John Chrysostom: A Gallery of Politicos, Pagans, and the Pious
Eudoxia (d. 404)
Early in John’s career in Constantinople, Eudoxia was one of his powerful supporters. She spent long hours with him, and he baptized her son. When the relics of some saint were moved to a chapel outside the city, Eudoxia joined the procession, barefoot, without her veil or any trappings of royalty, with every outward sign of piety.
Her inner strength could have turned her toward being a saint; instead it turned her toward a quest for power and the destruction of her enemies, including John.
Eudoxia married Emperor Arcadius in 395 and quickly discovered that Arcadius was weak and dominated by Eutropius, a leading official. Eudoxia wanted to be named Augusta (empress), a move Eutropius opposed. Determined to gain more power, she began to plot Eutropius’s downfall.
Her chance came in 399. Many generals resented Eutropius for his high-handed ways. Gothic mercenaries rebelled and demanded his expulsion. At the same time, in a heated argument, Eutropius told Eudoxia, in effect, “I raised you to power; I can just as easily break you.” Arcadius had Eutropius deposed. Soon she was named Augusta and became, effectively, the ruler of the empire.
Eudoxia now began to fear John’s power—he may have been the only man in the empire strong enough to oppose her. After John’s sermon on the vices of women (in 401), Eudoxia conspired with Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria to depose John.
A few days after John was put out of the city, however, an earthquake shook the region, damaging the imperial bedroom. Terrified of God’s evident wrath, Eudoxia begged John to return, affirming her regard for him and remembering his baptism of her son.
But more intrigue (and perhaps an indirect attack on Eudoxia by John in one of his ...