Eudocia Augusta

EUDOCIA AUGUSTA (c.401-c.460), the wife of Theodosius II., East Roman emperor, was born in Athens, the daughter of the sophist Leontius, from whom she received a thorough training in literature and rhetoric. Deprived of her small patrimony by her brothers' rapacity, she betook herself to Constantinople to obtain redress at court. Her accomplishments attracted Theodosius' sister Pulcheria, who took her into her retinue and destined her to be the emperor's wife. After receiving baptism and discarding her former name, Athenaïs, for that of Aelia Licinia Eudocia, she was married to Theodosius in 421; two years later, after the birth of a daughter, she received the title Augusta. The new empress repaid her brothers by making them consuls and prefects, and used her large influence at court to protect pagans and Jews. In 438-439 she made an ostentatious pilgrimage to Jerusalem, whence she brought back several precious relics; during her stay at Antioch she harangued the senate in Hellenic style and distributed funds for the repair of its buildings. On her return her position was undermined by the jealousy of Pulcheria and the groundless suspicion of an intrigue with her protégé Paulinus, the master of the offices. After the latter's execution (440) she retired to Jerusalem, where she was made responsible for the murder of an officer sent to kill two of her followers and stripped of her revenues. Nevertheless she retained great influence; although involved in the revolt of the Syrian monophysites (453), she was ultimately reconciled to Pulcheria and readmitted into the orthodox church. She died at Jerusalem about 460, after devoting her last years to literature. Among her works were a paraphrase of the Octateuch in hexameters, a paraphrase of the books of Daniel and Zechariah, a poem on St Cyprian and on her husband's Persian victories. A Passion History compiled out of Homeric verses, which Zonaras attributed to Eudocia, is perhaps of different authorship.

See W. Wiegand, Eudokia (Worms, 1871); F. Gregorovius, Athenaïs (Leipzig, 1892); C. Diehl, Figures byzantines (Paris, 1906), pp. 25-49; also Theodosius. On her works cf. A. Ludwich, Eudociae Augustae carminum reliquiae (Königsberg, 1893).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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