Since our story has now placed these two in opposition, Bryennius and. my father, Alexius Comnenus, both brave men
(for neither was a whit behind the other in courage, nor did the experience of the one surpass that of the other),
it is worth our while to place them in their lines and hostile array, and thence to view the fortune of war.
(They certainly were both handsome and brave men, and were their bravery and experience weighed, the balance would
stand level; but we must try to understand how fortune inclined it to one side. Bryennius, in addition to his confidence in his forces, was protected by their experience and orderliness, whereas Alexius, on the other hand,
centred but few, and those very meagre, hopes on his army, but as counter-defence, could rely on the strength of
his scientific knowledge and his strategic device.


Now when they were aware of each other, and the right moment for battle had come, Bryennius, on being informed that Alexius Comnenus had cut off his approaches and was encamped near Calaura, drew up his troops in the following order and marched against him. He posted the main army on the right and left wings, and gave the command of the right to his brother John; the men in this wing numbered 5,000, and were Italians, and those belonging to the detachment of the famous Maniaces, as well as some horse-soldiers from Thessaly, and a detachment, of no mean birth, of the [15] "Hetaireia." The other, the left wing, was led by Catacalon Tarchaniotes, and was composed of fully-armed Macedonians and Thracians, numbering in all about 3,000. Bryennius himself held the centre of the phalanx, consisting of Macedonians and Thracians, and the picked men of the whole nobility.


All the Thessalians were on horseback [or they were all mounted on Thessalian horses], and what with their iron cuirasses and helmets on their heads gleaming brightly, the horses pricking up their ears, and the shields clashing together, such a brilliant light falling from their persons and their helmets caused terror.

Bryennius too, circling amidst them like an Ares or Giant, overtopping all the others head and shoulders by an ell, was a sheer wonder, and object of dread to the onlookers. Outside this regular army at about two stades' distance were some allied Scythians, distinguished by barbaric weapons. And the order given was that when the enemy came in sight and the trumpet sounded the attack, the Scythians should at once fall upon them from the rear, and distress the enemy by thick and continuous showers of darts, whilst the rest should form in very close order, and attack with all their might. That was how one general disposed his men. My father, Alexius Comnenus, on his side, after examining the lie of the land, placed half his men in some hollows, and the rest front to front with Bryennius.


Alexius Comnenus, on his side, after examining the lie of the land, placed half his men in some hollows, and the rest front to front with Bryennius. When both sections, both the hidden and the invisible, were in battle array, he aroused the bravery of them individually by winged words, and enjoined upon the division lying in ambush to attack suddenly, and dash with the greatest possible force and violence against the right wing of the enemy, as soon as they perceived they were to the rear of them. The so-called "Immortals" and some of the Celtic troops he reserved for himself, and took command of them in person. He appointed Catacalon leader of the troops from Coma and the Turkish forces, and bade him pay special attention to the Scythians and to counter their incursions. Such then were the dispositions of the armies.

Now, when Bryennius' army had come near the hollows, then, immediately on my father, Alexius, giving the signal, the men in ambush Jumped out on them with wild yells and war cries. And by the suddenness of their onslaught, each striking and killing those whom he chanced to meet, they threw the enemy into a panic, and compelled them to flight. But John Bryennius, the own brother of the general, mindful hereupon of his "impetuous strength" and courage, turned his horse with his [16] curb, and cutting down at a blow the "Immortal" coming at him, stayed the discomfited phalanx, rallied the men, and drove the enemy off. The "Immortals," in their turn, began to flee headlong in some disorder, and many were cut down by the soldiers who were ever behind them.


Then, my father, hurling himself into the midst of the foe, by his valiant struggles did indeed discomfit just that part in which he happened to be, for he struck anyone who approached him, and laid him low at a blow, but he also hoped that some of his soldiers were following with him and protecting him, and so he kept on fighting desperately. But when he saw that his phalanx was utterly broken, and fleeing in all directions he collected the more courageous souls (who were six in all), and advised them to draw their swords, rush at Bryennius remorselessly, when they got near him, and then, if need be, to die with him. However, a certain Theodotus, a private, who had been my father's servant from childhood, dissuaded him from this plan, characterizing such an attempt as mere foolhardiness. So Alexius turned in the opposite direction, and decided to retire to a short distance from Bryennius' army; then he collected the men personally known to him from the dispersed soldiery, re-organized them, and returned to the work.

But before my father could withdraw secretly from the mêlée, the Scythians with many yells and shouts began to harass the men from Coma under Catacalon; and as they had little difficulty in beating these too, and driving them to flight, they turned their minds to looting, and went off on their own devices, for such is the Scythian nation. Before they have even entirely routed their adversary, or consolidated their gain, they spoil their victory by looting. For all the slaves and camp followers who formed the rear of Bryennius' army had pressed forward into the ranks from fear of being killed by the Scythians; and as this crowd was continually augmented by others who had escaped from the hands of the Scythians, no small confusion arose in the ranks, and the standards became commingled.


In the meanwhile, my father Alexius, as we said before, was cut off and moving about within Bryennius' army, when he saw one of the royal grooms leading a horse of Bryennius', decked with a purple cloth, and gilt bosses; and moreover, the men holding the large swords which customarily accompany the Emperor were running close beside it. On seeing this he covered his face with his vizor which depended from the rim of his helmet, [17] and rushing with violence against these men with his six soldiers (whom the story has already mentioned), he not only knocked down the groom, but also seized the royal horse, and together with it carried off the swords and then escaped: unnoticed from the army.


Arrived in a safe spot he started off the gilt-bedight horse, and the swords which are usually carried either side of the Emperor, and a herald with a very loud voice, bidding him run through the whole army crying out "Bryennius has fallen! This action brought back to the battle from all quarters many of the scattered soldiers belonging to the army of the Great Domestic of the Schools (to wit, my father), and others it encouraged to carry on. They stood still, where each happened to be, and having turned their eyes behind them were astonished at the unexpected sight. And you might have witnessed a strange sight in their case! for the heads of the horses were pointing forwards, whilst their own faces were turned backwards, and they neither moved forwards, nor did they wish to turn their bridles, but were quite aghast, and at their wits' ends to understand what had occurred. As for the Scythians, they were dreaming of going home, and had no intention of further pursuit. As they were now far away from both armies, they wandered vaguely about where they were with their booty. The proclamation that Bryennius had been taken, and overwhelmed, put courage into the whilom cowards and fugitives, and the announcement gained credibility from the fact that the horse was shewn everywhere with its royal accoutrements, and the large swords all but cried aloud that Bryennius, who should be protected by them, had become the possession of the enemy.


  • 最終更新:2012-03-31 22:41:40