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might proclaim, that painting and poetry were incapable of delineating the matchless excellence of her form. But this form was degraded by the facility with which it was exposed to the public eye, and prostituted to licentious desire. Her venal charms were abandoned to a promiscuous crowd of citizens and strangers, of every rank, and of every profession; the fortunate lover who had been promised a night of enjoyment, was often driven from her bed by a stronger or more wealthy favorite; and when she passed through the streets, her presence was avoided by all who wished to escape either the scandal or the temptation. The satirical historian has not blushed ” to describe the naked scenes which Theodora was not ashamed to exhibit in the theatre.” After exhausting the arts of sensual pleasure,” she most ungratefully murmured against the parsimony of Nature; * but her murmurs, her pleasures, and her arts, must be veiled in the obscurity of a learned language. After reigning for some time, the delight and contempt of the capital, she condescended to accompany Ecebolus, a native of Tyre, who had obtained the government of the African Pentapolis. But this union was frail and transient ; Ecebolus soon rejected an expensive or faithless concubine; she was reduced at Alexandria to extreme distress; and in her laborious return to Constantinople, every city of the East admired and enjoyed the fair Cyprian, whose merit appeared to justify her descent from the peculiar island of Venus. The vague commerce of Theodora, and the most detestable precautions, preserved her from the danger which she feared; yet once, and once only, she became a mother. The infant was saved and educated in Arabia, by his father, who imparted to him on his death-bed, that he was the son of an empress. Filled with ambitious hopes, the unsuspecting youth immediately hastened to the palace of Constantinople, and was admitted to the presence of his mother. As he was never more seen, even after the decease of Theodora, she deserves the foul imputation of extinguishing with his life a secret so offensive to her Imperial virtue. In the most abject state of her fortune and reputation, some vision, either of sleep or of fancy, had whispered to Theodora the pleasing assurance that she was destined to become the spouse of a potent monarch. Conscious of her approaching greatness, she returned from Paphlagonia to Constantinople; assumed, like a skilful actress, a more decent character; relieved her poverty by the laudable industry of spinning wool; and affected a life of chastity and solitude in a small house, which she afterwards changed into a magnificent temple.” Her beauty, assisted by art or accident, soon attracted, captivated, and fixed, the patrician Justinian, who already reigned with absolute sway under the name of his uncle. Perhaps she contrived to enhance the value of a gift which she had so often lavished on the meanest of mankind; perhaps she inflamed, at first by modest delays, and at last by sensual allurements, the desires of a lover, who, from nature or devotion, was addicted to long vigils and abstemious diet. When his first transports had subsided, she still maintained the same ascendant over his mind, by the more solid merit of temper and understanding. Justinian delighted to ennoble and enrich the object of his affection; the treasures of the East were poured at her feet, and the nephew of Justin was determined, perhaps by religious scruples, to bestow on his concubine the sacred and legal character of a wife. But the laws of Rome expressly prohibited the marriage of a senator with any female who had been dishonored by a servile origin or theatrical profession; the empress Lupicina, or Euphemia, a Barbarian of rustic manners, but of irreproachable virtue, refused to accept a prostitute for her niece; and even Vigilantia, the superstitious mother of Justinian, though she acknowledged the wit and beauty of Theodora, was seriously apprehensive, lest the levity and arrogance of that artful paramour might corrupt the piety and happiness of her son. These obstacles. were removed by the inflexible constancy of Justinian. He patiently expected the death of the empress; he despised the tears of his mother, who soon sunk under the weight of her affliction; and a law was promulgated in the name of the emperor Justin, which abolished the rigid jurisprudence of antiquity. A glorious repentance (the words of the edict) was left open for the unhappy females who had prostituted their persons on the theatre, and they were permitted to contract a legal union with the most illustrious of the Romans.” This indulgence was speedily followed by the solemn nuptials of Justinian and Theodora; her dignity was gradually exalted with that of her lover; and, as soon as Justin had invested his nephew with the purple, the patriarch of Constantinople placed the diadem on the heads of the emperor and empress of the East. But the usual honors which the severity of Roman manners had allowed to the wives of princes, could not satisfy either the ambition of Theodora or the fondness of Justinian. He seated her on the throne as an equal and independent colleague in the sovereignty of the empire, and an oath of allegiance was imposed on the governors of the provinces in the joint names of Justinian and Theodora.” The Eastern world fell prostrate before the genius and fortune of the daughter of Acacius. The prostitute who, in the presence of innumerable spectators, had polluted the theatre of Constantinople, was adored as a queen in the same city, by grave magistrates, orthodox bishops, victorious generals, and captive monarchs.” Those who believe that the female mind is totally depraved by the loss of chastity, will eagerly listen to all the
* A fragment of the Anecdotes (c. 9), somewhat too naked, was suppressed } Alemannus, though extant in the Vatican MS. ; nor has the defect been supplied in the Paris or Venice editions. La Mothe le Vayer (tom.viii. p. 155) gave the first lint of this curious and genuine passage (Jortin's Remarks, vol. iv. p. 366), which he had received from IRome, and it has been since published in the Menagiana (tom. iii. pp. 254–259) with a Latin version.
24 After the mention of a narrow girdle (as none could appear stark naked in the theatre), Procopius thus proceeds: ávametrokvić re v to £8adet in rva Škeuro. 9ires éé rives . . . . kpiðas avri, wirepòev Tów atóotov opertovv, &s, 8m oi xiives, oi és Tooro mapeakeva orwevot risy Xavov, rots orrówaaruv čv6évôe kará stiav čveMouevo morówov. I have heard that a learned preiate, now deceased, was fond of quoting this passage in conversation.*
£5 Theodora surpassed the Crispa of Ausonius (Epigram lxxi.), who imitated the capitalis luxus of the females of Nola. See Quintilian Institut. viii. 6; and Torrentius ad Horat. Sermon. l. i. sat. 2, v. 101. At a memorable supper, thirty slaves waited round, the table; ten young men feasted with Theodora. Her charity was universal.
Et lassata viris, necdum satiata, recessit. * H 8e kär row rptov rpvrmuárov opyagouévn overåAet to biget, Swed oposuevo 8r; Sh wi, kai tiròows airfi et purepov in vov eigt Tovtrøm, 6tros &vvarm ein kat exeivin épačgea3at:
i. wished for a fourth altar, on which she might pour libations to the god of OWe.
* Gibbon should have remembered the axiom which he quotes in another place, scelera ostendi oportet dum pumiantur abscondi flagitia.-M.
* Anonym. de Antiquitat. C. P. l. iii. 132, in Banduri Imperium Orient. tom.
i. p. 48. Ludewig (p. 154) ... sensibly that Theodora would not have immor
* $olized a brothel; but I apply this fact to her second and chaster residence at Constantinople.
* See the old law in Justinian's Code (l. v. tit. v. leg. 7, tit. xxvii. leg. 1), under the years 336 and 454. The new edict (about the year 521 or 522, Aleman. pp. 38, 96) very awkwardly repeals no more than the clause of mulieres scenicae. libertima, tabernariae. See the novels 89 and 117, and a Greek rescript from Justinian to the bishops (Aleman. p. 41).
* I swear by the Father, &c., by the Virgin Mary, by the four Gospels, quae in manibus teneo, and by the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, puram conScientiam german umque servitium me servaturum, sacratissimis DDNN. Jus. tiniano et Theodorae conjugi ejus (Novell. viii. tit. 3). Would the oath have been !!!” in favor of the widow” Communes tituli at triumphi, &c. (Aleman. pp.
30 “Let greatness own her, and she's mean no more,” &c.
Without Warburton's critical telescope, I should never have seen, in this general picture of triumphant vice, any personal allusion to Theodora.
invectives of private envy, or popular resentment, which have dissembled the virtues of Theodora, exaggerated her vices, and condemned with rigor the venal or voluntary sins of the youthful harlot. From a motive of shame, or contempt, she often declined the servile homage of the multitude, eseaped from the odious light of the capital, and passed the greatest part of the year in the palaces and gardens which were pleasantly seated on the sea-coast of the Propontis and the Bosphorus. Her private hours were devoted to the prudent as well as grateful care of her beauty, the luxury of the bath and table, and the long slumber of the evening and the morning. Her secret apartments were occupied by the favorite women and eunuchs, whose interests and passions she indulged at the expense of justice; the most illustrious personages of the state were crowded into a dark and sultry ante-chamber, and when at last, after tedious attendance, they were admitted to kiss the feet of Theodora, they experienced as her humor might suggest, the silent arrogance of an empress, or the capricious levity of a comedian. Her rapacious avarice to accumulate an immense treasure, may be excused by the apprehension of her husband's death, which could leave no alternative between ruin and the throne; and fear as well as ambition might exasperate Theodora against two generals, who, during a malady of the emperor, had rashly declared that they were not disposed to acquiesce in the choice of the capital. But, the reproach of cruelty, so repugnant even to her softer vices, has left an indelible stain on the memory of Theodora. Her numerous spies observed, and zealously reported, every action, or word, or look, injurious to their royal mistress. Whomsoever they accused were cast into her peculiar prisons,” inaccessible to the inquiries of justice; and it was rumored, that the torture of the rack, or scourge, had been inflicted in the presence of the female tyrant, insensible to the voice of prayer or of pity.” Some of these unhappy victims perished in deep, unwholesome dungeons, while others were permitted, after the loss of their limbs, their reason, or their fortunes, to appear in the world, the living monuments of her vengeance, which was commonly extended to the children of those whom she had suspected or injured. The senator or bishop, whose death or exile Theodora had pronounced, was delivered to a trusty messenger, and his diligence was quickened by a menace from her own mouth. “If you fail in the execution of my commands, I swear b Him who liveth forever, that your skin shall be flayed from your body.” " If the creed of Theodora had not been tainted with heresy, her exemplary devotion might have atoned, in the opinion of her contemporaries, for pride, avarice, and cruelty. But, if she employed her influence to assuage the intolerant fury of the emperor, the present age will allow some merit to her religion, and much indulgence to her speculative errors.” The name of Theodora was introduced, with equal honor, in all the pious and charitable foundations of Justinian; and the most benevolent institution of his reign may be ascribed to the sympathy of the empress for her less fortunate sisters, who had been seduced or compelled to embrace the trade of prostitution. A palace, on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, was converted into a stately and spacious monastery, and a liberal maintenance was assigned to five hundred women, who had been collected from the streets and brothels of Constantinople. In this safe and holy retreat, they were devoted to perpetual confinement; and the despair of some, who threw themselves headlong into the sea, was lost in the gratitude of the penitents, who had been delivered from sin and misery by their generous benefactress.” The prudence of Theodora is celebrated by Justinian himself; and his laws are attributed to the sage counsels of his most reverend wife, whom he had received as the gift of the Deity.” Her courage was displayed amidst the tumult of the people and the terrors of the court. Her chastity, from the moment of her union with Justinian, is founded on the silence of her implacable enemies; and although the daughter of Acacius might be satiated with love, yet some applause is due to the firmness of a mind which could sacrifice pleasure and habit to the stronger sense either of duty or interest. The wishes and 38 Per viventem in saccula excoriari te faciam. Anastasius de Vitis Pont Roman, in Vigilio, p. 40. * Ludewig, pp. 161–166. I give him credit for the charitable attempt, although he hath not much charity in his temper. * Compare the anecdotes (c. 17) with the Edifices (l. i. c. 9)—how differently may the same fact be stated ! John Malala (tom. ii. pp. 174, 175) observes, that on this, or a similar occasion, she released and clothed the girls whom she had purchased from the stews at five aurei apiece.
* Her prisons, a labyrinth, a Tartarus (Anecdot. c. 4), were under the palace. Ross is propitious to cruelty, but it is likewise favorable to calumny and Col On. * A more jocular whipping was inflicted on Saturninus, for presuming to say **, his wife, a favorite of the empress, had not been found Ärpmros (Anecdot. C. l'i).