On his return to Roman territory, Belisarius found his wife just
arriving from Constantinople. He put her under guard in disgrace, and
often was on the point of putting her to death; but each time he
weakened, overcome, I suppose, by the rekindling of his love for her.
But they say he was also driven from his senses by philtres she gave.
Meanwhile the outraged Photius had gone to Ephesus, taking the eunuch
Calligonus, pander for his mistress, with him, in chains; and under the
whip, during the course of his journey Calligonus confessed all his
lady's secrets. But Theodosius again learned of his peril, and fled to
the Church of St. John the Apostle, which is the holiest and most
revered sanctuary thereabouts. However Andrew, Bishop of Ephesus, was
bribed by Photius to give the man up into his hands.
Theodora was now in some fear for Antonina, for she had heard what had
happened to her; so she sent word to Belisarius to bring his wife to
Constantinople. Photius, hearing of this, sent Theodosius to Cilicia,
where his own lancers and shield-bearers happened to be wintering;
enjoining upon those who took him thither to do so as secretly as
possible, and on arriving in Cilicia to hide him privately in the
garrison, letting no one know where in the world he was. Then, with
Calligonus and Theodosius's considerable moneys, Photius went to
Now the Empress gave evidence to all mankind that for every murder to
which she was indebted, she could pay in greater and even more savage
requital. For Antonina had betrayed for her one enemy, when she had
lately ensnared the Cappadocian; but she ruined, for Antonina's sake, a
number of blameless men. Some of Belisarius's and Photius's
acquaintances she put to the torture, when the only charge against them
was that they were friends of the two (and to this day we do not know
what was their ultimate fate), and others she banished into exile on the
One man who had accompanied Photius to Ephesus, a Senator who was also
named Theodosius, not only lost his property but was thrown into a
dungeon, where he was, fastened to a manger by a rope around his neck so
short that the noose was always tight and could not be slackened.
Consequently the poor man had to stand at the manger all the time,
whether he ate or sought sleep or performed the other needs of the body.
The only difference between him and an ass, was that . he could not
bray. The time the man passed in this condition was not less than four
months; after which, overcome by melancholy, he went mad, and as such
they set him free to die.
The reluctant Belisarius she forced to become reconciled with his wife;
while Photius, after she had him tortured like a slave and scourged on
the back and shoulders, was ordered to tell where Theodosius and the
pander were. But in spite of his anguish at the torture he kept silent
as he had sworn to do; though he had always been delicate and sickly,
had had to be very careful of his health, and was hitherto inexperienced
in such outrage and ill treatment. Yet none of Belisarius's secrets did
Later, however, everything that up to this time had been concealed came
to light. Discovering Calligonus in the neighborhood, Theodora handed
him over to Antonina, and then had Theodosius brought back to
Constantinople, where she hid him in her palace. On the day after his
arrival she sent for Antonina. "My dearest lady," she said, "a pearl
fell into my hands yesterday, such a one as no mortal has ever seen. If
you wish, I will not grudge you a sight of this jewel, but will show it
to you." Not knowing what had happened, her friend begged Theodora to
show her the pearl; and the Empress, leading Theodosius from the rooms
of one of the eunuchs, revealed him.
For a moment Antonina, speechless with joy, remained dumb. Then she
broke into an ecstasy of gratitude, and called Theodora her saviour, her
benefactress, and her true mistress. Thereafter, the Empress kept
Theodosius in the palace, wrapping him in every luxury, and declared she
would even make him general of all the Roman forces before long.
justice, however, intervened. Carried off by a dysentery, he disappeared
from the world of men.
Now in Theodora's palace were certain secret dungeon rooms: dark,
unknown, and remote, wherein there was no difference between day and
night. In one of these Photius languished for a long time. He had the
good fortune, however, to escape, not once, but twice. The first time he
took refuge in the Church of the Virgin Mother, which is the most holy
and famous of the churches in Constantinople, and there took his place
at the sacred table as a suppliant. But she captured him even here, and
had him removed by force. The second time he fled to the Church of St.
Sophia and sought sanctuary at the holy font, which of all places the
Christians most reverence. Yet even from here the woman was able to drag
him: for to her no spot was too awful or venerable to transgress, and
she thought nothing of violating all the sanctuaries put together. Like
all the rest of the people, the Christian priests were struck dumb with
horror, but stood to one side and suffered her to do as she willed.
Now for three years Photius remained thus in his cell; and then the
prophet Zechariah came to him in a dream, and ordered him in the name of
the Lord to escape, promising to aid him in this. Trusting in the
vision, he broke loose again, and unnoticed by anyone made his way to
Jerusalem. Though he passed through countless thousands of men on his
flight, not one of them saw the youth. There he shaved his head, assumed
the garb of the monks, and was free at last from the punishment of
But Belisarius, disregarding his word of honor, took no measures to
avenge his accomplice's suffering of such impious treatment as has been
told. And all of his military expeditions from this time on- failed,
presumably by the will of God- For his next campaign against Chosroes
and the Medes, who were for the third time invading Roman territory, was
severely criticized; though one good thing was said of him, that he had
driven the foe back. But when Chosroes crossed the Euphrates River,
took the great city of Callinicus without a battle, and enslaved myriads
of Roman citizens, while Belisarius was careful not even to pursue the
enemy when he retired, he won the reputation of being one of two
things-either a traitor or a coward.