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Theodora's Emperor

When I was 11, my favorite book was Harold Lamb's Theodora and the Emperor.[1]

Now there appears to be an equivalent for the 49-year old me: Peter Sarris's Economy and Society in the Age of Justinian--and it's available for the Kindle.[2]

[1] Which contains no mention of Gibbon's infamous "her murmurs, her pleasures, and her arts must be veiled in the obscurity of a learned language" footnotes.

[2] Which I hope contains no mention of the footnotes either. Gibbon's footnotes are, I believe, based entirely on the Anecdota of Procopius of Caesarea, which may be best read as the sixth-century equivalent of National Review or the American Spectator. My favorite part of the Anecdota is not the part about the insatiable lusts of Theodora but rather Procopius on the nature of her husband the Emperor Justinian:

And they say Justinian's mother said to some of her intimates once that not of her husband Sabbatius, nor of any man was Justinian a son. For when she was about to conceive, there visited a demon, invisible but giving evidence of his presence perceptibly where man consorts with woman, after which he vanished utterly as in a dream.

And some of those who have been with Justinian at the palace late at night, men who were pure of spirit, have thought they saw a strange demoniac form taking his place. One man said that the Emperor suddenly rose from his throne and walked about, and indeed he was never wont to remain sitting for long, and immediately Justinian's head vanished, while the rest of his body seemed to ebb and flow; whereat the beholder stood aghast and fearful, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. But presently he perceived the vanished head filling out and joining the body again as strangely as it had left it.

Another said he stood beside the Emperor as he sat, and of a sudden the face changed into a shapeless mass of flesh, with neither eyebrows nor eyes in their proper places, nor any other distinguishing feature; and after a time the natural appearance of his countenance returned. I write these instances not as one who saw them myself, but heard them from men who were positive they had seen these strange occurrences at the time...