39. So much for them. Theodora’s companions meanwhile sent a guard for him. The guard commander was one of the nobles**74 and I myself accompanied him (I was a personal friend of the man). Actually, he had invited me to advise him and help in the carrying out of his orders.
On our arrival at the doors of the church, we saw another guard, composed of volunteers, a company of citizens who had completely surrounded the sacred building. They were ready to do everything but tear it down. So it was not without difficulty that we made our way into the church. Along with us a great multitude of folk poured in, roaring abuse at the accursed fellow. All manner of indecent epithets were hurled at him.
Certain mild resentment against
40. Up till then I too had gone along with the mob with no particularly moderate feelings about him. I was not indifferent to his treatment of the empress, and a certain mild resentment against the man stirred me on my own account.
But when I reached the sacred altar where he was, and saw both the refugees, one, who had been an emperor, clinging to the actual Holy Table of the Word, the other, the Nobilissimus, standing on the right of the altar, both with their clothes changed, their spirit gone and utterly put to shame, then there was no trace whatever of anger left in my heart.
I stood there dumbfounded, mute with astonishment, as though I had been struck by a hurricane. I was transformed at the strangeness of the thing. Then, recovering my spirits, I began to curse this life of ours, in which these strange and terrible things so often come to pass, and as if some spring had welled up within me, a flood of tears beyond control poured from my eyes. This outburst finally gave way to groans.
41. Now the mob that had entered the church gathered in a circle round the two men, like wild beasts longing to devour them, while I was standing by the latticed gate on the right of the altar, lamenting. Both of them saw that I was greatly distressed and not entirely hostile to themselves. They detected in me some signs of moderation.
Both therefore converged on me. Changing my manner somewhat, I began with gentle censure of the Nobilissimus. Among other faults I charged him with voluntarily supporting the emperor in his persecution of Zoe. Then I turned to him who had formerly been all powerful, asking him what possible hurt he could have suffered at the hands of his adopted mother and mistress, that he should add such woe to her tragic story. Both answered me.
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