Michael IV part 6

If he did no harm to a soul, yet in his dealings with the people he assumed a fierce expression which terrified one and all. As far as looks were concerned, he really hurt them. Most of them shuddered at the sight of him — and refrained from their evil practices. Thus John was a veritable bulwark to the emperor and a real brother, for he never relaxed in his vigilance, either by day or by night Even when devoted to pleasure sometimes, or taking part in banquets and public ceremonies and festivals, he never forgot his zeal for duty.

Traversing all the inhabited districts at once

Nothing ever escaped his notice and nobody even so much as tried to elude him, because everyone feared him and trembled at his superintendence, for at untimely hours in the night he would suddenly ride of on his horse and scour every nook and cranny of the metropolis, traversing all the inhabited districts at once, like a flash of lightning. No one would ever know when he would carry out these inspections and so they all became nervous and subdued and restrained. It being impossible to meet in public men remained in their homes, living their own life in private.

13. Such are the qualities in the man that one can admire, but there were others of the contrary sort. His moods were changeable. He accommodated himself to every shade of opinion in those who conversed with him, presenting many facets at each interview. When men approached him, he criticized them while they were still far away, but as they drew near, addressed them in an affable manner as if it were then that he saw them for the first time.

Again, if anyone brought news likely to prove of great service to the state, in order to avoid obligation to his informant, he used to pretend that he had known it a long time ago, and then upbraid the man for his slowness. The latter would go away covered with confusion, while John took the necessary action and by suppressing the trouble, perhaps in its initial stages, was able to root it out altogether.

A desire on his part to achieve greater magnificence, and to manage the affairs of state in a manner more befitting an emperor, was thwarted by his own natural habits, for, to tell the truth, he never succeeded in ridding himself of his inveterate greed.

Thus, once embarked on the drink — a besetting sin in his case — he would plunge headlong into all kinds of indecency. Even then, though, he did not forget the cares of Empire, nor relax that fierce-beast look on his face or the sternness of his expression.

Read More about Alexius Part 28

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