[St. Pachomius Library]

Ælia Eudocia

V Century
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


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