War with the Scyths part 5

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If, however, no sign appears, I shall stand convicted of having been wrong in my surmise.”Before two hours had passed, the light of the sun failed, and the whole of its disc was darkened by the moon’s passing over it. At that sight the Scythians were terrified, and the Emperor handed them over to Leo Nicerites (he was a eunuch, brought up among the soldiers from babyhood, and much respected) and ordered him to take a sufficient guard and conduct them to the Queen of Cities.

And Leo started very willingly on the road to Constantinople. But the barbarians who were throughout intent on regaining their liberty, slew the guards who were keeping a very careless watch over them when they reached little Nicaea, and returned by devious paths to those who had sent them. Nicerites with three others escaped with difficulty and rejoined the Emperor at Goloë.

Whole Scythian army and attack him suddenly

III After hearing Leo’s tale, the Emperor was afraid that the ambassadors would stir up the whole Scythian army and attack him suddenly; but he did not require a dream to urge him to battle, as Atreus’ son, Agamemnon, did, for he was seething with lust of combat, so he led his legions through the vale of Sidera, and encamped near the Bitzina, a river running down from the adjacent mountains. Here a good many of his soldiers were killed, for in foraging they had strayed too far from the camp and many were captured besides.

At dawn the Emperor quickly made for Pliscoba and from there he ascended a mountain peak called Simeon, and also locally ‘the Scythians’ Parliament House.’ Here a similar accident occurred to soldiers who whilst foraging were at a distance from their camp. On the following day he marched along a river flowing at about a distance of twenty-four stades from Dristra and there he piled the baggage and erected his palisades.

Here the Scythians made a massed attack upon the Imperial tent and killed not only a number of the light-armed troops but also captured some of the Manichaeans who had fought most courageously. Hence a great din and confusion arose in the army and even the imperial tent was overturned by some horse-soldiers careering about wildly, and this fact was looked upon as a bad omen by the Emperor’s ill-wishers.

However, the Emperor drove off the barbarians with a detachment of the army to some distance from his tent, so that they should not cause confusion again, then he mounted his horse and quelled the tumult, immediately broke up the camp and marched with all his troops in good order to Distra (this is the best-known of the towns near the Danube) in order to besiege it with engines.

Read More about Antiochus Strategos part 17

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