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and at last by sensual allurements, the desires of a CHA P. lover, who from nature or devotion was addicted XL. 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 de. lighted 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 dishonoured 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 Ro

F3

mans,

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CHAP, mans *. This indulgence 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 honours 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 t. 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

*See the old law in Justinian's code (1. v. tit. v. leg. 7. tit. xxvii. leg. 1.) under the years 336 and 454. The new edict (about the year 521 or 522. Alemán. p. 38. 96.) very awkwardly repeals no more than the clause of mulieres scenica, libertina, tabernariæ. 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, quæ in manibus teneo, and by the holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, puram conscientiam germanumque servitium me servaturum, sacratissimis DDNN. Justiniano et Theodoræ conjugi ejus (Novell. viii. tit. 3.). Would the oath have been binding in favour of the widow? Communes tituli et triumphi, &c. (Aleman. p. 47, 48.).

"Let greatness own her, and she's mean no more, &c." Without Warburton's critical telescope, I should never have seen, in the general picture of triumphant vice, any personal allusion to Theodora.

Those who believe that the female mind is to- CHA P. tally depraved by the loss of chastity, will eagerly listen to all the invectives of private envy or popular resentment, which have dissembled the vir: tues of Theodora, exaggerated her vices, and condemned with rigour 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, escaped 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 fan vourite women and eunuchs, whose interests and passions she indulged at the expence of justice ; the most illustrious personages of the state were crowded into a dark and sultry antichamber, and when at last after tedious attendance, they were admitted to kiss the feet of Theodora, they experienced, as her humour might suggest, the silent arrogance of an empress, or the capricious levity of a comedian. Her rapacious avarice to accu.. mulate 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 ambibion 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 F4

XL.

choice

CHA P. choice of the capital. But the reproach of cruelty,

XL.

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 rumoured, that the
torture of the rack, or scourge, had been inflicted
in the presence of a female tyrant, insensible to the
voice of prayer or of pity t. Some of these un-
happy victims perished in deep unwholesome dun-
geons, while others were permitted, after the loss
of their limbs, their reason, or their fortune, 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 in-
jured. The senator, or bishop, whose death or
exile Theodora had pronounced, was delivered to
a trusty messenger, and his diligence was quicken.
ed by a menace from her own own mouth,
"If
"you fail in the execution of my commands, I
swear by him who liveth for ever, that your skin
"shall be flayed from your body ‡."

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Her virtues.

If the creed of Theodora had not been tainted with heresy, her exemplary devotion might have atoned,

*Her prisons, a labyrinth, a Tartarus (Anedot. c. 4.), were under the palace. Darkness is propitious to cruelty, but it is likewise favourable to calumny and fiction:

A more jocular whipping was inflicted on Saturninus, for presuming to say that his wife, a favourite of the empress, had not been found argyros (Anecdot. c. 17.).

Per viventem in sæcula excoriari te faciam. Anastasius de Vitis Pont. Roman. in Vigilio, p. 40.

XL.

atoned, in the opinion of her contemporaries, for CHA P. 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 honour, in all the pious and charitable foundations of Justinian; and the most bene volent institution of his reign may be ascribed to the smypathy 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 t. 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

* Ludewig, p. 161-166. I give him credit for the charitable attempt, although be hath not much charity in his temper.

+ Compare the Anecdotes (c. 17.) with the Edifices (1. i. c. 9.)-how differently may the same fact be stated! John Malala (tom. ii. p. 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 a-piece.

Novel. viii. 1. An allusion to Theodora. Her enemics read the name Dæmonodora (Aleman. p. 66.).

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