I say this, because I myself have some knowledge of the science, a knowledge acquired after long and diligent study, and I have been of some assistance to many of these men and helped them to understand the planetary aspects. Despite this, I am no believer in the theory that our human affairs are influenced by the movements of the stars. That, however, is a problem that must form the subject of inquiry in another work — it gives rise to too many controversies on either side.

20. Let us return to the reigning emperor. Without disclosing the nature of the deed he had in mind, he submitted a vague inquiry to the astrologers. The only information he asked for was this, whether the heavenly aspects were inauspicious to a man who took a great risk. Observations were taken and the general position of the stars was carefully examined at the proper moment, and when the astrologers saw that everything portended blood and sorrow, they warned him to give up his enterprise.

Your wonderful knowledge

The more circumspect among them advised him to put off the deed until some later occasion. At this the emperor burst into a loud laugh. He mocked their science, calling it a fraud. ‘To blazes with you!’ he said. ‘And as for your wonderful knowledge my daring venture will make child’s-play of it!’

21. So he at once got to work and went over to the attack without delay.**68 Certain charges were fabricated against his adopted mother, who was innocent of any plot aimed at himself, and the wretched boy condemned the empress as a poisoner.

She, still know rag nothing of his machinations, was driven from her bedchamber–she who had been born there, driven out by a parvenu! She, the daughter of a most noble family, was dispossessed by a man sprung from the gutter. Witnesses were suborned to give false evidence and he proceeded to question her on matters of which she knew nothing. She was compelled to account for her actions and was then convicted of the most abominable crimes. At once she was put on board ship, together with certain persons who were given carteblanche to insult her. Exiled from the palace, she was landed on one of the islands lying off Byzantium called Prinkipo.

22. Afterwards I talked with some of those who took her away there and they told me, that when the ship had put out to sea for the voyage, Zoe looked back at her royal home and apostrophized the palace in a kind of dirge.

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