She wished to avoid naming the husband-to-be and at the same time put an end to the conflicting rumours about his identity. On the other hand, she wanted me to know of her plan. Consequently, I was visited by one of her evil counsellors. He urged me so speak freely to her on the subject, and to suggest that she should place a nobleman on the throne. My answer was concise: I would neither offer this advice nor seek to persuade her by argument, nor would I use my eloquence if a good opportunity presented itself.**253

Barbarian hordes ravaging the whole of the east

6. In the meantime there had been whispered rumours, and the court got to know of the affair. The future emperor had already been chosen by her, and according to the arrangements they had made, this was the very day on which the prospective bridegroom was expected to arrive in the city. On the morrow the ceremony of coronation was to be performed. That evening the empress sent for me. When we were alone, she spoke to me with tears in her eyes. ‘You must be aware,’ she said, ‘of our loss in prestige and of the declining fortunes of our Empire, with wars constantly springing up and barbarian hordes ravaging the whole of the east.**254 How can our country possibly escape disaster?’

I knew nothing of the things that had been going on, nor that the future emperor was already standing at the palace doors, so I replied that it was no easy matter to decide. ‘It requires careful consideration,’ I said. ‘Better propose today and listen tomorrow, as the proverb says.’ With a little laugh she went on, ‘But deliberation is superfluous now. The matter has been considered already and the decision is made. Romanus, the son of Diogenes, has been invited to rule as emperor, in preference to all others.’**255

7. These words filled me with instant consternation. I could not conceive what would become of me. ‘Well then,’ I said, ‘tomorrow I too will give my advice on the matter.’ — ‘Not tomorrow,’ she replied ‘but now. Give me your support.’ I returned to the attack, with just one question: ‘But your son, the emperor, who will presumably one day govern the Empire alone — does he know what has happened too?’ — ‘He is not entirely in the dark, although he does not yet know all the details,’ she said. ‘However, I am glad you mention my son. Let us go up to him together, and explain how things stand. He is sleeping above in one of the imperial apartments.’

Read More about The Conpiracy of Aston part 7

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