Teodora, Imparatice Di Bisanzio (Theodora Queen of Byzantium) (1954) Italian





Director:   Ricardo Freda

Starring:   Gianna Maria Canale (Teodora), Georges Marchal (Justinian), Renato Baldini (Arcal), Henri Guisol (John of Cappodocia), Irene Papas (Faidia), Carlo Sposito (Scarpios), Nerio Bernardi (Belisario), Olga Solbelli (Egina), Alessandro Fersen (Metropolita), Roger Pigaut, Loris Gizzi (Smirnos), Umberto Silvestri (The Executioner), Mario Siletti (Magistrate), Oscar Andriani (Scarpio's Attorney) Giovanni Fagioli (Court Chancellor).


Teodora (500-548), wife of Emperor Justinian I  (483-565).  Teodora was a former courtesan and slave girl.  When she marries Justinian I and assumes the throne as Empress of the Byzantine Empire, there is a lot of strife because of the great divide between the nobility and the lower classes with Teodora speaking up for the less fortunate. Rome.  Teodora incites trouble as she seeks justice for her people.

There seems to be little truth in the movie.  Read below for a much better representation of the life of Teodora and Justinian. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 



Historical Background:


Empress Theodora


c. 500  --   Theodora was born, the daughter of a circus bearkeeper.

Theodora became a comic actress in burlesque theater.  She had many admirers. Procopius wrote that she was a courtesan and briefly the mistress of Hecebolus, the governor of Pentapolis.  She bore a son for Hecebolus. 

She became an adherent of the Monophysite Christian sect.  Other sources say she continued with the Chalcedonian party in the Church.

523  --  Theodora married Justinian in Constantinople. 

527  --  Justinian became the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.  He made his wife a joint ruler of the empire.  Apparently, he regarded her as a full partner in all.  She had a natural knack for governance.

532  --  she advised to use military force to put down the Nika riots which had the potential to destroy the empire. 

She was progressive in her thinking: proposed abortion; she convinced Justinian to change the law that forbade noblemen to marry lower class women; and she advocated the rights of married women to commit adultery.  She was also a voice to protect the downtrodden.

529  --  death of Justinian I.

549  --  Theodora died of  breast cancer. 


Also see Last Roman (1968).


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