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date: 06 May 2021

(Aelia) Eudocia, locked

c. 400–460 ce
  • Pavlos Avlamis

Extract

Originally named Athenais, Eudocia was the daughter of Leontius, a teacher of rhetoric. She was born in Athens (Evagrius Scholasticus Historia ecclesiastica 1.20) and probably followed her father in his career move to Alexandria, before returning to Athens, where Leontius was elected to the chair of rhetoric in 415ce with the help and intervention of Olympiodorus of Thebes (Olympiodorus fr. 28 FHG). Details of Eudocia’s life are complicated by the novelistic embellishments of the chroniclers (exemplified in Joannes Malalas 272-8 Thurn) and contemporary polemics persisting in later sources,1 but a basic narrative seems secure. Eudocia’s classical education (reported by Malalas 273 Thurn; Phot. Bibl. 183; Tzetz. Chil. 10.48–54) is evident in the nature of her literary output, her use of traditional poetic language, and her classical versification, which reveal formal training despite occasional inconsistencies and non-classical usages. Athenais converted to Christianity and changed her name to Eudocia before her marriage to Theodosius II on 7 June 421.

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