4. So with one accord they straightway banded together for the contest. With the artillery of their logic they laid siege to her soul — an easy capture. They reminded her of Michael’s adoption, put the young man under the protection of his mother and mistress, and threw him at her feet. Heaping upon her all the flattering names suitable to such a moment, they assured her that their nephew would be emperor only in name, while she, apart from the title, would have besides, the power that she inherited by right of descent.

If she so desired, she would administer the state in person; if not, she would give her orders to him and use him as a slave-emperor to do her bidding. They took solemn oaths and pledged their loyalty by the Holy Relics. So they made her their prisoner at the first shot. What else, indeed, could she do, bereft as she was of outside assistance and spellbound by their sorcery, or shall I say rather, led astray by their trickery, beguiled by their ruses, and converted to their desires?

The Proclamation of Michael as Emperor

5. Well, she entrusted them with the government and she quieted the city, which was meanwhile in suspense awaiting her decision, by an exhortation to keep the peace. Then the ceremony of the Caesar’s enthronement was completed. The procession followed, the entry into the church, the Patriarch’s blessing, the coronation and all the other rites customarily performed on these occasions. For the first day, at any rate, the emperor was not forgetful of his proper station, either in word or in deed. Constantly on his lips were the expressions ‘the empress’, ‘my mistress’, ‘I am her servant’, and ‘whatever decision she makes’.

6. With similar cajolery he set out to charm John too, no less than the empress. ‘My master’, he would say, and gave him a throne to sit on near to himself. If ever he wished to speak, he first sought some sign of approval from John, saying that he himself was like a tool in the craftsman’s hands, and that the melody was not of the lyre but him who played it in harmony.

All, therefore, were amazed at the wisdom of the man and marvelled at the success of John’s scheming. Now the man’s deceitfulness was unperceived by the others, but his uncle knew well that his smoothness went no deeper than words: the hardness of his heart was hidden deep inside and covered over.

Read More about Michael V Part 24

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