War with the Scyths part 16


However Tzachas thought Methymna was beneath consideration, but sailed direct to Chios and took that also at first assault. On receipt of this news the Emperor sent an adequate fleet with plenty of soldiers against him under the leadership of Nicetas Castamonites. So he departed, engaged in battle with Tzachas and was quickly worsted, and Tzachas also carried off a number of his ships. When the Emperor was informed of what had happened to Castamonites he equipped a second fleet and appointed as ‘Duke’ of it, Constantine Dalassenus, a great fighter and related to him on his mother’s side.

Dalassenus and Opus

Directly he reached the shores of Chios he started the siege of the citadel, fighting with great energy as he was eager to take the town before Tzachas could arrive from Smyrna. So he hammered at the walls with a number of siege-engines and catapults and destroyed the connecting walls between two towers. When the Turks inside perceived this and also recognized that the Roman forces were hard to resist, they used the Roman tongue and implored the lord of all to have mercy. But the soldiers of Dalassenus and Opus could hardly be controlled in their eagerness to enter the city, although their leaders restrained them because they were afraid that if their men entered the town they would seize all the booty and money that Tzachas had stored there.

So they said, “You have heard the Turks clearly proclaiming their allegiance to the Emperor, and you know they have surrendered to us, it would not be right therefore for you to go in and slaughter them mercilessly.” When day was almost over and night was at hand the Turks built up another wall in place of the one destroyed, and on its outer side they suspended from it mattresses, hides and any handy garment, so that the impact of the missiles directed against it would be deadened by them and thus slightly diminished.

And Tzachas prepared the fleet he had with him, enlisted about 8,000 Turks and then set off on the road to Chios, while his fleet accompanied him along the coast. When he heard this, Dalassenus ordered the admirals to embark sufficient soldiers and Opus the general, and to put to sea and, if they fell in anywhere with their adversary’s fleet, they were to engage them in battle. Tzachas soon left the land and embarked and directed his course straight to Chios, and about midnight Opus met him. (Now Tzachas had got a very long chain and linked all his vessels together so that neither those which wanted to turn back could get away nor those who wished to sail ahead break from their attachment.) When Opus saw this new arrangement of Tzachas’ fleet, he was horror struck and did not even dare to approach it, but turned his helm about and made for Chios.

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