Moreover, as Alexius did not judge superficially, nor was blind to the truth, nor a prey to reprehensible passions, but weighed facts in the well-balanced scale of his conscience and remembered the height from which the two had fallen he took them to his bosom as if they were his own children. Was there any kind word or deed he did not give them? or did he ever neglect their future ? and yet envy cast its arrows at them and would not let them rest. And if people tried to incite him against them, the Emperor granted them his protection all the more, always gave them pleasant looks as if priding himself upon them, and consistently advised them to their advantage.
Another, perhaps, would have regarded them as objects of suspicion and done his best to chase them out of his kingdom by some means or other; but this Emperor thought nothing of the many tales brought him about the young men for he loved them dearly; and he also bestowed gifts on their mother Eudocia and did not deprive her of the prerogatives due to queens. And to Nicephorus he actually gave the island of Crete to rule and to have as his private property.
Scheming against the Emperor
That was how the Emperor behaved; now of the two young men, the one, Leo, was of a good disposition and liberal mind, and seeing the Emperor’s kindness to them both, he was content with his lot and rested happily in his condition according to the advice of the writer: ‘You have obtained Sparta by lot, make the best of her.’ Nicephorus, on the contrary, ill-tempered and of a wrathful disposition, never ceased scheming against the Emperor and plotting to gain the throne; however, he kept his plans I under water.’ But when he really set to work, he spoke more frankly to a few companions, and thus a great many persons came to hear of it; and through them it also got to the Emperor’s ears.
The Emperor, however, acting in an original manner, would send for them at suitable times and never tell what he had heard, but would talk to them cleverly and give them timely counsel. And the more he grew to know of the conspiracy, the more generously he behaved towards them, hoping thus to win them over. But an Ethiopian never turned white.’
So Nicephorus remained the same and imparted the contagion to all he approached, binding some to him by oaths and others by promises. He did not trouble much about the rank and file of the army, for all of them were already well-inclmed to him; but turned his attention entirely to the grandees and paid great heed to the chief officers of the army and the leading men in the Senate and courted them.