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"The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Theodora (c. 500 – 28 June 548) was the wife of emperor Justinian, ruling as empress from 527 until her death. As her husband's closest and most trusted advisor, she held considerable influence over Byzantium, and has been recognized as one of the most powerful women in Byzantine history. She leads the Byzantines in Civilization VI.

Empress Theodora brings the same devotion to Faith Faith and Religion as you needed to rise from your humble beginnings.


Empress Theodora, you come from nothing to rule the remnants of Rome! With your wit and beauty you captivated the people of Constantinople, and placed your hand upon the great wheel of power. In a time of strife and division, let all be guided by your counsel and set your shining seal upon the land.


Theodora's unique agenda is New Rome. She focuses on generating Culture Culture, likes civilizations with a high Culture Culture output and dislikes those with low Culture Culture output.

Her leader ability is Metanoia. Holy Sites grant Culture Culture equal to their adjacency bonus and Farms provide a +1 Faith Faith adjacency bonus to Hippodromes and Holy Sites.

Detailed Approach[]

Theodora wants to beeline Holy Sites and Astrology. The creation of Holy Sites with Byzantium’s additional Great Prophet Great Prophet points will give her a Religion whose forces are dominant in religious combats. The Metanoia ability will give her more Faith Faith for her pursuit of a Religious Victory. The Hippodrome unique district will make sure your people are happy.


Theodora is voiced by Stella Georgiou. She speaks Attic Greek.


Codename Quote (English translation) Quote (Attic Greek) Notes
Agenda-based Approval We create power with props and stage sets, with poetry and grace. Ειμής ποιούμεν τη δύναμην και σκευοκευοποιεία καὶ σκηνὲς, καὶ τῇ ποιήσει καὶ τῇ χάρη τῇ.

Eimís poioúmen ti dýnamin kai skevokevopoieía kaí skinés, kaí tí poiísei kaí tí chári tí.

Agenda-based Disapproval Surely there is more to life than what you offer? Ὁς σιδήρεως νῷος οὐκ ἐστῇν ἔμβασον νῷος.
Os sidíreos nóos ouk estín émvason nóos.
Attacked Nobody puts the empress in a corner. Ουδής τήθησιν τη βασιλίδα εν το μοιχό.

Oudís títhisin ti vasilída en to moichó.

This is a reference to one of Patrick Swayze's lines in Dirty Dancing.[1]
Declares War My people demand a better life. You stand in the way of that becoming. Ο λαός μου ετήτων αμήμων βίων, κολλήσι μας από τούτον.

O laós mou etíton amímon víon, kollísi mas apó toúton.

Defeated The throne is a glorious sepulchre. Ὁ θρόνος ἐστῇ ἀγαβὸς τάφος.

O thrónos estí agavós táfos.

This is part of a quote said by Theodora to Justinian and his counsellors during the Nika riots, convincing them to stay and fight the rebels rather than flee the city.
Greeting I am Theodora, who came from nothing to the throne on naught but dreams. Είμοι Θεοδώρα, η ουδεμία ούσα των θρόνων της ονείρης εκ της άμυν.

Eímoi Theodóra, i oudemía oúsa ton thrónon tis oneíris ek tis ámyn.

Quote from Civilopedia The throne is a glorious sepulchre. Ὁ θρόνος ἐστῇ ἀγαβὸς τάφος.

O thrónos estí agavós táfos.

This line uses a similar voiceover to her Defeated line.


Delegation: We send to you a troupe of dancers to re-enact Leda and the Swan. Try not to be too scandalized.

Accepts Player's Declaration of Friendship: Lovely. Predictable, but lovely.

Rejects Player's Declaration of Friendship: It takes a social climber to recognize a social climber.

Requests Declaration of Friendship: Friendship and conversation is the heart of any success, wouldn't you say?

Player Accepts Declaration of Friendship: I see Rome's charms work.

Player Rejects Declaration of Friendship: I have better things to do and more important people with whom to speak.

Denounced by Player: Shocking. I've heard worse.

Denounces Player: Look at yourself. Your people suffer injustices, your friends desert you, and it appears that your tailor is on strike.

Too Many Troops Near Her Border: Come to our empire as friends, as visitors, as pilgrims. But not as soldiers.

Invitation to Capital: Come and see the ships pass through the straits, hear the charioteer's call in the hippodrome, come and see our glory.

Invitation to City: Let us show you our empire and its delights!

Civilopedia entry[]

A former actress (and brothel worker), Theodora (c. 500-548) rose to hold a powerful influence over her husband, the Emperor Justinian of the Byzantine Empire. She was instrumental in fortifying what would become Orthodox Christianity and in building the backbone of the Byzantines in an era of collapse elsewhere in the Empire.

The early first millennium AD was a difficult one for the Byzantines. With the West splintered into hundreds of smaller kingdoms, the East rich but full of potential enemies, and the North still full of potentially dangerous barbarian tribes, Constantinople needed a vision for a path forward. And Justinian (r. 527-565) provided that path.

The Eastern Roman Empire was divided on several grounds – linguistically, between Greek and Latin, religiously, between Chalcedonian and Miaphysite branches of Christianity, between various classes within the cities, and regionally. Justinian embarked upon the Renovatio Imperii, the “restoration of the Empire”, a reconquest and solidification campaign involving expansion against enemies on all sides – those groups who were dismantling the Western Roman Empire. Significantly, this meant the reconquest of Italy and Spain, as well as the barbarian kingdoms of the Vandals in North Africa. At home, Justinian wrote a code of laws to stand the test of time until the present, and (using money gained by the reconquest of the West) built wonders in the capital, such as the Hagia Sophia.

Theodora was a Greek, the daughter of a bear trainer in Constantinople. She enters history working in a brothel as an actress performing relatively salacious shows, and grew close with a group of dancers from the Blue faction – a chariot-racing team. In essence, cheerleaders. From there, Theodora caught Justinian’s eye, so much so that he amended the law prohibiting high-ranking individuals from marrying actresses, after which he promptly married her.

Her first test came in the Nika riots, a conflict between Blue and Green chariot fans that nearly destroyed Constantinople. When Justinian and his councilors were preparing to flee the capital as the mobs descended into anarchy, Theodora appealed to his sense of authority – to flee would be worse than death, she said, or, more poetically, “royal purple is the noblest shroud.”

The gambit was successful – Justinian cracked down on the riots and re-established his power. From there, Theodora was always at his side, and her influence can be seen in his reforms of marriage codes, her own charity towards young women and girls born into situations similar to her own, and in constant court machinations.

Religiously, she clashed with her husband, promoting Miaphysite Christianity at a time when it was being actively suppressed. The difference between the two branches may seem obscure now, but it was a matter of life and death in the 500s. In essence, at the Council of Chalcedon, priests had decreed that Jesus was one person with a separate human and divine nature, whereas Miaphysites held that he had but one nature, one that was both fully human and fully divine. Today, Miaphysite philosophy forms the core of Ethiopian Christianity, whereas Chalcedonian philosophy informs both Catholicism (and Protestantism) and Eastern Orthodoxy (Greece and Russia).

Before her death at the likely age of 48, Theodora helped to keep a poly-religious, poly-ethnic (Justinian spoke Latin, whereas Theodora was Greek) state intact at a moment when it could very well have spiraled out of control. This is, in a sense, the old order of things that would become less broad and more narrowly focused as the forces chipping away at Byzantium grew stronger and provoked more and more stubborn responses – as in the reign of Basil II.





Leader Spotlight- Theodora - Civilization VI- Leader Pass

Leader Spotlight: Theodora

Related achievements[]

The Power Beside the Throne
The Power Beside the Throne
Win a regular game as Theodora.
A common phrase referring to an individual or group that exercises the real power of a high-ranking office, referencing Theodora's great influence over her husband.
Rome is Where the Heart is
Rome is Where the Heart is
As Byzantium, take the original capital of Rome while it is following your founded religion.
A play on the phrase 'Home is where the heart is.' The Byzantine Empire was originally the Eastern Roman Empire, which was the last remnant of the whole Roman Empire after the fall of the Western Empire.


See also[]

External links[]

Civilization VI Leaders [edit]
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1 Requires DLC

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.