Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Joyce E. Salisbury's "Rome’s Christian Empress"

Joyce E. Salisbury is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. She is the author of Perpetua’s Passion: Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman and The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Rome's Christian Empress: Galla Placidia Rules at the Twilight of the Empire:
Throughout the time I was writing this book, I pictured Angelina Jolie as playing the empress Placidia. First was the obvious –her looks. Galla Placidia was reputed to be stunningly beautiful with dark hair and dark eyes, and her one portrait (on the cover of my book) shows this. Beyond this, however, I’d need an actress who could express a range of emotions and embrace seemingly conflicting character traits. Placidia was deeply religious, yet she boldly exerted power even when her actions might seem unchristian at best. She approved of the execution of her stepmother; her disagreeable husband died under surprising circumstances; she was accused of inappropriate affection with her brother when she needed his support. Yet, Pope Leo knelt at her feet looking for her support. I love that she was complicated – it made her fun to write about, and I can only imagine someone like Jolie might be able to express these complexities.

There is a role for Brad Pitt –the handsome, competent barbarian who kidnaps Placidia then marries her. Though he does die early in the film leaving Jolie to embrace the role of the woman who lives a long, influential life dominating church, state, the arts and her own difficult children.
Learn more about Rome's Christian Empress at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rome's Christian Empress.

Writers Read: Joyce E. Salisbury.

--Marshal Zeringue