An authoritative portrait of one of the ancient world's most intriguing and powerful women.Despite very humble beginnings, Theodora rose to become empress of the Byzantine Empire at the acme of its power and influence. Raised in a family of circus performers in Constantinople, she later caught the attention of the future emperor Justinian while performing as a courtesan. The two weremarried soon thereafter, to the shock of the ruling elite. When Justinian assumed power in AD 527, they ruled the Empire together until her death twenty years later.Their reign was the most celebrated in Byzantine history, bringing wealth, prestige, and even much of the Italian peninsula back to the Empire. As Justinian's most trusted advisor, she discernibly influenced his rule. Her interest in social causes, for example, is seen in added legal protections forwomen and the lower classes. Theodora's most lasting impact was her unwavering support for the Christian sect of Monophysitism. Although her husband was orthodox, Theodora maintained her religious independence at considerable risk to herself. In Syria today, where the sect still thrives, she isrevered as a saint.In Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint, renowned historian David Potter provides a fresh new account of her fascinating life and times. He penetrates the highly biased writings of her contemporaries and takes advantage of the latest research on early Byzantium to craft the most authoritative andengaging biography of Theodora to date. It will be of interest to all readers of women's history and ancient history.