The more he acquiesced in John’s schemes, the more John suspected his motives. He plumbed the hollow depths of the young emperor’s mind, but he still did not know what to do, nor how he might most easily deprive him of power, once having been foiled of this hope when opportunity had assured him of certain success. However, he held his peace for a while, not by any means because he had abandoned his scheme, but intending to try it out if the other took the initiative and wronged him first.
In fact, Michael did begin to change, little by little, from the excessive modesty he used to evince in John’s presence at the beginning of his reign. Sometimes he failed to wait for John’s opinion on his actions as emperor; sometimes he deliberately opposed him and spoke with persons whom he know John did not tolerate.
7. He had an ally to encourage this enmity towards his uncle, Constantine, the latter’s brother, who for a long time had been jealous of John. The reason for this was that John, alone among the brothers held an active post in the government: he was like their master, not their kinsman.
The conscientious performance
At that time he was unable to show hatred for him openly, because the late emperor had great affection for the man, not only as the eldest of the family, but also as the most intelligent, and as a man thoroughly proved in the conscientious performance of his official duties. On the other hand, he abominated and loathed the rest of the family, because they neither loved moderation nor made any useful contribution to the government of the Empire.
Consequently, when the emperor had been angry with the brothers, it used to be John who interceded on their behalf, John who coaxed him to look on them again with benevolence. Naturally then, despite the brothers’ jealousy at John’s reputation, and although Constantine in particular felt chagrin, yet it was impossible tor them to dare or do anything to oppose him.
8. But after their brother Michael died and succession to the throne fell to the nephew, Constantine had a very convenient starting-point for his attack on the Orphanotrophus, for he carefully cultivated the new emperor while he was still only the Caesar and allowed him to draw on his own personal treasures to his heart’s content. Constantine s money was there to be used and the young man looked upon his wealth as a kind of storehouse instituted for his own convenience. Certainly this was the way Constantine bought his favour, and while fortune obviously smiled on his efforts, he continued to court his friendship, with an eye to the future.
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