Byzantine Bishops at War with Women

Early Christianity brought new opportunities for Roman and Byzantine women – it also brought new reasons to vilify them.

Bishop John Chrysostom preaching before the Roman empress Eudoxia, by Joseph Wencker, c.1880. Bridgeman Images

Ancient writers could think of no more compelling a villain than an ambitious queen. Stories about men of virtue and the women who tried to bring them down were so popular that historians sometimes seem to have made them up. Such narratives are as old as that of Queen Jezebel, the enemy of Prophet Elijah in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Kings – and no age was more suited to this particular brand of invective than the late fourth century.

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