[St. Pachomius Library]

Anicia Juliana

V/VI Centuries
A patrician from an old and wealthy family in Constantinople, Anicia Juliana (c. 421-c. 528) was the daughter of Olybrius, Western emperor from April to November 472, and Placida, the daughter of Valentinian III; in 512, a mob proclaimed her husband, the general Areobindus, emperor, a post he declined. She was a patron of the arts and a supporter of the church. Withstanding pressure from the emperor Athanasios and the patriarch Timotheos, she remained Orthodox and supported the decisions of Chalcedon. In addition, she corresponded with Pope St. Hormidas to help end the Acacian schism. She built churches to St. Euphemia, St. Polyeuktos, and the Theotokos in her native city. St. Polyeuktos, destroyed by an earthquake in the twelfth century and excavated in the twentieth century , is thought to have been the largest church in Constantinople until Hagia Sophia was constructed. She also gave gold for the adornment of churches. Modem scholars tend to interpret her actions as a form of covert conspicuous consumption or as a clever means of avoiding giving money to fund Justinian's wars. An illumination from the Vienna Discorides, an herbal she commissioned, shows her with Megalopsyche and Sophrosyne, an emblem of her love of wisdom.

Karen Rae Keck


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