EMPRESS OF BYZANTIUM by Helen A. Mahler

EMPRESS OF BYZANTIUM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Strictly adult fare, this historical novel is primarily a psychological study of Theodocius II, Emperor of Byzantium, who appears in this reconstruction as a very disturbed homosexual. His favorite is Paulinus, his High Chamberlain, who approaches the Emperor's sister- Pulcheria- and suggests that the Emperor marry. But Pulcheria is not satisfied in his choice of a bride; her love for her brother has darker aspects, which- coupled with the strict teachings of Christianity- have caused his deviation. Into this tense situation comes Athanais, the beautiful daughter of a liberal, pagan Greek. Athanias loves Paulinus, but marries the Emperor, who finds himself a man with her, though he never loses his possessive love for Paulinus. Pulcheria also chastely dreams of Paulinus. And this cauldron is stirred by the constant threat of war and invasion, while the book closes with the Emperor's murder of Paulinus, while Athanais leaves for Jerusalem to practice the liberalism she inherited from her father...An honest attempt to re-evalute history through Freudian insights, this is serious in its intentions although the sensationalism which results may attract a certain kind of popular audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1952
Publisher: Coward-McCann