The Emperor had advanced in front of his own army and stood sword in hand; with the other he held up as a standard the Pallium of the Mother of the Divine Word and was supported by only twenty brave-hearted companions, Nicephorus, Diogenes’ son, was there together with Michael Ducas the Protostrator, and brother of the Empress, and the servants of his family. Then three Scythian foot-soldiers leapt at him, two snatched at his reins on either side, the third at his right leg. Immediately he cut one man’s hand off, against the other he lifted his sword and with threatening voice made him fall back, whilst he struck at the helmet of the man holding his leg.
But he only gave a rather light blow with his sword nor did he use his whole strength in making it for he was afraid that one of two things might happen if, as is often the case, a severe blow from his sword missed altogether, namely, that he would hit his own leg, or the horse on which he was riding, and in that case he would easily be taken by the enemy. So he quickly gave him a second blow but made the motions of his hand very cautiously, for in all his actions, words and motions reason was ever his guide, and he was never carried away by anger nor led astray by passion.
The Scythian’s helmet had fallen off at the first blow so the sword descended on his bare head, and without a sound he fell straight to the ground. Seeing the uncontrolled flight of the troops (for the lines had long since been broken up, as all fled promiscuously), the Protostrator said, “To what purpose, Emperor, are you trying to hold out here any longer?
Entirely neglecting your own safety
To what purpose are you risking your life and entirely neglecting your own safety?” to which the Emperor replied that he would rather they should die fighting bravely than seek safety in ignoble flight. The Protostrator retorted, “If you were one of the common herd, your remark would be praiseworthy, but as your death involves world-wide disaster, why not choose the better part? for if you save yourself, you can live to fight another day and conquer.”
The Emperor seeing himself in instant danger, as the Scythians were attacking him persistently, abandoned all hope, and said, ” Yes, it is time now for us to take thought for our safety with the help of God, but we must not pursue the same road as our fugitives for in that case the Scytbians who are pursuing our men might fall in with us on their return, but,” and he pointed to the Scythians standing in the van of their army, ” we must ride down upon those men there as if we had been born to-day, and were doomed to die today, and then if by God’s aid we get to the rear of the Scythians’ lines, we shall find a different road.”
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