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Ch. IV
This webpage reproduces a section of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,
1923

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Ch. V, §5

Vol. I
p106
Chapter V

The Supremacy of Stilicho

(Part 1 of 3)

§ 1. Stilicho and Rufinus (A.D. 395)

The Emperor Theodosius the Great died at Milan on January 17, A.D. 395. His wishes were that his younger son, Honorius, then a boy of ten years, should reign in the west, where he had already installed him, and that his elder son, Arcadius, whom he had left as regent at Constantinople when he set out against the usurper Eugenius, should continue to reign in the east.1 But Theodosius was not willing to leave his youthful heirs without a protector, and the most natural protector was one bound to them by family ties. Accordingly on his deathbed he commended them to the care of Stilicho,2 an officer of Vandal birth, whom he had raised for his military and other talents to the rank of Master of Both Services in Italy,3 and, deeming him worthy of an alliance with his own house, had united to p107 his favourite niece, Serena. It was in this capacity, as the husband of his niece and a trusted friend, that Stilicho received the last wishes of the Emperor; it was as an elder member of the same family that he could claim to exert an influence over Arcadius. Of Honorius he was the natural protector, for he seems to have been appointed regent of the western realm during his minority.

Arcadius was in his seventeenth or eighteenth year at the time of his father's death. He was of short stature, of dark complexion, thin and inactive, and the dulness of his wit was betrayed by his speech and by his sleepy, drooping eyes.4 His mental deficiency and the weakness of his character made it inevitable that he should be governed by the strong personalities of his court. Such a commanding personality was the Praetorian Prefect of the East, Flavius Rufinus, a native of Aquitaine, who presented a marked contrast to his sovran. He was tall and manly, and the restless movements of his keen eyes and the readiness of his speech, though his knowledge of Greek was imperfect, were no deceptive signs of his intellectual powers. He was ambitious and unprincipled, and, like most ministers of the age, avaricious, and he was a zealous Christian. He had made many enemies by acts which were perhaps more than commonly unscrupulous, but we cannot assume that all the prominent officials5 for whose fall he was responsible were innocent victims of his malice. But it is almost certain that he had formed the scheme of ascending the throne as the Imperial colleague of Arcadius.

This ambition of Rufinus placed him at once in an attitude of opposition to Stilicho,6 who was himself suspected of entertaining p108 similar schemes, not however in his own interest, but for his son Eucherius. He certainly cherished the design of wedding his son to the Emperor's stepsister, Galla Placidia.7 The position of the Vandal, who was connected by marriage with the Imperial family, gave him an advantage over Rufinus, which was strengthened by the generally known fact that Theodosius had given him his last instructions. Stilicho, moreover, was popular with the army, and for the present the great bulk of the forces of the Empire was at his disposal; for the regiments united to suppress Eugenius had not yet been sent back to their various stations. Thus a struggle was imminent between the ambitious minister who had the ear of Arcadius, and the strong general who held the command and enjoyed the favour of the army. Before the end of the year this struggle began and ended in a curious way; but we must first see how a certain scheme of Rufinus had been foiled by an obscurer but wilier rival nearer at hand.

It was the cherished project of Rufinus to unite Arcadius with his only daughter; once the Emperor's father-in‑law he might hope to become an Emperor himself. But he was thwarted by a subtle adversary, Eutropius, the lord chamberlain (praepositus sacri cubiculi), a bald old eunuch, who with oriental craftiness had won his way up from the meanest services and employments. Determining that the future Empress should be bound to himself and not to Rufinus, he chose Eudoxia, a girl of singular beauty, who had been brought up in the house of the widow and sons of one of the victims of Rufinus.8 Her father was Bauto, a Frank soldier who had risen to be Master of Soldiers, and for a year or two the most powerful man in Italy, in the early years of Valentinian II.9 Her mother had doubtless been a Roman, and she received a Roman education, but she inherited, as a contemporary writer observes, barbaric p109 traits from her German father.10 Eutropius showed a picture of the maiden to the Emperor, and so successfully enlarged upon her merits and her charms that Arcadius determined to marry her; the intrigue was carefully concealed from the Praetorian Prefect;11 and till the last moment the public supposed that the bride for whose Imperial wedding preparations were being made was the daughter of Rufinus. The nuptials were celebrated on April 27, A.D. 395. It was a blow to Rufinus, but he was still the most powerful man in the east.

The event which at length brought Rufinus into collision with Stilicho was the rising of the Visigoths. They had been settled by Theodosius in the province of Lower Moesia, between the Danube and the Balkan mountains, and were bound in return for their lands to do battle for the Empire when their services were needed. They had accompanied the Emperor in his campaign against Eugenius, and had returned to their homes earlier than the rest of the army. In that campaign they had suffered severe losses, and it was thought that Theodosius deliberately placed them in the most dangerous post for the purpose of reducing their strength.12 This was perhaps the principal cause of the discontent which led to their revolt, but there can be no doubt that their ill humour was stimulated by one of their leaders, Alaric (of the family of the Balthas or Bolds), who aspired to a high post of command in the Roman army and had been passed over. The Visigoths had hitherto had no king. It is uncertain whether it was at this crisis13 or at a later stage in Alaric's career that he was elected king by the assembly of his people. In any case he was chosen leader p110 of the whole host of the Visigoths, and the movements which he led were in the fullest sense national.

Under the leadership of Alaric, the Goths revolted and spread desolation in the fields and homesteads of Thrace and Macedonia. They advanced close to the walls of Constantinople. They carefully spared certain estates outside the city belonging to Rufinus, but their motive was probably different from that which caused the Spartan king Archidamus to spare the lands of Pericles in the Peloponnesian war. Alaric may have wished, not to draw suspicions on the Prefect, but to conciliate his friendship and obtain more favourable terms. Rufinus went to the Gothic camp, dressed as a Goth.14 The result of the negotiations seems to have been that Alaric left the neighbourhood of the capital and marched westward.

At the same time the Asiatic provinces were suffering, as we shall see, from the invasions of other barbarians, and there were no troops to take the field against them, as the eastern regiments which had taken part in the war against Eugenius were still in the west. Stilicho, however, was already preparing to lead them back in person.15 He deemed his own presence in the east necessary, for, besides the urgent need of dealing with the barbarians, there was a political question which deeply concerned him, touching the territorial division of the Empire between the two sovrans.

Before A.D. 379 the Prefecture of Illyricum, which included Greece and the central Balkan lands, had been subject to the ruler of the west. In that year Gratian resigned it to his new colleague Theodosius, so that the division between east and west was a line running from Singidunum (Belgrade) westward along the river Save and then turning southward along the course of the Drina and reaching the Hadriaticº coast at a point near the lake of Scutari. It was assumed at Constantinople that this arrangement would remain in force and that the Prefecture would continue to be controlled by the eastern p111 government. But Stilicho declared that it was the will of Theodosius that his sons should revert to the older arrangement, and that the authority of Honorius should extend to the confines of Thrace, leaving to Arcadius only the Prefecture of the East.16 Whether this assertion was true or not, his policy meant that the realm in which he himself wielded the power would have a marked predominance, both in political importance and in military strength, over the other section of the Empire.

It would perhaps be a mistake to suppose that this political aim of Stilicho, of which he never lost sight, was dictated by mere territorial greed, or that his main object was to increase the revenues. The chief reason for the strife between the two Imperial governments may have lain rather in the fact that the Balkan peninsula was the best nursery in Empire for good fighting men.17 The stoutest and most useful native troops in the Roman army were, from the fourth to the sixth century, recruited from the highlands of Illyricum and Thrace. It might well seem, therefore, to those who were responsible for the defence of the western provinces that a partition which assigned almost the whole of this great recruiting ground to the east was unfair to the west; and as the legions which were at Stilicho's disposal were entirely inadequate, as the event proved, to the task of protecting the frontiers against the Germans, it was not unnatural that he should have aimed at acquiring control over Illyricum.

It was a question on which the government of New Rome, under the guidance of Rufinus, was not likely to yield without a struggle, and Stilicho took with him western legions belonging to his own command as well as the eastern troops whom he was to restore to Arcadius. He marched overland, doubtless by the Dalmatian coast road to Epirus, and confronted the Visigoths in Thessaly, whither they had traced a devastating path from the Propontis.18

Rufinus was alarmed lest his rival should win the glory of crushing the enemy, and he induced Arcadius to send to Stilicho p112 a peremptory order to dispatch the troops to Constantinople and depart himself whence he had come. The Emperor was led, legitimately enough, to resent the presence of his relative, accompanied by western legions, as an officious and hostile interference. The order arrived just as Stilicho was making preparations to attack the Gothic host in the valley of the Peneius. His forces were so superior to those of Alaric that victory was assured; but he obeyed the Imperial command, though his obedience meant the delivery of Greece to the sword of the barbarians. We shall never know his motives, and we are so ill-informed of the circumstances that it is difficult to divine them. A stronger man would have smitten the Goths, and then, having the eastern government at his mercy, would have insisted on the rectification of the Illyrian frontier which it was his cherished object to effect. Never again would he have such a favourable opportunity to realise it. Perhaps he did not yet feel quite confident in his own position; perhaps he did not feel sure of his army. But his hesitation may have been due to the fact that his wife Serena and his children were at Constantinople and could be held as hostages for his good behaviour.19 In any case he consigned the eastern troops to the command of a Gothic captain, Gaïnas, and departed with his own legions to Salona, allowing Alaric to proceed on his wasting way into the lands of Hellas. But he did not break up his camp in Thessaly without coming to an understanding with Gaïnas which was to prove fatal to Rufinus.

Gaïnas marched by the Via Egnatia to Constantinople,20 and it was arranged that, according to a usual custom,21 the Emperor and his court should come forth from the city to meet the army in the Campus Martius at Hebdomon. We cannot trust the statement of a hostile writer that Rufinus actually expected to be created Augustus on this occasion, and appeared at the Emperor's side prouder and more sumptuously arrayed than p113 ever; we only know that he accompanied Arcadius to meet the army. It is said that, when the Emperor had saluted the troops, Rufinus advanced and displayed a studied affability and solicitude to please even towards individual soldiers. They closed in round him as he smiled and talked, anxious to secure their goodwill for his elevation to the throne, but just as he felt himself very nigh to supreme success, the swords of the nearest were drawn, and his body, pierced with wounds, fell to the ground (November 27, A.D. 395).22 His head, carried through the streets, was mocked by the people, and his right hand, severed from the trunk, was presented at the doors of houses with the requirement, "Give to the insatiable!"

There can be no reasonable doubt that the assassination of Rufinus was instigated by Stilicho, as some of our authorities expressly tell us.23 The details may have been arranged between him and Gaïnas, and he appears not to have concerned himself to conceal his complicity. The scene of the murder is described by a gifted but rhetorical poet, Claudius Claudianus, who now began his career as a trumpeter of Stilicho's praises by his poem Against Rufinus.24 He paints Stilicho and Rufinus as two opposing forces, powers of darkness and light: the radiant Apollo, deliverer of mankind, and the terrible Pytho, the scourge of the world. What we should call the crime of Stilicho is to him a glorious deed, the destruction of a monster, and though he does not say in so many words that his hero planned it, he does not disguise his responsibility. Claudian was a master of violent invective, and his portrait of Rufinus, bad man though he unquestionably was, is no more than a caricature. The poem concludes with a picture of the Prefect in hell before the tribunal of Rhadamanthys, who declares that all the iniquities of the tortured criminals are but a fraction of the sins of the latest comer, who is too foul even for Tartarus, and consigns him to an empty pit outside the confines of Pluto's domain. p114

Tollite de mediis animarum dedecus umbris.

adspexisse sat est. oculis iam parcite nostris

et Ditis purgate domos. agitate flagellis

trans Styga, trans Erebum, vacuo mandate barathro

infra Titanum tenebras infraque recessus

Tartareos ipsumque Chaos, qua noctis opacae

fundamenta latent; praeceps ibi mersus anhelet,

dum rotat astra polus, feriunt dum litora venti.

It was not only the European parts of the dominion of Arcadius that were ravaged, in this year, by the fire and sword of barbarians. Hordes of trans-Caucasian Huns poured through the Caspian gates, and, rushing southwards through the Armenian highlands and the plains of Mesopotamia, carried desolation into Syria. St. Jerome was in Palestine at this time, and in two of his letters we have the account of an eye-witness. "As I was searching for an abode worthy of such a lady (Fabiola, his friend), behold, suddenly messengers rush hither and thither, and the whole East trembles with the news, that from the far Maeotis, from the land of the ice-bound Don and the savage Massagetae, where the strong works of Alexander on the Caucasian cliffs keep back the wild nations, swarms of Huns had burst forth, and, flying hither and thither, were scattering slaughter and terror everywhere. The Roman army was at that time absent in consequence of the civil wars in Italy. . . . May Jesus protect the Roman world in future from such beasts! They were everywhere, when they were least expected, and their speed outstripped the rumour of their approach; they spared neither religion nor dignity nor age; they showed no pity to the cry of infancy. Babes, who had not yet begun to live, were forced to die; and, ignorant of the evil that was upon them, as they were held in the hands and threatened by the swords of the enemy, there was a smile upon their lips. There was a consistent and universal report that Jerusalem was the goal of the foes, and that on account of their insatiable lust for gold they were hastening to this city. The walls, neglected by the carelessness of peace, were repaired. Antioch was enduring a blockade. Tyre, fain to break off from the dry land, sought its ancient island. Then we too were constrained to provide ships, to stay on the seashore, to take precautions against the arrival of the enemy, and, though the winds were wild, to fear a shipwreck less than the barbarians — making provision not for our own p115 safety so much as for the chastity of our virgins."25 In another letter, speaking of these "wolves of the north," he says: "How many monasteries were captured? the waters of how many rivers were stained with human gore? Antioch was besieged and the other cities, past which the Halys, the Cydnus, the Orontes, the Euphrates flow. Herds of captives were dragged away; Arabia, Phoenicia, Palestine, Egypt were led captive by fear."26

§ 2. Stilicho and Eutropius (A.D. 396‑397)

After the death of Rufinus, the weak Emperor Arcadius passed under the influence of the eunuch Eutropius, who in unscrupulous greed of money resembled Rufinus and many other officials before and after, and, like Rufinus, has been painted blacker than he really was. All the evil things that were said of Rufinus were said of Eutropius; but in reading of the enormities of the latter we must make great allowance for the general prejudice existing against a person with his physical disqualifications.

The ambitious eunuch naturally looked on the Praetorian Prefects of the East, the most powerful men in the administration next to the Emperor, with jealousy and suspicion. To his influence we are probably justified in ascribing an innovation which was made by Arcadius. The administration of the cursus publicus, or office of the postmaster-general, and the supervision of the factories of arms, were transferred from the Praetorian Prefect to the Master of Offices.27

It has been supposed that a more drastic arrangement was made for the purpose of curtailing the far-reaching authority of the Praetorian Prefect of the East. There is evidence which has been interpreted to mean that during the three and a half years which coincided with the régime of Eutropius there were two Prefects holding office at the same time and dividing the spheres of administration between them. If this was so, it would have been a unique experiment, never essayed before or p116 since. But the evidence is not cogent, and it is very difficult to believe that some of the contemporary writers would not have left a definite record of such a revolutionary change.28

The Empire was now falling into a jeopardy, by which it had been threatened from the outset, and which it had ever been trying to avoid. There were indeed two dangers which had constantly impended from its inauguration by Augustus to its renovation by Diocletian. The one was a cabinet of imperial freedmen, the other was a military despotism. The former called forth, and was averted by, the creation of a civil service system, to which Hadrian perhaps made the most important contributions, and which was elaborated by Diocletian, who at the same time met the other danger by separating the military and civil administrations. But both dangers revived in a new form. The danger from the army became danger from the Germans, who preponderated in it; and the institution of court ceremonial tended to create a cabinet of chamberlains and imperial dependents. This oriental ceremonial, so notorious a feature of "Byzantinism," meant difficulty of access to the Emperor, who, living in the retirement of his palace, was tempted to trust less to his eyes than his ears, and saw too little of public affairs. Diocletian himself appreciated this disadvantage, and remarked that the sovran, shut up in his palace, cannot know the truth, but must rely on what his attendants and officers tell him. Autocracy, by its very nature, tends in this direction; for it generally means a dynasty, and a dynasty implies that there must sooner or later come to the throne weak men, inexperienced in public affairs, p117 reared up in an atmosphere of flattery and illusion, at the mercy of intriguing chamberlains and eunuchs. In such conditions aulic cabals and chamber cabinets are a natural growth.

The greatest blot on the ministry of Eutropius (for, as he was the most trusted adviser of the Emperor, we may use the word ministry), was the sale of offices, of which the poet Claudian gives a vivid and exaggerated account.29 This was a blot, however, that stained other powerful men in those days as well as Eutropius, and we must view it rather as a feature of the times than as a peculiar enormity. Of course, the eunuch's spies were ubiquitous; of course, informers of all sorts were encouraged and rewarded. All the usual stratagems for grasping and plundering were put into practice. The strong measures that a determined minister was ready to take for the mere sake of vengeance, may be exemplified by the treatment which the whole Lycian province received at the hands of Rufinus. On account of a single individual, Tatian, who had offended that minister, all the provincials were excluded from the public offices.30 After the death of Rufinus, the Lycians were relieved from these disabilities; but the fact that the edict of repeal expressly enjoins "that no one henceforward venture to wound a Lycian citizen with a name of scorn" shows what a serious misfortune their degradation was.31

The eunuch won considerable odium in the first year of his power (A.D. 396) by bringing about the fall of two soldiers of distinction, whose wealth he coveted — Abundantius, to whose patronage he owed his rise in the world, and Timasius, who had been the commander-general in the East. The arts by which Timasius was ruined may illustrate the character of the intrigues that were spun at the Byzantine court.32

Timasius had brought with him from Sardis a Syrian sausage-seller, named Bargus, who, with native address, had insinuated himself into his good graces, and obtained a subordinate command in the army. The prying omniscience of Eutropius discovered that, years before, this same Bargus had been forbidden p118 to enter Constantinople for some misdemeanour, and by means of this knowledge he gained an ascendancy over the Syrian, and compelled him to accuse his benefactor Timasius of a treasonable conspiracy and to support the charge by forgeries. The accused was tried,33 condemned, and banished to the Libyan oasis, a punishment equivalent to death; he was never heard of more. Eutropius, foreseeing that the continued existence of Bargus might at some time compromise himself, suborned his wife to lodge very serious charges against her husband, in consequence of which he was put to death.

It seems probable that a serious plot was formed in the year 397, aiming at the overthrow of Eutropius. Though this is not stated by any writer, it seems a legitimate inference from a law34 which was passed in the autumn of that year, assessing the penalty of death to any one who had conspired "with soldiers or private persons, including barbarians," against the lives of illustres who belong to our consistory or assist at our counsels," or other senators, such a conspiracy being considered equivalent to treason. Intent was to be regarded as equivalent to crime, and not only did the person concerned incur capital punishment, but his descendants were visited with disfranchisement. It is generally recognised that this law was an express protection for chamberlains; but we must suppose it to have been suggested by some actual conspiracy, of which Eutropius had discovered the threads. The mention of soldiers and barbarians points to a particular danger, and we may suspect that Gaïnas, who afterwards brought about the fall of Eutropius, had some connexion with it.

During this year, Stilicho was engaged in establishing his power in Italy and probably in courting a popularity which he had so far done little to deserve. He found time to pay a hurried visit35 to the Rhine provinces, to conciliate or pacify the federate p119 Franks and other German peoples on the frontier, and perhaps to collect recruits for the army. We may conjecture that he also made arrangements for the return of his own family to Italy. He had not abandoned his designs on Eastern Illyricum, but he was anxious to have it understood that he aimed at fraternal concord between the courts of Milan and Byzantium and that the interests of Arcadius were no less dear to him than those of Honorius. The poet Claudian, who filled the rôle of an unofficial poet-laureate to Honorius, was really retained by Stilicho who patronised and paid him. His political poems are extravagant eulogies of the powerful general, and in some cases we may be sure that his arguments were directly inspired by his patron. In the panegyric for the Third Consulate of Honorius (A.D. 396) which, composed soon after the death of Rufinus, suggests a spirit of concord between East and West, the writer calls upon Stilicho to protect the two brethren:

geminos dextra tu protege fratres.

Such lines as this were written to put a certain significance on Stilicho's policy.

For Stilicho was preparing to intervene again in the affairs of the East. We must return here to the movements of Alaric who, when the Imperial armies retreated from Thessaly without striking a blow, had Greece at his mercy. Gerontius, the commander of the garrison at Thermopylae, offered no resistance to his passage; Antiochus, the pro-consul of Achaia, was helpless, and the Goths entered Boeotia, where Thebes alone escaped their devastation.36 They occupied Piraeus but Athens itself was spared, and Alaric was entertained as a guest in the city of Athene.37 But the great temple of the mystic goddess, Demeter and Persephone, at Eleusis was plundered by the barbarians; Megara, the next place on their southward route, fell; then Corinth, Argos, and Sparta. It is possible that Alaric entertained p120 the design of settling his people permanently in the Peloponnesus.38 However this may be, he remained there for more than a year, and the government of Arcadius took no steps to dislodge him or arrange a settlement.

Then in the spring of A.D. 397,39 Stilicho sailed across from Italy, and landing at Corinth marched to Elis to give the general's poet a pretext for singing of the slaughter of skin-clad warriors (metitur pellita iuventus).40 But the outcome was that the Gothic enemy was spared in Elis much as he had been spared in Thessaly. The Eastern government seems to have again intervened with success.41 But what happened is unknown, except that Stilicho made some agreement with Alaric,42 and Alaric withdrew to Epirus, where he appears to have come to terms with Arcadius and perhaps to have received the title he coveted of Master of Soldiers in Illyricum.43

That Stilicho had set out with the purpose of settling the question of Illyricum cannot be seriously doubted. That he withdrew for the second time without accomplishing his purpose was probably due to the news of a dangerous revolt in Africa to which the government of Arcadius was accessory. We can easily understand the indignation felt at Constantinople when it was known that Stilicho had landed in Greece with an army. It was natural that the strongest protest should be made, and Eutropius persuaded the Emperor and the Senate to declare him a public enemy.44

Of this futile expedition, Claudian has given a highly misleading p121 account in his panegyric in honour of the Fourth Consulate of Honorius (A.D. 398), which no allowance for conventional exaggeration can excuse. He overwhelms the boy of fourteen with the most extravagant adulations, pretending that he is greater — vicariously indeed, through the deeds of his general — than his father and grandfather. We can hardly feel able to accord the poet much credit when he declares that the western provinces are not oppressed by heavy taxes nor the treasury replenished by extortion.45

§ 3. The Rebellion of Gildo (A.D. 397‑398)

Eighteen years before an attempt had been made by the Moor Firmus to create a kingdom for himself in the African provinces (A.D. 379), and had been quelled by the armies of Theodosius, who had received valuable aid from Gildo, the brother and enemy of Firmus. Gildo was duly rewarded. He was finally appointed Count of Africa with the exceptional title of Master of Soldiers, and his daughter Salvina was united in marriage to a nephew of the Empress Aelia Flaccilla.46 But the faith of the Moors was as the faith of the Carthaginians. Gildo refused to send troops to Theodosius in his expedition against Eugenius, and after the Emperor's death he prepared to assume a more decided attitude of independence and engaged many African tribes to support him in a revolt. The strained relations between the two Imperial courts suggested to him that the rebellion might assume the form of a transference of Africa from the sovranty of Honorius to that of Arcadius; and he entered into communication with Constantinople, where his overtures were welcomed. A transference of the diocese of Africa to Arcadius seemed quite an appropriate answer to the proposal of transferring the Prefecture of Illyricum to Honorius. But the Eastern government rendered no active assistance to the rebel.47

p122 For Rome and the Italians a revolt in Africa was more serious than rebellions elsewhere, since the African provinces were their granary. In the summer of A.D. 397 Gildo did not allow cornº ships to sail to the Tiber; this was the declaration of war. The prompt and efficient action of Stilicho prevented a calamity; corn supplies were obtained from Gaul and Spain sufficient to feed Rome during the winter months. Preparations were made to suppress Gildo, and Stilicho sought to ingratiate himself with the Senate by reverting to the ancient usage of obtaining its formal authority.48 The Senate declared Gildo a public enemy, and during the winter a fleet of transports was collected at Pisa. In the early spring an army of perhaps 10,000 embarked.49 Stilicho remained in Italy, and the command was entrusted to Mascezel, a brother of Gildo who had come to the court of Honorius to betray Gildo as Gildo had betrayed Firmus. The war was decided, the rebel subdued, almost without bloodshed, in the Byzacene province on the little river Ardalio between Tebessa and Haïdra. The forces of Gildo are said to have been 70,000 strong, but they offered no resistance. We may suspect that some of his Moorish allies had been corrupted by Mascezel, but Gildo himself was probably an unpopular leader. He tried to escape by ship, but was driven ashore again at Thabraca and put to death.50

Returning to Italy, Mascezel was welcomed as a victor, and might reasonably hope for promotion to some high post. But his swift and complete success was not pleasing to Stilicho, who desired to appropriate the whole credit for the deliverance of Italy from a grave danger; perhaps he saw in Mascezel a possible rival. Whether by accident or design, the Moor was removed from his path. The only writer who distinctly records the event, states that while he was crossing a bridge he was thrown into a river by Stilicho's bodyguards and that Stilicho gave the sign for the act.51 The evidence is not good enough to justify us in p123 bringing in a verdict of murder against Stilicho; Mascezel may have been accidentally drowned and the story of foul play may have been circulated by Stilicho's enemies. But if the ruler of Italy was innocent, he assuredly did not regret the capable executor of his plans. The order seems to have gone out that the commander of the expedition against Gildo was to have no share in the glory,52 and the incomplete poem of Claudian on the Gildonic War tells the same tale.

This poem, which will serve as an example of Claudian's art, begins with an announcement of the victory and was probably composed when the first news of the success arrived in Italy. Redditus imperiis Auster, "the South has been restored to our Empire; the twin sphere, Europe and Libya, are reunited; and the concord of the brethren is again complete." Iam domitus Gildo, the tyrant as already been vanquished, and we can hardly believe that this has been accomplished so quickly.

Having announced the glad tidings, Claudian goes back to the autumn and imagines Rome, the goddess of the city, in fear of famine and disaster, presenting herself in pitiable guise before the throne of Jupiter and supplicating him to save her from hunger. Are the labours and triumphs of her glorious history to be all in vain? Is the amplitude of her Empire to be her doom? Ipsa nocet moles. "I am excluded from my granaries, Libya and Egypt; I am abandoned in my old age."

Nunc quid agam? Libyam Gildo tenet, altera53 Nilum

ast ego, quae terras umeris pontumque subegi,

deseror; emeritae iam praemia nulla senectae.

The supplications of Rome are reinforced by the sudden appearance of Africa, who burst into the divine assembly with torn raiment, and in wild words demands that Neptune should submerge her continent rather than it should have to submit to the pollution of Gildo's rule.

Si mihi Gildonem nequeunt abducere fata,

me rape Gildoni.

Jupiter dismisses the suppliants, assuring them that "Honorius will lay low the common enemy," and he sends Theodosius the p124 Great and his father, who are both deities in Olympus, to appear to the two reigning Emperors in the night. Arcadius is reproached by his father for the estrangement from his brother, for his suspicions of Stilicho, for entertaining the proposals of Gildo; and he promises to do nothing to aid Gildo. Honorius is stimulated by his grandfather to rise without delay and smite the rebel. He summons Stilicho and proposes to lead an expedition himself. Stilicho persuades him that it would be unsuitable to his dignity to take the field against such a foe, and suggests that the enterprise should be committed to Mascezel. This is the only passage in which Mascezel is mentioned, and Claudian does not bestow any praise on him further than the admission that he does not resemble his brother in character (sed non et moribus isdem), but dwells on the wrongs he had suffered, and argues that to be crushed by his injured brother, the suppliant of the Emperor, will be the heaviest blow that could be inflicted on the rebel.

The military preparations are then described, and an inspiriting address to the troops, about to embark, is put into the mouth of Honorius, who tells them that the fate of Rome depends on their valour:

caput insuperabile rerum

aut ruet in vestris aut stabit Roma lacertis.

The fleet sails and safely reaches the African ports, and the first canto of the poem ends.54

It is all we have: a second canto was never written. Claudian evidently intended to sing the whole story of the campaign as soon as the story was known. The overthrow of "the third tyrant," whom he represents as the successor of Maximus and Eugenius, deserved an exhaustive song of triumph. But it would have surpassed even the skill of Claudian to have told the tale without giving a meed of praise to the commander who carried the enterprise through to its victorious end. We need have little hesitation in believing that the motive which hindered the poet from completing the Gildonic War was the knowledge that to celebrate the achievements of Mascezel would be no service to his patron.55

p125 While the issue of the war was still uncertain, in the spring of A.D. 398,56 Stilicho's position as master of the west was strengthened by the marriage of his daughter Maria with the youthful Emperor. Claudian wrote an epithalamium for the occasion, duly extolling anew the virtues of his incomparable patron. We may perhaps wonder that, secured by this new bond with the Imperial house, and his prestige enhanced by the suppression of Gildo,57 Stilicho did not now make some attempt to carry out his project of annexing the Prefecture of Illyricum. The truth is that he had not abandoned it, but he was waiting for a favourable opportunity of intervention in the affairs of the east. It seems safe to infer his attitude from the drift of Claudian's poems, for Claudian, if he did not receive express instructions, had sufficient penetration to divine the note which Stilicho would have wished him to strike. In the Gildonic War he had announced the restoration of concord between east and west: concordia fratrum plena redit; it was the right thing to say at the moment, but the strain in the relations between the two courts had only relaxed a little. The discord broke out again, with more fury than ever, in the two poems in which he overwhelmed Eutropius with rhetoric no less savage than his fulminations against Rufinus four years before. The first was written at the beginning of A.D. 399, protesting against the disgrace of the Empire by the elevation of Eutropius to the consulate, the second in the summer, after the eunuch's fall. The significant point is that in both poems the intervention of Stilicho in eastern affairs is proposed.58 Stilicho did not overtly intervene; but it seems probable that he had an understanding with Gaïnas, the German commander in the east, who had been his instrument p126 in the assassination of Rufinus. It is a suggestive fact that in describing the drama which was enacted in the east Claudian brings the minor characters on the stage but does not even pronounce the name of Gaïnas, who was the principal actor, or betray that he was aware of his existence. We must now pass to the east and follow the events of that drama.

§ 4. Fall of Eutropius and the German Danger in the East (A.D. 398‑400)

In these years, in which barbarians were actively harrying the provinces of the Illyrian peninsula and the eastern provinces of Asia Minor, concord and mutual assistance between east and west were urgently needed. Unfortunately, the reins of government were in the hands of men who for different reasons were unpopular and in all their political actions were influenced chiefly by the consideration of their own fortunes. The position of Eutropius was insecure, because he was a eunuch; that of Stilicho, because he was a German. So far as the relation between the two governments was concerned the situation had been eased for a time after the fall of Rufinus, and it was doubtless with the consent and perhaps at the invitation of Eutropius that Stilicho had sailed to Greece in A.D. 397. For the eastern armies were not strong enough to contend at the same time against Alaric and against the Huns who were devastating in Asia. The generals who were sent to expel the invaders from Cappadocia and the Pontic provinces seem to have been incompetent, and Eutropius decided to take over the supreme command himself. It was probably in A.D. 398 that he conducted a campaign which was attended with success. The barbarians were driven back to the Caucasus and the eunuch returned triumphant to Constantinople.59 His victory secured him some popularity for the moment, and he was designated consul for the following year.

The brief understanding between the courts of Milan and p127 Byzantium had been broken as we saw by the attitude of the eastern government during the revolt of Gildo. There was an open breach. When the news came that Eutropius was nominated consul for A.D. 399, the Roman feelings of the Italians were deeply scandalised. A eunuch for a consul — it was an unheard-of, an intolerable violation of the tradition of the Roman Fasti.

Omnia cesserunt eunucho consule monstra

wrote Claudian in the poem in which, at the beginning of the year, he castigated the minister of Arcadius.60 The west refused to recognise this monstrous consulship.61 It was perhaps hardly less unpopular in the east.

The Grand Chamberlain, confidently secure through his possession of the Emperor's ear, had overshot the mark. His position was now threatened from two quarters. Gaïnas, the German officer who under the direction of Stilicho had led the eastern army back to Constantinople, had risen to the office of a Master of Soldiers.62 It is probable that he maintained communications with Stilicho, and his first object was to compass the downfall of Eutropius.

Less dangerous but not less hostile was the Roman party, which was equally opposed to the bedchamber administration of Eutropius and to the growth of German power. It consisted of senators and ministers attached to Roman traditions, who were scandalised by the nomination of the eunuch to the consulship in A.D. 399 and alarmed by the fact that some of the highest military commands in the Empire were held by Germans. The leader of the party was Aurelian, son of Taurus (formerly a Praetorian Prefect of Italy), who had himself filled the office of Prefect of the City.

Gaïnas had some supporters among the Romans. The most powerful of his friends was an enigmatical figure, whose real name is unknown but who seems to have been a brother of p128 Aurelian. Of this dark person, who played a leading part in the events of these years, we derive all we know from a historical sketch which its author Synesius of Cyrene cast into the form of an allegory and entitled Concerning Providence or the Egyptians. This distinguished man of letters, who was at this time a Platonist — some years later he was to embrace Christianity and accept a bishopric — was on terms of intimacy with Aurelian and was at Constantinople at this time.63 The argument is the contest for the kingship of Egypt between the sons of Taurus, Osiris and Typhos. Osiris embodies all that is best in human nature. Typhos is a monster, perverse, gross, and ignorant. Osiris is Aurelian; Typhos cannot be identified,64 and we must call him by his allegorical name; the kingship of Egypt means the Praetorian Prefecture of the east.

In the race for political power Typhos allied himself with the German party, who welcomed him as a Roman of good family and position. Synesius dwells much on his profligacy, and on the frivolous habits of his wife, an ambitious and fashionable lady. She was her own tirewoman, a reproach which seems to mean that she was inordinately attentive to the details of her toilet.65 She liked public admiration and constantly showed herself at the theatre and in the streets. Her love of notoriety did not permit her to be fastidious in her choice of society, she liked to have her salon filled, and her doors were not closed to professional courtesans. Synesius contrasts her with the modest wife of Aurelian, who never left her house, and asserts that the chief virtue of a woman is that neither her body nor her name should ever cross the threshold. This is a mere rhetorical flourish; the writer's friend and teacher, Hypatia the philosopher, p129 whom he venerated, certainly did not stay at home. He was probably thinking of the piece of advice to women which Thucydides placed in the mouth of Pericles.

The struggle against the German power in the east began in the spring of A.D. 399. It was brought on by a movement on the part of Ostrogoths in Phrygia, but we have no distinct evidence to show that it was instigated by Gaïnas.66 These Ostrogoths had been established as colons67 by Theodosius the Great in fertile regions of that province (in A.D. 386), and contributed a squadron of cavalry to the Roman army. The commander, Tribigild, bore Eutropius a personal grudge, and he excited his Ostrogoths to revolt. The rebellion broke out just as Arcadius and his court were preparing to start for Ancyra, whither he was fond of resorting in summer to enjoy its pleasant and salubrious climate.

The barbarians were recruited by runaway slaves and spread destruction throughout Galatia, Pisidia, and Bithynia. Two generals, Gaïnas and Leo, a friend of Eutropius — a good-humoured, corpulent man who was nicknamed Ajax — were sent to quell the rising.

It was at this time that Synesius, the philosopher of Cyrene, who had come to the capital to present a gold crown to Arcadius on behalf of his native city, fulfilled his mission and used the occasion to deliver a remarkable speech "On the office of King."68 It may be regarded as the anti-German manifesto of the party of Aurelian69 with which Synesius had enthusiastically identified himself. The orator urged the policy of imposing disabilities on the Germans in order to eradicate the German element in the State. The argument depends on the Hellenic but by no means Christian principle that Roman and barbarian are different in kind and therefore their union is unnatural. The soldiers of a state should be its watchdogs, in Plato's phrase, but our armies are full of wolves in the guise of dogs. Our homes are full of German servants. A state cannot wisely give arms to p130 any who have not been born and reared under its laws; the shepherd cannot expect to tame the cubs of wolves. Our German troops are a stone of Tantalus suspended over our State, and the only salvation is to remove the alien element.70 The policy of Theodosius the Great was a mistake. Let the barbarians be sent back to their wilds beyond the Danube, or if they remain be set to till the fields as serfs. It was a speech which if it came to the ears of Gaïnas was not calculated to stimulate his zeal against the Germans he went forth to reduce.

The rebels, seeking to avoid an engagement with Leo's army, turned their steps to Pisidia and thence to Pamphylia, where they met unexpected resistance.71 While Gaïnas was inactive and writing in his reports to Constantinople that Tribigild was extremely formidable, Valentine, a landowner of Selge, gathered an armed band of peasants and slaves and laid an ambush near a narrow winding pass in the mountains between Pisidia and Pamphylia. The advancing enemy were surprised by showers of stones from the heights above them, and it was difficult to escape as there was a treacherous marsh all around. The pass was held by a Roman officer, and Tribigild succeeded in bribing him to allow his forces to cross it. But they had no sooner escaped than, shut in between two rivers, the Melas and the Eurymedon, they were attacked by the warlike inhabitants of the district. Leo meanwhile was advancing, and the insurrection might have been crushed if Gaïnas had not secretly reinforced the rebels with detachments from his own army. Then the German troops under his own command attacked and overpowered their Roman fellow-soldiers, and Leo lost his life in attempting to escape.72 Gaïnas and Tribigild were masters of the situation, but they still pretended to be enemies.

Gaïnas, posing as a loyal general, foiled by the superior power of the Ostrogoths, despatched a message to the Emperor urging him to yield to Tribigild's demand and depose Eutropius from power. Arcadius might not have yielded if a weightier influence had not been brought to bear upon him. The Empress Eudoxia, who had owed her fortune to the eunuch, had become jealous of the boundless power he had secured over have husband's p131 mind; there was unconcealed antagonism between them; and one day Eudoxia appeared in the Emperor's presence, with her two little daughters,73 and made bitter complaint of the Chamberlain's insulting behaviour.

Eutropius realised his extreme peril when he heard of the demand of Gaïnas and he fled for refuge to the sanctuary of St. Sophia.74 There he might not only trust in the protection of the holy place, but might expect that the Patriarch would stand by him in his extremity when he was deserted by his noonday friends. For it was through him that John Chrysostom, a Syrian priest of Antioch, had been appointed to the see of Constantinople in the preceding year. And the Patriarch's personal interference was actually needed. Arcadius had determined to sacrifice him, and Chrysostom had to stand between the cowering eunuch and those who would have dragged him from the altar. This incident seems to have occurred on a Saturday, and on the morrow, Sunday, there must have been strange excitement in the congregation which assembled to hear the eloquence of the preacher. Hidden under the altar, overwhelmed with fear and shame, lay the old man whose will had been supreme a few days before, and in the pulpit the Patriarch delivered a sermon on the moral of his fall, beginning with the words, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."75 While he mercilessly exposed the levity and irreligion of Eutropius and his circle, he sought at the same time to excite the sympathy of his hearers.

The church was again entered by soldiers, and again Chrysostom interposed. Then Eutropius allowed himself to be removed on condition that his life was spared. He was deprived of his patrician rank, banished to Cyprus, and his property was confiscated. The imperial edict which pronounced this sentence is profuse of the language of obloquy.76 The consulship "befouled and defiled by a filthy monster" has been "delivered p132 from the foul stain of his tenure and from the recollection of his name and the base filth thereof," by erasing his name from the Fasti. All statues in bronze or marble, all coloured pictures set up in his honour in public or private places, are to be abolished "that they may not, as a brand of infamy on our age, pollute the gaze of beholders."

The fall of Eutropius involved the fall of Eutychian, the Praetorian Prefect of the east, who was presumably one of his creatures. There was a contest between the two brothers, Aurelian and Typhos, for the vacant office, which Synesius in his allegory designated as the kingship of Egypt. But though Gaïnas had succeeded in overthrowing the eunuch, he failed to secure the appointment of Typhos. The post was given to Aurelian, and this was a triumph for the anti-German party.77 Aurelian was a man of considerable intellectual attainments; he was surrounded by men of letters such as Synesius, Troilus the poet, and Polyaemon the rhetor. His success was a severe blow to Typhos and his friends, and especially to his wife, who had been eagerly looking forward to the Prefecture for the sake of the social advantage of it. Synesius gives a curious description of the efforts of the profligate to console himself for his disappointment. He constructed a large pond in which he made artificial islands provided with warm baths, and in these retreats he and his friends, male and female, used to indulge in licentious pleasures.78

But if Aurelian's elevation was a blow to Typhos it was no less a blow to Gaïnas, who now threw off the mask and, openly declaring his true colours, acted no longer as a mediator for Tribigild, but as an adversary bargaining for terms. Tribigild and he met at Thyatira and advanced to the shores of the p133 Propontis, plundering as they went. Gaïnas demanded and obtained an interview with the Emperor himself at Chalcedon. An agreement was made that he should be confirmed in his post as Master of Soldiers in praesenti,79 that he and Tribigild might cross over into Europe, and that three hostages should be handed over to him, Aurelian, Saturninus, one of Aurelian's chief supporters, and John, the friend (report said the lover) of the Empress. This meant the deposition of Aurelian from the Prefecture and the succession of Typhos. For the moment Gaïnas was master of the government of the east (end of A.D. 399).

The demand for the surrender of Aurelian had been pre-arranged with Typhos,80 and the intention seems to have been to put him to death. The Patriarch went over to Chalcedon to intercede for the lives of the three hostages, and Gaïnas contented himself with inflicting the humiliation of a sham execution and banishing them. He then entered Constantinople with his army.81 The rule of Gaïnas seems to have lasted for about six months (to July A.D. 400). But he was evidently a man of no ability. He had not even a definite plan of action, and of his short period of power nothing is recorded except that he tried to secure for the Arians a church of their own within the city, and failed through the intolerant opposition of the Patriarch; and that his plans to seize the Imperial Palace, and to sack the banks of the money-changers, were frustrated.

This episode of German tyranny came to an abrupt end early in July. The Goth suddenly decided to quit the capital. We know not why he found his position untenable, or what his intentions were. Making an excuse of illness he went to perform his devotions in a church about seven miles distant, and ordered his Goths to follow him in relays. Their preparations for departure frightened the inhabitants, ignorant of their plans, and the city was so excited that any trifle might lead to serious consequences. It happened that a beggar-woman was standing at one of the western gates early in the morning asking for alms. At the unusual sight of a long line of Goths issuing from the p134 gate she thought it was the last day for Constantinople and prayed aloud. Her prayer offended a passing Goth, and as he was about to cut her down a Roman intervened and slew him. The incident led to a general tumult, and the citizens succeeded in closing the gates, so that the Goths who had not yet passed through were cut off from their comrades without. There were some thousands of them82 but not enough to cope with the infuriated people. They sought refuge in a church (near the Palace) which had been appropriated to the use of such Goths as had embraced the Catholic faith. There they suffered a fate like that which had befallen the oligarchs of Corcyra during the Peloponnesian war. The roof was removed and the barbarians were done to death under showers of stones and burning brands (July 12, A.D. 400).83

The immediate consequence of this deliverance was the fall of Typhos84 and the return of Aurelian, who at once replaced him in the Prefecture. The conduct of Typhos was judicially investigated, his treasonable collusion with the Germans was abundantly exposed, and he was condemned provisionally to imprisonment. He was afterwards rescued from the vengeance of the mob by his brother. His subsequent fate is as unknown to us as his name. Aurelian, who had been designated for the consulship of the year 400, but had been unable to enter upon it in January, seems now to have been invested with the insignia,85 and the name of whatever person had been chosen to fill it by Typhos and Gaïnas was struck from the Fasti.

Gaïnas, in the meantime, a declared enemy, like Alaric three years before, marched plundering through Thrace. But he won little booty, for the inhabitants had retreated into the strong places which he was unable to take. He marched to the Hellespont, intending to pass over into Asia. But when he reached p135 the coast opposite Abydos he found the Asiatic shore occupied by troops, who were supported by warships. These forces were under the command of Fravitta, a loyal pagan Goth who in the last years of Theodosius had played a considerable part in the politics of his own nation as leader of the philo-Roman party. He had since served under Arcadius, had been promoted to be Master of Soldiers in the east, and had cleared the eastern Mediterranean of pirates from Cilicia to Syria and Palestine.86 The Goths encamped on the shore, but when their provisions were exhausted they resolved to attempt the crossing and constructed rude rafts which they committed to the current. Fravitta's ships easily sank them, and Gaïnas, who had remained on shore when he saw his troops perishing, hastened northwards, beyond Mount Haemus, even beyond the Danube, expecting to be pursued. Fravitta did not follow him, but he fell into the hands of Uldin, king of the Huns, who cut off his head and sent it as a grateful offering to Arcadius (December 23, A.D. 400). History has no regrets for the fate of this brutal and incompetent barbarian.

It was significant of the situation in the Empire that a Gothic enemy should be discomfited by a Goth. Fravitta enjoyed the honour of a triumph, and was designated consul for A.D. 401. Arcadius granted him the only favour he requested, to be allowed to worship after the fashion of his fathers.

Thus the German danger hanging over the Empire was warded off from the eastern provinces. Stilicho could no longer hope to interfere in eastern affairs through the Goths of the eastern army. The episode was a critical one in Roman history, and its importance was recognised at the time. It was celebrated in two epic poems87 as well as in the myth of Synesius. Scenes from the revolt were represented in sculpture on the pillar of Arcadius which was set up in A.D. 403 in the Forum named after him.88

The year 400, which witnessed the failure of the German bid p136 for ascendancy at Constantinople, was the year of Stilicho's first consulship. Claudian celebrated it in a poem which was worthy of a greater subject:

quem populi plausu, procerum quem voce petebas,

adspice, Roma, virum. . . .

. . . hic est felix bellator ubique

defensor Libyae, Rheni pacator et Histri.

The hero's services to the Empire in war and peace outshine the merits and glories of the most famous figures in old Roman history. The poet himself aspired to be to Stilicho what Ennius had been to Scipio Africanus. Noster Scipiades Stilicho — a strange conjunction of names; but we forgive the poet his hyperboles for his genuine sense of the greatness of Roman history. The consulship of the Vandal general inspired him with the finest verses he ever wrote, a passage which deserves a place among the great passages of Latin literature — the praise of Rome, beginning —

proxime dis consul, tantae qui prospicis urbi

qua nihil in terris complectitur altius aether.89

He has expressed with memorable eloquence the Imperial ideal of the Roman State:

haec est in gremium victos quae sola recepit

humanumque genus communi nomine fovit

lmatris, non dominae ritu, civesque vocavit

quos domuit nexuque pio longinqua revinxit.90

The approaching disruption of the Empire was indeed hidden from Claudian and all others at the end of the fourth century. The Empire still reached from the Euphrates to the Clyde. Theodosius, who ruled a larger realm than Augustus, had steered it safely through dangers apparently greater than any which now menaced, and Stilicho was the military successor of Theodosius. The sway of Rome, if the Roman only looked at the external situation, might seem the assured and permanent order of the world:

nec terminus umquam

Romanae dicionis erit.

Yet there was a very uneasy feeling in these years that the end of Rome might really be at hand. It was due to superstition. p137 The twelve vultures that appeared to Romulus had in ages past been interpreted to mean that the life of Rome would endure for twelve centuries, and for some reason it was thought that this period was now drawing to a close:

tunc reputant annos interceptoque volatu

vulturis incidunt properatis saecula metis.91

The ancient auspice seemed to be confirmed by exceptional natural phenomena — the appearance of a huge comet in the spring of A.D. 40092 and three successive eclipses of the moon.a Before these signs appeared, Honorius and Stilicho had allowed the altar of Victory which had been removed from the Senate-house by Theodosius to be brought back, a momentary concession to the fears of the Roman pagans. And it is very probably due to superstitious fears that the work of restoring the walls of Rome was now taken in hand.93

When Stilicho went to Rome to enter upon his consulship,94 Claudian accompanied him, and his verses richly deserved the statue which was erected at the instance of the senate in the Forum of Trajan "to the most glorious of poets," although (the inscription runs) "his written poems suffice to keep his memory eternal."95


The Author's Notes:

1 Flavius Arcadius was born in 377‑378, created Augustus Jan. 19, 383, at Constantinople, and was consul in 385. Honorius, born Sept. 9, 384, was created Augustus Jan. 10, 393. As to the succession, we are told that before his death Theodosius had made all the necessary arrangements: Ambrose, De obitu Theod. 5.

2 Ambrose in the funeral oration he pronounced in the presence of Honorius says: liberos praesenti commendabat parenti (ib.). We must reject the statement of Olympiodorus, fr. 2, that Theodosius appointed Stilicho legal guardian (ἐπίτροπος) of his sons. The relation of guardian and ward had no existence in constitutional law. Cp. Mommsen, Hist. Schr. I. p516.

3 Originally serving in the Protectors, he had been raised to the post of Count of Domestics. Then he married Serena and was appointed magister equitum praesentalis (c. 385). After the victory in 394 over Eugenius and Arbogastes, he succeeded the latter as mag. utriusque militiae, and held this supreme command till his death. We do not know who succeeded him as mag. equitum in Italy, but in 401‑402 the post was held by one Jacobus, whose name happens to be recorded because he did not admire Claudian's verses (Claudian, Carm. min. 2). That Stilicho's mother was a Roman may be inferred from Jerome's description of him as semibarbarus (Epp. 123). His son Eucherius was named after the uncle, his daughter Thermantia after the mother, of Theodosius.

4 He was educated first by his mother Aelia Flaccilla, then by Arsenius a deacon, and finally by the pagan sophist Themistius. His personal appearance and that of Rufinus are described by Philostorgius (H. E. XI.3), who lived at Constantinople and must have known them both by sight. That Arcadius seldom appeared outside the Palace has been inferred from the mention in Socrates, VI.23, of the crowds which flocked to see him when on one occasion he did appear in the streets (Seeck, Gesch. d. Untergangs, V.545).

5 Promotus, Tatian, and Proclus (Zosimus, V.51, 52). Rufinus had become Master of Offices in 388 (cp. Seeck, Die Briefe des Libanius, 256‑257); he was consul in 392, and in the same year became Praet. Pref. He was on friendly terms with the pagan sophist Libanius (Lib. Epp. 784, 1025). His sister Salvia is remembered as one of the early pilgrims to the Holy Land (Palladius, Hist. Laus. 142).

Thayer's Note: My copy of the Historia Lausiaca (Palladio, La Storia Lausiaca, critical text and commentary by G. J. M. Bartelink, ed. Fondazione Lorenzo Valla/Mondadori, 1974, p230), has Palladius writing, 55.1, "τὴν μακαρίαν Σιλβανίαν τὴν παρθένον γυναικαδέλφην Ῥουφίνου" — "the blessed Silvania, the virgin female relative of Rufinus". While the apparatus indicates a variant reading ἀδελφὴν δὲ ("sister"), the only manuscript variant of the woman's name given there is Silvina (Σιλβίναν). Bartelink's critical apparatus is, however, only partial.

Palladius does not exactly say that Rufinus' sister was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, either, merely that he was accompanying her on a trip from Jerusalem ("Aelia") to Egypt.

6 The antagonism was of older date. Theodosius, at the instance of Rufinus, had forbidden Stilicho to punish the Bastarnae who had slain Promotus, whom Rufinus had caused to be exiled. Claudian, De laud. Stil. I.(p108)94‑115. It may be noted that Zosimus, at the beginning of Book V, represents Rufinus and Stilicho as ethically on a level; but when his source is no longer Eunapius, but Olympiodorus, his tone towards Stilicho changes. Cp. Eunapius, fr. 62, 63 ἄμφω τὰ πάντα συνήργαζον ἐν τῷ πλούτῳ τὸ κράτος τιθέμενος. Eunapius was also the source of John Ant., frr. 188‑190 (F.H.G. IV. p610).

7 This is unmistakably conveyed in Claudian, De cons. Stil. II.352‑361, and hinted at again in De VI. cons. Honorii, 552‑554.

8 Promotus. His sons had been playmates of Arcadius. Zosimus, V.3.

9 Ambrose, Epp. I.24 Bauto qui sibi regnum sub specie pueri vindicavit (words quoted from the tyrant Maximus). In 385 Bauto was consul, as colleague of Arcadius.

10 Philostorgius, XI.6 ἐνῆν αὐτῇ τοῦ βαρβαρικοῦ θράσους οὐκ ὀλίγον.

11 It is difficult to understand how Rufinus could have been so completely hoodwinked, unless the machinations of Eutropius were carried out during the absence of the Prefect from the court, and he was confronted on his return by a fait accompli. We are entitled to conclude from the account of Zosimos (source, Olympiodorus) that Rufinus was absent at Antioch just before the marriage, having gone thither in order to punish Lucian, the Count of the East, for an offence which he had offered to an uncle of the Emperor. Seeck has argued that this visit to Antioch is wrongly dated by Zosimus and belongs to A.D. 393 (op. cit. p447), but his reasoning is not convincing. Rufinus did visit Antioch in 393 (as letters of Libanius show), and was in a hurry, but he may have gone there again in 395.

12 See Sievers, Studien, 326; Schmidt, Deutsche Stämme, 1.191.

13 Jordanes, Get. 146; Isidore, Hist. Goth. (Chron. min. II) p272. But contemporary writers do not use the word king, and Schmidt (ib. 192) thinks that Alaric was on this occasion only nominated commander-in‑chief.

14 Claudian, In Rufin. II.78 sqq. Alaric must have moved very early in the spring; for it was still early in the year when Stilicho marched from Italy, ib. 101.— It has been suggested (Seeck, Gesch. des Untergangs, V.274) that the zeal of Rufinus against heretics (especially the Eunomians), displayed in a series of four edicts (C. Th. XXVI.5.25, XXVI.28, 29), was dictated by a superstitious belief that the calamities of the time were due to the anger of Heaven at laxity in the suppression of heresy.

15 He had been occupied with the task of driving out bands of German marauders who had invaded Pannonia and Noricum.

16 Olympiodorus, fr. 3. Cp. Mommsen, op. cit. 517.

17 This aspect of the question has hitherto been overlooked.

18 Alaric had experienced a repulse at the hands of garrison soldiers in Thessaly — perhaps in attempting the pass of Tempe. See Socrates, H.E. VII.10, a confused passage of which little can be made.

19 Cp. Mommsen, ib. 521 See Claudian, In Rufin. II.95 and Laus Serenae, 232 (Serena kept Stilicho informed by letters of what was going on in the East).— The chronology presents a difficulty. Stilicho had set out in the spring, yet Gaïnas and the army did not reach Constantinople till November (see below).

20 Claudian, In Rufin. II.291  —

percurritur Hebrus,

deseritur Rhodope Thracumque per ardua tendunt,

donec ad Herculei perventum nominis urbem.

The city of Herculean name, Heraclea, is the ancient Perinthus.

21 Zosimus, V.7.5 ταύτης γὰρ τῆς τιμῆς ἠξιῶσθαι τοὺς στρατιώτας ἔλεγε σύνηθες εἶναι.

22 Πλήθους ὁπλιτευόντος ἀθρόᾲ κινήσει περιπεσών, Asterius of Amasea, in his Λόγος κατηγορικὸς τῆς ἐορτης τῶν καλανδῶν, P.G. XL.24.

23 Zosimus (source certainly Eunapius), ib. 3. Philostorgius, XI.3. It is remarkable that Claudian does not mention Gaïnas, whose part in the affair we find in Zosimus.— On the confiscation of the large property of Rufinus see C. Th. IX.42.14; Symmachus, Epp. VI.14.

24 See Claudian, Carm. min. XLI. vv. 13‑16, which seem to imply that he came to Italy in the consulship of Probinus (and Olybrius), A.D. 395. Cp. Prosper, Chron., sub a.

25 Epp. LXXVII.8. These Huns were doubtless the Sabeiroi, whom we shall meet again. Their seats were between the Caspian and the Euxine. See below, p434, note.º

26 Epp. LX.16. Jerome is dwelling on the miseries of human society (temporum nostrorum ruinas), which he also illustrates by the ravages of Alaric in Europe, and by the fates of Rufinus, Abundantius, and Timasius. The letter was written in 396.

27 John Lydus, De mag. III.40.

28 The evidence consists in the circumstance that in the Theodosian Code we find laws addressed to Caesarius Pr. Pr. from Nov. 30, 395, throughout 396 and 397, and on July 26, 398, and at the same time four laws addressed to Eutychianus Pr. Pr. in 396, six laws addressed to him in 397, and six in the first half of 398. Hence Seeck has argued that Caesarius and Eutychianus were colleagues in the Prefecture of the East during these years. The natural explanation is that the dates of some of the constitutions are wrong (viz. six Eutychianus dates in 396 and 397, and one Caesarius date in 398) and that while Caesarius succeeded Rufinus Dec. 395, Eutychianus succeeded Caesarius between July 13 (C. Th. VIII.15.8) and Sept. 4 (ib. VI.3.4) 397. Eutychianus held office till the fall of Eutropius in August 399. Seeck thinks that this series of errors is improbable (Gesch. des Untergangs, V.551), but errors of date are very common, and in these years alone we find Caesarius addressed as Pr. Pr. in June 395; Aurelian in Oct. 396 (IV.2.1 and V.1.5) and Jan. 399; and Eutychianus in Dec. 399 (when Aurelian was Prefect). On the general question see Mommsen, Hist. Schr. III. p290; Seeck, in Philologus, 52, p449. The list of the laws which are concerned will be found in Mommsen's ed. of C. Th. I. pp. clxxv‑vi.

29 In Eutrop. I.198 institor imperii, caupo famosus honorum, etc.

30 Probably in A.D. 394. Tatian had been Praetorian Prefect of the East 389‑393 and Consul in 391. His son Proclus was Prefect of the City 389‑392. Both incurred the jealousy of Rufinus, who procured their arrest and condemnation. Proclus was beheaded, Tatian exiled to Lycia. Cp. Asterius, op. cit. ib.

31 C. Th. IX.38.9; Claudian, In Ruf. I.232.

32 Zosimus, V.8.

33 The general feeling in favour of Timasius, a man of the highest character, was so great that the Emperor gave up his first intention of presiding at the trial. The letter of Jerome (LX. — quoted above, p114), which was written in 396, proves that Abundantius and Timasius were exiled in that year. Abundantius had been consul and mag. utr. mil., Timasius consul and mag. mil. Their fates are referred to by Asterius, ib. (cp. M. Bauer, Asterios Bischof von Amaseia, 1911, p12 sqq.). See also Sozomen, VIII.17.

34 Sept. 4; C. Th. IX.14.3.

35 Cp. Claudian, De cons. Stil. I.218 sqq. Perhaps it was at this time that the military administration on the Rhine frontier was reorganised by the institution of two new high commands, that of the dux Mogontiacensis (Not., Occ.XLI) and that of the comes Argentoratensis (ib. XXVII), who had their seats at Mainz and Strassburg respectively. Cp. Seeck, art. Comites, in P.‑W.

36 For the invasion, besides Zosimus, see Socrates VII.10. It is noticed also by Eunapius, Vita Maximi (I. p52), and Vita Prisci (I. p67).

37 The walls of Athens had been restored in the reign of Valerian (Zosimus, I.29), and Alaric was amenable to terms. The legend was that he saw Athene Promachus standing on the walls, and Achilles in front of them (ib. V.6). Philostorgius says that Alaric "took Athens" (XII.2) but he meant Piraeus. The mischief wrought by the Goths in Greece has often been exaggerated (see Gregorovius, Gesch. der Stadt Athen, I.35 sqq.; Bury, App. 13 to Gibbon, vol. III).

38 So Schmidt, ib. 197.

39 Since Koch's article in Rh. Museum, XLIV. (1889), it has generally been recognised that Stilicho's second expedition to Greece must be placed in 397 (not 396). See Birt, Praef. to Claudian, p. XXXI; Gibbon, Decline, III. editor's App. 12. The spring of the year must be inferred from Claudian, De c. Stil. I.174 sqq. That Elis was the scene of operations is proved by Pholoe in Zos. V.7.2, and more than one reference to the Alpheus in Claudian. The second Book In Rufinum was not published till after this campaign (see Praef. 9 sqq.).

40 De IV. cons. Hon. 466. Cp. De cons. Stil. 186 Alpheus Geticis angustus acervis.

41 See Claudian, B. Got. 517 sub nomine legum proditio regnique favor texisset Eoi.

42 Claudian ib. 496 seems to imply that Alaric undertook not to cross the frontiers of the territory of Honorius.

43 Cp. ib. 535‑539 and In Eutrop. II.216. Was this a breach of the agreement with Stilicho (cp. foedera rumpit, ib. 213)? — It may have been during this absence of Stilicho that Serena embellished with marble the tomb of St. Nazarius at Milan as a vow for his safe return, CIL V.6250, unless it were rather in the Raetian campaign of 401‑402.

44 Zosimus, V.11.

45 496 sqq. Claudian is at his finest in his eulogies of Theodosius avus, the hero of Africa and Britain, and Theodosius pater, the Great.

46 Nebridius. Salvina was afterwards a friend of John Chrysostom.

47 Zosimus, ib. It appears that embassies on the subject passed between Italy and Constantinople (Symmachus, Epp. IV.5; Claudian, B. Gild. 236 sqq., 279, De cons. Stil. I.295; Orosius, VII.36), and that Arcadius went so far as to issue edicts menacing any one who should attack Gildo, see Claudian, De cons. Stil. I.275 sqq. —

hoc Africa saevis

cinxerat auxiliis, hoc coniuratus alebat

insidiis Oriens. illinc edicta meabant

corruptura duces.

48 Claudian, De cons. Stil. I.326 sqq. —

non ante fretis exercitus adstitit ultor

ordine quam prisco censeret bella senatus

neglectum Stilicho per tot iam saecula morem

rettulit, etc.

49 So Seeck (Forsch. zur d. Geschichte, 24, 175 sqq.), who identifies the troops (chiefly auxilia palatina) named by Claudian, B. Gild. 418‑423. Orosius, VII.36, says 5000 (ut aiunt).

50 Claudian, De cons. Stil. I.359, II.258; In Eutrop. I.410; De VI. cons. Hon. 381. The date was July 31, Fasti Vind. pr., sub a. 398 (Chron. min. I. p398). According to Zosimus (V.11) Gildo took his own life.

51 Zosimus, V.11 Orosius (ib.), who represents the Moor's death as a punishment for profaning a church, does not tell how it occurred; but occisus est means a violent end.

52 Cp. CIL VI.1730 (see below, p125). The question is discussed by Crees, Claudian 102 sqq. The inscription found in the Roman Forum,

armipotens Libycum defendit Honorius orbem,

may refer to the Gildonic War, CIL VI.31256.

53 I.e. altera Roma, Constantinople.

54 In the MSS. it is described as Liber primus.

55 The complications which resulted in Africa from the despotism of Gildo, and the efforts to right wrongs and restore property, lasted for many years. The large property which Gildo had amassed required a special (p125) official to administrate it, entitled comes Gildoniaci patrimonii. See C. Th. VII.8.7, and Notit. Occ. XI.

56 Claudian, De cons. Stil. I.1‑5.

57 An inscription in honour of Stilicho on a marble base, found at Rome (CIL VI.1730), celebrates the "deliverance" of Africa:

Flavio Stilichoni inlustrissimo viro, magistro equitum peditumque, comiti domesticorum, tribuno praetoriano et ab ineunte aetate per gradus clarissimae militiae ad columen gloriae sempiternae et regiae adfinitatis evecto, progenero divi Theodosi, comiti divi Theodosi Augusti in omnibus bellis adqueº victoriis et ab eo in adfinitatem regiam cooptato itemque socero d. n. Honori Augusti Africa consiliis et provisione et liberata.

There is also an inscription to the two Emperors, belonging to some memorial erected by the Senate and Roman people, vindicata rebellione et Africae restitutione laetus; CIL VI.31256. This is the titulus perennis of Claudian, De VI. cons. Hon. 372. Cp. also CIL IX.4051.

58 In Eutrop. I.500 sqq., II.591 sqq.

59 Claudian, In Eutr. I.234‑286. We can read clearly through the jeers and sarcasms of the poet that the martial adventure of Eutropius was a distinct success. It is not proved that he assumed the office and title of a Master of Soldiers, as Birt thinks (Preface, xxxiv); but, however this may be, Birt is certainly wrong in his view that Eutropius ever filled the office of Praetorian Prefect. The expressions of Claudian which he cites (ib. xxx) are far from proving it.

60 In Eutropium liber I (cp. Birt, ib. xl).

61 After this year, the practice was introduced of publishing the eastern and western consuls successively, in each part of the Empire. Simultaneous publication only occurred when the consuls had been fixed before Jan. 1 by special arrangement, as when two Emperors assumed the office together. Mommsen, Hist. Schr. III.367.

62 Socrates, VI.6 στρατηλάτης Ῥωμαίων ἱππικῆς τε καὶ πεζικῆς, i.e. Mag. mil. in praesenti; Philostorgius, XI.8 ὁ στρατηγός, cp. Sozomen, VIII.4 ad init. Cp. Tillemont, Histoire, V. p783.

63 He was there for three years (A.D. 399‑402): Hymns, III.430‑434; he went home during the great earthquake of 402. Epp. 61, p1404. Cp. Seeck, in Philologus 52, p458.

Thayer's Note: A good readable introduction to the Cyrenean bishop, with a selection of his writings, may be found at Livius.Org, and another excellent synopsis of Synesius' life and works is given by the article Synesius of Cyrene in the Catholic Encyclopedia; most, maybe all, of his works are online in English translation at Livius.

64 On the interpretation of the allegory see Sievers, Studien, 387 sqq., Seeck, 442 sqq., and Untergang, V.314 sqq., Mommsen, Hist. Schr. III.292 sqq. Thebes is Constantinople, and the high priest (p1268) is Arcadius. Seeck has endeavoured to prove that Typhos is Caesarius, who succeeded Rufinus as Pr. Prefect of the East in 395 and held that office till 397, in which year he was consul (see laws in C. Th. ed. Mommsen, I. p. clxxv, Philostorgius XI.5). Mommsen has given cogent reasons for rejecting this view. If Typhos is Caesarius, it ought to have been mentioned that he had already held the office of king, but Synesius says (p1217) that he was ταμίας χρημάτων, which would naturally mean comes rei privatae (Seeck interprets it as Praet. Pr., but Synesius describes it as a διάθεσις ἐλάττων), and then apparently a governor of part of the Empire (perhaps a vicarius).

65 P. 1240 ἑαυτῆς κομμώτρια, θεάτρου καὶ ἀγορᾶς ἄπληστος κτλ.

66 Tribigild had visited the capital at the beginning of 399 to pay his respects to Eutropius the new consul, who on this occasion slighted him. It is possible that he arranged the plan of campaign with Gaïnas before he returned to Phrygia. But their complicity may have begun only after the fall of Eutropius.

67 Claudian, In Eutrop. II.153, Ostrogothis colitur mixtisque Gruthungis Phryx ager. Gruthungi is only another name for Ostrogoths.

68 Περὶ βασιλείας, Opera p1053 sqq.

69 cp. Sievers Studien, p379, and Güldenpenning, Gesch. d. oström. Reiches, p106.

70 Ἐκκρῖναι δὲ δεῖ τἀλλότριον, p1089.

71 Zosimus, V.16.

72 Claudian, writing to put him in a ridiculous light, pretends that he was killed by fright — ualuit pro uulnere terror (In Eutr. II.453). Leo was doubtless one of the two Masters of Soldiers in praesenti.

73 Flaccilla, born June 17, 397, and Pulcheria, born Jan. 19, 399 (Chr. Pasch., sub annis). We never hear of Flaccilla again, she probably died in girlhood. The third child, Arcadia, was born April 3, 400; the youngest daughter, Marina, Feb. 11, 403.

74 The fall of Eutropius is recounted by the ecclesiastical historians, and by Zosimus (V.18).

75 Ὀμιλία εἰς Εὐτρόπιον, P.G. 52.391 sqq. Asterius refers to the eunuch's fall in his sermon on the Calends (P.G. 40.225), delivered Jan. 1, 400 (Bauer, Asterios, p21). He mentions the enormous landed property the eunuch had acquired, ἐκτησατο γῆν ὅσην οὐδὲ εἰπεῖν εὔκολον.

76 C. Th. IX.40.17, addressed to Aurelian Pr. Pr., but wrongly dated.

77 The last constitution addressed to Eutychian is dated July 25, 399 (C. Th. IX.40.18), the first to Aurelian, Aug. 27 (ib. II.8.23). This gives limits for the fall of Eutropius, which may be placed in August.— There are many errors in the dates of the laws in C. Th. from 395 to 400. The solution certainly does not lie in Seeck's theory that Caesarius and Eutychian held the Pr. Prefecture conjointly in 396 and 397. The dates of the six laws addressed to Eutychian between Feb. 26, 396 and April 1, 397; as well as that to Caesarius on July 26, 398, are simply false. See above, p128, n2. The succession was Caesarius, Nov. 395 to July or August 397; Eutychian, to July or August 399; Aurelian, Aug. 399 to Oct. 6 at least (C. Th. IV.21; V.1.5); Typhos (no laws); Aurelian again, 400, perhaps continuing to 402, if we accept Seeck's corrections in C. Th. IV.2.1 and V.1.5 of Arc. A. v. (for IIII) et Honor. A. v. (for III) conss., i.e. 402 (for 396); Eutychian again 403‑405. Cp. Seeck and Mommsen, opp. citt.

78 Egyptians, p1245.

79 Synesius describes the intrigues carried on by the wife of Typhos and the wife of Gaïnas, p1245. The Gothic lady is described as a βάρβαρος γραῦς καὶ ἀνόητος.

80 Sozomen, VIII.4; Tillemont, V.461.

81 Tribigild disappears entirely from the scene; he perished soon afterwards.

82 Synesius says they numbered 7000, rather more than one-fifth of the whole army of Gaïnas; which has hence been reckoned by modern writers as 30,000 strong. The number is probably much too high. In any case the church could not have been large enough to hold 7000.

83 These events are related by Synesius, p1261 sqq., Zosimus, V.19, Philostorgius, XI.8, Socrates, VI.6, Sozomen, VIII.4. Socrates had the poems of Eusebius and Ammonius (see below) before him. For date see Chron. Pasch., sub a.

84 From Synesius we know that his tenure of the office was less than a year, p1256: οὐ γὰρ ἐνιαυτοὺς ἀλλὰ μῆνας ἔφη τοὺς εἰμαρτοὺς εἴναι.

85 This seems to be the meaning of Synesius, p12 μετὰ συνθήματος μείζονος. Zosimus, V.18.8, is inaccurate.

86 Zosimus, V.20.2. The article in Suidas, s.v. Φράβιθος, may come from Eunapius (see Müller, F.H.G. IV.49).

87 The Gaïnia of Eusebius (a pupil of Troilus, Aurelian's friend) and a poem of Ammonius (recited in 437), of which two lines are preserved in the Etymologicum genuinum, 588.4 —

ἤδη δ᾽ ὑψιτενής τε Μίμας ὑπελείπετ᾽ ὀπίσσω,
λείπετο δ᾽ ὑψικάρηνον ἕδος Πιμπληϊδος ἄκρης,

which seem to come in the description of a voyage along the coast of Asia Minor.

88 See Strzygowski, in Jahrb. des kais. arch. Instituts, VIII.203 sqq. (1893); C. Gurlitt, Antike Denkmalsäulen in Konstantinopel (1909).

89 De cons. Stil. III.130‑160.

90 The weak point in these verses is the monotonous succession of the verb at the end of each line.

91 Claudian, B. G. 265. Cp. Censorinus, De die natali, XVII.36, ed. Hultsch.

92 Claudian, ib. 243 sqq. The comet is also referred to by eastern writers (e.g. Socrates, VI.6), and its appearance is recorded in Chinese annals. In the same passage, 233 sqq., are mentioned the eclipses which occurred in Dec. 17, 400, June 12 and Dec. 6, 401.

93 Seeck, Untergang, V.329.

94 A fine consular diptych is preserved in the Cathedral of Monza, which is probably Stilicho's (whether to be associated with his first consulship in 400 or with his second in 405). The consul is represented on the left leaf, a bearded man standing with a lance in his left hand. On the right leaf is a lady (Serena) with pearl earrings and a necklace, and an oriental turban like a wig (we see similar coiffures on coins), holding a boy (Eucherius) by the hand. See Molinier, Cat. des ivoires. The robe of state (trabea) which Stilicho wears is embroidered with pictures of his wife and son, according to the custom of the time, and it is interesting to find that Claudian in his De cons. Stil. describes such a trabea, on which scenes of Stilicho's family life (including the birth of Maria, Eucherius practising horsemanship) were represented (III.340 sqq.). A good reproduction will be found in the Album (vol. I pl. 1) to the Histoire des art indust. of Labarte, who thought that it was a diptych of Aetius, with Placidia and Valentinian III. It was the custom for the consul of the year to present to senators these ivory diptychs (two pieces of ivory joined by hinges), to commemorate his year of office. They were generally inscribed with the consul's name and titles, and many specimens of them have survived from the fifth and sixth centuries.

Thayer's Note: Several photographs of the famous diptych are online, among which these have informative pages that look fairly permanent: Circolo Sardegna di Brienza. In view of the transience of webpages, however, this link may be useful as well.

Notice that Bury seems to have described a mirror image of the diptych; either that, or all the photographs of it online are reversed — which is not as improbable as it sounds since they likely derive from one or two originals. I have not seen the actual object and cannot vouch for it either way, but since it was normal to hold the lance with the right arm and the shield with the left, I suspect the mistake is Bury's. (Amusingly, for those of you who did what I did and looked at your Britannica, my copy — of the notoriously substandard Fifteenth Edition — agrees with the Web photos, but then goes on to caption it as being of ebony, a clear mistake, almost certainly springing from a mistranslation of the original Alinari caption: eburneo in Italian means of ivory, not ebony. Never, ever trust anything you read.)

95 CIL VI.1710, from which we learn that Claudian was a tribunus et notarius. A distich in Greek is appended to the inscription:

εἰν ἑνὶ Βιργιλίοιο νόον καὶ μοῦσαν Ὀμήρου,

Κλαυδιανὸν Ῥώμη καὶ βασιλῆς ἔθεσαν.

Thayer's Note: For a full transcription and translation of the inscription, and a link to a photograph, see Maurice Platnauer's introduction to the Loeb edition of Claudian (note 5).


Thayer's Note:

a The occurrence of two eclipses in a European year is so frequent as not to elicit mention; but three, while a perfectly normal event, is a rare one, recurring every few hundred years. For details, see NASA's page (by Fred Espenak) on the Saros cycle. For an example of modern superstition along these lines, however, see What Do Muslims Believe In? where the apparently erroneous statement that three eclipses are not possible in a year is in fact correct, since by year is meant the Moslem lunar year, in which, essentially by definition, the third eclipse of any possible tight series of three will be in the following year, on the (lunar) anniversary of the first.

Page updated: 17 Mar 12