War with the Scyths part 13


The Comans returned, fully prepared for war with the Scythians, but not finding them and learning that they had come over the passes, occupied Marcella and after arranging terms of peace with the Emperor, demanded permission to cross the passes and attack the Scythians. However, the Emperor refused, as he had already concluded peace with the Scythians, saying, ” We have no need of auxiliaries at present ; take a satisfactory present and go home! ” He treated the ambassadors courteously, gave them satisfactory presents and sent them home in peace.

This emboldened the Scythians who promptly broke the treaty, reverted to their former cruelty and laid waste the neighbouring lands and cities. For as a rule all barbarians are unstable, and the observance of treaties is not natural to them. Becoming aware of this Synesius returned to the Emperor and himself informed him of the Scythians’ ingratitude and violation of the treaty. They seized Philippopolis and this placed the Emperor in a difficulty as against their large numbers his forces were far too small to allow of his opening battle with them.

But accustomed as he was to find a way out of difficulties and never in any crisis to feel at all despondent, he decided that he must endeavour to reduce their numbers by skirmishes and ambuscades. And so guessing at the places or towns which they were likely to enter in the morning, he anticipated their arrival the evening before; or if in the evening he heard that they would take possession of a certain place, he occupied that same place in the early morning.

Scythians and the Emperor

And as much as possible, he wore them down from a distance by skirmishes and ambuscades to prevent their gaining possession of the forts. Well, both parties, the Scythians and the Emperor, reached Cypsella. And now, as a mercenary force which he expected had not yet arrived, the Emperor felt very helpless for he knew how quickly the Scythians moved and saw that they were already hastening towards the Queen of Cities. As he had insufficient forces for meeting their immense host, and considering that ‘ what was not worse, was better,’ as the saying is, he again resorted to negotiations for peace.

Consequently he sent ambassadors to confer with them about peace, and the Scythians at once fell in with the Emperor’s wishes. Before the truce was made, a man named Neantzes deserted to the Romans. Then Migidemus was sent to f etch in recruits from the adjacent regions; in a battle which occurred later at a place . . . this man’s son whilst making a fierce dash against the Patzinaks was snared and captured by a Scythian woman and dragged into the circle of their wagons with an iron sickle. His head which they cut off the Emperor bought at his father’s request.

Read More about War with the Scyths part 7


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