He used to sit on the imperial throne beside his brother Constantine, and being endowed with an exceptionally generous nature, he had no intention of keeping all power to himself. In fact, he often allowed his brother to share in his duties as emperor. Such was the state of affairs at that time, and these arrangements would have been preserved without alteration to the end, if they had not suffered interruption from a cruel blow of fortune.

4. At this stage in my narrative I would like to say just this about the empress Eudocia: I do not know whether any other woman ever set such an example of wisdom or lived a life comparable to hers, up to this point; I will not go so far as to say that she became less wise after this event, only that she lost some of her old precision: her ideas changed as she grew older. I would offer this defence on her behalf, that even if there was some alteration in her, she did not become a slave to pleasure or give way to voluptuous emotions.

The truth is, she was very worried over her sons. She feared they might be deprived of the crown, if there were no one to protect and guide them. Actually, life at the palace held no attraction so far as she herself was concerned. The following incident will prove this most convincingly. The present author was a brother (I am using the word in a spiritual sense) of her father, and she had an extraordinary respect for me. In fact, she looked upon me as something divine.

Such terror that ever afterwards

I happened on one occasion to be with her in a sacred church, and when I saw the earnestness of her faith in God and how devoted she was to her Lord, I was deeply moved and prayed with all my heart that she might enjoy power as long as she lived. But she, turning round, rebuked me for it. The prayer, she said, was really a curse. ‘I hope it will not be my fate to enjoy power so long that I die an empress.’ These words filled me with such terror that ever afterwards I regarded her as more than human.

5. However, man is a very inconstant being, especially when external circumstances give him an excuse for changing. This particular empress was a woman of steadfast character and noble spirit but her tower of wise counsels was violently shaken by the rivers that dashed against it, and she was persuaded to marry a second time. A number of people knew what was going on. They even suggested that Destiny had a hand in the matter. Yet she never so much as hinted at her intentions to me. No doubt she held her tongue for shame.

Read More about Michael V Part 17

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