Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore
Written By: Stella Duffy
Published: January 1, 2010
Prior Reading Analysis: Before reading this book I believed it would be about a girl in a rags to riches kind of story, she falls in love with the emperor and happily ever after finally comes after of the hardships she’s faced.
Setting: This story takes place in sixth century Constantinople in the Byzantine or Roman Empire, as this was said on page 3 about how the political parties, Blues and Greens, ran life in that city.
Figurative Language: In this particular book I don’t believe that the author used figurative language because the thing that happened, for example Menander (Theodora’s teacher) actually did sit on their backs of hit or punch them (pg.10), or when she describes the man who will take Theodora’s virginity, she had to sit there and take the pain of being raped because of who she worked for and what she did (pg.46).
Main Characters: The main characters in this book are Theodora and Justinian. They are very similar in the fact that they never cared about what anyone said, but they did have fears, and they both had a great love and respect for one another (pg. 258-259). Theodora had a horrible childhood (pg. 12- 27), which brought out a defensive side of her, but Justinian was basically living in the shadow of his predecessors and still trying to find his way (pg. 335)
Emotional Dialogue: An example of some emotional dialogue from the story is at the very end when Justinian is realizing all the things being emperor entails ad he and Theodora have this conversation (pg. 335):
“‘What is it?’
‘It’s just me now, isn’t it?’
‘In the purple?’ ‘With you beside me.’ ‘Yes,’ she answered. ‘With me beside you.’”
This dialogue expresses an emotion of love, fear, and a sense that together they will be just fine. I think it show the vulnerability of Justinian and his fears also how much he trusts Theodora, and mostly how much he loves her. Favorite Dialogue: My favorite dialogue was on pg. 258-259. It says: “‘She’s an ill-bred slave’ ‘I hardly think it’s your place to bring criticize the upbringing of the Emperor’s wife’
Theodora would not be swayed. ‘She wasn’t invited.’ ‘She didn’t need to be invited, this is her home.’ ‘And yours.’ ‘Yes but I am here at the sufferance of my uncle – and my aunt.’ ‘Not so. Justin needs you. He knows how old he is, and he knows what they all say about her, they both do.’
Justinian’s eyes could not have been wider. ‘And what do you think they all say about you, Theodora?’ ‘I don’t care what they say about me. That’s the point. I have never – unlike the Empress – pretended to be anything but what I am. I know what I am, what I have been, and so does everyone else. She, though, she behaves like she was born into this life, when she started out as his concubine.’”
This is my favorite because it shows how she never pretended to be posh and not remember what she has been through and what she has done. I also like it because it shows her courage to speak her mind when things back then were much more patriarchal society than they are now. I also love it because it shows Justinian defending his wife and not caring what people said or thought about because he loved her.
Ten Unfamiliar Words from Novel:
Eunuch: A castrated male (pg. 12)
Requisite: Made necessary by particular circumstances or regulations. (pg. 56)
Recompense: Make amends to (someone) for loss or harm suffered. (pg. 133)
Acquiescence: The reluctant acceptance of something without protest. (pg. 145)
Penitent: feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong. (pg. 150)
Pragmatic: Dealing with things sensibly that is based on practical considerations (pg.186)
Tumultuous: Making a loud, confused noise; uproarious. (pg.190)
Formidable: Inspiring fear or respect through being large, powerful, or intense. (pg. 252)
Betrothed: The person to whom one is engaged (pg.285)
Imperial: of or to an empire. (pg. 335)