And later he devoted himself to history, and at the suggestion of my mistress mother, I mean the Empress Irene, he composed a work well worthy of attention and worth reading, for he arranged a narrative of my father’s deeds before he took up the reins of government. In this history he gives an accurate account of the facts concerning Bryennius; and there too he narrates his grandfather’s many vicissitudes, and his father-in-law’s brilliant exploits, and assuredly he never falsified anything for he was related to them both, to the latter by marriage and to the former by blood. I have already mentioned his book in the earlier chapters of this history.
Now the Scythians saw that George Euphorbenus was on his way against them coming up the Ister with a large army and a fleet. (This river flows down from the western mountains, and after a series of cataracts empties itself into the Pontus Euxinus [*=Black Sea] through five mouths; broad and with a strong current it flows through a vast plain, and is navigable for even the largest and most heavily laden vessels can be carried on its waters. It has not only one name, for in its upper reaches and near its source it is called the ‘Danube,’ whilst in the lower and at its mouths, the ‘Ister.’
George Euphorbenus coming up this river
To resume, when a portion of the Scythians saw George Euphorbenus coming up this river, and were told that the Emperor too was already marching towards them overland, with a very considerable army, they recognized that it would be impossible for them to fight against both and so looked about for a way of escape from this imminent danger. Accordingly they sent a hundred-and-fifty Scythians as ambassadors to discuss terms of peace, and also to insinuate a few threats and perhaps to promise that if the Emperor acceded to their requests, they would furnish him with thirty thousand horsemen, whenever he required them.
But the Emperor, awake to the Scythians’ treachery, knew that this embassy was merely to circumvent the immediate danger, and that, at the next opportunity, they would kindle the latent sparks of their malice into a mighty conflagration ; therefore, he refused to receive the ambassadors. In the course of the discussion a certain Nicolas, one of the Emperor’s secretaries, came up to him and whispered in his ear, ” You may expect an eclipse of the sun to take place today, “and on the Emperor’s expressing a doubt, he swore with an oath that he was not lying. Then the Emperor, with his habitual quick-wittedness, turned to the Scythians and said, “I appoint God as judge; and if a sign appears in the heavens this day, you will know for a surety that I have good reason for suspecting, and therefore not receiving, your embassy because your leaders are not sincere in their overtures for peace.
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