War with the Scyths part 14


Overcome by this unforeseen disaster, the father beat his breast for three days and nights with a sling-stone and then died. The interval of peace with the Scythians did not last long, but like ‘dogs they returned to their vomit’ ; they then removed from Cypsella and occupied Taurocomus, where they wintered and ravaged the neighbouring village-towns.

VII On the return of spring they came down from there to Chariopohs. The Emperor who was stationed at Bulgarophygum, wished to no longer delay but set apart a considerable section of the army, all picked men and amongst them too the young soldiers, called ” Archontopouli,” all with their beards scarcely grown, but irresistible in attack, and ordered them to fall upon the Scythians, who were standing on the tops of their wagons, from the rear.

First formed by Alexius

This band of ” Archontopouli ” was first formed by Alexius. As the Roman Empire possessed no army owing to the carelessness of the preceding Emperors, he collected from all sides the sons of soldiers who had fallen in the field, and trained them in the use of arms and for war and called them “Archontopouli,” as though they were the sons of “Archontes” ; in order that by their name they should be reminded of their parents’ nobility and bravery, and therefore aim at impetuous valour and prove themselves very brave when circumstances demanded daring and strength.

Such then was the band of “Archontopouli,” and roughly speaking they numbered about two thousand; it was much the same as the ‘Sacred Band’ of the Spartans in former days. In obedience to orders, then, these newly-recruited “Archontopouli ” marched to the attack. But some of the Scythians lying in ambush in a hollow below the hill, watched their advance; and when they saw them falling upon the wagons, they rushed out upon them with irresistible impetuosity.

And during the close engagement which followed about three hundred of the “Archontopouli ” fell fighting desperately. For some time the Emperor grieved deeply for them, shedding bitter tears and calling each by name as if they were absent. After this victory over their opponents the Patzinaks passed through Chariopolis and turned to Apros, devastating as they went. The Emperor then had recourse again to his former plan of action, and forestalled their entry into Apros ; for, as I have remarked more than once, he had not sufficient troops to risk a battle with his enemies.

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