Born Athenais, Ælia Eudocia (fl. V Century) was the daughter of a
pagan philosopher, Leontius, and was the wife of Theodosius II, emperor of
the Roman east. She was baptized before her marriage in 421 and received
the title Augusta in 423. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem after the
marriage of her daughter to Valentinian III, emperor of the Roman west,
and she brought the relics of St. Stephen to Constantinople. She is also
said to have divided St. Peter's chains between the thrones of
Constantinople and Rome, and her gift to her son-in-law may be the relics
that give St. Peter ad vincula its name. She was, for a time, a
Monophysite but is said to have died a Christian. (Some Greek menea
include her name among the saints.) After the emperor accused her of
unfaithfulness or after she fell out with her sister-in-law Pulcheria or
after her favorites fell from power, she returned to Jerusalem, where she
died in 460.
Eudocia (as she is often called) was also a poet. Photios praises her
work in Bibliotheca, but modern critics, judging from her surviving
works, do not share his opinion. She wrote verse paraphrases of some
books of the Bible and may have composed a life of Christ in hexameters.
She told the story of Sts. Cyprian and Justina in verse and celebrated her
husband's 422 victory over the Persians in poetry.
Karen Rae Keck
Return to St Pachomius Library.