Western sources have long referred to Theodora as an infamous and salacious courtesan who became Justinian’s empress. Syriac sources portray her as a woman of sublime character and decorum, the daughter of a Syriac priest. This historical play outlines her character according to the Syriac tradition. In writing the play, Bishop Gregorius Boulos Behnam portrayed Theodora as a virtuous lady who won the heart of Justinian, who made her his Augusta and co-regent of his empire. Behnam reveals her extraordinary devotion to her faith and piety as she strives to protect the Fathers of the Syriac Church who stood against the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon and were persecuted for it. Now available for the first time in English, this edition translated by Matti Moosa stands counter to the view of Theodora as portrayed by Procopius in his version of the story, as it is popularly known in Western Christendom.
6 x 9
Theodora (d. 548), Byzantine Empress and wife of the Emperor Justinian (500-548), has been and still is a subject of great controversy among writers. Her life and activities are based on two diametrically opposed Greek and Syriac sources. According to her contemporary Greek writer, Procopius of Caesarea, she was a daughter of Accasius, a bear keeper in Constantinople; the Syriac sources make her the daughter of a Syrian priest from Callinicus or from Manbij in Syria. Procopius portrayed her as a courtesan and immoral woman who offered her body to suitors; the Syriac sources make her a lady of high moral standards. She is portrayed as a devout Christian who did her utmost to spread Christianity among the heathens as well as to protect the Syrian Orthodox Church from the persecution of the Byzantine church and state. Denouncing Procopius’s salacious and pornographic portrayal of Theodora, Bishop Gregorius Boulos Behnam wrote this play based on Syriac sources to show that Theodora was a virtuous daughter of a Syrian priest and a devout Christian. For her many righteous and extraordinary qualities Emperor Justinian married her and made her his Augusta and partner in the administration of his empire.