War with the Scyths part 19


Now the Emperor had found out from many things that this Duke John was exceedingly brave, skilled in warfare and never disposed to disregard even the slightest of his orders, and as he required a man of this kind to act against Tzachas, be sent for him from Dyrrachium, and dispatched him with a quantity of naval and land forces against Tzachas, after appointing him ‘ Great Duke’ of the fleet. How many battles he waged with him and how many dangers he incurred before he proved himself victor, this history will tell later on. As Dalassenus was expecting him, he shewed Tzachas in his conference with him that he wished to postpone everything till the Duke’s arrival.

But Tzachas seemed to reply in the Homeric words, “It is already night ; it is well to obey the voice of night,” and he promised to send a large supply of provisions at daybreak. However it was all trickery and deceit, and Dalassenus was right in his supposition. For towards morning Tzachas went secretly to the shore of Chios, and, as there was a favourable wind,he sailed for Smyrnain order to collect more troops and then return to Chios. But Dalassenus proved himself a match for Tzachas’ devices.

For he embarked with his troops in the ships that were at hand, and went to Bolissus ; there he refitted the ships, prepared more siege-engines, gave his soldiers a rest and collected some more and then returned to the place whence he had started. Then he dashed into a fierce conflict with the barbarians, pulled down the walls and subjugated the town, whilst Tzachas was still dwelling in Smyrna. Afterwards as the sea was calm, he sailed with the whole fleet straight to Mitylene.

Pitched their camp near Polybotum

IX After thus disposing of the war with Tzachas, the Emperor heard that the Scythians were again aiming at Rusium and had pitched their camp near Polybotum, so he left Constantinople, just as he was, and took possession of Rusium. There accompanied him too the deserter Neantzes who was secretly hatching a horrible design against him, and in his escort were also Cantzus and Catranes, lovers of war and ardently devoted to the Emperor. Seeing a large detachment of the Scythians in the distance, he joined battle with them.

Many of the Romans fell in the battle, and others were taken alive and put to death by the Scythians, while a goodly number reached Rusiurn in safety. But this was only a battle with the Scythian foragers. The Emperor was heartened by the arrival of the so-caued Maniacatx Latins and determined to fight in close combat on the day followiDg with the Scythians. Since there happened to be only a short distance between the two armies, he did not venture to sound the war-trumpet as he wished to spring the battle upon the enemy.

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