She had a halo, her own courtiers, and was taking up an enormous space beside a mosaic of Christ. I knew she had to matter.
Historiography[ edit ] The main historical sources for her life are the works of her contemporary Procopius. The historian offered three contradictory portrayals of the Empress.
The Empress theodora of Justinianlargely completed inpaints a picture of a courageous and Empress theodora empress who saved the throne for Justinian.
Later he wrote the Secret Historywhich survives in only one manuscript suggesting it was not widely read during the Byzantine era. The work has sometimes been interpreted as representing a deep disillusionment with the emperor Justinian, the empress, and even his patron Belisarius.
Justinian is depicted as cruel, venal, prodigal and incompetent; as for Theodora, the reader is treated to a detailed and titillating portrayal of vulgarity and insatiable lust, combined with shrewish and calculating mean-spiritedness; Procopius even claims both are demons whose heads were seen to leave their bodies and roam the palace at night.
Alternatively, scholars versed in political rhetoric of the era have viewed these statements from the Secret History as formulaic expressions within the tradition of invective. Procopius' Buildings of Justinianwritten about the same time as the Secret History, is a panegyric which paints Justinian and Theodora as a pious couple and presents particularly flattering portrayals of them.
Besides her piety, her beauty is praised within the conventional language of the text's rhetorical form. Although Theodora was dead when this work was published, Justinian was alive, and perhaps commissioned the work. He mentions an illegitimate daughter not named by Procopius.
Theophanes the Confessor mentions some familial relations of Theodora to figures not mentioned by Procopius. Victor Tonnennensis notes her familial relation to the next empress, Sophia. They contradict Procopius by making Theodora the daughter of a priest, trained in the pious practices of Miaphysitism since birth.
These are late Miaphysite sources and record her depiction among members of their creed. The Miaphysites have tended to regard Theodora as one of their own and the tradition may have been invented as a way to improve her reputation and is also in conflict with what is told by the contemporary Miaphysite historian John of Ephesus.
She was born c. Her father, Acacius, was a bear trainer of the hippodrome's Green faction in Constantinople. Her mother, whose name is not recorded, was a dancer and an actress.
From then on Theodora would be their supporter. Procopius in his Secret History relates that Theodora from an early age followed her sister Komito's example and worked in a Constantinople brothel serving low-status customers; later she performed on stage. Women and Power in Byzantium, AD —" notes that there seems to be little reason to believe she worked out of a brothel "managed by a pimp ".
Employment as an actress at the time would include both "indecent exhibitions on stage" and providing sexual services off stage. In what Garland calls the "sleazy entertainment business in the capital", Theodora earned her living by a combination of her theatrical and sexual skills.
During this time she met the future wife of BelisariusAntoninawho would become a part of the women's court led by Theodora. At the age of 16, she traveled to North Africa as the companion of a Syrian official named Hecebolus when he went to the Libyan Pentapolis as governor.Theodora >Empress and wife of Justinian I , the courage and statesmanship of >Theodora (ca.
) complemented the genius of her husband and >significantly contributed to the glories of his reign. The empress Theodora and her courtiers depicted in a mosaic in San Vitale, Ravenna. Photograph: Lebrecht/Corbis In September , in a near-empty church in Ravenna, in north-east Italy, I found.
Learn about the Byzantine ruler Theodora, married to the Emperor Justinian. She was a powerful woman whose story is told primarily by Procopius. Theodora: Theodora, Byzantine empress known for her intelligence and political acumen. Though her background was considered disreputable, she married Justinian, who became emperor, allowing her to wield considerable influence.
She famously championed women’s rights and mitigated the ongoing persecution of the miaphysite sect. Theodora reigned as empress of the Byzantine Empire alongside her husband, Emperor Justinian I, from CE until her death in CE. Rising from. Theodora (Greek: Θεοδώρα, Medieval Greek: c. – after ) was a Byzantine Empress as the spouse of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos, and regent of her son, Michael III, from Theophilos' death in to For her restoration of the veneration of icons, which ended the Byzantine Iconoclasm, she is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church; her Feast Day is February