to the enemy's country. He recounted how David, living meanly and poorly, secretly stole away the necessities of life and smote the Amalekites with the sword as he kept watch over the borders of Palestine from a short distance away at Sikelas, and how he would have killed Nabal for refusing to bring him food in answer to his petition, while he, Andronikos, passing through nearly all the Gentile nations, bearing the name of Christ- before all and preaching as though he were an apostle, received the highest honors wherever he went and an escort of honor when he departed. These things he expounded with compelling persuasion; in- deed, he spoke thus to men of eloquence and learning so long as the affairs of state were calm and tranquil.

When those things which threatened Andronikos began to be realized and carried to completion, he was seized with an utter desperation which surpassed in excess every form of inhumanity. His realm was growing smaller, and the enemy, like rivers swollen by heavy rains that overflow their banks, inundated the earth and made desolate everything under foot. He also saw that because he showed little concern for its welfare, the citizenry was beginning to speak out and was being gently urged on to rebellion. But as one overcome by drowsiness and neither seeing nor giving ear to the lawless deeds of the warring nations, he travailed in pain and brought forth iniquity.973 Not only did he condemn to death all those he had confined to prison, putting some to death by the sword, casting others into the deep of the sea after ripping open their bellies with the sword, and removing others from life by divers means, but he also sharp- ened his sword against their kinsmen. "For what advantage is it," he said, "if, when one head is cut off, many more sprout, and there is no one to apply to these the sizzling iron? The demigod and hero Herakles must be

praised in that he had loleos to cauterize and destroy the Hydra's ability to grow more heads."

Thereafter, he assembled his partisans and those judges who could be bought and who hover about the imperial table like vultures over carrion and decked out in tragic phrases the knaveries of the Italians and all the wicked deeds with which they had enveloped the western provinces and the cities they had seized by the law of warfare; the blame for all this he laid only upon those who opposed him, together with their blood rela- tions and favored near relations. These men thirsted after Andronikos's destruction and left no stone unturned to assure that he be toppled from the throne and suffer a most wretched death. Unable to secure the support of their countrymen, they brought in an alien army which behaved like a swarm of locusts that escapes the fire only to drown by water.975 This was Andronikos's response: "Not by my old age shall they rejoice who love enmity and exult in the din of war, but that which they desire to befall Andronikos, Andronikos shall visit upon them. If it is ordained that Andronikos shall be dragged down to the halls of Hades, they shall go first to prepare the way; only then shall Andronikos follow."

Afterwards he paraphrased the words of Saint Paul, "the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do, since my enemies are warring against me and bringing me into captivity to act contrary to my will,i976 and sought to remedy the evil. His partisans, who raised their voices and loudly shouted for him to remove his en- emies from the face of the earth and to spare none, sanctioned the destruction of all those he had cast into prison or who were sentenced to banishment, as well as their attendants and kinsmen. And forthwith the decision was set down in writing, with the protoasekretis dictating, the officer in charge of petitions taking down the words, and the protonotar- ios of the dromos leading the shouts of approval.977 Their names, together with those of their collaborators who ran in pursuit of vainglory while they feared and dreaded Andronikos, I shall not cite; their ring- leader and chief was Stephanos Hagiochristophorites, whose thunderous voice crashed throughout the palace, sweeping away, like a frothy swift river current, all who were deemed suspect by Andronikos.

The preamble to the decree read as follows:

Prompted, not by the directive of our mighty and holy master and emperor, but by the will of God, we cast our vote and pro- nounce that it is for the common good and especially for the benefit of Andronikos, the savior of the Romans, that all those who have been apprehended and incarcerated for being obdurate and sedi- tious, or who have been banished, must be utterly destroyed; fur- thermore, their kinsmen and blood relations shall be seized and put to death. Should this be accomplished, Andronikos who, with God's help, holds sway over the realm of the Romans, will enjoy a brief respite and will concern himself with public affairs, deal with the injudiciousness of conspirators, and force the alien Sicilians, who no longer have anyone to instruct them as to what tactics to use against the Romans, to sing a different tune. Henceforth, for all such as these, who, having been seized and their eyes gouged out, remain inflexible in their malice, there shall be no other way left to bring them to their senses except to deprive them of life, an anchor that we must drop as the last salutary measure for the malignant who are so deranged as to kick against the pricks978 and to have no under- standing whatsoever that being stone deaf, they whet the sword to be used against them.

In summary, these and other such things were expounded in this law-less decree which was followed by a list of those to be arrested and put to death. It also defined the manner in which each and every one was to die. In wonderment I cite the other actions of these men which I deem altogether unholy, but I particularly marvel at this action which I have just related. I am astonished beyond measure by the crimes they sanctioned, by how they could have conceived of ascribing their own bloodthirstiness to God, and, without blushing, how they could call their motivation divinely inspired when from the beginning it was the murderer who instigated their deliberation. They could have composed a different preamble and expressed themselves without shame, without baldly slandering the Divinity as delighting in blood, he who brought man into being in the beginning without creating death and to whom the voice of Abel's blood cries out,980 and who explicitly declared that he does not desire the death of the sinner but that he should convert and live.98'

Having sentenced all to death in this manner, they dissolved the assembly. Andronikos took into his hands the judicial ballots which had been cast in favor of these abominable acts and kept them safe in a chest. I do not know what he had in mind, but I think that looking ahead to future events, he sensed the abject fear that was to befall him afterwards. He also secured the speeches which he had secretly instigated, exacting them from the members of the assembly, and denied responsibility in those instances when he had aggrieved some or subjected others to physi- cal torments. He contended that the judges and the senate had deter- mined the punishments which were endured by those who offended him before and after he came to the throne, and that he had only enforced their decisions (for he beareth not the sword in vain)982 and executed their judgments.

At this time he eagerly desired to carry out the published decree, but his son, the sebastokrator Manuel, refused to comply and said that he could never agree to an act which was not published as an imperial constitution, as stated in the preamble by those who issued it. Moreover, he could never tolerate or claim as his own a decree placing practically the whole Roman populace under the death penalty and doing away not only with those who were of Roman descent but also with many for- eigners. An infinite number would be put to death on the basis of this decree, the one being seized and killed, and so, too, another who had neither been banished nor had sprung from an oak983 but from a father and mother, or who had shown a connection through marriage and friendship.

When imperial edicts directed that the judicial decision should become effective, those who had been removed to different provinces and those who had been confined wherever in prisons would have gathered together in one place; and each one would have been put to death, as sheep for slaughter,984 in the manner prescribed, had not God, according to the words of the prophet, brought down his own sword upon the apostate dragon, the crooked serpent,985 who flees under the sea in whose waters he resides, imagining only the hedonistic life and perceiving nothing but things visible.

Something else happened which impelled Andronikos to such wickedness. He knew that the empire was in desparate straits on all sides and that the Sicilians would soon be on top of him, bearing down like the hundred-headed Typhon, while those within the City thirsted after his death, for they believed in the visitation of God and supposed that his dissolution would be the solution to their difficulties. And Andronikos suspected that the Divinity had abandoned him for having killed the nobility in so many ways, although he still contended that he was of the fold of Christ986 and a member of the same family that was being afflicted. Thus he turned eagerly to the prediction of future events. He flattered and paid court to the accursed demons as Saul of old had later looked to the women who had in them a divining spirit and whom he had earlier persecuted in order to propitiate God on his behalf.

He recognized that the ancient divining art of sacrifice had been abolished, that the revelation of future events through this technique had also ceased and wholly vanished, that augury as well had flown away beyond the borders of the Roman empire, together with dream interpretation and the observation of omens, and that only those impostors survived who falsely divined through tubs and basins, together with those who carefully observe the positions of stars and who deceive others no less than they themselves are deceived. He set aside astrology as being both more common and obscure in revealing future events and yielded himself wholly to those who read the signs of the unknown in the waters, wherein certain images of the future are reflected like the shining rays of the sun.

Andronikos declined to be present at the mysteries, shunning babbling rumor which sees through the secret rites and divulges them to all. Therefore, he entrusted this loathsome deed of the night to Stephanos Hagiochristophorites, of whom we have made frequent mention.988 He enlisted the services of Seth, who had performed such rituals from boyhood and for which Emperor Manuel gouged out his eyes, as we have men- tioned when recounting the events of his reign,989 and asked the question: Who will rule after Emperor Andronikos or who will depose him? How he performed the secret rite I would rather neither learn nor describe, and they who so desire may be informed from another source. The evil demon replied or, rather, dimly indicated, as in murky waters, a certain Isaakios; the entire name, however, was not spelled out, but only a sigma in the shape of a half-moon, behind which was formed an iota. The oracle was unclear and only gave an indication of what was to be, or it would be closer to the truth to say that that which one could not be sure of knowing was beclouded with uncertainty by the multiform demon which feeds on evil by night. Andronikos surmised from what he heard that the letters designated the Isaurian; he contended that this was Isaakios Komnenos, who ruled as tyrant over Cyprus and whom he suspected of aspiring to his throne, since he had sailed from Isauria to Cyprus. Isaakios was an evil- doer as no other, a ruinous Telchine, a flooding sea of calamities, an Erinys [avenging deity] raging furiously against the erstwhile happy and prosperous inhabitants of this island. I express my sympathy in words for those who experienced this common disaster.

Andronikos wondered at the oracular response and said, "Ask not only after my successor but inquire also as to the time." When this question was posed, the earth-loving spirit fell into the water with a loud noise and prophesied by means of incantations that which it should not have revealed, that it would be within the days of the Exaltation of the Cross [14 September]. It was the beginning of the month of September when these events took place. When he heard the response to his second question, Andronikos smiled an unpleasant, false, and scornful smile and said that the oracle was nonsense (for how could Isaakios set sail from Cyprus and cover such a distance within so few days and remove him from the throne?) and paid no heed whatsoever. He asked John Apotyras (he was appointed judge of the velum by Andronikos and consequently was an ardent minister of his wishes) whether it was necessary to arrest Isaakios Angelos, since the responses of the oracle might pertain to him (for they looked into the distance neglecting that which was under foot), but he did not interpret the oracle in that way. Andronikos, for his part, heaped scorn on John Apotyras for even thinking that these things might pertain to Isaakios Angelos, contemning the man for the effeminacy of his character and contending that he was incapable of any clever enter- prise; his doom was approaching and the Divinity was wiser than he.

The hot and hasty Stephanos Hagiochristophorites, who cared for his lord and emperor in various ways, agreed to arrest Isaakios Angelos and after confining him to prison to subject him to that death which Andronikos was to sanction. He arrived at the house of Isaakios near the Monastery of Peribleptos990 in the late afternoon of the eleventh day of September in the year 6794 [1185],991 and entering the courtyard, he ordered Isaakios to descend and follow him wherever he should take him. As was to be expected, Isaakios delayed, speculating that as soon as he appeared, the worst of all possible evils would befall him. Hagiochristophorites was resolved to use force and admonished his attendants not to hesitate to grab Isaakios by his hair or seize him by his beard. They were to bring him down from his room in disgrace and lead him away as they beat him and then to thrust him headlong into the place of confinement he would designate.

His attendants were ready to do his bidding. Isaakios saw that he could not escape the dragnet spread out by the angler which was already closing in on him. He did not turn coward or become fainthearted, but, as one about to die, he chose to give battle. In the hope of escaping death or, rather, fearing that he would not be able to stamp freely over the plains as did the Homeric horse that had fed his fill992 (for the falcon was poised and the seizing of the prey not difficult), like the war horse that pricks up its ears to the sounding charge of the trumpet,993 with bristling mane, snorting and leaping, he closed with the enemy, scornful of the swords, disdainful of Ares, pouring out threats, and caring for naught.

With sword drawn (his head was bare and over his body he wore a cloak of two colors which descended to the waist and then separated into two pieces) he mounted his horse and raised his sword hand against the head of Hagiochristophorites. Terrified by the onrush of Isaakios, who, with unsheathed sword, was clearly bent on killing him, Hagiochristo- phorites turned around the mule he was riding and spurring it repeatedly, managed to get by the archway"' of the gate. But before he was able to pass through, Isaakios brought down a mortal blow and struck the poor wretch in the middle of his skull. Having cleaved him in twain, he let him lie there, the sport of dogs,995 like a fatted beast besmeared in its own blood. As for Hagiochristophorites' attendants, he terrified the one with his bare sword, cut off the ear of another, and sent another flying else- where, whereupon all fled to their homes. Then Isaakios rode at full speed towards the Great Church by way of the thoroughfare Mese. As he passed through the agora, he shouted out to all that with this sword (for he was still carrying it naked in his hand) he had killed Stephanos Hagiochristophorites.

On entering the holy temple, he ascended the pulpit from which murderers publicly confess their crimes, asking forgiveness from those entering and leaving the most holy shrine. Those of the City's populace who, with their own eyes, had seen Isaakios riding into the Great Church, as well as those who had learned of his deed by hearsay, came streaming in by the thousands to see Isaakios and witness what was to become of him. They all supposed that before sunset he would be seized by Andronikos and subjected to the most terrible and novel punishments which could be contrived for his suffering by the ingenious fabricator of such horrors. Isaakios's paternal uncle, John Doukas, together with his son Isaakios, came to his assistance and hailed his act of sedition, not because they were participants with Isaakios in the slaughter of Hagiochristo- phorites and accomplices in shedding his blood, but because they realized their ruin would follow, since they had given surety for one another to Andronikos when compelled to confirm their oath of loyalty to him.

With teeth chattering in fear, they expected to be apprehended at any moment and saw their death before their eyes. At great length they earnestly entreated the promiscuous crowds that streamed into the temple to remain with them and to help them as best they could, persuading them that their lives were threatened. The crowd nodded assent to their petition and took pity on them for their misfortune. Because none of the emperor's supporters was present to protest these developments, neither from among the illustrious nobility nor from among those who retained Andronikos's favor, nor ax-bearing barbarian, nor lictors dressed in scarlet, nor any one else, the assembled throng became bold and excited. Since there was none to obstruct them, their tongues became loosed and unbridled, and they promised to join together to provide the three with every assistance.

Thus Isaakios passed the whole night [11-12 September 1185], not in discussion about the throne, but in prayer that he not be killed; he knew that the flesh-eating Andronikos would sacrifice him like an ox or savor raw bits of his flesh like Cyclops.996 Thanks to his anxious supplication, several of the assembled populace shut the gates of the temple and brought in lights and persuaded many by their example not to depart for their homes. By morning there was no inhabitant of the City who was not in attendance and who did not pray to God that Isaakios might reign as emperor and Andronikos be dethroned, taken into custody, and made to suffer all the torments he had inflicted as he plotted against the life of almost everyone.

It so happened that at that time, according to the dispensation, as it seems, of Divine Providence, that Andronikos was not present in the imperial palace but was at the palace of Meloudion, situated on the eastern side of the strait leading into the Propontis. Near the first watch of the night,997 he heard of Hagiochristophorites' death and did nothing more for the time being than to address the citizens of the capital with a brief dispatch that exhorted them to desist from attempting to foment rebellion; it began as follows: "He who has received, has received; punishment has ceased." In the early dawn, Andronikos's attendants attempted to restrain the swelling mob, and Andronikos himself arrived at the Great Palace on an imperial trireme. Nor did any other proposal to check the tumultuous concourse fall on the ears of those who hear; many came near to being killed by merely muttering that no good could come of all this. As if by a preconcerted signal, the common herd ran en masse as though possessed with Corybantic frenzy to the Great Shrine of the Logos, inciting one another and bantering with those who did not share their zeal; they had not armed themselves with any kind of weapon but simply stood by idly and observed what others were doing. The learned among them called them a putrid member which did not suffer together with the rest of the body politic.

Next, they broke into pieces the keys and bolts of the public prisons and set the prisoners free; these were not all criminals, but many were members of illustrious families who had pined behind locked doors for some fortuitous and insignificant fault, or incidental remark, or for a crime committed against Andronikos by some friend. This event united the people even more and brought those who earlier mumbled against Andronikos but hesitated to do anything that might expose them to danger wholeheartedly into the enemy camp. They were now seen bear- ing swords and shields and fenced with long coats of mail, but the major- ity were armed with clubs and with wooden beams taken from work- shops. The surging throng proclaimed Isaakios emperor of the Romans, and one of the sacristans climbed a ladder and took down the crown of Constantine the Great which was suspended above the holy altar and set it on Isaakios's head.

So that what followed may not remain unrecorded and unheard by future generations, Isaakios, for his part, was perplexed by the corona- tion, not because he did not cherish the crown with a passion, but be- cause he suspected how troublesome and difficult it would be to attain. He felt that these events were simply being acted out in a dream,99s and fearing the wrath of Andronikos, he did not wish to provoke him any further. The aforementioned Doukas,999 who was standing with Isaakios, removed his hat, and baring his bald pate that shone brighter than a full moon, made earnest supplication that the diadem be set on his head. The mob refused, asserting that they never again wanted an old man to rule over them as emperor. They had had their fill of evils at the hands of the grizzled Andronikos; thanks to him, they abhorred every old man full of years and on the brink of the grave, especially if he had a beard parted in the middle and tapering at the end.

When Isaakios was anointed emperor in this manner, there occurred another event worth telling. As the imperial horses with their goldtrap- pings were about to be transported across the straits to the passageway of the Little Columns, one of them reared its legs, broke loose from the groom, and ran through the streets. When captured, it was taken to Isaakios as a mount.

Isaakios left the Great Church accompanied by Patriarch Basil Kamateros, whom the multitude had induced against his will to participate in and approve of their actions. When Andronikos arrived at the Great Palace, the mingled murmur pricked his ears, and shortly afterwards, seeing at a glance what was taking place, he gave his attention to resisting the mob and assembled his companions to give battle. Only a few of them were ready to follow his call for action, and so he took direct charge of the battle. Taking hold of a bow, he sent his arrows against the attackers from the embrasures of the highest tower, called Kentenarion. He soon realized that he was attempting to accomplish the impossible and spoke to the people through a messenger. He agreed to lay aside his crown and deliver it over to his son Manuel, hoping to still the tumult and to ward off the danger at hand. But exasperated more than ever by his words, the mob heaped the most atrocious insults on both him and his designated successor.

Because the multitude was now pouring inside the palace through the so-called Karea Gate, which had been broken down, Andronikos fled, taking wing in his purple-dyed buskins. Struck mad by God, on the way he removed his ancient amulet and the cross and donned a barbarian cap that tapered to a point like a pyramid. Thus attired, he boarded the same trireme which had brought him from Melanoudion to the Great Palace. There he took on board Anna, the bride of Emperor Alexios, who, when the latter departed this life, suffering the death we described above,  was taken to wife by Andronikos. He also took with him his mistress Maraptike, for whom he had a most ardent and passionate love-greater even than that of Demetrios Poliorketes of ancient times for Lamia, whom Ptolemy took captive when campaigning in Cyprus and who played the flute quite tolerably1002-and sailed away as fast as possible towards his destination. He chose the route leading to the land of the Tauro-Scythians [Russia], excluding all Roman provinces and other foreign territory as untrustworthy.

It was in this manner that Andronikos was driven from the throne of the Roman empire. Isaakios arrived at the palace, where he was ac- claimed forthwith emperor and autokrator of the Romans by the assem- bled throng; thereupon, he dispatched troops to pursue Andronikos. Large numbers of the citizenry, who had entered the palace without any difficulty, since there was no one to obstruct them or to prevent them from doing whatever they wanted, seized as plunder all the money they found still stored in the Chrysioplysia mint (besides the raw metals which had not been coined, there were twelve hundred pounds of gold, three thousand pounds of silver, and twenty thousand pounds of copper coins) and whatever else they could lay their hands on and carry away either individually or with the help of many others. Entering the armories, they removed countless weapons. They proceeded to despoil the churches in- side the palace and went so far as to pull the ornaments off the holy icons and to make away with the most sacred wrapping in which, according to an ancient tradition which has been handed down to us, was folded the letter of the Lord written in his own hand to Abgar.'°°3

After spending many days in the Great Palace, Emperor Isaakios moved to the palace in Blachernai, where messengers arrived announcing the capture of Andronikos, who had been apprehended in the following manner. While making his escape, he came to Chele, accompanied by a few of his attendants who had served him before his reign as emperor and by the two women he had brought with him. When the inhabitants there saw that he was wearing none of the imperial insignia, and that he was hastening to sail on to the Tauro-Scythians as a fugitive, fleeing without being pursued,10D4 they neither dared nor deemed it proper to take him into custody (they feared the beast no less that he was unarmed; for they cowered just at the sight of him); they prepared a ship and Andronikos boarded it with his followers. But even the sea was vexed with Androni- kos because he had often defiled her depths with bodies of the innocent; the waves rose straight up and fell back into a yawning chasm and leaped up again to swallow him, and the ship was cast towards shore. Again and again this happened, and Andronikos was hindered from crossing over before his captors arrived on the scene.

Thus the wretched Andronikos was arrested, bound, and thrown into a boat together with the women. But even at that time Andronikos remained ever the same, a man of many wiles and passing wise. Seeing that he could use neither his hands nor feet and that there was no sword at hand to perform some brave deed and escape his captors, he enacted a tragedy. Deftly modulating the plaintive tones of his voice, he sang a pathetic lament that paraded the forcible confinements of the past, and like a dexterous musician plucking the strings of a melodious instrument, he recounted in poetic strains how highborn was his family, distinguished for bravery; how fortunate had been his former station in life; how his earlier existence, even though he had been a homeless wanderer, had not at all been unbearable; and how pitiable was the present calamity which had overwhelmed him. The ingenious women responded to Andronikos in song and improvised an even . more mournful tune. He began the lamentations, and they, following his lead and singing together, answered him.

For naught did Andronikos recite all these things, and in vain did he of many devices contrive them; for the unholy deeds which he had perpe- trated stopped up the ears of his captors like beeswax: not one of them was moved to pity, or listened to his Sirens' song which he sang in the manner of women, or, more properly, with cunning and deceit, and the moly failed Hermes because of God's wrath.

He was confined in the so-called prison of Anemas with two heavy chains weighing down his proud neck, the iron collars used to fetter caged lions, and his feet were painfully shackled. Bound in this fashion he was paraded before Emperor Isaakios. He was slapped in the face, kicked on the buttocks, his beard was torn out, his teeth pulled out, his head shorn of hair; he was made the common sport of all those who gathered; he was even battered by women who struck him in the mouth with their fists, especially by all those whose husbands were put to death or blinded by Andronikos. Afterwards, his right hand cut off by an ax, he was cast again into the same prison without food and drink, tended by no one.

Several days later, one of his eyes was gouged out, and, seated upon a mangy camel, he was paraded through the agora looking like a leafless and withered old stump, his bare head, balder than an a shining before all, his body covered by meager rags; a pitiful sight that evoked tears from sympathetic eyes. But the stupid and ignorant inhabitants of Constantinople, and of these more so the sausage sellers and tanners, as well as those who pass the day in the taverns and eke out a niggardly existence from cobbling and with difficulty earn their bread from sewing, even as tribes of flies are gathered together and swarm around milk pails in the springtime and drink deep from the ivy-wood cups filled to over- flowing,"" gave no thought to the fact that but a few short days earlier this man had been emperor. That he had worn the imperial dia- dem and had been hailed as savior, acclaimed and adored by all; that they had confirmed their loyalty and devotion to him by the most awful oaths was forgotten. Now, carried away by unreasoning anger and an even greater madness, there was no evil which they did not inflict wickedly on Andronikos. Some struck him on the head with clubs, others befouled his nostrils with cow-dung, and still others, using sponges, poured excretions from the bellies of oxen and men over his eyes. Some, using foul lan- guage, reviled his mother and all his forebears. There were those who pierced his ribs with spits. The more shameless among them pelted him with stones and called him a rabid dog. A certain incontinent prostitute, grabbed an earthenware pot filled with hot water and emptied it over his face. There was no one who did not inflict some injury on Andronikos. Thus reviled and degraded, Andronikos was led into the theater in mock triumph sitting on the hump of a camel. When he dismounted, he was straightway suspended by his feet by a cord made of cork oak fastened to the two small columns on which rested a block of stone that stood near the bronze she-wolf and hyena whose necks were bent down.

Suffering all these evils and countless others which I have omitted, he held up bravely under the horrors inflicted upon him and remained in possession of his senses. To those who poured forth one after another and struck him, he turned and said no more than "Lord, have mercy," and "Why do you further bruise the broken reed?"10" Even after he was suspended by his feet, the foolish masses neither kept their hands off the much-tormented Andronikos, nor did they spare his flesh, but removing his short tunic, they assaulted his genitals. A certain ungodly man dipped his long sword into his entrails by way of the pharynx; certain members of the Latin race raised their swords with both hands above his buttocks, and, standing around him, they brought them down, making trial as to whose cut was deeper and boasting loudly as to the dexterity of their hands which resulted in such a noteworthy wound.

After so much suffering, Andronikos broke the thread of life, his right arm extended in agony and brought around to his mouth so that it seemed to many that he was sucking out the still-warm blood dripping from the recent amputation.

He reigned for two years, and for one year he was the actual master of the empire without donning the purple toga and the imperial diadem. He was well-proportioned and of wondrous comeliness,"" erect in posture and of heroic stature, and although he was well into old age, his face was youthful in form. He was the healthiest of men because he did not indulge in delicacies; neither was he incontinent in matters of the stomach, a gourmand drinking neat wine, but in the manner of Homeric heroes he preferred meats roasted over the fire,""' and thus no one ever saw him belch. But if ever he did suffer a stomachache as a result of toil and fasting the whole day long, he quickly overcame his ailment, helping his body to heal itself by partaking of a morsel of bread and a sip of wine. He took a physic but once during his reign, and then only because he was exhorted to do so against his will by the physicians who contended that, although he was not indisposed, it was necessary to take the efficacious medicine as a precaution. At sunset, after drinking the cathartic slowly, he evacuated whatever waste matter there was in his excretory organs, and to those companions who asserted that most thought that what the oracle declared of old, "0 Scythe-bearer, you have four months left, was said of him, he smiled and said that this was clearly false. Even should his body endure every kind of illness for a year on end, he was confident that he could resist because of the robustness of his physique, and it seems that he imagined that he would succumb to a soft death and that the end of his life would be a peaceful one; as for a death that would be just the opposite, he either purposely pretended that there was no such possibility or he had never put it in his mind.

The story has come down to us that once, during the horse races, Andronikos extended his hand and pointed out to his cousin Emperor Manuel the columns between which he himself would be suspended and said that some day an emperor of the Romans would be hanged there and ill-treated by the entire City's populace; Andronikos was speaking of Manuel, but it was not he who was to succumb to this fate.

Such was the death which overtook Andronikos, who was desolated like one rudely awakened from a dream. In the City his image had be- come an abomination,"" whether it be the features of his face as one would visualize them or his portrait found on walls and panels; large numbers of the populace abused these and ground them down and scat- tered them over the City, even outdoing what Moses' chosen followers did to the idol of the bull they cast in drunkenness.

After several days, his body was taken down from the most pitiable gallows and pitched into one of the vaults of the Hippodrome like an animal's carcass. Later, certain people who displayed some measure of compassion and did not indulge their wrath in all things removed Andronikos's corpse and laid it to rest in the lowest district near the Monastery of Ephorosl"1e which is situated at the Zeuxippon; even now it is not completely decomposed as can be seen by those who wish to look. Isaa- kios, blameless and just in all things, or so he thought, refused to allow the corpse to be removed and consigned to the grave or to be carried to the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs which Andronikos had ambitiously restored, adorning it with splendid decorations and extraordinary votive offerings, and in which he had provided that his body's dust be sheltered.

Andronikos gave himself over to the epistles of Paul, the divine herald. Continually taking his fill of their trickling honey, he composed excellent letters embellished with incontrovertible arguments which he derived from this source. He adorned with gold an icon of the divine preacher of Tarsus, which had been painted by an ancient hand and set it up as a votive offering in the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs. When his downfall was imminent, teardrops trickled from the eyes of the icon. On being informed of this Andronikos dispatched his ministers to verify the report. One of those chosen was Stephanos Hagiochristophorites; climbing a ladder (for the icon was suspended), he wiped the eyes of Paul with an unused and spotless cloth, but as soon as the wellsprings were wiped dry, they poured forth yet more tears. Marveling at what he had seen, he returned to report the wonder to Andronikos, who was greatly troubled and shook his head from side to side, muttering that it ap- peared that Paul was weeping for him, a portent that the worst calamity was to befall him. He loved Paul ardently and was exceedingly devoted to his words and presumed that he was loved by him in return.

In a word, Andronikos would not have been the least of the Komnenian emperors had he mitigated the intensity of his cruelty, had he been less quick to apply the hot iron and to resort to mutilation, ever blemishing and staining his vestments with blood, inexorably driven to punishment. Such practice he copied from the barbarous nations with whom he associated when, above all men, he was compelled to wander far and long. He might have been the equal of the Komnenians and their match in every way, for he was also responsible for the greatest blessings on behalf of humanity. He was not inhuman in all things, but like those creatures fashioned of double natures, he was brutal and human in form.

There were, moreover, iambic verses, contained in books and recited by many, that predicted Andronikos's future, among which was the following:

Suddenly rising up from a place full of wine, A man livid and arrogant in manner, Spotted, grizzled, a multicolored chameleon, Shall fall upon a stalk and mow it down.
But he too, being cut down in time,

Will miserably pay the price
For those wrongs which the wretch committed in his lifetime;

For he who bears the sword shall not escape the sword.

By a place full of wine, Oinaion was meant, as is evident from the name of the land whence Andronikos set out for Constantinople, as I have already related.

Meet Bob Atchison - the Creator of this Website

I am an icon painter, Russian Historian and Austin Web Designer formerly of Seattle, Washington and now living in Austin, Texas. My interest in Byzantium and icons began when I was 8 years old and read my first book on Byzantium called "The Fall of Constantinople".

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