In fact, more than that, he seems to me to have felt envy even for the supernatural, so great was his dislike and suspicion of all men in all circumstances. When fortune was adverse, no man was ever more cringing, in deed and in word, no man more base in spirit. Yet fortune had but to change a little for the better and at once he threw off the mask of servility. The counterfeit appearance was put aside and immediately he was full of courage. Terrible deeds were done, others were saved up for the future.
The man was a slave to his anger, changeable, stirred to hatred and wrath by any chance happening. So there burned secretly in his heart a loathing for all his family, but to get rid of them was a different matter. For the moment he made no attempt to do so, because he still feared his uncle; he knew that John was still in the position of a father to the whole family.
10. After this interruption in my opening remarks on this reign, I new return to the simple narrative. Well, when Constantine became Nobilissimus, he shook off the awe which he felt for his brother. His former attitude of reverence was forgotten, his conversation became bolder, and he attacked John’s policy with more recklessness.
Why Michael’s composure
On several occasions he reproached the emperor for his deference to John’s will and threw the young man into considerable confusion. There were other reasons why Michael’s composure was rudely shattered, there were other influences which urged him to rebel, but Constantine’s intervention added fresh fuel to the fire, and the emperor began to treat John with contempt in nearly everything.
The prospect of losing his place and the supremacy he wielded over the family was particularly distasteful to the Orphanotrophus, but as it was no easy matter to depose one who had already acceded to the throne, he adopted a new policy to get his way. I myself witnessed what was going on then and I guessed he had changed his ideas, but most people knew nothing of it. In my opinion, his ambition was to transfer the government to one of his nephews, a man called Constantine who held the rank of Magister. His plan was not to attack the emperor himself, but to give this Constantine the chance of plotting against him instead.
Later, fearing lest the nephew should be caught and have to stand trial on charges of sedition, and being afraid that he himself might not escape destruction, or fail to bring down destruction on the rest of the family at the same time, he decided to preclude any such possibility in the future; the important thing was that the present should go according to plan.
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