Constantine, his Brother**294

15. Not very quick-witted, but being wrapt up in himself, he has all the appearance of a thinker. He is generally observant, though, and when words are called for, he is a pretty clever speaker. He is not one to give way to his adversaries quickly, but answers argument with argument, and tries to win his point. Yet he finishes with a smile and derives a quiet satisfaction from his efforts. He has an old head on young shoulders, great tenacity of purpose and steadiness. He is moderately generous, not too liberal, nor yet tight-fisted, a clever horseman, a great huntsman, the darling both of his mother and of his brothers.

John Ducas, the Caesar**295

16. How can I do justice to the noble qualities, the virtues, of this gentleman? Such versatility, such outstanding gifts, baffle description. Two characteristics, rarely found in conjunction, are extremely marked in him — a lively intelligence (I never saw or heard of anyone so quick-witted) and kindness of heart. He reminds me of a river of oil flowing noiselessly on its way, so mild he is. And as for military strategy, he has acquired a knowledge of the science of the ancients comparable to that of the famous Caesars themselves. He has studied the brave deeds and victories of the Hadrians, the Trajans, and others of the same company.

This knowledge, moreover, has not developed spontaneously, nor by chances but from the reading of books on tactics and strategy and siege-craft, from the works of Aelian**296 and Apollodorus**297 and their disciples. It might be inferred that one so versed in military science would be deficient in the arts of civil administration, of jurisprudence, of finance, but such a belief would be quite erroneous. The truth is, to whatever noble study he devotes his energies, John excels in it, sharp as the proverbial razor. Perhaps, someone may suggest, he is bad-tempered. Not a bit of it, although he does show a certain amount of spirit. Perhaps vindictive?

No man was ever less revengeful- his for nature is even more marked than his self-control. Maybe he is too ready with his tongue, too outspoken, too presumptuous in the presence of his brother and, to a less degree, when talking with his nephew? Wrong again. In fact, John sets us all an example of diplomacy, always careful to avoid extremes, tempering his serious pursuits with levity. Only in this matter of pastimes does he show lack of restraint and lose a sense of proportion.**298

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