free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

She condescended to accompany Ecebolus


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 [23] to describe the naked scenes which Theodora was not ashamed to exhibit in the theatre. [24] After exhausting the arts of sensual pleasure, [25] she most ungratefully murmured against the parsimony of Nature; [26] 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. [2611]

[Footnote 20: For the life and manners of the empress Theodora see the Anecdotes; more especially c. 1--5, 9, 10--15, 16, 17, with the learned notes of Alemannus--a reference which is always implied.]

[Footnote 21: Comito was afterwards married to Sittas, duke of Armenia, the father, perhaps, at least she might be the mother, of the empress Sophia. Two nephews of Theodora may be the sons of Anastasia, (Aleman. p. 30, 31.)]

[Footnote 22: Her statute was raised at Constantinople, on a porphyry column. See Procopius, (de Edif. l. i. c. 11,) who gives her portrait in the Anecdotes, (c. 10.) Aleman. (p. 47) produces one from a Mosaic at Ravenna, loaded with pearls and jewels, and yet handsome.]

[Footnote 23: A fragment of the Anecdotes, (c. 9,) somewhat too naked, was suppressed by 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 hint of this curious and genuine passage, (Jortin's Remarks, vol. iv. p. 366,) which he had received from Rome, and it has been since published in the Menagiana (tom. iii. p. 254--259) with a Latin version.]

[Footnote 24: After the mention of a narrow girdle, (as none could appear stark naked in the theatre,) Procopius thus proceeds. I have heard that a learned prelate, now deceased, was fond of quoting this passage in conversation.]

[Footnote 25: 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.]

[Footnote 26: She wished for a fourth altar, on which she might pour libations to the god of love.]


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us