Members of the jury, look closely at the woman in front of you. Do not be misled by her status, by her glamour, by the Imperial halo that surrounds her and by the perceived nonchalance of her composure. She should belong where she rightly belongs: the very dustbin of history.
Was woman ever so depraved as we have here? The very stones she treads and the ground she walks upon tremble at the weight of her sins.
Forget for the time being she is the Empress of Rome, ruling the Eastern Empire along with her husband, Justinian. Forget also that she is a formidable member of the Church of Christ and a benefactress of Christianity.
But let us begin at the beginning.
This lady, members of the jury, started her life in humble circumstances. She was born to a bear handler of the circus, the second of three daughters. As he died pretty early his widow remarried and thrust her daughters on the amphitheatre. The eldest daughter Comito had become a prostitute of repute before Theodora entered the stage. Initially she assisted her sister in her profession and as she was too young to satisfy a man properly, she pleased her perverted customers in an abnormal fashion. After menarche, her mother made her talents available to the desirous and soon she mastered the art of pleasing men by using each and every part of her body. The circus goers were indeed delighted to have a woman exposing her front and behind to their lewd and raucous approvals. Beardless boys were her favorites and she took a wicked delight in initiating these novices to the mysteries of fornication.
On many occasions she satisfied ten of the more important citizens of Constantinople in a single night and after wrenching them dry she had commerce with their servants in waiting, about thirty in number. But even after this heavy tryst she remained unquenched.
It was about this time that she made her famous lament of Mother Nature that though she was quite capable of receiving men in the three orifices of her person yet she was not provided with a suitable passage between her breasts to accommodate the male organ.
She frequently became pregnant and had recourse to abortionists to rid herself of so undesirable a state, for her trade would have suffered. Her special act on the stage was to lie nearly naked and her slave used to sprinkle grains on her private parts, which a gaggle of geese would peck to everyone’s wildest gestures. Furthermore her facial muscles were so well trained that men preferred her mouth to her more feminine parts.
Imagine for the moment such a Woman let loose on society. Would any decent man remain free from the grasp of such a vile predator? At the height of her fame she accompanied the man designated as governor to Pentapolis in Africa. But he soon got rid of her, as her sexual desires were too demanding. Left to fend for herself she again took recourse to prostitution and on her way back to Constantinople plied her trade in all the cities she passed through. Truly an international whore!
On her return to Constantinople her luck changed remarkably. Who would have dreamt that a mere prostitute would become the favourite of the most powerful man in the city? It is one of the ironies that Providence occasionally has in store for a man who could have had a chaste and cultured virgin with delightful breasts untouched by male hands, from a noble family of Constantinople, as his wife, fell head over heels in love with a filthy harlot. Justinian, the nephew of the emperor Justin, was deeply involved with her. Initially he had intercourse with her as befitted her trade but later on he raised her among the nobles by which she could visit the forbidden places: the palaces and the imperial gardens.
During her longevity Justinian’s aunt, the Empress Euphemia refused to allow her nephew to marry such an unwholesome creature. But after her death the Emperor Justin, in his imbecility, repealed the long-standing law that forbade a prince to marry a prostitute. It was indeed a matter of time before Theodora and Justinian were united in matrimony. Soon after, Justin passed away and Justinian was declared Emperor.
One of the first acts of Justinian on becoming the Emperor was to establish Theodora as the Empress, having equal power as the Emperor. Ladies and genlemen, never before in the history of Rome had a woman ruled officially. There were innumerable instances of strong women, wives and mothers of Emperors, but they never had any official say in state matters. Imagine a woman who was previously a prostitute sitting in majesty on the throne and a procession of venerable judges, formidable generals, learned divines and worthy foreign ambassadors bowing their heads to her. Could any scene be more ludicrous?
Once exalted to the throne this woman became a despot and it was her favourite pleasure to humiliate and terrorise the nobles and the few that saw through her guise. Pity the man who performed any state duty as entrusted by Justinian without Theodora’s knowledge. She contrived to disgrace him and, occasionally, he just disappeared from sight.
Members of the jury, there indeed is a mitigating factor. Emperor Justinian, her husband, was also a despot and, if some reports are to be believed, he was the Devil incarnate. But they were strongly united in their love of wealth, love of falsehood and an insatiable appetite for revenge.
During her more promiscuous days she had borne a child to one of her lovers in spite of trying an abortion and this child had now grown to manhood in the company of his father who was residing in distant Arabia. On his deathbed, the father informed his son of the story of his birth and the son, after performing the last rites of his father, challenged destiny by visiting Theodora in Constantinople. Theodora gave him a patient hearing in private and recognizing the fruit of her womb, took him into the palace. He was neither seen nor heard again!
The vengeance, the savage vehemence of her spite and anger, knew no bounds. A magistrate who had dared to uphold the law and execute two malcontents on charges of murder faced the full fury of Theodora’s wrath, as they were her henchmen. This worthy man was crucified on the same spot where the murderers were executed, on trumped up charges.
Ladies and gentlemen, should I say more? Volumes can be written on her misdemeanors. But let us not forget that Theodora breathes even today. Some we know of and some we do not. The late Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, who was the aunt of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the wife of his Majesty King Edward the Eighth, was in many ways a similar woman. No, she never prostituted her flesh for money but she was a remarkable performer of the most ancient of acts and her sexual prowess was held in esteem on either side of the Atlantic. Her mouth, too, was more precious than the business end of her birth canal.
We have not assembled here to deliberate a verdict on a woman long since dead and gone. We have gathered in this august hall of justice to understand a vile creature in the garb of a woman who was the empress of Rome and to see how disgusting and catastrophic was her reign. Members of the jury, we shall welcome your verdict with all humility.