200. Cf. Scylitzes (813, p. 650): ‘(Isaac) was a man of fixed habits, fair-minded, sharp-witted, strong, intelligent, a great leader in war, a terror to his foes, kindly to his friends.’
201. Xenocrates of Chalcedon, a follower of Plato, was head of the Academy from 339 to 314 B.C. He was a philosopher of great moral earnestness. Psellus may however be referring to another Xenocrates, a sculptor of the school of Lysippus, who flourished in the third century B.C. and who wrote on art (Pliny, XXXV, 10, 36; Diogenes Laertius, IV, 15).
202. Cf. note I82. Many writers of antiquity wrote commentaries on the orations of Lysias, most of which have unfortunately perished.
Little sympathy for the court party
203. Isaac’s coinage gives the clue to his reign. Instead of the labarum (the imperial standard) a drawn sword appears in his hand. The days of eunuch-rule were over: henceforth the Empire was to be governed by a soldier. Hence he had little sympathy for the court party. All kinds of economy were practised.
The monasteries were among the first to suffer; many noble families were compelled to surrender property and wealth; certain allowances previously given to men who held office were cancelled; taxation became much heavier and was enforced without mercy; donations which other emperors made freely were now withheld. These measures naturally caused no little dissatisfaction (Scylitzes, 808).
204. Romanus II.
205. The title (‘born in the purple’) gave special distinction to the ruling dynasty. Here Psellus is speaking of the Macedonian House.
206. Alexander the Great, who mastered his favourite horse by turning him towards the sun. In its memory (it died in battle) he founded the city of Bucephala.
207. The sixth labour of Heracles.
208. Judging by Isaac’s conduct of the Patzinak campaign of 1059, he was not an outstanding strategist.
209. Cerularius. Isaac owed his throne to the Patriarch’s intervention in 1057. In return the emperor renounced certain jurisdiction over the affairs of the Church. Emboldened by this Cerularius tried to extend his power: he wore (or perhaps destined for his relative Constantine Ducas) the purple buskins that were considered the prerogative of the emperor only.
In November 1058 Isaac arrested him and sent him int exile at Proconnesus. As the Patriarch refused to abdicate, Psellus, at the emperors request, drew up the Accusation, an interesting and informative docunnen which charges him with heresy and treason and gives a wealth of corroborative detail. Cerularius however died before he could be brought to trial and was succeeded by Lichudes in 1059 (Scylitzes, 809).
210. February, 1059.
211. Yet Lichudes was not allowed to take up his new appointment without delay. Isaac insisted that he should submit to some inquisition before the Synod (Scylitzes 809, C-D, p. 645).
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