Michael IV part 8


    16. So much then for the brothers. Let us return to the emperor. For some time he treated Zoe with marked consideration, but that phase soon passed. He suspected her motives — there were reasons for suspicion in that house — and he proceeded to deny her any liberty whatever.**46 Permission to leave the palace in her usual way was refused, and she was shut up in the women’s quarters. No one was allowed to approach her, unless the captain of the guard had first given authority, after careful scrutiny of the visitor’s identity, origin, and purpose, so close was the watch kept over her.

    She was, quite naturally, embittered by this sort of treatment. Surely it was hardly to be wondered at, when the benefits she had conferred upon the emperor were being repaid with such hatred. Nevertheless, she restrained herself, reflecting that to rebel against Michael’s decisions would be improper, and in any case she had no opportunity, even if she wished, to take any action or oppose his will, for she was deprived of all protection from the Imperial Guard and bereft of all authority.

    Attacked her with their threats and abuse

    Anyway, she avoided the despicable feminine trait of talkativeness and there were no emotional outbursts. She neither reminded the emperor of the love and belief in her that he had shown in the past, nor did she evince anger against his brothers when they attacked her with their threats and abuse. Not once did she look with bitterness on the captain of the guard or dismiss him from her presence. On the contrary, she was gentle to all, and like the cleverest orators, adjusted herself to different persons and different conditions.

    17. The others, however, by no means modified their own attitude to please Zoe. In fact, they were exceedingly afraid of her, as if she were some lioness which, for a while, had laid aside her ferocity. It was natural, therefore, that they should consult their own safety. Every kind of barrier, every kind of rampart, was erected to protect them from her attacks.

    They kept unceasing vigil, while the emperor, for his part, gradually stopped seeing her at all. There were, I know, many reasons for this. Marital relations with her had become impossible, now that the malady which threatened him had already made its appearance. His health was undermined and his bodily condition poor.

    Then again, he was covered with shame whenever he looked at Zoe, and it was impossible for him to meet her gaze, knowing how he had betrayed his love, forsworn his promises, and broken has word. In the third place, having conversed with certain saintly persons about the deeds he had committed in order to gain power, and having received some wholesome advice from these gentlemen, he now eschewed all kinds of excess and refrained even from legitimate intercourse.

    Read More about Michael IV part 16


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