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Headword: Πουλχερία
Adler number: pi,2145
Translated headword: Poulcheria, Pulcheria
Vetting Status: high
Daughter of Arcadius and [sc. herself] a princess, when not yet 15 years old she managed the kingdom very well; she also educated her brother Theodosius.[1] For being most wise and having a god-like mind she dedicated her own virginity to God and taught her sisters to do the same. She prescribed rules for her brother in all things, and taught him behaviour and speech, walk and laughter and drape of garments and how to look like a king when sitting and standing; but above all else she carefully taught him piety towards God; and she did just the same concerning her sisters. Having herself founded many churches and poorhouses and hostels and monasteries she appropriated the revenues [from them] and by other numerous successes God often appeared through her. Her sisters were Arcadia and Marina.
[Theodosius] was naturally sluggish and inconsiderate and took everything for granted, especially those laying before him papyri that he signed before reading. Most wise Pulcheria, knowing this, once wisely beguiled him, presenting to him as a gift for slavery his own wife Eudocia. Having signed this without understanding it beforehand, he was later most terribly rebuked by Pulcheria.[2]
Pulcheria hated Nestorius so much, as those loving him report, that Nestorius charged Pulcheria with prostitution before her brother, Theodosius the emperor, and because of this he was so hated by her; for he reviled her to the great magister [sc. officiorum] of the day called Paulinus.
Greek Original:
Πουλχερία, Ἀρκαδίου θυγάτηρ καὶ βασιλίς, ιε# ἐτῶν οὔπω τυγχάνουσα ἄριστα τὴν βασιλείαν διῴκει: ἐπαίδευσε δὲ καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν Θεοδόσιον. σοφωτάτη γὰρ οὖσα καὶ θεῖον νοῦν κεκτημένη τήν τε ἰδίαν παρθενίαν θεῷ προσανέθηκε καὶ τὰς ἀδελφὰς τὸ ὅμοιον πρᾶξαι ἐδίδαξεν. εἰς πάντα δὲ τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἐκανόνιζεν, ἦθός τε καὶ λόγον, βάδισμα καὶ γέλωτα καὶ ἐνδυμάτων περιβολὴν καὶ σχῆμα καθέδρας καὶ στάσεως βασιλικῶς ἐξεπαίδευσε: πρὸ δέ γε ἁπάντων, τὴν εἰς τὸ θεῖον εὐσέβειαν αὐτὸν ἐπιμελῶς ἐδίδασκεν: ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ περὶ τὰς ἀδελφὰς διεγένετο. πολλὰς δὲ ἐκκλησίας καὶ πτωχεῖα καὶ ξενῶνας καὶ μοναστήρια αὐτὴ κτίσασα καὶ προσόδους ἀφώρισε, καὶ πρὸς ἄλλοις μυρίοις κατορθώμασι πολλάκις αὐτῇ καὶ τὸ θεῖον ἐφαίνετο. αἱ δὲ ἀδελφαὶ Ἀρκαδία καὶ Μαρίνα. ὁ δὲ φύσει νωθρός τε καὶ ἀπερίσκεπτος ἐς πάντα μὲν ὑπῆρχε, μάλιστα δὲ ἐς τοὺς ὑποβάλλοντας αὐτῷ χάρτας ἀπαραναγνώστως ὑπέγραφεν. ὅπερ ἡ σοφωτάτη γνοῦσά ποτε Πουλχερία σοφῶς ὑπῆλθεν αὐτόν, δωρεὰν ὑποβαλοῦσα δῆθεν πρὸς δουλείαν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γαμετὴν Εὐδοκίαν. ἣν καὶ καθυπογράψας μὴ πρότερον ἀναγνοὺς ὕστερον δεινῶς ὠνειδίζετο παρὰ τῆς Πουλχερίας. ὅτι Πουλχερία ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον ἐμίσει τὸν Νεστόριον, ὡς τοὺς φιλοῦντας ἐκεῖνον διαθρυλεῖν, ὅτι πορνείαν πρὸς τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτῆς Θεοδόσιον τὸν βασιλέα διέβαλε Πουλχερίας Νεστόριος, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οὕτως ὑπ' αὐτῆς ἐμισεῖτο: ἐλοιδόρει γὰρ αὐτὴν εἰς τὸν τότε μάγιστρον Παυλινὸν λεγόμενον.
Aelia Pulcheria (399-453); daughter, sister and wife of emperors (Arcadius, Theodosius II and Marcian respectively); also a saint in both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. See also pi 2146.
The present entry's material comes in part from George the Monk (see n. 2 below) but mainly from Theodorus Anagnostes.
[1] Theodosius II, 401-450 AD. On Theodosius and Pulcheria see briefly OCD(4) p.1459.
[2] For this anecdote see George the Monk, Chronicon 611.5-11.
Keywords: biography; Christianity; clothing; economics; ethics; gender and sexuality; historiography; history; law; religion; women
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 15 April 2000@01:35:16.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation; added note; cosmetics) on 23 May 2001@07:07:49.
Catharine Roth (added keywords) on 3 October 2005@17:32:50.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords) on 19 February 2010@06:05:39.
David Whitehead (modified end of translation, prompted by Dr George Bevan) on 24 August 2010@04:45:46.
David Whitehead (another note and keyword) on 11 October 2013@05:14:00.
David Whitehead on 10 August 2014@06:41:13.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 10 November 2014@10:21:07.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 10 November 2014@10:23:18.


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