Theodora & Justinian: Reign of Equals

Port of Constantinople by Ivan Aivazovsky

Port of Constantinople by Ivan Aivazovsky

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“One’s not half of two; two are halves of one.”
― E.E. Cummings
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Why write about an Emperor and Empress who ruled a forgotten empire 1500 years ago?

Sure, they lived around 500 AD in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. They spoke the dead languages of ancient Greek and Latin. Most of us have a hard time even pronouncing “byzantine” (biz-an-teen). But I like to think that Theodora and Justinian have more to teach us than we might realize.

As I explained in my last post, they lived something close to a fairy tale –  two ordinary kids from the lowest social classes one day found themselves Emperor and Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Yet the story of Justinian and Theodora endures beyond their rise and flows into their reign: one that defined their empire for nearly 1000 years, and still stands as one of the greatest examples of a power couple at work in history.

And I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a huge fan of Theodora.

Let me back up a little bit and give you a sense of what this very strange Byzantine Empire was. Continue reading

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Odysseus & Penelope: Enduring Love

“Love suffereth long….beareth all things, believeth all things,
hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth.”
1 Corinthians 3:4, 7-8 (ASV)

And then he spoke of a girl of surpassing beauty and faithfulness.
I can only assume he meant you.”
– The Princess Bride

By Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

By Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

One of my favorite stories of all time is one of the oldest stories of all time. It also happens to be one of the best love stories.

They call it the Odyssey – the story of the Greek hero Odysseus, written about 3,000 years ago by a man named Homer; but tales of the Greek hero had been passed around by word of mouth for many, many years before that.

Odysseus was a king, a soldier, a genius, and easily the most beloved character in all of Greek history. But he is remembered first and foremost as a father and husband because the Odyssey is his struggle to return to the home and family he was forced to leave behind.

Long story short: Odysseus is called to fight in a war that lasts 10 years, and then takes another 10 years on top of that to get home, making it 20 years round-trip. All that time, his beloved wife Penelope waits for her husband’s return – a return which never seems to come for those 2 very long decades.

Teaser: there’s a happy ending to this story, which is one reason why it is so beloved. But let me tell you a bit about Odysseus and Penelope’s story, and why I love them so much. Continue reading

The Kiss

Cupid and Psyche closeup

“You can say ‘I love you”
a thousand ways,
but you can say it better
with silence
and a kiss.”
Chloe Thurlow

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“Is not a kiss
the very autograph of love?”
Henry Theophilus Finck,
Romantic Love
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What better way to celebrate the month of Love than with artistic impressions of a peculiar phenomenon that is at once more expressive than song, more articulate than philosophy, more romantic than roses, and more delicious (dare I say) than chocolate – The Kiss.

Expressed and understood in all languages, cultures, countries, and eras, the kiss is the very symbol of our simplest yet deepest affections.  So, pucker up, folks.  Gathered here are some of the world’s most beautiful sentiments and masterpieces culled from centuries of amore.  Enjoy! Continue reading