In Her Own Words: The Life and Poetry of Aelia Eudocia

  Sowers, Brian P. 2020. In Her Own Words: The Life and Poetry of Aelia Eudocia. Hellenic Studies Series 80. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

1. Homeric Euergetism


In 1981, Yizhar Hirschfeld and Giora Solar published an initial report on their first three seasons of excavations at Hammat Gader, a site located along the Yarmuk River on the eastern border of modern-day Israel. [1] While their initial investigation of the epigraphic evidence was cursory, they claimed to have discovered a previously unknown poem by the empress Aelia Eudocia. [2] The following year, a more thorough analysis of the Greek inscriptions from the bath complex appeared and included a seventeen-line hexameter poem by Eudocia. This poem, dating between 437 CE, when Eudocia first traveled to Judea, and her death in 460 CE, is a rare piece of contemporary evidence for her activities outside Constantinople. In addition to this inscription, Evagrius Scholasticus writes that Eudocia gave a speech in Antioch that ended with a Homeric-sounding line. [3] These two pieces of evidence speak toward Eudocia’s literary aptitude and her involvement in broader social, political, and religious projects. [4] By approaching Eudocia’s travels and activities primarily through the lens of her surviving words, this chapter adds to previous studies of her travels to and euergetistic campaigns in Syria and Palestine, some of which have elicited comparison to Helena, mother of Constantine. My approach, therefore, addresses how late antique euergetism was performed and models a way to interpret Eudocia’s public, literary productions. [5]
This literary program beyond Constantinople clarifies how Eudocia’s pilgrimage to and subsequent exile in Jerusalem—despite some similarities to Helena’s activities—originate from a nuanced appreciation for late antique imperial travel with all of its associated complexities, not from a desire to appear as a “new Helena.” [6] Eudocia’s deliberateness becomes more evident when her Hammat Gader poem and speech in Antioch are situated within their larger literary and euergetistic context(s). Removing the poem and speech from these contexts leads to confusion and a distorted picture of her travels. For instance, Bury suggests that, during her stay in Antioch, Eudocia “posed as one trained in Greek rhetoric and devoted to Hellenic traditions and proud of her Athenian descent [rather] than as a pilgrim on her way to the great Christian shrine.” [7] This suggestion creates a false dichotomy between literary culture (paideia) and religious devotion and implies an inherent chasm between classical erudition and Christian piety. Based on her extant poems, Eudocia demonstrates an effortless ability to shift between different ideological registers. Simultaneously empress, euergetes, pilgrim, and poet, Eudocia presents herself both as every woman and as an exceptional one. Her speech in Antioch and the poem at Hammat Gader pivot on these various registers, as Eudocia communicates in a way that is quintessentially late antique, while also demonstrably unconventional.
As Christian pilgrim, Eudocia visits all the “must see” destinations; as imperial benefactress on a tour of the eastern empire, she stops at strategic urban centers, where she oversees or financially supports ad hoc building campaigns. In this regard, she imitates Helena but distinguishes herself from other imperial women, pilgrims, and euergetai by selecting a decidedly Homeric mode of communication. Her epigraphic and encomiastic winks and nods to classical epic open an intertextual dialogue between her late antique contexts and her Homeric content; at times these Homeric allusions clarify, other times they bemuse. Despite the inherent challenges of interpreting Eudocia’s literary play, her euergetistic programs suggest that she never lost sight of fifth-century necessities. Through a distinct combination of Christian values and classical paideia, Eudocia emerges as a unique type of late antique euergetes, a Homeric one. This chapter focuses on the theme of Eudocia as Homeric euergetes and situates this theme both in its immediate context (Antioch and Hammat Gader) and in the wider context of Eudocia’s life, beginning with her adolescence and marriage to Theodosius.

Eudocia’s Early Life, Marriage, and Family

As daughter of the Athenian sophist Leontius, Aelia Eudocia, née Athenais, received the best classical education available and earned a reputation as an accomplished poet at a young age. Her unique education and literary aptitude, along with her connection to Leontius, advanced the assumption that she had been raised a “pagan.” This assumption, however, is reflected in, although not entirely supported by, contemporary accounts and is difficult to reconcile with our knowledge about Theodosius’ sister, Pulcheria, who influenced the young Theodosius and likely had some say in whom he married. For that reason, Eudocia and her family possibly had ties to Christianity.
The evidence for Eudocia’s early life is sparse and contradictory. For example, the Chronicon Paschale (in its entry for 420 CE) lists her father as Heraclitus, a detail directly contradicted by her contemporary and Constantinopolitan insider, Socrates Scholasticus. [8] Despite this error, the Chronicon Paschale is not entirely unreliable, as it explains why Athenais initially visited Constantinople, where she met Pulcheria and Theodosius. According to this story, after Leontius’ death, Athenais’ brothers, Gessius and Valerius, by attempting to deprive her of her inheritance, forced her to travel to Constantinople to seek assistance from the imperial family. Impressed by Athenais, Pulcheria quickly arranged her engagement to Theodosius. Shortly before their wedding, Athenais adopted the imperial name Aelia Eudocia and, as the story goes, converted to Christianity.
Some scholars question this version of the story and downplay Pulcheria’s influence as presented in the Chronicon Paschale. [9] According to this view, details of Eudocia’s “rags to riches” story seem exaggerated, especially her need for imperial support from greedy brothers. That these same brothers held significant imperial positions shortly after her marriage is difficult to reconcile with such familial tension. Those who question the Chronicon Paschale instead posit that Eudocia’s family had already risen to prominence before her arrival in Constantinople and that her brother Valerius had even held the governorship of Thrace. Pulcheria’s opponents under the leadership of Paulinus preferred Hellenism (i.e. “paganism”) to Christianity and, seeking to weaken Pulcheria’s influence on Theodosius, arranged his engagement to the “pagan” Eudocia behind Pulcheria’s back. While reconciling the difficulties surrounding Eudocia’s family, this view stresses a growing conflict between Constantinopolitan Hellenizers and Christians and situates Eudocia as a central figure in their dispute. With so much conflicting evidence bound up with religious fervor and court intrigue, the reality behind Eudocia’s early life may be irrevocably lost or shrouded in mystery.
Eudocia married Theodosius II on June 7, 421 CE and gave birth in the following year to their first child, Licinia Eudoxia, named after Theodosius’ mother, Aelia Eudoxia. Perhaps through Pulcheria’s direction, the infant Eudoxia was betrothed to Valentinian III, the child emperor in the West who needed eastern support against a usurper. Having given birth to an heir and secured an alliance with the West, Eudocia adopted the title Augusta on Jan 2, 423 CE. It has been suggested that she also bore a son, Arcadius, who, although never mentioned by imperial historians, was thought to be named in one inscription and the verse dedication of Proba’s cento gifted to the Theodosian family. [10] Critics counter that this Arcadius must be the father of Theodosius, not his otherwise unattested son, a reading that is now the standard view. [11] Sometime during her first decade of marriage, Eudocia gave birth to a second daughter, Flacilla, who died in 431 CE. [12] Theodosius and Eudocia spent these early years with their two daughters in Constantinople, although she likely maintained ties with Athens and perhaps even supported building programs there. [13]
During these years in Constantinople, Eudocia augmented her reputation as an accomplished poet. After Theodosius’ victory against the Persians in 421 CE, she, along with other court literati, recited encomia to commemorate the event. In his account of the recitation, Socrates claims that Eudocia’s encomium stood out from the others, because it was in heroic verse. [14] As this Persian ode, like most of her poetry, does not survive, its precise content and form remain uncertain. Unlike most of Eudocia’s poetry, however, the fairly secure date for her Persian ode allows us to situate it within its precise socio-historical context. Eudocia might have composed her Homeric cento, her Cyprian epic, or her versified paraphrases of Hebrew Bible (Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Zechariah, and Daniel) before leaving for Jerusalem in 438 CE, although it is equally possible that she wrote them later in life.
After securing prominent political positions for her male relatives, Eudocia encouraged them to promote religiously moderate and tolerant legislation. Her maternal uncle, Asclepiodotus, consul in 423 CE and praetorian prefect between 423-425 CE, issued a series of laws that discouraged violence against Jewish and pagan communities by granting these communities triple or quadruple restitution. [15] Considering the religious intolerance of the Theodosian emperors, these laws may represent Eudocia’s moderating influence. The similarity of these edicts to those passed by Constantinian emperors in the preceding decades may also indicate that they had little actual effect beyond the world of late antique legal study. On the other hand, at least one militant Christian leader noticed these laws protecting pagan and Jewish communities and complained. In a threatening letter, St. Simeon the Stylite protested to Theodosius, and Asclepiodotus shortly thereafter was removed as praetorian prefect. [16] If these events are related, they underscore fifth-century ecclesiastic influence and the limitations of Eudocia’s moderating voice.
On October 29, 437 CE, Licinia Eudoxia and Valentinian III married, an event that, along with those regions of Illyricum promised to Theodosius, secured an alliance between the eastern and western empires. [17] To commemorate the wedding, Theodosius and Eudocia commissioned an inscription for San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome: Theodosius pater Eudocia cum coniuge votum, cumque suo supplex Eudoxia nomine solvit (Theodosius, father, with his wife Eudocia and Eudoxia, as suppliant, in her own name, completed their vow). [18] That spring (438 CE), Eudocia went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, either to fulfill her own vow or to alleviate tensions with Pulcheria. [19] Theodosius did not join her, a fact that fueled speculation about this trip and Eudocia’s eventual exile from Constantinople. [20] Because Melania the Younger was in Constantinople visiting a sick relative and planned to return to Jerusalem around the same time Eudocia set out, the two women travelled together. [21]

Eudocia in Antioch

Because Eudocia left Constantinople a few days before Melania, their arrangement to meet in Sidon gave Eudocia an opportunity to visit the Syrian capital of Antioch, a traditional stopping point for the imperial family. [22] While there, she recited an encomium that ended with ὑμετέρης γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι (I claim to be of your race and blood). [23] Influenced by her other verse encomia, especially the ode commemorating Theodosius’ Persian victory, some scholars suggest that this speech was entirely in meter, either a hexametric panegyric (πάτρια) or a Homeric cento. [24] This view is supported by external evidence. For example, in his summary of Eudocia’s poetry, Photius lists a panegyric to Antioch, although it is unclear if this panegyric is the same as the speech Eudocia gave in 438 CE. [25] Because only this Homeric ending survives, the remainder of Eudocia’s speech, including its form and content, remains conjectural. [26]
Public or semi-public speeches given by ancient women are intrinsically valuable, not least because they were more infrequent and less likely to survive than those given by men. For that reason, speeches analogous to Eudocia’s are rare. Of the few oratorical examples from Athens (Aspasia of Miletus), Rome (Sempronia, Hortensia), and elsewhere (Maesia of Sentinum, Carfania), most elicited harsh criticism, in particular those given by Hortensia, Maesia, and Carfania. [27] Speeches from female philosophers, Pythagoreans in particular, are more common, although these typically date to the classical or Hellenistic period. [28] Because the socio-cultural factors that produced these female philosophers were no longer at play in the fifth century CE, female Pythagoreans do not adequately account for educated and influential late antique women, such as Eudocia. Preeminent among all educated women, arguably throughout antiquity, was Hypatia, the closest analog, chronologically and socially, to Eudocia. [29] From the various, convoluted accounts about her life and death, Hypatia gave semi-public lectures on scientific or philosophical topics and was an active participant in fifth-century Alexandrian politics. [30] That she died so prematurely and violently underscores the real risks ancient women took when participating in public life. Similar to Hypatia’s activity in Alexandria, Eudocia’s public and political orations likely turned a few heads.
Most modern treatments of Eudocia’s speech focus on what intentions or desires led her to make this Homeric allusion. According to one view, Eudocia had an affection for the cultured Antiochene aristocracy, a welcome reprieve from Constantinople’s Trinitarian experts. [31] This view makes at least two significant assumptions about Eudocia, Antioch, and Constantinople. First, it assumes that Antioch was less engaged in theological controversy than Constantinople, which was frequently immersed in Trinitarian conflicts, in large part because of imperial involvement in these debates. Nevertheless, Antioch was also deeply involved in heresiological matters, particularly those involving Nestorius, and Antiochene Christians made as many theological contributions in the fifth century as Christians from Constantinople.
Second, this view assumes that Eudocia found herself alone in Constantinople without the type of cultured friends available in Antioch, despite the fact that Hellenism was no more common in Antioch than in Constantinople—by the fifth century, neither city had a sizeable pagan community compared to Alexandria, Aphrodisias, or Athens. [32] Moreover, equating Eudocia’s paideia and her so-called pagan background risks the unverifiable conclusion that she never felt comfortable among Constantinople’s Christian aristocracy. Her poetry and later involvement in the Monophysite controversy, especially as it intensified in Jerusalem, evince a seamless blend of theological and classical interests. Of course, we may move too far in the opposite direction and view Eudocia’s speech as exclusively literary and entirely removed from her pilgrimage, a model that also risks creating two opposing Eudocias: the learned poet and the Christian pilgrim. [33]
Since Eudocia’s intentions and feelings are ultimately unknowable, my approach focuses on the surviving speech, Antioch’s response, and their developing relationship. According to the Chronicon Paschale, the Antiochenes applauded Eudocia’s speech and commissioned two statues in her honor, a gold statue for the curia and a bronze statue for the museum. [34] A few essential observations can be made from this reaction. First, Eudocia’s speech communicated more about her relationship with Antioch than about her ability to almost quote the Iliad. If Antioch erected multiple statutes to anyone able to (mis)quote Homer, their magistrates would have had time or money for little else. Second, her Homeric flourish communicated some message, however subtle, to the Antiochenes; for this message to be most effective, it necessarily contained multiple, complementary registers, simultaneously Homeric and late antique. Third, Antioch’s commissioning of multiple statues reveals its response to her message as communicated through this Homeric allusion. In other words, the city’s response is an equally multivalent Homeric wink, but one that follows late antique conventions and reveals late antique concerns. Honored by these statues, Eudocia funded multiple building campaigns, which further augmented her relationship with Antioch and indicates that there was more to her Homeric allusion than meets the eye. [35]
Poetic allusion was part of Eudocia’s repertoire, and she routinely adapted Homeric lines to suit her literary or social agenda. In this instance, her engagement with Homer has multiple registers—literary and contextual—and adds an aesthetic touch to her speech. Even if one is unable to identify the exact location of the line in Homer, this language is unmistakably epic and adds gravitas to her performance. By concluding in this way, she also opens an intertextual conversation that frames her entire speech vis-à-vis Homer. For those able to identify the reference, her conclusion not only adds literary authority but also activates an intertextual engagement between her Homeric source and her agenda in Antioch. Audience members cultured enough to understand the allusion thus could have interpreted it as an indication of Eudocia’s wider imperial program.
That Eudocia visited Antioch, or any city, is remarkable. Compared to the heirs of Constantine, the Theodosian emperors infrequently left Constantinople, a practice that likely alienated them from cities, including Antioch, that had previously benefited from periodic imperial visits. [36] Having access to the emperor’s ear and purse appealed to the urban elite, despite the challenges, for citizens and emperor, associated with hosting the imperial court. A decade after Julian’s fiasco with Antioch’s grain supply, Valens funded a building campaign and established a grain distribution system that lasted two centuries. [37] Through these projects, Valens conflated two essential roles: as imperial benefactor, he modeled euergetism at the local level; as temporary resident of Antioch, he met the physical and religious needs of the city. [38] Late Roman emperors frequently addressed such social needs, especially when their host city exhausted its grain reserves. [39]
By comparing Eudocia’s involvement in Antioch to previous imperial programs, the euergetistic implications behind her encomium come into sharper focus. As self-proclaimed kin to the Antiochenes—some have argued that her father was an Antiochene citizen residing in Athens—and as imperial benefactress, she provided tangible, civic assistance to Antioch. [40] Shortly after her arrival, she funded the construction of a basilica, the restoration of a bath complex, an extension of the city’s wall, and a system to feed the city’s poor. [41] Since such projects typically fell to local euergetai, Eudocia’s assistance may suggest a scarcity of local elites who were contributing to the city’s needs.
Just fifty years earlier, in a homily about charitable giving, John Chrysostom implied that Antioch’s abject poor made up a very small part (about two percent) of the city’s population. [42] Despite this hyperbolic depiction of urban poverty, it seems that “cheerful givers” in late antique aristocratic circles had become—to borrow a phrase from Peter Brown—rarae aves. [43] As a result, urban poor flocked with great expectation whenever a “rare bird” migrated to their city. For instance, when Melania and Pinianus arrived in northern Africa, the Christian communities of Hippo eagerly welcomed and courted them. [44] If Antioch’s citizens were similarly on the lookout for external patrons, such as Eudocia, they would have publicly recognized euergetistic generosity. In general, such honors augmented a patron’s prestige and social capital, which advanced her future interests and secured a mutually beneficial relationship marked by public benefactions and public gratitude. In my view, Eudocia’s speech fits within and perhaps even initiates this social give-and-take.
If Eudocia’s brief stay in Antioch began an ongoing socio-cultural exchange with the city, then the beginning of this interaction, specifically her words “ὑμετέρης γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι,” invariably clarifies but also, perhaps, complicates her euergetistic program. For that reason, it is constructive to identify her possible Homeric source, to analyze the allusion in its Homeric context, and to reconstruct the implications of making this allusion in a public speech.
The exact line, ὑμετέρης γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι, is not attested in the Homeric corpus. In fact, ὑμετέρης is never positioned first in a Homeric hexameter; the closest example is γαίης ὑμετέρης (Odyssey 7.269). No form of ὑμέτερος opens an Iliadic line, although it is infrequently found as part of a prepositional phrase at the beginning of lines (e.g. Iliad 5.686, ἐν πόλει ὑμετέρῃ, and Iliad 20.116, ἐν φρεσὶν ὑμετέρῃσιν). It can begin a line in the Odyssey but never in the feminine singular genitive. It stands to reason, therefore, that Eudocia either wrote her own Homeric sounding line or modified a line from the Iliad or the Odyssey. Manipulating Homeric lines came easily to Eudocia, as her cento demonstrates. [45] The closest analog to ὑμετέρης γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι is Iliad 6.211 and 20.241: ταύτης τοι γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι. These lines, both from heroic speeches immediately preceding battle, would require minimal lexical change, a substitution of ὑμετέρης for ταύτης τοι. [46] By examining each in turn, Iliad 6.211—part of the famous exchange between Glaucus and Diomedes—emerges as the preferred source for Eudocia’s encomium.
Meeting in the field of battle, Diomedes sarcastically and insultingly asserts that he neither knows Glaucus nor has seen him fighting in the vanguard (Iliad 6.124–127), a claim that prompts Glaucus to summarize his illustrious ancestry (Iliad 6.151). For his part of this traditionally Homeric tête-à-tête, Glaucus traces his line from Aeolus through Sisyphus, Glaucus, and Bellerophon to his own father, Hippolochus, and concludes with, “ταύτης τοι γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι” (Iliad 6.211). Upon learning Glaucus’ race and blood, Diomedes joyfully drives his spear into the ground and declares that, because his grandfather, Oeneus, once hosted Bellerophon, they were guest-friends (ἦ ῥά νύ μοι ξεῖνος πατρώϊός ἐσσι παλαιός). Xenia, a crucial social contract in Homeric society that discouraged conflict between guest-friends, was commonly sealed with mutual gift exchange. Accordingly, Glaucus and Diomedes agree not to fight each other and ritually reinstitute their relationship with an exchange of gifts: Glaucus trades his golden armor for Diomedes’ bronze armor. [47]
Iliad 20.241 appears in the middle of a battle scene between Aeneas and Achilles (20.75–352), an episode that contains a simile depicting Achilles as a gentle lion, an image inconsistent with the bloodthirsty warrior found in this portion of the Iliad. [48] Similar to Glaucus and Diomedes in Iliad 6, Aeneas boasts of his birth and accomplishments, in the middle of which he says, “ταύτης τοι γενεῆς τε καὶ αἵματος εὔχομαι εἶναι.” Unlike Glaucus, Aeneas immediately challenges Achilles to fight, but Poseidon intervenes and steals Aeneas to safety, the second contest between them to end this way. [49]
When compared to Eudocia’s speech, three features support the conclusion that Iliad 6.211 was her likely source. First, by ending her speech with this Homeric allusion, Eudocia mirrors the speech of Glaucus more than that of Aeneas, who continues for another sixteen lines. That Eudocia echoes not only the words but also the structure of Glaucus’ speech evinces the complexity of her intertextual play. Second, the general tone of her oration parallels Glaucus’ speech. Despite the martial context of both passages, the confrontation between Glaucus and Diomedes ends in a recognition scene and a reinstitution of xenia, marked by mutual gift exchange and an agreement to avoid each other in battle. Aeneas and Achilles, in contrast, already know each other’s ancestry (Iliad 20.203). After Aeneas reminds Achilles of his birth, he requests that they stop speaking (Iliad 20.244) and test each other with weapons (Iliad 20.257–258). Considering this was likely Eudocia’s first visit as Augusta to Antioch, her public address, comparable to Glaucus’, served as a formal introduction. Third, Antioch’s response suggests that someone attributed her allusion to Iliad 6.211 and decided to play along with the intertextual game. While only the literary elite would have recognized or appreciated her echo and its Homeric context, they knew Homer well enough to make equally cultured gestures. In fact, Antioch’s official response was equally Homeric—their two statues, gold for the curia, bronze for the museum—subtly echo Glaucus and Diomedes’ armor exchange.
Eudocia’s commitment to fund building projects and an alimentary program is consistent with late antique euergetism, as is the city’s response. Their honorific statues, likely unfinished when Eudocia left Antioch for Jerusalem, were to remain in the city, not to return with Eudocia to Constantinople. The entire interaction—statues in return for a basilica, bath, walls, and grain—is one whereby a wealthy benefactor provides functional monuments and commodities in exchange for honorific monuments. This exchange is consistent with late antique euergetism, not with Homeric xenia. While both parties offer tangible and valued objects, neither abandons late antique mores for a less valuable, Homeric substitute. What distinguishes this event, therefore, is how Eudocia opens her euergetistic program with a Homeric allusion, to which Antioch responds in equally Homeric fashion. Similar to Glaucus and Diomedes’ exchange of armor in Iliad 6, Eudocia’s exchange of gifts with Antioch is equally imbalanced. Rather than simply flaunting her paideia, Eudocia fulfills her imperial obligations while making a culturally meaningful reference to their shared, classical past. In doing so, she simultaneously presents herself as Homeric euergetes and Antiochene guest-friend.

Eudocia in Jerusalem

After leaving Antioch, Eudocia joined Melania at Sidon and traveled from there to Jerusalem, where she continued her euergetistic program by funding a cross for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and food for Jerusalem’s poor. [50] Based on the accounts of Eudocia’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem, she situated herself within a social and religious tradition dating back to Constantine and Helena. [51] Unfortunately, the surviving evidence is selective and often contradictory. For example, Eudocia’s support of monophysite Christianity earned her the sympathy of Gerontius, the Greek author of Melania’s vita, although he interprets events favorably for Melania and never allows Eudocia’s activity in Jerusalem to overshadow Melania. Gerontius’ Eudocia is, therefore, a type of imperial sidekick who remains securely in Melania’s shadow. The author of Melania’s Latin vita, in contrast, is less concerned with Nestorian partisanship and adds at least one unflattering story about Eudocia. [52] In addition to the narratives focused on Melania, John Rufus’ life of Peter the Iberian contains episodes, unavailable to or omitted by Gerontius and his Latin translator/redactor, that clarify Eudocia’s interactions with local church leaders in Jerusalem other than Melania. Although it is difficult to reconcile all these events, which present an incomplete and slightly muddled picture of Eudocia’s time in Jerusalem, they underscore her relationship with Melania and their involvement in the cult of the saints.
According to John Rufus, on May 15th, 438/439 CE, Eudocia presided over the dedication of a basilica to St. Stephen, built just north of the Jerusalem wall to house his relics in her possession. [53] Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, was also in attendance, but Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem, seemingly was not. [54] As Juvenal was not part of the eastern monophysite circle made up of Melania, Eudocia, and Cyril, whom he had opposed during the Nestorian controversy, Eudocia perhaps publicly preferred Cyril over Juvenal. It is equally possible that Juvenal was present for the dedication, although his participation was omitted by John Rufus, who sided with the Monophysites. [55] The following day, Eudocia attended the dedication of a second martyrium to St. Stephen built by Melania on the Mount of Olives, which housed additional relics of St. Stephen, as well as relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and of some unspecified Persian martyrs, whose bones Peter the Iberian had brought to Jerusalem. [56] Our sources here differ significantly. The pro-Melanian Gerontius deemphasizes Eudocia’s involvement, whereas John Rufus mentions an inscription commemorating her financial support. [57]
Since our sources do agree that Eudocia and Melania each funded a martyrium to house St. Stephen’s relics and that the commemoration services for these projects took place on concurrent days, there is either some confusion or some unexpressed tension. Either these accounts are mistaken, and the relics of Stephen were housed in only one Jerusalem martyrium, or St. Stephen’s bones were the object of contention between Melania and Eudocia. In order to reconcile these details, Clark suggests that Eudocia used the bones of Stephen to gain local and imperial legitimacy and prestige, despite Theophanes’ ninth-century account that the bishop of Jerusalem had already sent St. Stephen’s hand to Theodosius II and Pulcheria in the 420s CE, years before Eudocia went on pilgrimage. [58] Clark follows the late antique accounts, which attest that Eudocia transported some of these relics to Constantinople in 439 CE and deposited them in the Basilica of St. Lawrence. [59] Because this basilica was built by Pulcheria and was located in a city district named after her, Eudocia’s decision to deposit these relics there can be seen as a form of imperial competition. [60]
More generally, Eudocia brought relics back to Constantinople that helped secure her and her family’s position. These include the chains Herod used to bind St. Peter, which Licinia Eudoxia deposited in the Roman basilica eventually named St. Peter ad Vincula. [61] According to Theodorus Lector, Eudocia sent Pulcheria a portrait of the Virgin presumed to be the work of Luke the Evangelist, although the reliability of this account is disputed. [62] As a way to further augment her participation in the cult of the saints, she wrote verse paraphrases of saints’ lives and prophetic texts. It is not a coincidence that, while Melania publicly venerated the bones of the prophet Zechariah, Eudocia rewrote the book of Zechariah into Greek verse. This paraphrase can also be viewed as a literary rival to Pulcheria’s basilica for Isaiah in Constantinople built around the time Eudocia returned. [63] It is equally tempting to interpret her epic paraphrase of Cyprian of Antioch as a literary participation in the cult of Cyprian and Justina, especially as the cult spread across the empire. [64]
At some point during this trip—the Greek and Latin versions of the Life of Melania disagree on the particulars—Eudocia twisted her foot so seriously that prayers for her recovery were made in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. [65] After she recovered well enough to travel, she left Jerusalem, accompanied by Melania as far as Caesarea. Her injured foot and her possession of St. Stephen’s bones were soon conflated so much that an epigraphic forgery claims that Eudocia dedicated St. Stephen’s foot in the Basilica of St. Stephen in the Paphlagonian town of Safranbolu. [66] Based on this forged inscription, at least one person imagined Eudocia depositing bones of St. Stephen along her return route to Constantinople.

Eudocia in Exile

A few years after Eudocia returned to Constantinople, she found herself estranged from Theodosius and his immediate circle of advisors. [67] By the early 440s CE, her conflicts with Pulcheria increased enough that they allowed the court eunuch, Chrysaphius, to isolate Pulcheria and to force her suburban retirement, which lasted until he lost imperial favor and was exiled in 450 CE. [68] After removing Pulcheria, Chrysaphius turned his attention to Eudocia, whose reputation he ruined by persuading Theodosius that she had an affair with Paulinus, master of offices and rival of Chrysaphius. [69] Paulinus’ intimacy with the imperial family—he served as παράνυμφος in Theodosius’ wedding—had already promoted an earlier charge of sexual impropriety with Pulcheria. [70] It appears Paulinus’ political/religious opponents used his familiarity with imperial women against him, and his fall from favor occurred at the same time Theodosius exiled Eudocia, a fact that further incited court gossip. After removing Paulinus, Chrysaphius facilitated the replacement of the popular city prefect, fellow poet, and close friend of Eudocia, Cyrus of Panopolis, who resigned from the city prefecture in 441 CE. Shortly thereafter, Theodosius confiscated Cyrus’ property and exiled him to the bishopric of Cotyaeum.
These events clarify the legendary account of Eudocia’s exile related by John Malalas. [71] According to this story, the emperor bought an apple of such remarkable size that he sent it as a gift to Eudocia. She, in turn, gifted the apple to Paulinus, who, equally impressed by the magnificent fruit, gave it to Theodosius. The emperor immediately recognized that it was the same apple he had given Eudocia. Suspicious, Theodosius asked Eudocia about the apple, and, when she insisted that she had eaten it, he produced the apple and accused Paulinus and Eudocia of having an affair. The folk-tale motif of this “apple of discord” story has been much discussed and variously resolved. [72] Some assume Paulinus’ involvement in Eudocia’s exile but dismiss the apple narrative. [73] Others see in the narrative an exculpatory purpose—a literary reaction to court gossip—that simultaneously exonerates Eudocia and vilifies the overly jealous Theodosius. [74] At the very least, Malalas’ account reveals how Eudocia’s dismissal from Constantinople was interpreted, although we should note that Theodosius did not send her away in disgrace. She retained the title Augusta until her death and retained an imperial retinue, at least during the early years of her exile. [75] Eudocia never returned to Constantinople and remained in Jerusalem, even after the death of Theodosius in 450 CE.

Eudocia at Hammat Gader

During her Holy Land exile between 440 and 460 CE, Eudocia visited the springs at Hammat Gader and composed the honorific poem that opened this chapter. These springs were a popular source of therapeutic relief beginning in the second century CE, when the bath was built as a Roman army spa. [76] By the third century CE, the bath enters the literary record; these descriptions complement and, occasionally, clarify the archaeological record. [77] In his treatment of Iamblichus’ visit, Eunapius describes the springs as the second most popular therapeutic site in the Mediterranean and as having two springs named Eros and Anteros, a detail partially corroborated in Eudocia’s poem. [78] From Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, we also learn that the bath had co-ed bathing facilities, a feature that elicited concern among some late antique Christians. [79]
The Piacenza Pilgrim of 570 CE adds to this picture by describing the bath’s layout and its overnight accommodations for visitors suffering from various skin diseases, especially leprosy. [80] Such incubation rooms were full of natural vapors, a treatment recommended by Galen that could also induce the type of nocturnal visions associated with incubation cults. [81] The following morning, priests prescribed additional bathing rituals for visitors to perform until they experienced relief. Corroborating the Piacenza Pilgrim’s description, recent excavations have discovered a small room equipped with a pool, whose water source ran separate from the rest of the complex.
Not every visitor to Hammat Gader suffered from skin diseases, despite the trend in late antique healing cults to specialize in specific ailments. Other natural springs, such as the military bath at Bourbonne-les-Bains, never took on any ritual significance. [82] Based on the literary and archaeological evidence, Hammat Gader welcomed a diverse range of patrons, from guests looking to enjoy a day at the bath to those desperate for a healing touch. [83] When Eudocia composed her poem in honor of the bath and its springs, the religious identities of its guests would have been equally diverse, from Christian and Jewish to traditionalist or “pagan.” Her poem must then be understood within these divergent, perhaps competing, ideological and economic contexts.
The inscription itself was found in situ in the southern end of the building’s largest room, the Hall of Fountains, and would have been visible as one entered from the west (room A). [84] It has a height of 71 cm, a thickness of approximately 2 cm, and an original length of 184–186 cm; where the right edge is broken, the length is 181 cm. It is uncertain whether the inscription was designed as part of a wider decorative program for the room, but it does contain one controversial feature: the crosses flanking Eudocia’s name. In 427 CE, Theodosius outlawed crosses on areas with pedestrian traffic, including mosaic floors. [85] As a result, some have questioned whether Eudocia knew about the crosses or their placement in a major thoroughfare. [86] Considering the time necessary to commission, to fabricate, and to install an inscription of this size, Eudocia likely would not have been present for its “unveiling.” The inscription reads as follows:

1                         Εὐδοκίας Αὐγούστης
          Πολλὰ μὲν ἐν βιότῳ κ᾽ ἀπίρονα θαύματ᾽ ὄπωπα,
          τίς δέ κεν ἐξερέοι, πόσα δὲ στόματ᾽, ὦ κλίβαν᾽ ἐσθλέ,
4        σὸν μένος, οὐτιδανὸς γεγαὼς βροτός; Ἀλλά σε μᾶλλο(ν)
          ὠκεανὸν πυρόεντα νέον θέμις ἐστὶ καλεῖσθαι,
          Παιάνα καὶ γενέτην, γλυκερῶν δοτῆρα [87] ῥεέθρων.
          ἐκ σέο τίκτεται οἶδμα τὸ μυρίον, ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃ,
8        ὅππῃ μὲν ζεῖον, πῇ δ᾽ αὖ κρυερόν τε μέσον τε.
          τετράδας ἐς πίσυρας κρηνῶν προχέεις σέο κάλλος·

          Ἰνδή· Ματρώνα τε· Ῥεπέντινος· Ἠλίας ἁγνός·
          Ἀντωνῖνος ἐύς· δροσερὰ Γαλάτια· καὶ αὐτὴ
12      Ὑγεία· καὶ χλιαρὰ μεγάλα· χλιαρὰ δὲ τὰ μικρά·
          Μαργαρίτης· κλίβανος παλεός· Ἰνδή τε· καὶ ἄλλη
          Ματρώνα· βριαρή τε Μονάστρια· κ᾽ ἡ Πατριάρχου.
          ὠδείνουσι τεὸν μένος ὄβριμον ἠνε[κὲς ἀιέν,]
16      ἀλλὰ θεὸν κλυτόμητιν ἀείσο[μαι – – – – – ]
          εἰς εὐεργεσείην μερόπων τε χ[ρ – – – – – -] [88]

1                        By Eudocia Augusta,
          I have seen many countless wonders in my lifetime,
          But who, how many mouths, o good clibanus,
4        What worthless mortal could proclaim your might? But rather,
          It is fitting to call you a new fiery ocean,
          Paean and begetter, dispenser of sweet streams.
          From you is born the boundless swell, one here, another there,
8        In some parts a boiling (swell), in others a cold and tepid (swell).
          In four tetrads of springs, you pour forth your beauty:

          Indian woman and Matrona, Repentinus and St. Elijah,
          good Antoninus, dewy Galatea and
12      Hygeia herself, the great warm (baths) and the small warm (baths),
          the Pearl and old clibanus, Indian woman, and another
          Matrona, the strong Nun, and the spring of the Patriarch.
          For those who are in anguish, your mighty strength is eternal,
16      but I will sing of God, famous in skill,
          for the benefit and … of mortals. [89]

This seventeen-line poem blends panegyric and ekphrastic features to honor the bath, its springs, and its furnace or clibanus, a tank boiler similar to a modern hot-water heater. [90] In this poem, Eudocia followed an established late antique tradition of praising hot springs and baths. [91] Claudian’s fons Aponi (Carmina Minora 26), for example, describes the beauty and therapeutic function of the springs of Abano. [92] A century later, Ennodius and Cassiodorus composed similar poems for the springs at Abano and drew inspiration from Claudian’s fons Aponi. [93] Similar to Claudian, Eudocia compares the springs at Hammat Gader to various healing deities, although her poem focuses on the bath’s man-made features, rather than its natural location and beauty.

Structurally, the poem contains multiple lists, a common poetic feature of late antiquity that Eudocia preferred. For instance, her Homeric cento begins with the creation story, itself a catalogue of sorts, and borrows heavily from the Shield of Achilles, the first and archetypical ekphrasis in the western literary tradition. [94] This type of generic hybridity was quite popular in Late Antiquity. [95] Christodorus of Coptus, one of the so-called “wandering poets,” composed a verse inventory, “On the pupils of the great Proclus,” as well as a 416-line ekphrastic poem of nearly eighty statues at the bath of Zeuxippus in Constantinople. [96] Writing within this tradition of ekphrastic panegyrics about springs or baths, Eudocia adopts the perspective of the viewer but also innovates on this tradition by directly addressing the clibanus. [97]
The poem opens with two Homerisms that give the entire encomium an epic tone. [98] In line 2, Eudocia introduces the theme of healing or wonders, central to the poem and the site’s reputation, by transforming Odyssey 15.79 (πολλὴν ἐπ᾽ ἀπείρονα γαῖαν) into πολλὰ καὶ ἀπίρονα θαύματα. Since visitors of various religious backgrounds, including traditionalists (e.g. Odyssey 9.190), Hellenistic Jews (Josephus Jewish Antiquities 9.182; Philo On the Life of Moses 1.180), Christians (Mark 5:20 and Luke 11:14), and even philosophers or thaumaturges, would have been comfortable with the ideologically ambiguous θαύματα, its use here may suggest an awareness of the bath’s diverse clientele.
In the following two lines (3–4), Eudocia confesses her inability to adequately describe the clibanus’ strength (μένος), even with countless mouths—a firmly established literary trope by the first century. [99] Unlike the ideologically neutral θαύματα above, this allusion is decidedly more classicizing and Homeric. First, μένος—the force/anger endowed upon gods, humans, and, less frequently, inanimate objects—is comparatively less common in later authors, especially Christians. [100] Within its original Homeric contexts, the request for ten tongues opens the Catalogue of Ships (Iliad 2.489), another paradigmatic ancient list, and had become commonplace in Greco-Roman literature, used by Cicero, Vergil, Ovid, and Persius, among others, and by Jewish authors, including Philo, Baruch, and Yohanan ben Zakkai. [101] Eudocia here anticipates her catalogue of springs and situates it within the classical tradition through this allusion.
The appearance and identity of the poem’s sixteen fountains have been much discussed, mostly because Eudocia names only fifteen distinct objects, a few of which are certainly not fountains. [102] Her list can be divided into four types: general descriptions of people, specific historical figures, religious/mythological figures, and architectural features of the bath. First, Eudocia twice mentions an Indian woman and a Matrona, along with a strong Nun and a Patriarch. [103] These are likely based on the physical appearances or clothing of sculptures in the complex. It is tempting to compare these two Matronas with the Matrona healing cult near Antioch, a possibly Jewish incubation cult. [104] The Patriarch is likely a reference to a Jewish patriarch, not the Christian bishop, Juvenal of Jerusalem. [105]
Second, Eudocia lists specific individuals, Repentinus and Antoninus the Good, tentatively identified as Antoninus Pius, who might have been local/imperial benefactors honored with sculptures near the fountains. [106] Next are religious or mythological figures associated with healing centers: Helias the Holy (the biblical prophet Elijah), whom the Piacenza Pilgrim associates with the bath, along with Galatia and Hygeia, two classical healing deities commonly linked with eastern springs. Finally, Eudocia mentions four architectural features of the bath: the small and large warm-water pools, the old clibanus, and a room described as the Pearl. [107] Why Eudocia chose to include these specific features of the bath in her poem, especially the old clibanus, is unclear. Nevertheless, the bath’s decorative program clearly was quite diverse and likely reflects the site’s equally diverse clientele.
After insisting that mortal words fail to adequately describe the clibanus’ strength, Eudocia proceeds to praise it with three metaphors: a new fiery ocean, Paean, and an emanating source of sweet streams. [108] As a vestige of the popular honorific epithet found in encomiastic acclamations, comparing the clibanus to a new fiery ocean (ὠκεανὸν πυρόεντα νέον) communicates along political and poetic registers. [109] For instance, there is some evidence that prytaneis received this acclamation and that Homer, as inspiration for all subsequent poets, was compared to the ocean by the Hellenistic period. [110] Closer to Eudocia’s time, John Chrysostom used this epithet in his treatment about vainglory and the ambitious urban patron eager for civic praise. [111] Within Chrysostom’s imagined scenario, urban citizens congregate in the theater to praise their patron, whose beneficence they successively compare to the Nile and the ocean, metonyms for late antique euergetism and the predictable services euergetes provide. [112] In the same way, by employing this oceanic metaphor, Eudocia gestures to Homer as her poetic model and applies euergetistic imagery to the clibanus. As a type of local patron, the clibanus provides essential and appreciated therapeutic services for the local community. [113] Its beauty and architectural aesthetics quickly recede to the background, as Eudocia highlights its therapeutic benefits. Through this simile, ekphrasis yields to panegyric. [114]
In addition to a euergetistic ocean, the clibanus is a source of physical wonders (θαύματα, 2), a late antique Paean (6) for its patrons. [115] Undoubtedly classicizing, Paean can refer to a number of ancient physicians or healing divinities, including Apollo, Asclepius, or Hygeia. Eudocia identifies one of her sixteen “fountains” as Hygeia, alongside Elijah and Galatia, whose miraculous powers made them recurring characters in ancient healing cults. [116] By closing with the sick receiving comfort from the clibanus (15), the poem ends where it began, with an emphasis on the site’s power. Similar to Chrysostom’s Antiochenes, Eudocia compares the clibanus to a euergetistic ocean—the source and dispenser (γενέτην and δοτῆρα) of pleasant waters and good gifts. For the bath’s ailing patrons, these good gifts take the form of curative miracles (ἀπίρονα θαύματα).
This emphasis on physical healing and miracles is consistent with Eudocia’s broader interest in the cult of the saints and their accompanying healing cults. According to contemporary accounts of her first pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Eudocia had personally been healed after praying in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Late antique saints’ lives, including those of Menas of Cotyaeum, Cyrus and John at Menouthis, and Artemius, Cosmas, and Damian of Constantinople, frequently emphasize healings and miracles. Partially because of these miracle accounts, each vita became inextricably bound within the ritualized space associated with its saint, who occasionally “specialized” in healing specific diseases. [117] For instance, the cults of Cyrus and John were centers for ophthalmic miracles, and sites associated with Saint Artemius were known to alleviate genital-based diseases/maladies. Other holy men, such as Saint Menas, were jack-of-all-trades saints and could heal a variety of ailments. Based on the description provided by the Piacenza Pilgrim, along with its surviving epigraphic record, Hammat Gader was a destination for those seeking relief from various skin conditions, particularly leprosy. [118] While the Piacenza Pilgrim attributes the site’s healing power to the prophet Elijah, we know, in part from Eudocia’s poem, that the site incorporated holy figures from diverse religious backgrounds. [119]
Considering this religious diversity, Eudocia’s language appears inclusive, even when, in the poem’s final lines, she directs her reader’s attention from the bath’s μένος to the god’s (θεόν). In line 16 (ἀλλὰ θεὸν κλυτόμητιν ἀείσο…), Eudocia draws from the Homeric Hymn to Hephaestus (Ἥφαιστον κλυτόμητιν ἀείσεο, 20.1) and opens an intertextual conversation with it. [120] In context, Homeric Hymn 20 celebrates the technical skills, especially architectural technology, that Hephaestus taught humans, which equip them to build houses and leave their cave-abodes. In terms of Eudocia’s poem, this same skill promotes the building of the bath complex and the ability to heat water, which consequently provides added services. This line also has euergetistic implications, as κλυτόμητις was a popular epithet for late antique political and religious benefactors. [121] In fifth-century Bostra, the local religious leader and self-described defender of orthodoxy, Antipater, calls himself κλυτόμητις for his role in building a church. [122] In Smyrna, the city publicly proclaimed their proconsul Damocharis a κλυτόμητις. [123] Eudocia’s Homeric allusion has added euergetistic force, when she thanks the god for the εὐεργεσεία he provides (17). This creates two complementary euergetes at Hammat Gader: the clibanus, which heats the bath’s pool, and the god, who heals the bath’s patrons.
And yet, Eudocia does not explicitly praise Hephaestus. By replacing his name with the ambiguously imprecise θεὸν, she welcomes readers to bring their own perspectives to the poem. She could equally be speaking about the Judeo-Christian god or a deity from any number of pantheons, whether Hephaestus or one more closely associated with eastern healing cults. [124] Moreover, traces of Neoplatonic language in the poem allow for the possibility that Eudocia blurs the line between god (as an emanating force that permeates all matter) and the natural spring. [125] These radically divergent interpretive options can be resolved in various ways, depending in large part on the reader’s perspective.
Eudocia’s engagement with the various ideologies represented at Hammat Gader is remarkably elusive. Only in her list of sixteen fountains do we catch a glimpse of the communities that frequented the bath, many undoubtedly to be healed. That portions of the complex were named after illustrious visitors from diverse backgrounds speaks toward their importance to the bath and its wide range of patrons. Through her ambiguous language, Eudocia neither dismisses these various interest groups nor questions the bath’s therapeutic virtues. In fact, she might have traveled there to take advantage of them. [126] Rather, Eudocia directs her reader, first to the wonders of the bath, its various rooms, its springs, and patrons, and second to the healing potential of the site, its ἀπίρονα θαύματα. Here, she interpretively focalizes her reader’s attention toward a single divine source for these wonders.
From our knowledge of her religiosity, Eudocia likely attributed the bath’s therapeutic power to the Christian god but chose to express that power in classicizing terms. [127] Her other poems similarly juxtapose Christian theology with classical allusion. Despite promoting religious tolerance within the fairly intolerant and theologically conservative Theodosian court, Eudocia here solely acknowledges a god’s active hand. [128] Considering the bath boasts diverse patrons, including an emperor, a Jewish patriarch, the prophet Elijah, an unnamed nun, as well as two mythological figures associated with healing cults and bath complexes, her emphasis on a singular god is striking. By the end of the poem, she has directed her reader’s attention to this god and his miraculous power, which leaves the bath’s benefactors with little credit for their euergetistic services. Despite Eudocia’s peripatetic tour of the bath’s features and her acknowledgement of the active hand various patrons played in its history, including that of the clibanus itself, her κλυτόμητις θεός has subsumed all possible rivals and has relegated them to a list of sixteen fountains. God, even if a slightly ambiguous one, acts as euergetes par excellence and receives all the credit. In this regard, Eudocia is similar to other members of the Theodosian family. [129]
This section has situated Eudocia’s ekphrastic encomium at Hammat Gader within the context of the bath’s role as therapeutic destination for a diverse group of visitors. A popular healing location, the springs were understood to provide essential services for local patrons and for visitors who traveled long distances in search for physical relief. While living in Jerusalem, Eudocia visited the bath and fulfilled her role as imperial benefactor by writing a poem in honor of the bath and commissioning its installation in a fairly prominent location. Through her various Homeric allusions about the site’s water heater (clibanus), Eudocia praises its beauty and its therapeutic power, which she metaphorically compares to ocean and Paean, images that underscore its therapeutic and euergetistic qualities. Her poem provides an encomiastic tour of the bath, including its sixteen “fountains,” which, I have argued, neither total sixteen nor are fountains. Eudocia’s list, however, clearly confirms the diverse clientele and an equally diverse list of Christian, Jewish, and pagan benefactors at Hammat Gader. By the end of the poem, however, Eudocia credits God as preeminent euergetes, ultimately responsible for the site’s miracles.


Rather than recounting a traditional historical introduction to Eudocia’s life that heavily relies on male-authored texts and their attendant court intrigue and gossip, this chapter instead has focused on Eudocia’s surviving words, particularly her speech in Antioch and her poem at Hammat Gader. This approach elucidates Eudocia’s early life and her active participation in imperial benefactions by putting them in terms she herself expressed. As a result, some of Eudocia’s interests or values, such as her propensity for writing socially engaging poetry and her interest in civic building programs, emerge more clearly to the fore. Other dimensions of her personal life, although historically important, recede into the background. This selectivity is not to suggest that these unmentioned parts of her life were unimportant to Eudocia; rather, my approach in this chapter (and those that follow) allows Eudocia to dictate her own story and to advance her ideas about herself.
Although only a single line from Eudocia’s Antioch speech survives, it reveals a great deal about how she adapts Homeric lines into new contexts. By altering Iliad 6.211, Eudocia gestures to Glaucus’ encounter with Diomedes, along with its recognition scene and re-institution of xenia. Eudocia engages Glaucus’ speech on multiple registers, as both the content and form of her speech mirror his. I argue that the response from the Antiochene aristocracy is equally Homeric. By commissioning two statues, one golden and one bronze, Antioch echoes Glaucus and Diomedes’ armor exchange. This is not merely intellectual banter between groups of educated elites. Their interaction begins a mutually beneficial “friendship” shared between Antioch and Eudocia, who funds building projects and alimentary programs. These projects, consistent with late antique euergetism, should come as no surprise. What distinguishes Eudocia’s euergetistic agenda is her choice to express her civic engagement in Antioch in decidedly Homeric terms, which the Antiochenes appreciate and respond to in equally Homeric terms.
Eudocia continues in this Homeric mode in her one definitively exilic poem, the ekphrastic panegyric at Hammat Gader. Incorporated into the site’s floor design, the poem as a physical object patronizes the therapeutic bath and adds to its beauty. Instead of commemorating her own role as imperial benefactor, Eudocia instead chooses to describe the bath’s furnace, or clibanus, as a source of healing for its diverse patrons. Her Homeric allusions underscore the magnitude of the clibanus’ favor and the site’s beauty. The mere enumeration of the site’s features requires a Homeric catalogue with added divine assistance. Moreover, by metaphorically comparing the clibanus to Paean and the ocean, Eudocia creatively blends euergetistic and therapeutic imagery. Despite recognizing the diverse clientele who depend on the bath for comfort and relief, Eudocia concludes by crediting a god with the miracles that occur there. This line simultaneously alludes to the Homeric Hymn to Hephaestus and to late antique euergetistic acclamations that further blend religious and secular, classical and contemporary imagery into a unified whole.
By engaging Eudocia’s words with an eye toward their immediate and intertextual contexts, this chapter sets the stage for those that follow. Eudocia frequently advanced her personal and imperial agenda through poetry and Homeric allusion. In the case of her Hammat Gader poem, she was interested in supporting social and religious centers, similar to her various building programs in Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Antioch. As a strategic eastern city, Antioch was equally important to the imperial family, an importance that Eudocia acknowledged with financial support and a Homeric offer of friendship. Her choice to express that friendship in a decidedly Homeric mode speaks toward the depth of her classical erudition and her ability to use that erudition to meet contemporary needs. The continuing view of Homeric epics as preeminent authorities in the fifth century CE is evident in the following chapter, which examines Eudocia’s reuse of Homer to paraphrase the Bible.


[ back ] 1. The archaeological reports for Hammat Gader can be found in Hirschfeld and Solar 1981; Hirschfeld 1997; Broise 2003.
[ back ] 2. SGO 21/22/01 (SEG 32.1502).
[ back ] 3. Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 1.20.
[ back ] 4. Green and Tsafrir 1982:83, 86 recognize Eudocia’s engagement with Homeric models.
[ back ] 5. The reports of the excavation likely were written too late for Hunt to consider. Recent studies on mosaics in the Holy Land (e.g. Baumann 1999) also do not discuss the Hammat Gader inscription.
[ back ] 6. Eudocia’s itinerary does mirror Helena’s. See Hunt 1982; Holum 1990; Limberis 1996:60; Brubaker 1997; Elsner 2005. The title of “new Helena” was given to Pulcheria, Eudocia’s sister-in-law, after the council of Chalcedon in 451 CE (Holum 1982:216; Brubaker 1997:62).
[ back ] 7. Bury 1923:226.
[ back ] 8. Socrates Scholasticus Ecclesiastical History 7.21.
[ back ] 9. Holum 1982:112–121.
[ back ] 10. ILS 818; Dedication to Proba’s Cento 13–14 (Schottenius Cullhed 2015:190); Bury 1923:220; Clark and Hatch 1981:98–99; Cameron 1982:267. For more on the dedication, see Usher 1997:315; McGill 2007; Whitby 2007:216–217; Curran 2012:328–329; Kelly 2013b:34–35; Schottenius Cullhed 2015:59; Whitby 2016:229–230.
[ back ] 11. Holum 1982:178; Burman 1994:84.
[ back ] 12. Marcellinus Comes Chronicon 431.
[ back ] 13. The Theodosian family spent more time in the imperial capital and less time traveling abroad than other imperial dynasties (Mitchell 2007:104–105). For possible Eudocian building programs, including a palace and basilicas, see Mommsen 1868:68, 127; Pagano 1988–1989; Burman 1994:82–83.
[ back ] 14. Socrates Scholasticus Ecclesiastical History 7.21.
[ back ] 15. Codex Theodosianus 16.5.59, 16.8.26, 16.9.5, 16.10.22 (Holum 1982:123–124).
[ back ] 16. Life of St. Simeon Stylites 130–131 (Holum 1982:125).
[ back ] 17. Cassiodorus Variae 11.1.9; Jordanes De gestis Romanorum 329.
[ back ] 18. ILCV 1779.
[ back ] 19. Socrates Ecclesiastical History 7.47 states that Eudocia’s journey fulfilled a vow connected with Licinia’s marriage, whereas Mitchell 2007:108 suggests that her rivalry with Pulcheria forced Eudocia to leave Constantinople.
[ back ] 20. Clark 1982:147–148.
[ back ] 21. Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 1.20 and Vita Melaniae Junioris 55–56. See also the Vita Petri Hiberi and its summary in Horn 2004.
[ back ] 22. Compare Eudocia’s nondescript visit to Helena’s, which was marked by some disagreement with Antioch’s bishop, Eustathius (Hunt 1982:36; Chadwick 1948). Julian’s tensions in Antioch are well known and related in his Misopogon (Downey 1951; Gleason 1986; Wiemer 1995; Lieu 1989:44–46).
[ back ] 23. Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 1.20.
[ back ] 24. Cameron 1970:8–12 and Hunt 1982:229 suggest that Eudocia’s speech was a πάτρια. Ludwich 1882:207 proposes a cento.
[ back ] 25. Photius Bibliotheca 183–184 (Henry 1959:2.195–199).
[ back ] 26. Cameron 1982:278; Horn 2004:199.
[ back ] 27. For Aspasia and her audience comprised of Socrates and his followers, see Plutarch Life of Pericles 24; Jarratt and Ong 1995. For Sempronia, see Appian Civil Wars 1.20; Valerius Maximus 3.8.6; 9.7.1; 9.15.1. For Hortensia, the first Roman woman to give a public speech, see Appian Civil Wars 4.32–33; Bauman 1992:78. According to Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria 1.1.6), Hortensia’s speech was still read for its oratorical value. Quintilian also mentions a speech by Laelia, but it is unclear whether she gave her speech publicly. See Cicero Brutus 58.211–212; Bauman 1992:47–48. Valerius Maximus 8.3.3 lists Hortensia, Maesia, and Carfania as the three notable women who publicly pleaded cases.
[ back ] 28. Haskins 2005:315–319.
[ back ] 29. For more on Hypatia and the expansive bibliography on her, see Cameron 2016; Watts 2017.
[ back ] 30. Watts 2017:82–92.
[ back ] 31. Bury 1923:226–227.
[ back ] 32. Bowersock 2006:175. For late antique Antioch more generally, see Downey 1961; Matthews 2006.
[ back ] 33. Hunt 1982:229.
[ back ] 34. Chronicon Paschale (Dindorf 1831:585; Whitby and Whitby 1989:74–75); Bury 1923:131–132. Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 1.20, following John Malalas, only mentions the bronze statue. See Whitby and Whitby 1989:75; Downey 1961:451–452.
[ back ] 35. John Malalas Chronographia 14 (Dindorf 1831:352–358; Thurn 2000:272–278); Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 1.20; Downey 1941:207–13.
[ back ] 36. Mitchell 2007:323.
[ back ] 37. Downey 1951:382–383; Liebeschuetz 1972:129–130.
[ back ] 38. For a discussion on the changes in late antique euergetism, especially the increasing concern for the poor, see Patlagean 1977; Holman 2001; Brown 2002:26–32; Holman 2008; Brown 2012; Brown 2015:85–88; Brown 2016.
[ back ] 39. Wiemer 1995:190–194.
[ back ] 40. Holum 1982:117–118; McClanan 2002:20.
[ back ] 41. Chronicon Paschale (Dindorf 1831:585; Whitby and Whitby 1989:74–75); Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 1.20; Downey 1941:207–213; Downey 1961:451–452; Whitby and Whitby 1989:75.
[ back ] 42. John Chrysostom Homilies on Matthew 66.3. See also Augustine Expositions on the Psalms 149.10. Patlagean 1977:207–214; Patlagean 1997:15–25; Brown 2002:14; Mayer 2006a; Mayer 2006b; Mayer 2008; Brown 2015:90–91.
[ back ] 43. Brown 2002:48; Finn 2006; Brown 2015:87.
[ back ] 44. Vita Melaniae Junioris 21; Augustine Epistle 126.7; Clark 1985:22–25; Brown 2002:55–56.
[ back ] 45. For more on Eudocia’s Homeric cento, see the following chapter.
[ back ] 46. Based on their shared line, Kirk 1990:171 draws connections between these Homeric episodes.
[ back ] 47. Kirk 1990:190–191 suggests this bizarre end resists literal and realistic interpretation.
[ back ] 48. Leaf 1902:2, 348–349 and Combellack 1976:49–53 contrast this “normal” Achilles with the blood-thirsty one after Patroclus’ death. Edwards 1991:301–329 argues that this imagery is consistent with rest of the Iliad.
[ back ] 49. Iliad 20.90–93, 188–194.
[ back ] 50. For late antique travel and travel accounts, see Wilkinson 2002; Matthews 2006; Johnson 2012b; Johnson 2016b.
[ back ] 51. Vita Melaniae Junioris 58-59; Hunt 1982:228–229; Brubaker 1997:62. Clark 1982:147, building on John Rufus Plerophoria 11, critiques the details of Eudocia’s first visit to Jerusalem.
[ back ] 52. Clark 1984:23.
[ back ] 53. Vita Petri Hiberi 33 (Raabe 1895:37). The precise date of Eudocia’s trip is debated. Clark 1982:147 and Holum 1982:184–185 suggest 438 CE, whereas Hunt 1982:230 argues that 439 CE is preferable, since Eudocia’s arrival at Jerusalem in May of 438 CE is too early. Holum and Clark’s dates are consistent with the pilgrimage timeline depicted in the Itinerarium Burdigalense 571.6-8 (Cuntz 1929).
[ back ] 54. Clark 1982:153.
[ back ] 55. For Eudocia’s entourage, see Hunt 1982:230–232; Clark 1986b:63–64; Burman 1994; Horn 2004:200–201.
[ back ] 56. Melania had housed these relics near her female monastery on the Mount of Olives as early as 431 CE (Vita Melaniae Junioris 48). By December 26, 439 CE, she celebrated the festival to St. Stephen in the martyrium (Vita Melaniae Junioris 64).
[ back ] 57. Vita Melaniae Junioris 58–59; Vita Petri Hiberi 37.
[ back ] 58. Clark 1982:143; Theophanes Chronographia 5920 (de Boor 1980:1:86–87); Holum and Vikan 1979:119, 128.
[ back ] 59. Marcellinus Comes Chronicon 439.2 (Mommsen 1894:80); Holum and Vikan 1979; Brubaker 1997:56. For Pulcheria’s role in the cult of the saints, see Holum 1982:136–137.
[ back ] 60. Clark 1982.
[ back ] 61. This is the same church where the inscription (ILCV 1779) that mentions a dedication by Eudocia and Theodosius II was found. See Bury 1923:227; Burman 1994:72.
[ back ] 62. Theodorus Lector Historia Tripartita 353; Holum 1982:142; Burman 1994:72. Compare with Acts 12:6.
[ back ] 63. Marcellinus Comes Chronicon 439.2, 453; Theodorus Lector Historia Tripartita 363; Holum 1982:137.
[ back ] 64. Sowers 2017. See also chapters three and four.
[ back ] 65. Vita Melaniae Junioris 59. For the differences between the Greek and Latin vitae, see Clark 1984:192.
[ back ] 66. Doublet 1889; Halkin 1953; Livrea 1996. On the history of this inscription and its influence on scholarship, see Mango 2004.
[ back ] 67. My purpose here is not to revise the account of Eudocia’s exile, which is discussed in detail in Cameron 1982; Clark 1982; Holum 1982; Burman 1994.
[ back ] 68. Bury 1923; Holum 1982.
[ back ] 69. Cameron 1982:256 lists Cyrus of Panopolis and Paulinus as Chrysaphius’ victims. Burman 1991:55–56, 1994:67–69 argues that the sources may equally refer to a scandal between Paulinus and Eudocia, Paulinus and Pulcheria, or Honoria and Eugenius.
[ back ] 70. This charge, leveled against Pulcheria by Nestorius, survives in Theodorus Lector Historia Tripartita 340 (Hansen 1995:97). See also Holum 1982:193.
[ back ] 71. John Malalas Chronographia 14 (Dindorf 1831:352–358; Thurn 2000:272–278).
[ back ] 72. Littlewood 1974; Cameron 1982:258–259, 270–279; Holum 1982:114; Scharf 1990; Burman 1994:64–69.
[ back ] 73. Bury 1923.
[ back ] 74. Cameron 1982:258–259.
[ back ] 75. Theodosius withdrew this retinue in 444 CE, when they had a further falling-out. According to court rumor, Eudocia killed Theodosius’ agent, Satornilos, who had killed two of her clerics. See Marcellinus Comes Chronicon 444; Priscus Fragment 8 (Given 2014:78); Cameron 1982:260; Burman 1994:69.
[ back ] 76. Eck 2014:212–214; Renberg 2016:808.
[ back ] 77. Origen’s Commentary on John 6:41 is the earliest extant reference to the bath complex (Schürer 1974–1987:100–104).
[ back ] 78. Eunapius Lives of the Philosophers 459; Hirschfeld and Solar 1981:202.
[ back ] 79. Epiphanius Panarion 30.7.
[ back ] 80. Piacenza Pilgrim Itinerarium Antonini Plancentini 7 (Cuntz 1965:132; Wilkinson 2002:133). Milani 1977:34–36; Johnson 2016c; Renberg 2016:808–814.
[ back ] 81. Bourdy 1992:31–35. Renberg 2016:808–814 explains how the incubation ritual at Hammat Gader differed from those elsewhere.
[ back ] 82. Ronot 1973; Troisgros 1994; Sauer 2005.
[ back ] 83. Muir 2006 discusses the ideological competition inherent to healing across religious traditions.
[ back ] 84. Broise 2003:219.
[ back ] 85. Codex Justinianus 1.8.1.
[ back ] 86. Green and Tsafrir 1982:82.
[ back ] 87. Read δωτῆρα (Bevegni 1990). Compare Eudocia’s Martyrdom of Cyprian Iines 115 and 406.
[ back ] 88. Meimare 1983 reconstructs the final two lines:

ἀλλὰ θεὸν κλυτόμητιν ίσο[μαι ὄφρα σε σῴζω]
εἰς εὐεργεσείην μερόπων τε χρ[ῆσιν ἀείνων].
[ back ] 89. The translation is my own. I avoid including any of the various reconstructions for the last two lines, since they are uncertain.
[ back ] 90. Green and Tsafrir 1982:83–85; Yegül 1992:373; Becker 1995; Boehm 1995; Busch 1999:84–98; Christian 2015:340–354.
[ back ] 91. Busch 1999 provides a complete list of these praises, including many in the Latin Anthology (331–344).
[ back ] 92. Martial Satires 6.42.4; Lucan Civil War 7.193.
[ back ] 93. Kennell 2000:96–98; Majani 2006; Consolino 2017:119–120.
[ back ] 94. Usher 1999:1–2; Schembra 2007b:5–6.
[ back ] 95. Formisano 2017:225–227; Rees 2017:315.
[ back ] 96. Palatine Anthology 2; Cameron 1965:475, 481, 489; Busch 1999:98; Whitby 2003:598–599; Bassett 2004:51–58, 160–185; Kaldellis 2007; Agosti 2009.
[ back ] 97. Didot 1872; Kendall 1998:24n16; Thébert 2003:485–521.
[ back ] 98. The term Homerism comes from Fournet 1995:302. See also Christian 2015:342–343.
[ back ] 99. Busch 1999:88–89.
[ back ] 100. Hainsworth 1993:318–319; Janko 1994:102–103.
[ back ] 101. Vergil Aeneid 6.625–627; Vergil Georgics 2.42–44; Ovid Fasti 2.119; Persius Satires 5.1–5; Macrobius Saturnalia 5.7.16. For more on this commonplace and even more examples, see Scheiber 1984:180–181; Hinds 1998:34–47; Robinson 2011:140–142.
[ back ] 102. Green and Tsafrir 1982:86–91.
[ back ] 103. Green and Tsafrir 1982:90 suggest, quite improbably, that Μονάστρια refers to Eudocia. For other late antique uses of μονάστρια, see John Chrysostom Epistle 14.2; Isidorus of Pelusium Epistle 1.367; Justinian’s Novellae Constitutiones 123.36; Joannes Moschus Pratum spirituale 60; Sophronius Hierosolymitanus Narratio Miraculorum Cyri et Iohannis 44; Chronicon Paschale; Council of Nicaea (787).
[ back ] 104. John Chrysostom Orations against the Jews 1.6; Trzcionka 2007:130; Renberg 2016:778.
[ back ] 105. Green and Tsafrir 1982; Habas 1996:114; Demandt 2007:521–522; Appelbaum 2013.
[ back ] 106. Hirschfeld 1997:4, 11.
[ back ] 107. Green and Tsafrir 1982:89.
[ back ] 108. Green and Tsafrir 1982:85 suggest an omitted τε in line 6 to be read Παιάνα καὶ γενέτην γλυκερῶν τε δοτῆρα ῥεέθρων (thus with four images present).
[ back ] 109. Peterson 1929; Méautis 1931; Merkelbach 1988; Blume 1989; Wiemer 2004; Kruse 2006; Christian 2015:344–345.
[ back ] 110. P. Oxy. 1305, 1413. Brink 1972:553–556.
[ back ] 111. John Chrysostom Address on Vainglory and the Right Way for Parents to Bring Up Their Children; Schulte 1914; Laistner 1951; Roskam 2014.
[ back ] 112. Each flood season, the Nile rose sixteen cubits, a predictable and reliable level that afforded security to the Egyptian agrarian economy and is even found on imperial coinage (Bonneau 1964:336–337). Similar to the Nile’s floodwaters, Hammat Gader’s sixteen fountains consistently supported the local economy.
[ back ] 113. Compare Renberg 2016:811.
[ back ] 114. In his reading of this section, Ovadiah 1998 emphasizes κάλλος and situates it within late antique Neoplatonism.
[ back ] 115. Compare Claudian Fons Aponi 67–70; Busch 1999:96.
[ back ] 116. Käppel 1992:372–374. Not mentioned are the Graces, who were associated with healing cults and were represented on Gader’s coinage (Dvorjetski 2007:355–359; Renberg 2016:812.
[ back ] 117. Deubner 1907; Drescher 1946; Festugière 1971; Marcos 1975; Parmentier 1989; Crisafulli and Nesbitt 1997; Montserrat 2005; Gascou 2006; Frankfurter 2010.
[ back ] 118. Piacenza Pilgrim Itinerarium Antonini Plancentini 7 (Cuntz 1965:132; Wilkinson 2002:133); Di Segni 1997.
[ back ] 119. Compare Sigerist 1961; Román López 1995; Dvorjetski 1997.
[ back ] 120. Compare IG 14.1015.
[ back ] 121. Feissel 1998:132; Agosti 2014a:27; Agosti 2016.
[ back ] 122. IGLS 13.9119a-d.
[ back ] 123. Palatine Anthology 16.43.
[ back ] 124. The site, as a whole, does not look like a traditional “pagan,” Jewish, or Christian healing sanctuary (Renberg 2016:813–814).
[ back ] 125. Ovadiah 1998:391–392 argues in favor of these Neoplatonic ideas in the poem without ever addressing the identity of the θεόν in line 16. See Proclus The Elements of Theology, proposition 126 and 162; Dodds 1963.
[ back ] 126. Meimare 1983; Habas 1996:112–113.
[ back ] 127. Green and Tsafrir 1982:91.
[ back ] 128. Limberis 1996:41–45.
[ back ] 129. Holum 1982; Flower 2013; Watts 2013.