25. Up to this time the emperor had lived in the lap of luxury and he was extremely proud of his achievements. Throughout the city, however, — and I am speaking here of persons of every kind and fortune and age — a feeling of dissatisfaction and confusion gradually became more apparent. It was as if the natural harmony of the city had been interrupted. There w as at first an undercurrent of anxiety which slowly made itself felt everywhere. Everyone was concerned over the empress’s conviction. Deep in their hearts men had grim forebodings and they began to speak freely about them.

A certain awful dejection

As the story of her new position in the state became generally known, the whole city quite obviously went into mourning. Just as in the great upheavals of nature all men are sad at heart and know not how to recover their spirits — for some terrible evils they have already endured and others they still await — so then a certain awful dejection seized on every soul and a sense of misfortune that was beyond comfort. On the second day no one any longer held his tongue. The ruling classes, the clergy, even the emperor’s family and household staff, were talking about it.

Those engaged in business, too, prepared themselves for great deeds of daring, and not even the foreigners and allies whom the emperors are wont to maintain by their side — I am referring to the Scyths from the Taurus — were able to restrain their anger. The indignation, in fact, was universal and all were ready to lay down their lives for Zoe.

26. As for the common mob, it was already on the move, greatly stirred at the prospect of exercising tyranny over him who had himself played the tyrant. And the women — but how can I explain this to people who do not know them?

I myself saw some of them, whom nobody till then had seen outside the women’s quarters, appearing in public and shouting and beating their breasts and lamenting terribly at the empress’s misfortune, but the rest were borne along like Maenads,**69 and they formed no small band to oppose the offender. ‘Where can she be?’ they cried. ‘She who alone is noble of heart and alone is beautiful. Where can she be, she who alone of all women is free, the mistress of all the imperial family, the rightful heir to the Empire, whose father**70 was emperor, whose grandfather was monarch before him — yes, and great-grandfather too?

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