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Kassia is a Byzantine nun and abbess.


Kassia is the beautiful Byzantine nun. She appears to be of noble birth. Nuns are supposed to be celibate but she undergoes a not-so-secret affair with Emir Ziyadat Allah.

Season 5

When the Mohammedans discover that Euphemius has betrayed them, she suggests that the Emir kill the faithless Greek admiral and serve him up as food to the Vikings.

In History

Kassia is based on Saint Kassiani a Byzantine abbess, poet, composer, and hymnographer who as born between 805 and 810 in Constantinople into a wealthy family and grew to be exceptionally beautiful and intelligent. Byzantine chroniclers claim that she was a participant in the "bride show" (the means by which Byzantine princes/emperors sometimes chose a bride) organized for the young emperor Theophilos by his stepmother, the Empress Dowager Euphrosyne. Smitten by Kassiani's beauty, he approached her and said: "Through a woman [came forth] the baser [things]," referring to the sin and suffering coming as a result of Eve's transgression. Kassiani promptly responded by saying: "And through a woman [came forth] the better [things]", referring to the hope of salvation resulting from the Incarnation of Christ through the Virgin Mary. His pride wounded by Kassiani's terse rebuttal, Theophilos rejected her and chose Theodora as his wife. Kassiani in 843 she had founded a convent in the west of Constantinople, near the city Walls, and became its first abbess. The Emperor Theophilos was a fierce iconoclast, and any residual feelings he may have had for Kassiani did not preserve her from the imperial policy of persecution for her defence of the veneration of icons. Among other things, she was subjected to scourging with a lash. In spite of this, she remained outspoken in defence of the Orthodox Faith, at one point saying, "I hate silence, when it is time to speak." After the death of Theophilos in 842 his young son Michael III became Emperor, with the Empress Theodora acting as Regent. Together they ended the second iconoclastic period (814-842); peace was restored to the empire. Kassiani traveled to Italy briefly, but eventually settled on the Greek Island of Kasos where she died sometime between 867 and 890 AD.

Kassiani wrote many hymns which are still used in the Byzantine liturgy to this day. Kassiani became known to the great Theodore the Studite, while she was still a young girl, and he was impressed by her learning and literary style. She not only wrote spiritual poetry, but composed music to accompany it. She is regarded as an "exceptional and rare phenomenon" among composers of her day At least twenty-three genuine hymns are ascribed to her.


  • Her name is a feminine Greek form of the Latin name Cassius. It is variously spelled Κασσιανή (contemporary pronunciation [casˈsjani]), Κασ(σ)ία (Kas[s]ia), Εικασία (Eikasia), Ικασία (Ikasia), Kassiani, Cas[s]ia, Cassiane, 'Kassiana.


Season five appearances
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