By Mary Naples When we consider the pious lives of saints, images of self-sacrificing martyrs come to mind, devout adherents passionately immolating themselves for a higher cause. So it may come as something of a surprise that joining the haloed ranks is the ambitious, resolute, and oftentimes controversial, Byzantine Empress Theodora (c 497-548). To be
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By Mary Naples One of the most influential and powerful empresses of late antiquity, Theodora’s (c 497-548) life reads like a melodrama where she plays many roles: actress, prostitute, empress and posthumously, saint. Yet in an era not known for social mobility, how did a humble actress-prostitute rise to the highest office of the land?