But Alexius, the Great Domestic, who was also my father, was not destined to rest in quiet, but to proceed from one struggle to another. On his return, Borilus, a barbarian, and confidant of Botaniates, went out from the city to meet my father, the Great Domestic, and taking over Bryennius from him he did to him that which he did. He also brought an order from the Emperor to my father to proceed against Basilacius, who in his turn had now assumed the diadem, and exactly as Bryennius had done, was making the West seethe with unrest. Now, this man Basilacius, was one of the most conspicuous for bravery, courage, daring, and bodily strength, and as he possessed, moreover, a domineering spirit, he took to himself all the most exalted offices, and as [21] for honours, he plotted for some and demanded others. And after Bryennius' overthrow, this man became, as it were, his successor, and arrogated to himself the whole business of the tyranny. Starting from Epidamnus (the metropolis of Illyria), he pushed on to the chief city of Thessaly, having subdued all the country on his way, and voted and acclaimed himself Emperor, and Bryennius' roving army following him whithersoever he wished. Besides other admirable qualities, this man had that fine physique, strength of arm, and dignified appearance by which rustics and soldiers are most attracted. For they do not look through to the soul, nor have a keen eye for virtue, but they stop at the outward excellencies of the body, and admire daring, and strength, speed in running, and size, and consider these as fit qualifications for the purple robe and diadem.


Now he had these qualities in no mean measure, as well as a manly, invincible soul; in short, this Basilacius was kingly both in mind and appearance. He had a voice like thunder, of a nature to strike fear into a whole army, and his shout was enough to quell the courage of the boldest. Further, his eloquence was irresistible, whether he tried to excite the soldiers to battle or check them in flight.


With all these natural advantages and an unconquerable army under his command, the man started on his campaign, and seized the city of the Thessalians, as we have said. My father, Alexius Comnenus, made his counter-preparations as if for a battle with the mighty Typho, or the hundred-handed Giant, and girt himself for the fray with an antagonist worthy of his steel, by summoning all his strategic knowledge and courageous spirit. And before he had shaken off the dust of his late contest, or washed the gore from his sword and hands, he marched out, his spirit all aflame, like a grim lion against this long-tusked boar, Basilacius. Soon he reached the river Bardarius [*R. Vardar] (for that is its local name), which comes down from the mountains near Mysia, and after flowing through many intervening districts, and dividing the country round Beroea and Thessalonica into East and West, it empties itself into our so-called South sea.


What happens in every large river is this; when a considerable embankment has been raised by the deposit they bring down, then they flow to a lower level, and forsaking as it were their first bed, leave it quite dry and bereft of water, and fill the new bed they now traverse with rushing streams. [22] Between two such channels of the Bardarius, one the old gully, the other the newly-formed passage, lay a piece of ground, and when that clever strategist, Alexius, my father, saw it, he pitched his camp there, since the two channels were not more than three stades distant from one another. The running river he considered, would be a bulwark on the one side, and the old river-bed, which had become a deep ravine from the river's strong current, he utilized as a natural trench. The men were immediately put under orders to rest by day, and strengthen themselves with sleep, and to give their horses a good feed; for as soon as night fell, they would have to watch, and expect a surprise attack by the enemy. My father made these arrangements, I believe, because he foresaw danger from the enemy that evening. He quite expected them to attack him, for either his long experience made him guess this, or he had other reasons for his conjecture. This presentiment had come to him suddenly, nor did he only foresee and then neglect the necessary precautions. No, but he left the camp with his forces and their weapons, horses, and everything needful for battle, and left it with lights shining everywhere and entrusted the camp, with the supplies of food and other equipment he carried with him, to his body-servant "Little John," a former monk. He himself drew off to a good distance with his troops ready armed, and sat down to await the course of events. This was cunningly planned so that Basilacius, when he saw camp fires burning on all sides, and my father's tent illuminated with lamps, should imagine that he was resting inside, and that it would, consequently, be an easy matter to capture him and get him into his power.


  • 最終更新:2012-04-04 05:18:57