And now, as I said above, many people were suspicious of the Queen's staying in the palace, and began to whisper that the present holder of the sceptre would take her in marriage. The family of Ducas, however, did not imagine any such thing (for they were not biased by current opinion), but as they had long recognized the undisguised hatred the mother of the Comneni bore them, they lived in constant dread and suspicion of her, as I have repeatedly heard them tell, Therefore when George Palaeologus arrived with the fleet and started the acclamations, those in attendance on the Comneni bent down to them from the walls, and told them to be silent, fearing they might join the name of Irene to that of Alexius and acclaim them together. At this George waxed angry and shouted up to them, "It is not for you that I undertook this heavy conflict, but just for her you mention, Irene." And straightway he bade the sailors shout for Irene as well as Alexius. These doings cast dire terror into the souls of the Ducas family and furnished the malicious with material for ribald jokes against Queen Maria. Meanwhile the Emperor Alexius, who had never had any such idea (for why should he?), having taken over the Roman Empire, and being a man of unvarying energy, at once undertook the whole management of the affairs, and began directing everything from the centre, so to say.


For he took possession of the palace at sunrise and before even shaking off the dust of combat or allowing his body any rest, he was wholly plunged in thought about military matters. His brother Isaac, whom he reverenced as a father, he made his confidant on all matters, as he did his mother, and they both assisted him in the administration of the common weal; not but what his great and active mind would have sufficed not only for the administration of one kingdom, but several. Alexius first directed his attention to the most urgent question and spent the rest of that day and the whole of the night in anxiety about the crowd of soldiers dispersed throughout Byzantium. For these were indulging their animal passions to the full, and he was devising a means of checking their undue licence [74] without causing a revolt, and of ensuring peace for the citizens in the future. In any case he feared the recklessness of the soldiers all the more because the army was composed of many different elements, and he wondered whether they might not even be hatching some plot against himself. And the Caesar, John Ducas, was anxious to get rid of Queen Maria, and - drive her out of the palace as quickly as possible, and thus allay people's unjust suspicions, so first he tried in divers ways to win over the Patriarch Cosmas, imploring him to be on their side and to turn a deaf ear to the suggestions of the Comneni's mother, and secondly he very sensibly advised the Queen to ask the Emperor for a letter to assure her own and her son's safety and then to leave the palace, and in this instance he used what is called the "Patroclus" excuse. [* Cf. Iliad, 19: 302]


For once before he had succeeded in providing for her, namely, after Michael Ducas' deposition, when he had advised the latter's successor, Nicephorus Botaniates, to take her in marriage, because she came from another country and had not a crowd of kinsfolk to give the Emperor trouble, and he had told Botaniates a great deal about her family and personal beauty, and often praised her to him. And certainly she was as slender of stature as a cypress, her skin was white as snow, and though her face was not a perfect round, yet her complexion was exactly like a spring flower or a rose. And what mortal could describe the radiance of her eyes? Her eyebrows were well-marked and red-gold, while her eyes were blue. Full many a painter's hand has successfully imitated the colours of the various flowers the seasons bring, but this queen's beauty, the radiance of her grace and the charm and sweetness of her manners surpassed all description and all art. Never did Apelles or Pheidias or any of the sculptors produce a statue so beautiful. The Gorgon's head was said to turn those who looked upon it into stone, but anyone who saw the Queen walking or met her unexpectedly, would have gaped and remained rooted to the spot, speechless, as if apparently robbed of his mind and wits. There was such harmony of limbs and features, such perfect relation of the whole to the parts and of the parts to the whole, as was never before seen in a mortal body, she was a living statue, a joy to all true lovers of the beautiful. In a word, she was an incarnation of Love come down to this terrestrial globe.


By use of the above-mentioned arguments the Caesar soothed and appeased the Emperor's mind, although many [75] advised him to marry Eudocia. Of her it was whispered that in her desire to become "Empress" for the second time, she wooed Botaniates with letters at the time that he occupied Damalis and was hoping to be raised to imperial power. Others say that she did not do this for herself, but for her daughter Zoe Porphyrogenita; and perhaps she would have attained her desire, had not one of the servants, the eunuch, Leo Cydoniates, checked her by giving her much cogent advice. What this was it would not be right for me to detail as I am by nature averse to slander, so I will leave it to those who like to chronicle such things. However the Caesar John who had approached Botaniates on this subject with every kind of art, finally settled the matter by persuading him to marry the Princess Maria as I have already plainly stated and from henceforth John was allowed much freedom of speech in her presence. It took some days to arrange matters, and the Comneni did not want to drive her from the palace at once, seeing that they had received so many kindnesses at her hands during the time she was Empress, and also because of the intimacy between them which bad grown up owing to their mutual connection. Consequently many rumours indicative of varying dispositions were set afloat, some interpreting the facts in one way, others in another, according to the degree of good- or ill-will each individual bore her, for people are wont to judge according ?their prejudices rather than according to the real facts. During this time Alexius was crowned without his Queen by the right hand of the Patriarch Cosmas. The latter, a reverend man full of holiness, had been elected to succeed the saintly Patriarch John Xiphilinus, who had died on the 2nd August of the thirteenth Indiction in the fourth year of the reign of Michael Ducas, the son of Constantine.


The fact that the imperial diadem had not yet been conferred on the Queen, still further alarmed the family of Ducas, who now insisted on Queen Irene's being crowned too. Now there was a certain monk Eustratius, surnamed Garidas, who was building a house near the large church of God, and from this it seems, had gained a reputation for sanctity. He had already in former times been a frequent visitor to the mother of the Comneni and had predicted her son's rise to the throne. She was in any case fond of monks, and in this instance being soothed by flattering words, she daily showed him increasing confidence and had begun to plan his elevation to the patriarchal seat of the metropolis. Alleging as excuse the simple and [76] unpractical mind of the reigning patriarch she persuaded some friends to suggest to him the idea of resigning in the form of advice which they pretended to offer as most conducive to his welfare. But the holy man was not blind to these machinations, and finally he swore by his own name and said, "By Cosmas, unless Irene receives the crown from my hands, I shall not resign from the patriarchate." The men forthwith reported these words to the "Mistress," for thus she was generally called now by the wish of the Emperor who was devoted to his mother. And so seven days after Alexius was publically proclaimed Empero, his wife Irene was also crowned by the Patriarch Cosmas


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