He swore by the Holy Relics and used all manner of persuasion, saying that they would neither suffer any evil nor would he, the Empress’s envoy, treat them with any more severity than the occasion demanded. Even so, they remained deaf to his entreaties, filled with dread and expecting all kinds of disaster to follow their present distress. It was better, they thought, to be slain in the sanctuary than meet with any and every outrage in the open.

45. So the official gave up all hope of reasoned persuasion and resorted to violence. At his command the mob laid hands on them and without more ado proceeded to break the law, hounding them out of the church like wild beasts. The victims emitted cries of anguish unrestrained. They lifted their eyes to the Holy Lamb, praying fervently that they might not be disappointed of their hopes, that they might not be cruelly driven away after seeking refuge in the house of God. And most of those who were there with us were indeed put to shame by their sufferings.

Circumstances were far too unfavourable

They did not dare to resist outright — affairs were now hurrying on to the climax — but they did make a bargain with the mob and they relied on the sworn word of their leader. So they handed them over to him, with the air of men who have concluded a treaty, and then continued to escort them, presumably in order to give them assistance once they were driven from the church. In reality, nothing could help them; circumstances were far too unfavourable and the people’s hatred too general.

46. Theodor”‘s adherents were aware of Zoe’s jealousy. They knew that she would be quite willing to see a stable-lad on the imperial throne rather than let her sister share power with herself. They drew the natural conclusion that she would in all probability scorn Theodora completely and promote Michael to the throne a second time, by underhand means. Their unanimous decision, therefore was to do away with the fugitive emperor.

The moderate element, however, was not disposed to favour sentence of death: the ambitions of Michael and his uncle would have to be extinguished by some other device, and after careful consideration, they determined their course of action. Bold, resolute men were despatched with all speed. Their instructions were to burn out the fugitives’s eyes, as soon as they saw them outside the sacred building.

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