Close to some characters in Byzantine aristocracy (4)
I believe the answer is:
Here is my best explanation:
'close to' is the definition.
'some characters in byzantine aristocracy' is the subsidiary indication.
'some characters in' says the answer is hidden in the clue.
'near' is hidden within 'byzantine aristocracy'.
(Other definitions for near that I've seen before include "Almost; approach", "Close in time or space", "Adjacent", "Miserly; approach", "Easy to reach - hard to touch!", "Approaching", "Hard by", "Miserly and proximate", "Close; almost" and "Close-fisted - approach".)