Alexius Part 35

But as I write I have to laugh at the thought of these men’s folly and infatuation, and especially at their mutual boastfulness. Robert, for his part, had as ostensible reason this pretender, whom he had used as a decoy, and presentment of the Emperor, his marriage-kinsman. He showed him in all the cities he visited, and roused all he could possibly persuade to rebellion, purposing, if the haphazards of war ended in success for himself, to knock the monk on the head, and cast him out with scorn; for when the hunt is over, the decoy, too, is thrown to the dogs.

Raictor, on his side, nourished himself on vain hopes that some day he would attain great power; for such things often happen quite unexpectedly. In that case he would lay hold of the sceptre with firm hand, taking it for granted that the Roman people, and the army, would never call the barbarian Robert to the throne. In the meantime, he would use Robert as an instrument for the completion of the whole fabric of his intrigue. When I think of all this, a smile rises to my lips as I wield my pen by the light of my lamp.

XVI Robert now collected all his forces at Brindisi, both ships and soldiers; the ships numbered 150 and the soldiers, when all ranks were counted together, came to 30,000; and each ship could transport 200 men with their armour and horses. The soldiers were fully equipped in this way, because the enemies they would meet on landing would probably be fully-armed horsemen.

Robert intended crossing to Epidamnus, which we must call “Dyrrachium,” [*Durrazzo] according to the present fashion. He had, indeed, thought of crossing from Hydruntum to Nicopolis, and seizing Naupactus and the adjacent country, and all the fortresses round about it.

Brindisi and Dyrrachium

But as the stretch of sea between these two towns was far wider than between Brindisi and Dyrrachium, he chose the latter in preference to the former, not only because he preferred the quicker passage, but also to secure a calm one for the fleet. For the season was stormy, and as the sun was turning to the southern hemisphere, and approaching Capricorn, the days were growing shorter. Therefore, to prevent the fleet’s setting out from Hydruntum at daybreak and sailing all night, and perhaps meeting heavy seas, he determined to proceed from Brindisi to Dyrrachium with all sails set. As the Adriatic Sea contracts here, the length of the passage was curtailed.

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