War with the Scyths part 3

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The floor of this room was paved with marbles and the walls were panelled with it but not with ordinary sorts nor even with the more expensive sorts which are fairly easy to procure, but with the marble which the earlier Emperors had carried away from Rome. And this marble is, roughly speaking, purple all over except for spots like white sand sprinkled over it. It is from this marble, I imagine, that our ancestors called the room ” purple.”

Now, as I was saying, when the trumpet with its loud summons directed all to the road of the Haemus Mountains, as if to march against the Scythians, Bryennius, who had tried his utmost to dissuade the Emperor from this attempt and had not succeeded, remarked sententiously, ” If you cross the Haemus, Emperor, you will certainly find out whose horses are the swiftest.” When somebody asked what he meant by those words, he replied, “When you all flee.” For although this man had had his eyes dug out for rebellion, yet he was recognized as by far the cleverest strategist, and most skilful and ingenious in the arrangement of troops.

When captured by Alexius Comnenus

How this Bryennius was deprived of his sight for desertion, or rather rebellion, against the Emperor Botaniates, and how, when captured by Alexius Comnenus, at that time the great Domestic of the Eastern and Western armies, he was handed over to Borilus with his eyes uninjured-I must refer those who wish to know further details to the history of the great Caesar. For this Caesar became the son-in-law of Alexius when the latter was already Emperor, and he was the descendant of that Bryennius.

But at this point my soul is convulsed and filled with sorrow, for he was wise in counsel and a very distinguished orator. For everything, strength, swiftness, physical beauty, in fact all good qualities of mind and body combined to adorn this man. For in him nature begot and God fashioned a man most eminent in allways, and just such a hero as Homer depicted Achilles among the Achaeans, one could say my Caesar was, shining forth amongst all those beneath the sun. And this Caesar, who was an expert in military matters, had not neglected letters, but had read every book and applied himself to every branch of learning, and drawn therefrom all the wisdom of our own and of other times.

Read More about Antiochus Strategos part 20

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