49. When the executioner tried to tie him down, to prevent him moving at the moment of blinding, he said, ‘Look you. If you see me budge, nail me down!’ With these words he lay flat on his back on the ground. There was no change of colour in his face, no crying out, no groaning. It was hard to believe the man was still alive.
His eyes were then gouged, one after the other. Meanwhile the emperor, seeing in the other’s suffering the fate that was about to overtake him too, lived through Constantine’s anguish in himself, beating his hands together, smiting his face and bellowing in agony.
50.The Nobilissimus, his eyes gouged out, stood up from the ground and leaned for support on one of his most intimate friends. He addressed those who came up to him with great courage — a man who rose superior to the trials that beset him, to whom death was as nothing. With Michael it was different, for when the executioner saw him flinch away and lowering himself to base entreaty he bound him securely.
Insolence of the mob
He held him down with considerable force, to stop the violent twitching when he was undergoing his punishment. After his eyes, too, had been blinded, the insolence of the mob, so marked before, died away, and with it their fury against these men.**75 They left them to rest there, while they themselves hurried back to Theodora. Actually, of the two empresses, one was in the palace, the other in the great cathedral of Santa Sophia.
51. The senate was unable to decide between them. Zoe, who was in the palace, they respected because she was the elder: Theodora, who was in the church, because it was through her that the revolt had been brought to an end and to her they owed their preservation. Each, therefore, had a claim on the Empire. However, the problem was settled for them by Zoe. For the first time, she greeted her sister and embraced her with affection. What is more, she shared with her the Empire they had both inherited.
The question of the government was thus resolved by agreement between them. Next, Zoe brought her to live with herself, escorted by a procession of great magnificence, and made her joint-ruler of the Empire. As for Theodora, she lost none of her respect for her sister, nor did she encroach on her prerogatives. On the contrary, she allowed Zoe to take precedence, and although both were empresses, Theodora held rank inferior to the older woman.
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