Saunterings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 306 pages of information about Saunterings.
as I think of her; but she wears the purple by divine right.  I have not seen on any walls any figure walking out of history so captivating as this lady, who would seem to have been worthy of apotheosis in a Christian edifice.  Can there be any doubt that this lovely woman was orthodox?  She, also, has a story, which you doubtless have been recalling as you read.  Is it worth while to repeat even its outlines?  This charming regal woman was the daughter of the keeper of the bears in the circus at Constantinople; and she early went upon the stage as a pantomimist and buffoon.  She was beautiful, with regular features, a little pale, but with a tinge of natural color, vivacious eyes, and an easy motion that displayed to advantage the graces of her small but elegant figure.  I can see all that in the mosaic.  But she sold her charms to whoever cared to buy them in Constantinople; she led a life of dissipation that cannot be even hinted at in these days; she went off to Egypt as the concubine of a general; was deserted, and destitute even to misery in Cairo; wandered about a vagabond in many Eastern cities, and won the reputation everywhere of the most beautiful courtesan of her time; reappeared in Constantinople; and, having, it is said, a vision of her future, suddenly took to a pretension of virtue and plain sewing; contrived to gain the notice of Justinian, to inflame his passions as she did those of all the world besides, to captivate him into first an alliance, and at length a marriage.  The emperor raised her to an equal seat with himself on his throne; and she was worshiped as empress in that city where she had been admired as harlot.  And on the throne she was a wise woman, courageous and chaste; and had her palaces on the Bosphorus; and took good care of her beauty, and indulged in the pleasures of a good table; had ministers who kissed her feet; a crowd of women and eunuchs in her secret chambers, whose passions she indulged; was avaricious and sometimes cruel; and founded a convent for the irreclaimably bad of her own sex, some of whom liked it, and some of whom threw themselves into the sea in despair; and when she died was an irreparable loss to her emperor.  So that it seems to me it is a pity that the historian should say that she was devout, but a little heretic.



The splendid and tiresome ceremonies of Holy Week set in; also the rain, which held up for two days.  Rome without the sun, and with rain and the bone-penetrating damp cold of the season, is a wretched place.  Squalor and ruins and cheap splendor need the sun; the galleries need it; the black old masters in the dark corners of the gaudy churches need it; I think scarcely anything of a cardinal’s big, blazing footman, unless the sun shines on him, and radiates from his broad back and his splendid calves; the models, who get up in theatrical costumes, and get put into

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Saunterings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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