Roma'nus Iii., Argyrus>
or ARGYROPU'LUS (Ῥωμανὸς ὁ Ἀργυρὸς
or ὁ Ἀργυρόπουλος
), Byzantine emperor from A. D. 1028-1034, was the son of Leo Argyrus Dux, and belonged to a distinguished family. Romanus obtained such military glory in the reign of Constantine VIII., that this prince appointed him his successor, and offered him the hand of one of his daughters, a few days before he died. Romanus was married to Helena, a virtuous woman, whom he tenderly loved, and declined both the crown and the bride. Constantine, however, left him the choice between his offer, or the loss of his eyes. Even then Romanus did not yield to the temptation, and would have declined it again but for the prayers of his own wife, who implored him to accept both, and rather sacrifice her than the empire. Their marriage was accordingly dissolved ; and Romanus, now married to the princess Zoe, succeeded Constantine on the 12th of November, 1028.
He was a brave, well-instructed man, perhaps learned; but he over-valued himself, and thought himself the best general and the best scholar of his time. Numerous acts of liberality and clemency gained him the hearts of his new subjects at the very beginning of his reign, but did not prevent some court conspiracies.
At the same time his arms met with disgrace in Sicily and Svria, nor did he retrieve his fortune when he took the field in person. The Arabs worsted him near Azar in Syria, and he only escaped captivity by shutting himself up in Antioch (1030), whence he hastened to Constantinople. His lientenants Nicetas and Simeon, and especially Theoctistes, however, soon restored the honour of the Greek armnies. Their success so mortified Argyrus that he became the prey of a deep melancholy, and only occupied himself with building churches and convents, his wife Zoe seizing the reins of the enipire. Meanwhile the war with the Arabs was carried on with varying success, till at last the Greeks obtained great advantages in a decisive naval engagement, and by the conquest of Edessa. which was obliged to surrender in 1033.
But the plague ravaged the provinces, and in the North the Patzinegues and other barbarians made de structive inroads.
These disasters roused Romanus from his indolence.
But it was too late: he had made himself unpopular for ever, and his own family had become strangers to him.
The more his generals were successful against the Arabs, the more the nation became convinced that without him still greater advantages light be obtained. Hence arose a criminal intrigue betweeen Zoe, an ambitious and voluptuous wife, though past fifty, and the general Michael, surnamed Paphlago. Zoe administered a slow poison to her husband, in of which he died a lingering death (1034), which was accelerated by the cruel deed of Zoe assistants, who held the enfeebled emperor, who was taking a bath, under water till life was nearly gone. Half dead, he was taken out and placed on a bed, when his wife despatched him by a dose of active poison. Romans died at the age of sixty-six, and was succeeded by Michael IV. the Paphlagonian, who married Zoe.
It is certain that Romanus left no issue by Zoe, and it is doubtful whether he had any by Helena; but his family continued to flourish in Constantinople down to its capture by the Turks, and more than 150 years afterwards. (Cedren. p. 722,
&c.; Zonar. vol. ii. p. 229, &c.; Manass. p. 123; Glyc. p. 311 &c.)