Arcadius Eastern Roman Emperor

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Flavius Arcadius, Eastern Roman Emperor

Greek: Αρκάδιος, Eastern Roman Emperor
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Cauca,Gallaecia,,Spain
Death: Died in Rome,,,Italy
Place of Burial: Igreja dos Santos Apóstolos, Constantinopla (Bizâncio)
Immediate Family:

Son of Theodosius I "the Great", Roman Emperor and Aelia Flavia Flaccilla Augusta
Husband of Aelia Eudoxia Augusta
Father of Saint Aelia Pulcheria Augusta; Theodosius II, Eastern Roman Emperor; Flavia Marina .; Flaccilla and Arcadia
Brother of Pulcheria Augusta and Honorius, Western Roman Emperor
Half brother of Aelia Galla Placidia Augusta; Gratianus and Ióannés

Occupation: Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (395-408)
Managed by: Henn Sarv
Last Updated:

About Arcadius Eastern Roman Emperor

Arcadius (395-408 A.D.)

Geoffrey S. Nathan

University of California at Los Angeles

Introduction and Early Life

The ineffectual life and reign of Flavius Arcadius are of considerably less importance than the quite significant developments that occurred during his reign. Born either in 377 or 378 to then general Theodosius and Aelia Flavia Flacilla, he and his younger brother, Honorius , ruled the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire respectively from 395.

Shortly after his birth, his father was raised to the imperial purple in 379. Events in Illyricum with the massive influx of Ostrogothic and Visigothic peoples had resulted in the defeat of the Roman army and the death of the emperor, Valens .Theodosius' first task was to confront the Visigoths who had been ravaging the Balkans. Perhaps in the wake of this difficult and almost insurmountable task, the emperor wanted to insure that his infant son would bear some legitimacy should he die on campaign. Whatever the reason, Arcadius was proclaimed Augustus in January of 383 at the age of five or six. In the following year, his younger brother was born and it seems as if Theodosius initially had been interested in preserving the theoretical position of his elder son. While Arcadius enjoyed the status of Augustus, Honorius only achieved the office of consul posterior in 386. Perhaps the eastern emperor had wanted to avoid the possible conflicts that arose earlier in the century with the family of Constantine . Recent events in the west with the assassination of Gratian by Magnus Maximus may have also played a part: Theodosius initially had to leave the murder of his imperial colleague unavenged and leave the boy- emperor, Valentinian II , largely undefended. The profusion of emperors may well have been seen by Theodosius as kindling for civil war. His own autocratic tendencies may have also meant that he saw only one possible successor for himself.

Nevertheless, Theodosius gave Arcadius very little independence in early life. When he went to campaign against Magnus in the late 380's, he placed his son under the Praetorian Prefect of the East, Tatian, who was the de facto emperor in Theodosius' absence. This began a long series of regencies for Arcadius. The strength of Tatian's position with the eastern governing class made the office of Praetorian Prefect all the more powerful in Constantinople, which in turn made it easier to dominate future emperors. When Theodosius replaced Tatian with the more malleable and more ambitious Rufinus in 392, he had appointed a minister who would centralize even greater authority under the prefecture.

By 393, the emperor's situation had changed radically. When events in the west demanded his attention again, Theodosius was in a much stronger position. The ascendancy of the general, Arbogast, and his own puppet emperor, Eugenius , in the west provided Theodosius an opportunity and, indeed, the obligation to take full control of the Empire. The chance for having his own two sons ruling both halves of Rome not only seemed practical and feasible, but such an arrangement would establish himself as the head of a new dynasty. With thoughts in that direction, Honorius was made Augustus in 393 and accompanied his father west in the summer of 394. Arcadius, although near his majority, was nevertheless placed again under the guardianship ( epitropos ) of the Prefect of the East. In January of 395, Theodosius the Great died and his two sons took theoretical control of the two halves of the Roman Empire.

Early Reign and the Dominance of Rufinus and Eutropius (395-399)

Arcadius was eighteen when he assumed the throne in the east. We do not know whether or not he was ready for the responsibilities. During the mid-380's, the young emperor had been educated in part by Themistius, a famous pagan statesman, philosopher, and speaker. In what way he affected Arcadius is impossible to say, but surely his teachings must have included statecraft. Perhaps because of this influence, the new emperor's attempt to establish himself as an independent force can be seen in a series of laws passed at his accession. In contrast to trying to create a military image for himself, which would not be allowed either by Rufinus or by the eastern court, he attempted to portray himself as a pious Christian emperor. He enacted several comprehensive laws against heresy and paganism.

This was not necessarily an ineffectual strategy. By celebrating his religious piety, he expressed his power in the only way available to an emperor largely controlled by his ministers. He also perhaps sought to gain support and power from the local governing and religious hierarchies in Constantinople. Arcadius also perhaps thought that he was carrying on in the tradition of his father and so, by extension, might share in some of his glory. Rufinus in contrast wanted to tie himself to the emperor through a marriage connection to his daughter. But in April of 395, Arcadius had taken advantage of the Prefect's temporary absence to marry Aelia Eudoxia , whose guardian, the general, Promotus, had been a bitter enemy of Rufinus. Arcadius had been aided in this move by his own grand chamberlain ( praepositus sacri cubiculi ), Eutropius, and it perhaps indicated the degree to which he wanted to be free of any regent.

But in reality, Arcadius gained little if any power. Rufinus assumed full control of the east, and the Vandal Stilicho, Theodosius' closest advisor and general, took control of Honorius in the west. The tension between east and west quickly grew when Stilicho, in command of all the eastern and western armies, tried to press his guardianship over Arcadius as well. Moreover, there was considerable resentment against Rufinus in the east for using his office to greatly enrich himself and perhaps, too, because he was a westerner. Rufinus, understanding the perils around him, acted quickly. He had Arcadius demand the return of the eastern armies at once. Stilicho acquiesced, perhaps because the general was basing his claim of guardianship on his own legitimacy: to have taken control of the east and Arcadius by force would have undermined his position there and perhaps in the west. The soldiers returned under the command of the Gothic general, Gainas. With the control of the field army, it seemed as if Rufinus was going to be more thoroughly in control of the east and over Arcadius.

He did not long enjoy his victory. When Arcadius and Rufinus came to greet the armies at Hebdoman near Constantinople in November of 395, the soldiers turned on the Praetorian Prefect and cut him down in front of the emperor. Whether Stilicho instigated the assassination is a matter of some debate, but if he did, he received no benefit from it. The armies remained and Arcadius soon fell under the sway of other ministers. Nevertheless, despite the shock and fear Arcadius may have felt at witnessing such a brutal murder, he probably missed Rufinus' presence not at all and even thought it might provide an opportunity to assert his own authority. For the bureaucracy, the death meant that maintaining civilian control over the army was paramount to their own survival.

Soon thereafter, Eutropius assumed Rufinus' place in dominating Arcadius. Since the grand chamberlain could control access to the emperor and commanded the powerful palace bureaucracy, he was well-placed to dictate what and whom the emperor saw and heard. Military officers--frequently Germanic--who dominated the western government, were held suspect by fearful and jealous civil administrators in Constantinople. Eutropius used that fear to his advantage and froze out any access they may have had to the circles of power. His decision to effectively eliminate the military's input in decision-making would eventually lead to his demise.

It is difficult to determine how popular Eutropius was either with Arcadius or with the wider population. As a eunuch and a former slave, the sources generally portray him very negatively. He nevertheless seems to have enjoyed some support from the emperor, likely aided by Eudoxia with whom the grand chamberlain had close ties. The emperor happily took annual vacations in Galatia, apparently upon the Eutropius' suggestion. Moreover, the chamberlain showed great personal courage and talent in leading a campaign against invading Huns in 397/8, for which he won the consulship and the rank of patrician in the following year of 399. He also seems to have gained considerable support from the local clergy by procuring the patriarchate of Constantinople in 398 for John Chrysostom.

Despite Eutropius' rise to power, however, eastern policy changed little. The religious policies of Theodosius and Arcadius continued, including the forced closure of pagan temples in Gaza. More significantly, tension between the two halves of the empire persisted as Stilicho continued to press for his position as guardian. Although Stilicho led periodic raids into Greece and Thrace to attack the new Visigothic king, Alaric, his victories were incomplete and were more likely meant to keep the Germanic people out of western territory. This meant, among other things, that the Visigoths were an enduring problem for the east. Eutropius in turn supported the revolt of the Count Gildo in Africa, which was under western control, in an attempt to destabilize Stilicho's control and further eastern domains.

The failure of the revolt in 398 was the first step in Eutropius' downfall. The decision to exclude the military men of the period, particularly among the growing importance of Germanic officers, created a dangerous situation. By 399, the dissatisfaction with east-west affairs and the Gildo fiasco resulted in a revolt by the Gothic count, Tribigild. He was apparently in collusion with Gainas, who had taken advantage of the crisis to be named chief general in the east ( magister utriusque militiae ). Gainas quickly reached an agreement with the rebel and part of the settlement was the dismissal of Eutropius, to which Arcadius--at Eudoxia 's urging--agreed. The chamberlain took refuge in the Hagia Sophia, and was exiled to Cyprus. But shortly thereafter, in the autumn of 399, Eutropius was recalled, tried and executed in Chalcedon.

The Age of Eudoxia (400-404)

The death of Eutropius precipitated a serious crisis. Gainas, who had wanted high office for years, now tried to force the hand of Arcadius. Having come to a quick resolution with Tribigild, he moved from Thrace towards Constantinople in 400. With the Germanic troops supporting him, Gainas tried for six months to initiate his own primacy-- including seizing the imperial palace--but which failed. He was forced to withdraw personally from the city to regroup and planned to use his troops remaining there to seize the entire city. But they were slaughtered by the inhabitiants and he fled first to Thrace and then to Asia. Eventually Gainas was killed by the Huns later in that year. His attempted coup ensured that Germanic officers would never again be trusted by the eastern government and would forever be kept out of any important decision-making roles.

The likely successor to Eutropius had been the anti-Germanic leader, Aurelianus, who had succeeded to the Prefecture of the East in 399. But Gainas had exiled him, having forced Arcadius to hand him over, and although Aurelianus returned triumphantly after Gainas' departure, he appears to have lost his hold over the emperor. In the meantime, Aelia Eudoxia had done much to forward her own place in the government. In January of 400, she had been named Augusta, a singular distinction offered to only three other women in the previous century. Her position thus gained a semi-official legitimacy afforded to very few Roman empresses. It has been assumed that because of her beauty, her intelligence, and her fecundity (she bore Arcadius five children), she was able to assert her influence to a point where she was the new power behind the throne.

That assessment, while held by many scholars, is not entirely accurate. While there were several events in which she played a crucial part, they were not terribly important moments during Arcadius' reign. But because Eudoxia was enormously wealthy, because she delivered a male heir in 401, and because she was involved in a highly publicized and drawn out political fight with John Chrysostom, this belief that there was an assumption of power is based more on the notoriety of her acts than on actual control. The fact that there was no one clearly dominating the government nor the emperor during this time implies perhaps that Arcadius had more power during these five years of his reign than at any other time.

There are several indications that he did try to improve and assert his own position. The emperor and his court immediately came to some understanding with the west. The east at the very least gave Honorius and Stilicho moral support in their increasing problems with Alaric. In 402, the feeling of goodwill was sealed by a joint consulship between Arcadius and his brother. The emperor also sought to establish his own military prowess and Christian piety with the erection of a column set up in the Hippodrome of Constantinople in 402/3. The column depicted his military victory over Gainas, crowned with a capital emblazoned with the Greek letters chi-rho, symbolizing his devotion to Christ. Arcadius' son, Theodosius II , was born in 401, and was quickly made Augustus at the age of eight months. The eastern ruler was thus interested in assuring his own dynasty.

In all these things, the emperor was largely successful, but they were largely overshadowed by the feud between his empress and the bishop of Constantinople. Eudoxia had already shown herself able in pushing her interests during the baptism of her son. The Bishop of Constantinople, however, was a much tougher opponent than her husband. John Chrysostom, a strong believer in social justice, had boorishly attacked Eudoxia and many of her friends for the conspicuous luxury in which they lived and displayed themselves. At the height of these attacks, John compared the empress to Jezebel. Eudoxia in turn used her considerable influence to inflame hostility among the clergy against the bishop. Working through Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, in 403 Chrysostom was deposed and forced into exile at a Church council convened by the emperor (the Synod of the Oak at Chalcedon). However, there was soon such turmoil and uproar in the imperial city that the bishop was recalled a few days later. But the public feuding between Eudoxia and Chrysostom continued until at last she had him banished again in 404, this time permanently. Among other things, it caused a breach between Arcadius and his brother, who had, with Pope Innocent I, tried to support Chrysostom.

Eudoxia's victory was short-lived, however. In October of 404, the Augusta died of a miscarriage. Her death was seen by some as retribution for dismissing John. Whatever the reason, her end also signaled a complete retreat into the background by the emperor and no further initiatives seem to have been pushed by the 27-year-old Augustus.

The Final Years: Anthemius and Death (404-408)

The last years of Arcadius' reign were completely dominated by his Praetorian Prefect of the East, Anthemius. It was perhaps fitting that when the emperor seems to have been most retiring, the most able and energetic of his high ministers came to power. Anthemius worked hard to solve a series of governmental abuses, continue to push for Christianization, and secure the east from attack.

Anthemius first seems to have tried to reconcile with the west, so much so that there was a joint consulship between Anthemius and Stilicho in 405. This might have also been meant to symbolize the Prefect's new dominance, however. Additionally, a number of new laws were passed, curtailing paganism, Judaism and heresy. He tried to make use of the continuing problem of incoming Germanic peoples to combat the Isaurian tribes which had been plaguing Asia Minor since 403. While it failed to halt either group's incursions, it was nevertheless a practical and intelligent strategy. As a means of protecting the imperial capital, Anthemius also strengthened the walls around Constantinople. Our records for the last years of Arcadius' rule are quite spotty, but the emperor himself seems to have completely vanished, even symbolically, from the political scene.

In May of 408, Flavius Arcadius died at the age of 31 of unknown causes. Our only physical description of Arcadius is heavily influenced by the generally low regard in which he was held. The emperor was supposedly short, thin and dark-complected. A more kindly correspondent described him as good-natured and temperate. His son succeeded him without any controversy and the government remained unchanged. Arcadius thus left the world much as he entered it: without much significance and overshadowed by more powerful forces.

Assessment

Despite the ineffectual nature of Arcadius and his rule, a number of significant changes occurred during his stewardship of the eastern empire. His inability to forcefully or at least effectively govern meant that there were few consistent or long-range goals of his administration. With the exception of trying to emphasize the emperor's piety, an important development in the history of the Byzantine monarchy, Arcadius and his ministers were for the most part simply reacting to events.

The emperor became an even more remote figure to the general public. Even in the capital city itself, he was rarely seen: we read in one account that people came running to see the emperor for the first time when he happened to be praying in a local church. A series of "orientalizing" court practices no doubt continued in order to emphasize the symbolic separation of the emperor from the rest of society. The hieratic, almost semi- divine nature of the imperial person, also became a feature of the eastern ruler.

Perhaps of greatest importance was the political and cultural split between east and west. With the death of Theodosius, the two halves of the Roman Empire increasingly went their separate ways. For the most part, the west was thrown back upon its own resources, unable to deal with the problems of the fifth century. The east proved more compact and more resilient: it largely weathered the political storms from without and within.

Moreover, Constantinople fully became the imperial capital of the east, a Roma nova. The emperor rarely left the city and the palace officials became more influential than many of the more theoretically important ministers outside the city. Constantinople was also made an archepiscopate and Chrysostom and others started to push strongly for its primacy in the east. Both public and private building projects beautified and enlarged the city. Under Arcadius' reign, it truly became the second city of the Roman Empire.

Finally, the hard stance against Germanic officers in Roman government became a central feature in the east. While the reasons for this development were inspired largely out of fear and perhaps racism, the eastern Roman Empire did manage to avoid the largely detrimental succession of Germanic generalissimos who controlled the west in the fifth century. It also encouraged the eastern rulers in the following century to take hard lines against other peoples, including the Isaurians, the Huns and the Persians. Taken in all, the era of Arcadius was far more important than Arcadius himself. He perhaps had his father's pretensions, but none of the skills or powers necessary to leave his mark on the Empire.

Sources and Bibliography

There are a number of sources that treat the age of Arcadius. The historians Zosimus ( New History ), Socrates ( Ecclesiastical History ) and Sozomon ( Ecclesiastical History ) offer the most complete accounts. Additionally, Bishop Synesius of Cyrene in letters and other works ( On the Kingship and On Providence ) specifically addresses a number of the problems and issues going on in Constantinople and the imperial court at that time. The letters and homilies of John Chrysostom are also of enormous value and tell us more about the social history of the capital than any other source. Minor accounts include the Chronicon Paschale and the Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes . Several important saints' lives, including the Life of Porphyry , provide valuable information about events outside the capital. Finally, for the military and political organization of the Roman Empire, the Notitia Dignitatum offers a static look at the early fifth century.

Cameron, Alan, and Long, Jacqueline (1993) Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley).

Demougeot, Emilienne (1951), De l'unité‚ … la division de l'empire romain, 395-410: Essai sur la government impérial (Paris).

Holum, Kenneth (1982), Theodosian Empresses (Berkeley).

Jones, A.H.M. et al. (1970), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire , vol. 1 (Cambridge).

Liebeschuetz, J.H.W.G. (1991), Barbarians and Bishops. Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford).

Martindale, J.R. (1980), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire , vol. 2 (Cambridge).

Seeck, Otto (1896), "Arcadius," in RE , v. 2 (Berlin), 1137-53.

Van Ommeslaeghe, F. (1979) "Jean Chrysostome en conflit avec l'impératrice Eudoxie," Analecta Bollandiana 97, 131-59.

Copyright (C) 1998, Geoffrey S. Nathan. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Spouses

1Aelia Eudoxia

Birthabt 380

Death6 Oct 404

FatherBauto General of the Franks

MarriageApr 395

ChildrenTheodosius II (401-450)

--------------------

ID: I21142

Name: Flavius Arcadius I of Eastern Roman Empire

Prefix: Emperor

Given Name: Flavius Arcadius I

Surname: of Eastern Roman Empire

Sex: M

_UID: ECD7FF26AD49D811BE490080C8C142CCE5A3

Change Date: 13 Nov 2004

Note:

Flavius Arcadius (377/378 - May 1, 408) was a Roman Emperor (ruled 395 - 408 AD) in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire.

He was the elder son of Theodosius I and Flacilla, and brother of Honorius, who was emperor of the Western half of the empire. Honorius was under the control of Flavius Stilicho while Arcadius was dominated by Rufinus. Stilicho wanted to control both emperors, and had Rufinus assassinated in 395, but Arcadius' new advisor Eutropius simply took Rufinus' place. Arcadius was also dominated by his wife Eudoxia, who convinced her husband to dismiss Eutropius in 399. Eudoxia was strongly opposed by John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who felt that she had used her family's wealth to gain control over the emperor. Eudoxia used her influence to have Chrysostom deposed in 404, but she died later that year.

Arcadius was dominated for the rest of his rule by Anthemius, the Praetorian Prefect, who made peace with Stilicho in the West. Arcadius himself was more concerned with appearing to be a pious Christian than he was with political or military matters, and he died, only nominally in control of his empire, in 408.

Birth: ABT 377 in Cauca, Gallaccia, Spain

Death: MAY 408 in Rome, Italy

Father: Theodosius I of Rome b: 11 JAN 346/47 in Cauca, Gallaccia, Spain

Mother: Aelia Flacila of Spanish Roman Empire b: 355 in Spain

Marriage 1 Aelia Eudoxia of Eastern Roman Empire b: ABT 380 in Frankish Gaul

Married:

Children

Theodosius II of Eastern Roman Empire b: 10 APR 401 in Constantinople, Byzantine Empire
Aelia Pulcheria of Eastern Roman Empire b: 19 JAN 398

Forrás / Source:

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=jdp-fam&id=I21142

Flavius Arcadius bizánci császár

A Wikipédiából, a szabad enciklopédiából.

Flavius Arcadius (uralkodott 395–408. május 1.) a Keletrómai Birodalom első császára, I. (Nagy) Theodosius és Flacilla idősebbik fia, Honorius nyugatrómai császár bátyja volt.

...

Kegyencek bábja [szerkesztés]

Valahol Hispaniában született 383-ban.

...

Gyermekei [szerkesztés]

Aelia Eudoxiától (†404. október 6.) 2 gyermeke született:

-1. II. Theodosius császár

-2. Pulcheria (*399. január 19.; †453)

Forrás / Source:

http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavius_Arcadius_biz%C3%A1nci_cs%C3%A1sz%C3%A1r

Arcadius

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

For other uses, see Arcadius (disambiguation).

Flavius Arcadius (377/378–1 May 408) was Byzantine Emperor in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire from 395 until his death.

Reign January 383 - 395 (Augustus under his father);

395 - 1 May 408 (emperor in the east, with his brother Honorius emperor in the west)

Predecessor Theodosius I

Successor Theodosius II

Spouse Aelia Eudoxia

Issue

-1. Theodosius II

-2. Pulcheria

Full name Flavius Arcadius (from birth to accession);

Flavius Arcadius Augustus (as emperor)

Father Theodosius I

Mother Aelia Flaccilla

Born 377/8 Spain

Died 1 May 408 (aged 30 or 31)

Forrás / Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcadius

--------------------

The ineffectual life and reign of Flavius Arcadius are of considerably less importance than the quite significant developments that occurred during his reign. Born either in 377 or 378 to then general Theodosius and Aelia Flavia Flacilla, he and his younger brother, Honorius , ruled the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire respectively from 395.

Shortly after his birth, his father was raised to the imperial purple in 379. Events in Illyricum with the massive influx of Ostrogothic and Visigothic peoples had resulted in the defeat of the Roman army and the death of the emperor, Valens .Theodosius' first task was to confront the Visigoths who had been ravaging the Balkans. Perhaps in the wake of this difficult and almost insurmountable task, the emperor wanted to insure that his infant son would bear some legitimacy should he die on campaign. Whatever the reason, Arcadius was proclaimed Augustus in January of 383 at the age of five or six. In the following year, his younger brother was born and it seems as if Theodosius initially had been interested in preserving the theoretical position of his elder son. While Arcadius enjoyed the status of Augustus, Honorius only achieved the office of consul posterior in 386. Perhaps the eastern emperor had wanted to avoid the possible conflicts that arose earlier in the century with the family of Constantine . Recent events in the west with the assassination of Gratian by Magnus Maximus may have also played a part: Theodosius initially had to leave the murder of his imperial colleague unavenged and leave the boy- emperor, Valentinian II , largely undefended. The profusion of emperors may well have been seen by Theodosius as kindling for civil war. His own autocratic tendencies may have also meant that he saw only one possible successor for himself.

Nevertheless, Theodosius gave Arcadius very little independence in early life. When he went to campaign against Magnus in the late 380's, he placed his son under the Praetorian Prefect of the East, Tatian, who was the de facto emperor in Theodosius' absence. This began a long series of regencies for Arcadius. The strength of Tatian's position with the eastern governing class made the office of Praetorian Prefect all the more powerful in Constantinople, which in turn made it easier to dominate future emperors. When Theodosius replaced Tatian with the more malleable and more ambitious Rufinus in 392, he had appointed a minister who would centralize even greater authority under the prefecture.

By 393, the emperor's situation had changed radically. When events in the west demanded his attention again, Theodosius was in a much stronger position. The ascendancy of the general, Arbogast, and his own puppet emperor, Eugenius , in the west provided Theodosius an opportunity and, indeed, the obligation to take full control of the Empire. The chance for having his own two sons ruling both halves of Rome not only seemed practical and feasible, but such an arrangement would establish himself as the head of a new dynasty. With thoughts in that direction, Honorius was made Augustus in 393 and accompanied his father west in the summer of 394. Arcadius, although near his majority, was nevertheless placed again under the guardianship ( epitropos ) of the Prefect of the East. In January of 395, Theodosius the Great died and his two sons took theoretical control of the two halves of the Roman Empire.

Early Reign and the Dominance of Rufinus and Eutropius (395-399)

Arcadius was eighteen when he assumed the throne in the east. We do not know whether or not he was ready for the responsibilities. During the mid-380's, the young emperor had been educated in part by Themistius, a famous pagan statesman, philosopher, and speaker. In what way he affected Arcadius is impossible to say, but surely his teachings must have included statecraft. Perhaps because of this influence, the new emperor's attempt to establish himself as an independent force can be seen in a series of laws passed at his accession. In contrast to trying to create a military image for himself, which would not be allowed either by Rufinus or by the eastern court, he attempted to portray himself as a pious Christian emperor. He enacted several comprehensive laws against heresy and paganism.

This was not necessarily an ineffectual strategy. By celebrating his religious piety, he expressed his power in the only way available to an emperor largely controlled by his ministers. He also perhaps sought to gain support and power from the local governing and religious hierarchies in Constantinople. Arcadius also perhaps thought that he was carrying on in the tradition of his father and so, by extension, might share in some of his glory. Rufinus in contrast wanted to tie himself to the emperor through a marriage connection to his daughter. But in April of 395, Arcadius had taken advantage of the Prefect's temporary absence to marry Aelia Eudoxia , whose guardian, the general, Promotus, had been a bitter enemy of Rufinus. Arcadius had been aided in this move by his own grand chamberlain ( praepositus sacri cubiculi ), Eutropius, and it perhaps indicated the degree to which he wanted to be free of any regent.

But in reality, Arcadius gained little if any power. Rufinus assumed full control of the east, and the Vandal Stilicho, Theodosius' closest advisor and general, took control of Honorius in the west. The tension between east and west quickly grew when Stilicho, in command of all the eastern and western armies, tried to press his guardianship over Arcadius as well. Moreover, there was considerable resentment against Rufinus in the east for using his office to greatly enrich himself and perhaps, too, because he was a westerner. Rufinus, understanding the perils around him, acted quickly. He had Arcadius demand the return of the eastern armies at once. Stilicho acquiesced, perhaps because the general was basing his claim of guardianship on his own legitimacy: to have taken control of the east and Arcadius by force would have undermined his position there and perhaps in the west. The soldiers returned under the command of the Gothic general, Gainas. With the control of the field army, it seemed as if Rufinus was going to be more thoroughly in control of the east and over Arcadius.

He did not long enjoy his victory. When Arcadius and Rufinus came to greet the armies at Hebdoman near Constantinople in November of 395, the soldiers turned on the Praetorian Prefect and cut him down in front of the emperor. Whether Stilicho instigated the assassination is a matter of some debate, but if he did, he received no benefit from it. The armies remained and Arcadius soon fell under the sway of other ministers. Nevertheless, despite the shock and fear Arcadius may have felt at witnessing such a brutal murder, he probably missed Rufinus' presence not at all and even thought it might provide an opportunity to assert his own authority. For the bureaucracy, the death meant that maintaining civilian control over the army was paramount to their own survival.

Soon thereafter, Eutropius assumed Rufinus' place in dominating Arcadius. Since the grand chamberlain could control access to the emperor and commanded the powerful palace bureaucracy, he was well-placed to dictate what and whom the emperor saw and heard. Military officers--frequently Germanic--who dominated the western government, were held suspect by fearful and jealous civil administrators in Constantinople. Eutropius used that fear to his advantage and froze out any access they may have had to the circles of power. His decision to effectively eliminate the military's input in decision-making would eventually lead to his demise.

It is difficult to determine how popular Eutropius was either with Arcadius or with the wider population. As a eunuch and a former slave, the sources generally portray him very negatively. He nevertheless seems to have enjoyed some support from the emperor, likely aided by Eudoxia with whom the grand chamberlain had close ties. The emperor happily took annual vacations in Galatia, apparently upon the Eutropius' suggestion. Moreover, the chamberlain showed great personal courage and talent in leading a campaign against invading Huns in 397/8, for which he won the consulship and the rank of patrician in the following year of 399. He also seems to have gained considerable support from the local clergy by procuring the patriarchate of Constantinople in 398 for John Chrysostom.

Despite Eutropius' rise to power, however, eastern policy changed little. The religious policies of Theodosius and Arcadius continued, including the forced closure of pagan temples in Gaza. More significantly, tension between the two halves of the empire persisted as Stilicho continued to press for his position as guardian. Although Stilicho led periodic raids into Greece and Thrace to attack the new Visigothic king, Alaric, his victories were incomplete and were more likely meant to keep the Germanic people out of western territory. This meant, among other things, that the Visigoths were an enduring problem for the east. Eutropius in turn supported the revolt of the Count Gildo in Africa, which was under western control, in an attempt to destabilize Stilicho's control and further eastern domains.

The failure of the revolt in 398 was the first step in Eutropius' downfall. The decision to exclude the military men of the period, particularly among the growing importance of Germanic officers, created a dangerous situation. By 399, the dissatisfaction with east-west affairs and the Gildo fiasco resulted in a revolt by the Gothic count, Tribigild. He was apparently in collusion with Gainas, who had taken advantage of the crisis to be named chief general in the east ( magister utriusque militiae ). Gainas quickly reached an agreement with the rebel and part of the settlement was the dismissal of Eutropius, to which Arcadius--at Eudoxia 's urging--agreed. The chamberlain took refuge in the Hagia Sophia, and was exiled to Cyprus. But shortly thereafter, in the autumn of 399, Eutropius was recalled, tried and executed in Chalcedon.

The Age of Eudoxia (400-404)

The death of Eutropius precipitated a serious crisis. Gainas, who had wanted high office for years, now tried to force the hand of Arcadius. Having come to a quick resolution with Tribigild, he moved from Thrace towards Constantinople in 400. With the Germanic troops supporting him, Gainas tried for six months to initiate his own primacy-- including seizing the imperial palace--but which failed. He was forced to withdraw personally from the city to regroup and planned to use his troops remaining there to seize the entire city. But they were slaughtered by the inhabitiants and he fled first to Thrace and then to Asia. Eventually Gainas was killed by the Huns later in that year. His attempted coup ensured that Germanic officers would never again be trusted by the eastern government and would forever be kept out of any important decision-making roles.

The likely successor to Eutropius had been the anti-Germanic leader, Aurelianus, who had succeeded to the Prefecture of the East in 399. But Gainas had exiled him, having forced Arcadius to hand him over, and although Aurelianus returned triumphantly after Gainas' departure, he appears to have lost his hold over the emperor. In the meantime, Aelia Eudoxia had done much to forward her own place in the government. In January of 400, she had been named Augusta, a singular distinction offered to only three other women in the previous century. Her position thus gained a semi-official legitimacy afforded to very few Roman empresses. It has been assumed that because of her beauty, her intelligence, and her fecundity (she bore Arcadius five children), she was able to assert her influence to a point where she was the new power behind the throne.

That assessment, while held by many scholars, is not entirely accurate. While there were several events in which she played a crucial part, they were not terribly important moments during Arcadius' reign. But because Eudoxia was enormously wealthy, because she delivered a male heir in 401, and because she was involved in a highly publicized and drawn out political fight with John Chrysostom, this belief that there was an assumption of power is based more on the notoriety of her acts than on actual control. The fact that there was no one clearly dominating the government nor the emperor during this time implies perhaps that Arcadius had more power during these five years of his reign than at any other time.

There are several indications that he did try to improve and assert his own position. The emperor and his court immediately came to some understanding with the west. The east at the very least gave Honorius and Stilicho moral support in their increasing problems with Alaric. In 402, the feeling of goodwill was sealed by a joint consulship between Arcadius and his brother. The emperor also sought to establish his own military prowess and Christian piety with the erection of a column set up in the Hippodrome of Constantinople in 402/3. The column depicted his military victory over Gainas, crowned with a capital emblazoned with the Greek letters chi-rho, symbolizing his devotion to Christ. Arcadius' son, Theodosius II , was born in 401, and was quickly made Augustus at the age of eight months. The eastern ruler was thus interested in assuring his own dynasty.

In all these things, the emperor was largely successful, but they were largely overshadowed by the feud between his empress and the bishop of Constantinople. Eudoxia had already shown herself able in pushing her interests during the baptism of her son. The Bishop of Constantinople, however, was a much tougher opponent than her husband. John Chrysostom, a strong believer in social justice, had boorishly attacked Eudoxia and many of her friends for the conspicuous luxury in which they lived and displayed themselves. At the height of these attacks, John compared the empress to Jezebel. Eudoxia in turn used her considerable influence to inflame hostility among the clergy against the bishop. Working through Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, in 403 Chrysostom was deposed and forced into exile at a Church council convened by the emperor (the Synod of the Oak at Chalcedon). However, there was soon such turmoil and uproar in the imperial city that the bishop was recalled a few days later. But the public feuding between Eudoxia and Chrysostom continued until at last she had him banished again in 404, this time permanently. Among other things, it caused a breach between Arcadius and his brother, who had, with Pope Innocent I, tried to support Chrysostom.

Eudoxia's victory was short-lived, however. In October of 404, the Augusta died of a miscarriage. Her death was seen by some as retribution for dismissing John. Whatever the reason, her end also signaled a complete retreat into the background by the emperor and no further initiatives seem to have been pushed by the 27-year-old Augustus.

The Final Years: Anthemius and Death (404-408)

The last years of Arcadius' reign were completely dominated by his Praetorian Prefect of the East, Anthemius. It was perhaps fitting that when the emperor seems to have been most retiring, the most able and energetic of his high ministers came to power. Anthemius worked hard to solve a series of governmental abuses, continue to push for Christianization, and secure the east from attack.

Anthemius first seems to have tried to reconcile with the west, so much so that there was a joint consulship between Anthemius and Stilicho in 405. This might have also been meant to symbolize the Prefect's new dominance, however. Additionally, a number of new laws were passed, curtailing paganism, Judaism and heresy. He tried to make use of the continuing problem of incoming Germanic peoples to combat the Isaurian tribes which had been plaguing Asia Minor since 403. While it failed to halt either group's incursions, it was nevertheless a practical and intelligent strategy. As a means of protecting the imperial capital, Anthemius also strengthened the walls around Constantinople. Our records for the last years of Arcadius' rule are quite spotty, but the emperor himself seems to have completely vanished, even symbolically, from the political scene.

In May of 408, Flavius Arcadius died at the age of 31 of unknown causes. Our only physical description of Arcadius is heavily influenced by the generally low regard in which he was held. The emperor was supposedly short, thin and dark-complected. A more kindly correspondent described him as good-natured and temperate. His son succeeded him without any controversy and the government remained unchanged. Arcadius thus left the world much as he entered it: without much significance and overshadowed by more powerful forces.

Assessment

Despite the ineffectual nature of Arcadius and his rule, a number of significant changes occurred during his stewardship of the eastern empire. His inability to forcefully or at least effectively govern meant that there were few consistent or long-range goals of his administration. With the exception of trying to emphasize the emperor's piety, an important development in the history of the Byzantine monarchy, Arcadius and his ministers were for the most part simply reacting to events.

The emperor became an even more remote figure to the general public. Even in the capital city itself, he was rarely seen: we read in one account that people came running to see the emperor for the first time when he happened to be praying in a local church. A series of "orientalizing" court practices no doubt continued in order to emphasize the symbolic separation of the emperor from the rest of society. The hieratic, almost semi- divine nature of the imperial person, also became a feature of the eastern ruler.

Perhaps of greatest importance was the political and cultural split between east and west. With the death of Theodosius, the two halves of the Roman Empire increasingly went their separate ways. For the most part, the west was thrown back upon its own resources, unable to deal with the problems of the fifth century. The east proved more compact and more resilient: it largely weathered the political storms from without and within.

Moreover, Constantinople fully became the imperial capital of the east, a Roma nova. The emperor rarely left the city and the palace officials became more influential than many of the more theoretically important ministers outside the city. Constantinople was also made an archepiscopate and Chrysostom and others started to push strongly for its primacy in the east. Both public and private building projects beautified and enlarged the city. Under Arcadius' reign, it truly became the second city of the Roman Empire.

Finally, the hard stance against Germanic officers in Roman government became a central feature in the east. While the reasons for this development were inspired largely out of fear and perhaps racism, the eastern Roman Empire did manage to avoid the largely detrimental succession of Germanic generalissimos who controlled the west in the fifth century. It also encouraged the eastern rulers in the following century to take hard lines against other peoples, including the Isaurians, the Huns and the Persians. Taken in all, the era of Arcadius was far more important than Arcadius himself. He perhaps had his father's pretensions, but none of the skills or powers necessary to leave his mark on the Empire.

Sources and Bibliography

There are a number of sources that treat the age of Arcadius. The historians Zosimus ( New History ), Socrates ( Ecclesiastical History ) and Sozomon ( Ecclesiastical History ) offer the most complete accounts. Additionally, Bishop Synesius of Cyrene in letters and other works ( On the Kingship and On Providence ) specifically addresses a number of the problems and issues going on in Constantinople and the imperial court at that time. The letters and homilies of John Chrysostom are also of enormous value and tell us more about the social history of the capital than any other source. Minor accounts include the Chronicon Paschale and the Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes . Several important saints' lives, including the Life of Porphyry , provide valuable information about events outside the capital. Finally, for the military and political organization of the Roman Empire, the Notitia Dignitatum offers a static look at the early fifth century.

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Flavius Arcadius (377/378–1 May 408) was Byzantine Emperor in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire from 395 until his death.

Arcadius was born in Hispania, the elder son of Theodosius I and Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of Honorius, who would become a Western Roman Emperor. His father declared him an Augustus and co-ruler for the Eastern half of the Empire in January, 383. His younger brother was also declared Augustus in 393, for the Western half.

Sources:

1. A. Cameron and J. Long. 1993. Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley/Oxford) -------------------- Arcadius

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For the Greek grammarian, see Arcadius of Antioch.

For the Monothelite Cypriot patriarch, see Arkadios II.

Arcadius

Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire


Idealising bust of Arcadius in the Theodosian style combines elements of classicism with the new hieratic style (Istanbul Archaeology Museum)

Reign January 383 - 395(Augustus under his father);

395 - May 1, 408 (emperor in the east, with his brother Honorius emperor in the west)

Full name Flavius Theodosius

Born 377/8

Died May 1, 408

Predecessor Theodosius I

Successor Theodosius II

Wife/wives Aelia Eudoxia

Issue Theodosius II, Pulcheria

Dynasty Theodosian

Father Theodosius I

Mother Aelia Flaccilla

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ArcadiusFlavius Arcadius (377/378–May 1, 408) was Roman Emperor in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire from 395 until his death.

Arcadius was the elder son of Theodosius I and Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of Honorius, who would become a Western Roman Emperor. His father declared him an Augustus in January, 383. His younger brother was also declared an Augustus in 393.

As emperors, Honorius was under the control of the Romanized Vandal magister militum Flavius Stilicho while Arcadius was dominated by one of his ministers, Rufinus. Stilicho is alleged by some to have wanted control of both emperors, and is supposed to have had Rufinus assassinated by Gothic mercenaries in 395; though definite proof of Stilicho's involvement in the assassination is lacking, the intense competition and political jealousies engendered by the two figures compose the main thread of the first part of Arcadius' reign. Arcadius' new advisor, the eunuch Eutropius, simply took Rufinus' place as the power behind the Eastern imperial throne. Arcadius was also dominated by his wife Aelia Eudoxia, who convinced her husband to dismiss Eutropius, who was holding the consulate, at the height of his power, in 399. Eudoxia was strongly opposed by John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who felt that she had used her family's wealth to gain control over the emperor. Eudoxia used her influence to have Chrysostom deposed in 404, but she died later that year.

Arcadius was dominated for the rest of his rule by Anthemius, the Praetorian Prefect, who made peace with Stilicho in the West. Arcadius himself was more concerned with appearing to be a pious Christian than he was with political or military matters, and he died, only nominally in control of his empire, in 408.


Arcadius, holding a labarum, defeating an enemy.In this reign of a weak emperor dominated by court politics, a major theme was the ambivalence felt by prominent individuals and the court parties that formed and regrouped round them towards barbarians, which in Constantinople at this period meant Goths. In the well-documented episode that revolved around Gainas, a number of Gothic foederati stationed in the capital were massacred, the survivors fleeing under the command of Gainas to Thrace, where they were tracked down by imperial troops and slaughtered and Gainas dispatched. The episode has been traditionally interpreted as a paroxysm of anti-barbarian reaction that served to stabilise the East. The main source for the affair is a mythology à clef by Synesius of Cyrene, Aegyptus sive de providentia, (400)[1] an Egyptianising allegory that embodies a covert account of the events, the exact interpretation of which continues to baffle scholars. Synesius' De regno, which claims to be addressed to Arcadius himself, contains a tirade against Goths.

A new forum was built in the name of Arcadius, on the seventh hill of Constantinople, the Xērolophos, and a column erected which stood until the eighteenth century, when, weakened by earthquakes, it threatenmed to topple and was taken down; the base remains.[2]

The Pentelic marble portrait head of Arcadius (illustration) was discovered in Istanbul close to the Forum Tauri, in June 1949, in exccavating foundations for new buildings of the University at Beyazit.[3] The neck was designed to be inserted in a torso, but no statue, base or inscription was found. The diadem is a fillet with rows of pearls along its edges and a rectangular stone set about with pearls over the young emperor's forehead.

[edit] Notes

^ The date 400 is argued for by Cameron and Long 1993.

^ Robert Grigg, "S'ymphōnian Aeidō tēs Basileias': An Image of Imperial Harmony on the Base of the Column of Arcadius" The Art Bulletin 59.4 (December 1977), pp. 469-482.

^ Nezih Firatli, "A Late Antique Imperial Portrait Recently Discovered at Istanbul" American Journal of Archaeology 55.1 (January 1951), pp. 67-71.

[edit] References

A. Cameron and J. Long. 1993. Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley/Oxford)

[edit] External links

Laws of Arcadius, extracted from Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis

Watts, Edward, "the motifs of Imperrial authority in the bust of Arcadius"

Arcadius

House of Theodosius

Born: 377/378 Died: 1 May 408

Regnal titles

Preceded by

Theodosius I Eastern Roman Emperor Succeeded by

Theodosius II

Flavius Arcadius

377 - 408


 Born:  377    

Died: 408

Biography: Roman Emperor (395-408) who ruled the eastern half of the Roman Empire.

Arcadius, eldest son of Theodosius I and Flacilla, ruled the eastern half of the Roman Empire while his brother Honorius ruled the western half. Although the brothers co-ruled, Arcadius was under the control of Rufinus and Honorius was under the control of Flavius Stilicho, whose desire to control both emperors was so great he assassinated Rufinus in 395. The plan backfired and Arcadius' advisor filled the void. In 399, although he was successful in quelling a revolt of the Gothic officials and mercenaries in Constantinople, he was considered a weakened ruler who was dominated by his wife Eudoxia. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, strongly disliked Eudoxia and knowing such, she used her connections to have him deposed in 404. After her death, Arcadius was dominated the remainder of his rule by Anthemius the Praetorian Prefect who made peace with Stilicho in the West. He died in 408 only nominally in control of his empire.

Contributor: Kimberly J. Largent

http://www.lbdb.com/TMDisplayLeader.cfm?PID=5774

An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors

DIR Atlas

Arcadius (395-408 A.D.)

Geoffrey S. Nathan

University of California at Los Angeles


Introduction and Early Life

The ineffectual life and reign of Flavius Arcadius are of considerably less importance than the quite significant developments that occurred during his reign. Born either in 377 or 378 to then general Theodosius and Aelia Flavia Flacilla, he and his younger brother, Honorius, ruled the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire respectively from 395.

Shortly after his birth, his father was raised to the imperial purple in 379. Events in Illyricum with the massive influx of Ostrogothic and Visigothic peoples had resulted in the defeat of the Roman army and the death of the emperor, Valens. Theodosius' first task was to confront the Visigoths who had been ravaging the Balkans. Perhaps in the wake of this difficult and almost insurmountable task, the emperor wanted to insure that his infant son would bear some legitimacy should he die on campaign. Whatever the reason, Arcadius was proclaimed Augustus in January of 383 at the age of five or six. In the following year, his younger brother was born and it seems as if Theodosius initially had been interested in preserving the theoretical position of his elder son. While Arcadius enjoyed the status of Augustus, Honorius only achieved the office of consul posterior in 386. Perhaps the eastern emperor had wanted to avoid the possible conflicts that arose earlier in the century with the family of Constantine. Recent events in the west with the assassination of Gratian by Magnus Maximus may have also played a part: Theodosius initially had to leave the murder of his imperial colleague unavenged and leave the boy- emperor, Valentinian II, largely undefended. The profusion of emperors may well have been seen by Theodosius as kindling for civil war. His own autocratic tendencies may have also meant that he saw only one possible successor for himself.

Nevertheless, Theodosius gave Arcadius very little independence in early life. When he went to campaign against Magnus in the late 380's, he placed his son under the Praetorian Prefect of the East, Tatian, who was the de facto emperor in Theodosius' absence. This began a long series of regencies for Arcadius. The strength of Tatian's position with the eastern governing class made the office of Praetorian Prefect all the more powerful in Constantinople, which in turn made it easier to dominate future emperors. When Theodosius replaced Tatian with the more malleable and more ambitious Rufinus in 392, he had appointed a minister who would centralize even greater authority under the prefecture.

By 393, the emperor's situation had changed radically. When events in the west demanded his attention again, Theodosius was in a much stronger position. The ascendancy of the general, Arbogast, and his own puppet emperor, Eugenius, in the west provided Theodosius an opportunity and, indeed, the obligation to take full control of the Empire. The chance for having his own two sons ruling both halves of Rome not only seemed practical and feasible, but such an arrangement would establish himself as the head of a new dynasty. With thoughts in that direction, Honorius was made Augustus in 393 and accompanied his father west in the summer of 394. Arcadius, although near his majority, was nevertheless placed again under the guardianship (epitropos) of the Prefect of the East. In January of 395, Theodosius the Great died and his two sons took theoretical control of the two halves of the Roman Empire.

Early Reign and the Dominance of Rufinus and Eutropius (395-399)

Arcadius was eighteen when he assumed the throne in the east. We do not know whether or not he was ready for the responsibilities. During the mid-380's, the young emperor had been educated in part by Themistius, a famous pagan statesman, philosopher, and speaker. In what way he affected Arcadius is impossible to say, but surely his teachings must have included statecraft. Perhaps because of this influence, the new emperor's attempt to establish himself as an independent force can be seen in a series of laws passed at his accession. In contrast to trying to create a military image for himself, which would not be allowed either by Rufinus or by the eastern court, he attempted to portray himself as a pious Christian emperor. He enacted several comprehensive laws against heresy and paganism.

This was not necessarily an ineffectual strategy. By celebrating his religious piety, he expressed his power in the only way available to an emperor largely controlled by his ministers. He also perhaps sought to gain support and power from the local governing and religious hierarchies in Constantinople. Arcadius also perhaps thought that he was carrying on in the tradition of his father and so, by extension, might share in some of his glory. Rufinus in contrast wanted to tie himself to the emperor through a marriage connection to his daughter. But in April of 395, Arcadius had taken advantage of the Prefect's temporary absence to marry Aelia Eudoxia, whose guardian, the general, Promotus, had been a bitter enemy of Rufinus. Arcadius had been aided in this move by his own grand chamberlain (praepositus sacri cubiculi), Eutropius, and it perhaps indicated the degree to which he wanted to be free of any regent.

But in reality, Arcadius gained little if any power. Rufinus assumed full control of the east, and the Vandal Stilicho, Theodosius' closest advisor and general, took control of Honorius in the west. The tension between east and west quickly grew when Stilicho, in command of all the eastern and western armies, tried to press his guardianship over Arcadius as well. Moreover, there was considerable resentment against Rufinus in the east for using his office to greatly enrich himself and perhaps, too, because he was a westerner. Rufinus, understanding the perils around him, acted quickly. He had Arcadius demand the return of the eastern armies at once. Stilicho acquiesced, perhaps because the general was basing his claim of guardianship on his own legitimacy: to have taken control of the east and Arcadius by force would have undermined his position there and perhaps in the west. The soldiers returned under the command of the Gothic general, Gainas. With the control of the field army, it seemed as if Rufinus was going to be more thoroughly in control of the east and over Arcadius.

He did not long enjoy his victory. When Arcadius and Rufinus came to greet the armies at Hebdoman near Constantinople in November of 395, the soldiers turned on the Praetorian Prefect and cut him down in front of the emperor. Whether Stilicho instigated the assassination is a matter of some debate, but if he did, he received no benefit from it. The armies remained and Arcadius soon fell under the sway of other ministers. Nevertheless, despite the shock and fear Arcadius may have felt at witnessing such a brutal murder, he probably missed Rufinus' presence not at all and even thought it might provide an opportunity to assert his own authority. For the bureaucracy, the death meant that maintaining civilian control over the army was paramount to their own survival.

Soon thereafter, Eutropius assumed Rufinus' place in dominating Arcadius. Since the grand chamberlain could control access to the emperor and commanded the powerful palace bureaucracy, he was well-placed to dictate what and whom the emperor saw and heard. Military officers--frequently Germanic--who dominated the western government, were held suspect by fearful and jealous civil administrators in Constantinople. Eutropius used that fear to his advantage and froze out any access they may have had to the circles of power. His decision to effectively eliminate the military's input in decision-making would eventually lead to his demise.

It is difficult to determine how popular Eutropius was either with Arcadius or with the wider population. As a eunuch and a former slave, the sources generally portray him very negatively. He nevertheless seems to have enjoyed some support from the emperor, likely aided by Eudoxia with whom the grand chamberlain had close ties. The emperor happily took annual vacations in Galatia, apparently upon the Eutropius' suggestion. Moreover, the chamberlain showed great personal courage and talent in leading a campaign against invading Huns in 397/8, for which he won the consulship and the rank of patrician in the following year of 399. He also seems to have gained considerable support from the local clergy by procuring the patriarchate of Constantinople in 398 for John Chrysostom.

Despite Eutropius' rise to power, however, eastern policy changed little. The religious policies of Theodosius and Arcadius continued, including the forced closure of pagan temples in Gaza. More significantly, tension between the two halves of the empire persisted as Stilicho continued to press for his position as guardian. Although Stilicho led periodic raids into Greece and Thrace to attack the new Visigothic king, Alaric, his victories were incomplete and were more likely meant to keep the Germanic people out of western territory. This meant, among other things, that the Visigoths were an enduring problem for the east. Eutropius in turn supported the revolt of the Count Gildo in Africa, which was under western control, in an attempt to destabilize Stilicho's control and further eastern domains.

The failure of the revolt in 398 was the first step in Eutropius' downfall. The decision to exclude the military men of the period, particularly among the growing importance of Germanic officers, created a dangerous situation. By 399, the dissatisfaction with east-west affairs and the Gildo fiasco resulted in a revolt by the Gothic count, Tribigild. He was apparently in collusion with Gainas, who had taken advantage of the crisis to be named chief general in the east (magister utriusque militiae). Gainas quickly reached an agreement with the rebel and part of the settlement was the dismissal of Eutropius, to which Arcadius--at Eudoxia's urging--agreed. The chamberlain took refuge in the Hagia Sophia, and was exiled to Cyprus. But shortly thereafter, in the autumn of 399, Eutropius was recalled, tried and executed in Chalcedon.

The Age of Eudoxia (400-404)

The death of Eutropius precipitated a serious crisis. Gainas, who had wanted high office for years, now tried to force the hand of Arcadius. Having come to a quick resolution with Tribigild, he moved from Thrace towards Constantinople in 400. With the Germanic troops supporting him, Gainas tried for six months to initiate his own primacy-- including seizing the imperial palace--but which failed. He was forced to withdraw personally from the city to regroup and planned to use his troops remaining there to seize the entire city. But they were slaughtered by the inhabitiants and he fled first to Thrace and then to Asia. Eventually Gainas was killed by the Huns later in that year. His attempted coup ensured that Germanic officers would never again be trusted by the eastern government and would forever be kept out of any important decision-making roles.

The likely successor to Eutropius had been the anti-Germanic leader, Aurelianus, who had succeeded to the Prefecture of the East in 399. But Gainas had exiled him, having forced Arcadius to hand him over, and although Aurelianus returned triumphantly after Gainas' departure, he appears to have lost his hold over the emperor. In the meantime, Aelia Eudoxia had done much to forward her own place in the government. In January of 400, she had been named Augusta, a singular distinction offered to only three other women in the previous century. Her position thus gained a semi-official legitimacy afforded to very few Roman empresses. It has been assumed that because of her beauty, her intelligence, and her fecundity (she bore Arcadius five children), she was able to assert her influence to a point where she was the new power behind the throne.

That assessment, while held by many scholars, is not entirely accurate. While there were several events in which she played a crucial part, they were not terribly important moments during Arcadius' reign. But because Eudoxia was enormously wealthy, because she delivered a male heir in 401, and because she was involved in a highly publicized and drawn out political fight with John Chrysostom, this belief that there was an assumption of power is based more on the notoriety of her acts than on actual control. The fact that there was no one clearly dominating the government nor the emperor during this time implies perhaps that Arcadius had more power during these five years of his reign than at any other time.

There are several indications that he did try to improve and assert his own position. The emperor and his court immediately came to some understanding with the west. The east at the very least gave Honorius and Stilicho moral support in their increasing problems with Alaric. In 402, the feeling of goodwill was sealed by a joint consulship between Arcadius and his brother. The emperor also sought to establish his own military prowess and Christian piety with the erection of a column set up in the Hippodrome of Constantinople in 402/3. The column depicted his military victory over Gainas, crowned with a capital emblazoned with the Greek letters chi-rho, symbolizing his devotion to Christ. Arcadius' son, Theodosius II, was born in 401, and was quickly made Augustus at the age of eight months. The eastern ruler was thus interested in assuring his own dynasty.

In all these things, the emperor was largely successful, but they were largely overshadowed by the feud between his empress and the bishop of Constantinople. Eudoxia had already shown herself able in pushing her interests during the baptism of her son. The Bishop of Constantinople, however, was a much tougher opponent than her husband. John Chrysostom, a strong believer in social justice, had boorishly attacked Eudoxia and many of her friends for the conspicuous luxury in which they lived and displayed themselves. At the height of these attacks, John compared the empress to Jezebel. Eudoxia in turn used her considerable influence to inflame hostility among the clergy against the bishop. Working through Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, in 403 Chrysostom was deposed and forced into exile at a Church council convened by the emperor (the Synod of the Oak at Chalcedon). However, there was soon such turmoil and uproar in the imperial city that the bishop was recalled a few days later. But the public feuding between Eudoxia and Chrysostom continued until at last she had him banished again in 404, this time permanently. Among other things, it caused a breach between Arcadius and his brother, who had, with Pope Innocent I, tried to support Chrysostom.

Eudoxia's victory was short-lived, however. In October of 404, the Augusta died of a miscarriage. Her death was seen by some as retribution for dismissing John. Whatever the reason, her end also signaled a complete retreat into the background by the emperor and no further initiatives seem to have been pushed by the 27-year-old Augustus.

The Final Years: Anthemius and Death (404-408)

The last years of Arcadius' reign were completely dominated by his Praetorian Prefect of the East, Anthemius. It was perhaps fitting that when the emperor seems to have been most retiring, the most able and energetic of his high ministers came to power. Anthemius worked hard to solve a series of governmental abuses, continue to push for Christianization, and secure the east from attack.

Anthemius first seems to have tried to reconcile with the west, so much so that there was a joint consulship between Anthemius and Stilicho in 405. This might have also been meant to symbolize the Prefect's new dominance, however. Additionally, a number of new laws were passed, curtailing paganism, Judaism and heresy. He tried to make use of the continuing problem of incoming Germanic peoples to combat the Isaurian tribes which had been plaguing Asia Minor since 403. While it failed to halt either group's incursions, it was nevertheless a practical and intelligent strategy. As a means of protecting the imperial capital, Anthemius also strengthened the walls around Constantinople. Our records for the last years of Arcadius' rule are quite spotty, but the emperor himself seems to have completely vanished, even symbolically, from the political scene.

In May of 408, Flavius Arcadius died at the age of 31 of unknown causes. Our only physical description of Arcadius is heavily influenced by the generally low regard in which he was held. The emperor was supposedly short, thin and dark-complected. A more kindly correspondent described him as good-natured and temperate. His son succeeded him without any controversy and the government remained unchanged. Arcadius thus left the world much as he entered it: without much significance and overshadowed by more powerful forces.

Assessment

Despite the ineffectual nature of Arcadius and his rule, a number of significant changes occurred during his stewardship of the eastern empire. His inability to forcefully or at least effectively govern meant that there were few consistent or long-range goals of his administration. With the exception of trying to emphasize the emperor's piety, an important development in the history of the Byzantine monarchy, Arcadius and his ministers were for the most part simply reacting to events.

The emperor became an even more remote figure to the general public. Even in the capital city itself, he was rarely seen: we read in one account that people came running to see the emperor for the first time when he happened to be praying in a local church. A series of "orientalizing" court practices no doubt continued in order to emphasize the symbolic separation of the emperor from the rest of society. The hieratic, almost semi- divine nature of the imperial person, also became a feature of the eastern ruler.

Perhaps of greatest importance was the political and cultural split between east and west. With the death of Theodosius, the two halves of the Roman Empire increasingly went their separate ways. For the most part, the west was thrown back upon its own resources, unable to deal with the problems of the fifth century. The east proved more compact and more resilient: it largely weathered the political storms from without and within.

Moreover, Constantinople fully became the imperial capital of the east, a Roma nova. The emperor rarely left the city and the palace officials became more influential than many of the more theoretically important ministers outside the city. Constantinople was also made an archepiscopate and Chrysostom and others started to push strongly for its primacy in the east. Both public and private building projects beautified and enlarged the city. Under Arcadius' reign, it truly became the second city of the Roman Empire.

Finally, the hard stance against Germanic officers in Roman government became a central feature in the east. While the reasons for this development were inspired largely out of fear and perhaps racism, the eastern Roman Empire did manage to avoid the largely detrimental succession of Germanic generalissimos who controlled the west in the fifth century. It also encouraged the eastern rulers in the following century to take hard lines against other peoples, including the Isaurians, the Huns and the Persians. Taken in all, the era of Arcadius was far more important than Arcadius himself. He perhaps had his father's pretensions, but none of the skills or powers necessary to leave his mark on the Empire.

Sources and Bibliography

There are a number of sources that treat the age of Arcadius. The historians Zosimus (New History), Socrates (Ecclesiastical History) and Sozomon (Ecclesiastical History) offer the most complete accounts. Additionally, Bishop Synesius of Cyrene in letters and other works (On the Kingship and On Providence) specifically addresses a number of the problems and issues going on in Constantinople and the imperial court at that time. The letters and homilies of John Chrysostom are also of enormous value and tell us more about the social history of the capital than any other source. Minor accounts include the Chronicon Paschale and the Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes. Several important saints' lives, including the Life of Porphyry, provide valuable information about events outside the capital. Finally, for the military and political organization of the Roman Empire, the Notitia Dignitatum offers a static look at the early fifth century.

Cameron, Alan, and Long, Jacqueline (1993) Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley).

Demougeot, Emilienne (1951), De l'unité‚ … la division de l'empire romain, 395-410: Essai sur la government impérial (Paris).

Holum, Kenneth (1982), Theodosian Empresses (Berkeley).

Jones, A.H.M. et al. (1970), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 1 (Cambridge).

Liebeschuetz, J.H.W.G. (1991), Barbarians and Bishops. Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford).

Martindale, J.R. (1980), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 2 (Cambridge).

Seeck, Otto (1896), "Arcadius," in RE, v. 2 (Berlin), 1137-53.

Van Ommeslaeghe, F. (1979) "Jean Chrysostome en conflit avec l'impératrice Eudoxie," Analecta Bollandiana 97, 131-59.

Copyright (C) 1998, Geoffrey S. Nathan. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Comments to: Geoffrey S. Nathan

Updated: 24 August 1998

For more detailed geographical information, please use the DIR/ORBAntique and Medieval Atlas below. Click on the appropriate part of the map below to access large area maps.

http://www.roman-emperors.org/arcadius.htm

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Reference: http://familytrees.genopro.com/318186/jarleslekt/default.htm?page=toc_families.htm -------------------- Eastern Roman Emperor 395-408

When Emperor Theodosius I died in 395, he permanently divided the Roman Empire, creating two independent Empires. Arcadius received the East at the age of 18. When he died in 408, the Empire passed to his son, Theodosius II. -------------------- Flavius Arcadius (377/378–May 1, 408) was Byzantine Emperor in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire from 395 until his death.

Arcadius was born in Spain, the elder son of Theodosius I and Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of Honorius, who would become a Western Roman Emperor. His father declared him an Augustus and co-ruler for the Eastern half of the Empire in January, 383. His younger brother was also declared Augustus in 393, for the Western half.

As emperors, Honorius was under the control of the Romanized Vandal magister militum Flavius Stilicho while Arcadius was dominated by one of his ministers, Rufinus. Stilicho is alleged by some to have wanted control of both emperors, and is supposed to have had Rufinus assassinated by Gothic mercenaries in 395; though definite proof of Stilicho's involvement in the assassination is lacking, the intense competition and political jealousies engendered by the two figures compose the main thread of the first part of Arcadius' reign. Arcadius' new advisor, the eunuch Eutropius, simply took Rufinus' place as the power behind the Eastern imperial throne. Arcadius was also dominated by his wife Aelia Eudoxia, who convinced her husband to dismiss Eutropius, who was holding the consulate, at the height of his power, in 399. Eudoxia was strongly opposed by John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who felt that she had used her family's wealth to gain control over the emperor. Eudoxia used her influence to have Chrysostom deposed in 404, but she died later that year. Eudoxia gave to Arcadius four children: three daughters, Pulcheria, Arcadia and Marina, and one son, Theodosius, the future Emperor Theodosius II.

Arcadius was dominated for the rest of his rule by Anthemius, the Praetorian Prefect, who made peace with Stilicho in the West. Arcadius himself was more concerned with appearing to be a pious Christian than he was with political or military matters, and he died, only nominally in control of his empire, in 408.

-------------------- Arcadius (395-408 A.D.)

Geoffrey S. Nathan

University of California at Los Angeles

Introduction and Early Life

The ineffectual life and reign of Flavius Arcadius are of considerably less importance than the quite significant developments that occurred during his reign. Born either in 377 or 378 to then general Theodosius and Aelia Flavia Flacilla, he and his younger brother, Honorius , ruled the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire respectively from 395.

Shortly after his birth, his father was raised to the imperial purple in 379. Events in Illyricum with the massive influx of Ostrogothic and Visigothic peoples had resulted in the defeat of the Roman army and the death of the emperor, Valens .Theodosius' first task was to confront the Visigoths who had been ravaging the Balkans. Perhaps in the wake of this difficult and almost insurmountable task, the emperor wanted to insure that his infant son would bear some legitimacy should he die on campaign. Whatever the reason, Arcadius was proclaimed Augustus in January of 383 at the age of five or six. In the following year, his younger brother was born and it seems as if Theodosius initially had been interested in preserving the theoretical position of his elder son. While Arcadius enjoyed the status of Augustus, Honorius only achieved the office of consul posterior in 386. Perhaps the eastern emperor had wanted to avoid the possible conflicts that arose earlier in the century with the family of Constantine . Recent events in the west with the assassination of Gratian by Magnus Maximus may have also played a part: Theodosius initially had to leave the murder of his imperial colleague unavenged and leave the boy- emperor, Valentinian II , largely undefended. The profusion of emperors may well have been seen by Theodosius as kindling for civil war. His own autocratic tendencies may have also meant that he saw only one possible successor for himself.

Nevertheless, Theodosius gave Arcadius very little independence in early life. When he went to campaign against Magnus in the late 380's, he placed his son under the Praetorian Prefect of the East, Tatian, who was the de facto emperor in Theodosius' absence. This began a long series of regencies for Arcadius. The strength of Tatian's position with the eastern governing class made the office of Praetorian Prefect all the more powerful in Constantinople, which in turn made it easier to dominate future emperors. When Theodosius replaced Tatian with the more malleable and more ambitious Rufinus in 392, he had appointed a minister who would centralize even greater authority under the prefecture.

By 393, the emperor's situation had changed radically. When events in the west demanded his attention again, Theodosius was in a much stronger position. The ascendancy of the general, Arbogast, and his own puppet emperor, Eugenius , in the west provided Theodosius an opportunity and, indeed, the obligation to take full control of the Empire. The chance for having his own two sons ruling both halves of Rome not only seemed practical and feasible, but such an arrangement would establish himself as the head of a new dynasty. With thoughts in that direction, Honorius was made Augustus in 393 and accompanied his father west in the summer of 394. Arcadius, although near his majority, was nevertheless placed again under the guardianship ( epitropos ) of the Prefect of the East. In January of 395, Theodosius the Great died and his two sons took theoretical control of the two halves of the Roman Empire.

Early Reign and the Dominance of Rufinus and Eutropius (395-399)

Arcadius was eighteen when he assumed the throne in the east. We do not know whether or not he was ready for the responsibilities. During the mid-380's, the young emperor had been educated in part by Themistius, a famous pagan statesman, philosopher, and speaker. In what way he affected Arcadius is impossible to say, but surely his teachings must have included statecraft. Perhaps because of this influence, the new emperor's attempt to establish himself as an independent force can be seen in a series of laws passed at his accession. In contrast to trying to create a military image for himself, which would not be allowed either by Rufinus or by the eastern court, he attempted to portray himself as a pious Christian emperor. He enacted several comprehensive laws against heresy and paganism.

This was not necessarily an ineffectual strategy. By celebrating his religious piety, he expressed his power in the only way available to an emperor largely controlled by his ministers. He also perhaps sought to gain support and power from the local governing and religious hierarchies in Constantinople. Arcadius also perhaps thought that he was carrying on in the tradition of his father and so, by extension, might share in some of his glory. Rufinus in contrast wanted to tie himself to the emperor through a marriage connection to his daughter. But in April of 395, Arcadius had taken advantage of the Prefect's temporary absence to marry Aelia Eudoxia , whose guardian, the general, Promotus, had been a bitter enemy of Rufinus. Arcadius had been aided in this move by his own grand chamberlain ( praepositus sacri cubiculi ), Eutropius, and it perhaps indicated the degree to which he wanted to be free of any regent.

But in reality, Arcadius gained little if any power. Rufinus assumed full control of the east, and the Vandal Stilicho, Theodosius' closest advisor and general, took control of Honorius in the west. The tension between east and west quickly grew when Stilicho, in command of all the eastern and western armies, tried to press his guardianship over Arcadius as well. Moreover, there was considerable resentment against Rufinus in the east for using his office to greatly enrich himself and perhaps, too, because he was a westerner. Rufinus, understanding the perils around him, acted quickly. He had Arcadius demand the return of the eastern armies at once. Stilicho acquiesced, perhaps because the general was basing his claim of guardianship on his own legitimacy: to have taken control of the east and Arcadius by force would have undermined his position there and perhaps in the west. The soldiers returned under the command of the Gothic general, Gainas. With the control of the field army, it seemed as if Rufinus was going to be more thoroughly in control of the east and over Arcadius.

He did not long enjoy his victory. When Arcadius and Rufinus came to greet the armies at Hebdoman near Constantinople in November of 395, the soldiers turned on the Praetorian Prefect and cut him down in front of the emperor. Whether Stilicho instigated the assassination is a matter of some debate, but if he did, he received no benefit from it. The armies remained and Arcadius soon fell under the sway of other ministers. Nevertheless, despite the shock and fear Arcadius may have felt at witnessing such a brutal murder, he probably missed Rufinus' presence not at all and even thought it might provide an opportunity to assert his own authority. For the bureaucracy, the death meant that maintaining civilian control over the army was paramount to their own survival.

Soon thereafter, Eutropius assumed Rufinus' place in dominating Arcadius. Since the grand chamberlain could control access to the emperor and commanded the powerful palace bureaucracy, he was well-placed to dictate what and whom the emperor saw and heard. Military officers--frequently Germanic--who dominated the western government, were held suspect by fearful and jealous civil administrators in Constantinople. Eutropius used that fear to his advantage and froze out any access they may have had to the circles of power. His decision to effectively eliminate the military's input in decision-making would eventually lead to his demise.

It is difficult to determine how popular Eutropius was either with Arcadius or with the wider population. As a eunuch and a former slave, the sources generally portray him very negatively. He nevertheless seems to have enjoyed some support from the emperor, likely aided by Eudoxia with whom the grand chamberlain had close ties. The emperor happily took annual vacations in Galatia, apparently upon the Eutropius' suggestion. Moreover, the chamberlain showed great personal courage and talent in leading a campaign against invading Huns in 397/8, for which he won the consulship and the rank of patrician in the following year of 399. He also seems to have gained considerable support from the local clergy by procuring the patriarchate of Constantinople in 398 for John Chrysostom.

Despite Eutropius' rise to power, however, eastern policy changed little. The religious policies of Theodosius and Arcadius continued, including the forced closure of pagan temples in Gaza. More significantly, tension between the two halves of the empire persisted as Stilicho continued to press for his position as guardian. Although Stilicho led periodic raids into Greece and Thrace to attack the new Visigothic king, Alaric, his victories were incomplete and were more likely meant to keep the Germanic people out of western territory. This meant, among other things, that the Visigoths were an enduring problem for the east. Eutropius in turn supported the revolt of the Count Gildo in Africa, which was under western control, in an attempt to destabilize Stilicho's control and further eastern domains.

The failure of the revolt in 398 was the first step in Eutropius' downfall. The decision to exclude the military men of the period, particularly among the growing importance of Germanic officers, created a dangerous situation. By 399, the dissatisfaction with east-west affairs and the Gildo fiasco resulted in a revolt by the Gothic count, Tribigild. He was apparently in collusion with Gainas, who had taken advantage of the crisis to be named chief general in the east ( magister utriusque militiae ). Gainas quickly reached an agreement with the rebel and part of the settlement was the dismissal of Eutropius, to which Arcadius--at Eudoxia 's urging--agreed. The chamberlain took refuge in the Hagia Sophia, and was exiled to Cyprus. But shortly thereafter, in the autumn of 399, Eutropius was recalled, tried and executed in Chalcedon.

The Age of Eudoxia (400-404)

The death of Eutropius precipitated a serious crisis. Gainas, who had wanted high office for years, now tried to force the hand of Arcadius. Having come to a quick resolution with Tribigild, he moved from Thrace towards Constantinople in 400. With the Germanic troops supporting him, Gainas tried for six months to initiate his own primacy-- including seizing the imperial palace--but which failed. He was forced to withdraw personally from the city to regroup and planned to use his troops remaining there to seize the entire city. But they were slaughtered by the inhabitiants and he fled first to Thrace and then to Asia. Eventually Gainas was killed by the Huns later in that year. His attempted coup ensured that Germanic officers would never again be trusted by the eastern government and would forever be kept out of any important decision-making roles.

The likely successor to Eutropius had been the anti-Germanic leader, Aurelianus, who had succeeded to the Prefecture of the East in 399. But Gainas had exiled him, having forced Arcadius to hand him over, and although Aurelianus returned triumphantly after Gainas' departure, he appears to have lost his hold over the emperor. In the meantime, Aelia Eudoxia had done much to forward her own place in the government. In January of 400, she had been named Augusta, a singular distinction offered to only three other women in the previous century. Her position thus gained a semi-official legitimacy afforded to very few Roman empresses. It has been assumed that because of her beauty, her intelligence, and her fecundity (she bore Arcadius five children), she was able to assert her influence to a point where she was the new power behind the throne.

That assessment, while held by many scholars, is not entirely accurate. While there were several events in which she played a crucial part, they were not terribly important moments during Arcadius' reign. But because Eudoxia was enormously wealthy, because she delivered a male heir in 401, and because she was involved in a highly publicized and drawn out political fight with John Chrysostom, this belief that there was an assumption of power is based more on the notoriety of her acts than on actual control. The fact that there was no one clearly dominating the government nor the emperor during this time implies perhaps that Arcadius had more power during these five years of his reign than at any other time.

There are several indications that he did try to improve and assert his own position. The emperor and his court immediately came to some understanding with the west. The east at the very least gave Honorius and Stilicho moral support in their increasing problems with Alaric. In 402, the feeling of goodwill was sealed by a joint consulship between Arcadius and his brother. The emperor also sought to establish his own military prowess and Christian piety with the erection of a column set up in the Hippodrome of Constantinople in 402/3. The column depicted his military victory over Gainas, crowned with a capital emblazoned with the Greek letters chi-rho, symbolizing his devotion to Christ. Arcadius' son, Theodosius II , was born in 401, and was quickly made Augustus at the age of eight months. The eastern ruler was thus interested in assuring his own dynasty.

In all these things, the emperor was largely successful, but they were largely overshadowed by the feud between his empress and the bishop of Constantinople. Eudoxia had already shown herself able in pushing her interests during the baptism of her son. The Bishop of Constantinople, however, was a much tougher opponent than her husband. John Chrysostom, a strong believer in social justice, had boorishly attacked Eudoxia and many of her friends for the conspicuous luxury in which they lived and displayed themselves. At the height of these attacks, John compared the empress to Jezebel. Eudoxia in turn used her considerable influence to inflame hostility among the clergy against the bishop. Working through Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, in 403 Chrysostom was deposed and forced into exile at a Church council convened by the emperor (the Synod of the Oak at Chalcedon). However, there was soon such turmoil and uproar in the imperial city that the bishop was recalled a few days later. But the public feuding between Eudoxia and Chrysostom continued until at last she had him banished again in 404, this time permanently. Among other things, it caused a breach between Arcadius and his brother, who had, with Pope Innocent I, tried to support Chrysostom.

Eudoxia's victory was short-lived, however. In October of 404, the Augusta died of a miscarriage. Her death was seen by some as retribution for dismissing John. Whatever the reason, her end also signaled a complete retreat into the background by the emperor and no further initiatives seem to have been pushed by the 27-year-old Augustus.

The Final Years: Anthemius and Death (404-408)

The last years of Arcadius' reign were completely dominated by his Praetorian Prefect of the East, Anthemius. It was perhaps fitting that when the emperor seems to have been most retiring, the most able and energetic of his high ministers came to power. Anthemius worked hard to solve a series of governmental abuses, continue to push for Christianization, and secure the east from attack.

Anthemius first seems to have tried to reconcile with the west, so much so that there was a joint consulship between Anthemius and Stilicho in 405. This might have also been meant to symbolize the Prefect's new dominance, however. Additionally, a number of new laws were passed, curtailing paganism, Judaism and heresy. He tried to make use of the continuing problem of incoming Germanic peoples to combat the Isaurian tribes which had been plaguing Asia Minor since 403. While it failed to halt either group's incursions, it was nevertheless a practical and intelligent strategy. As a means of protecting the imperial capital, Anthemius also strengthened the walls around Constantinople. Our records for the last years of Arcadius' rule are quite spotty, but the emperor himself seems to have completely vanished, even symbolically, from the political scene.

In May of 408, Flavius Arcadius died at the age of 31 of unknown causes. Our only physical description of Arcadius is heavily influenced by the generally low regard in which he was held. The emperor was supposedly short, thin and dark-complected. A more kindly correspondent described him as good-natured and temperate. His son succeeded him without any controversy and the government remained unchanged. Arcadius thus left the world much as he entered it: without much significance and overshadowed by more powerful forces.

Assessment

Despite the ineffectual nature of Arcadius and his rule, a number of significant changes occurred during his stewardship of the eastern empire. His inability to forcefully or at least effectively govern meant that there were few consistent or long-range goals of his administration. With the exception of trying to emphasize the emperor's piety, an important development in the history of the Byzantine monarchy, Arcadius and his ministers were for the most part simply reacting to events.

The emperor became an even more remote figure to the general public. Even in the capital city itself, he was rarely seen: we read in one account that people came running to see the emperor for the first time when he happened to be praying in a local church. A series of "orientalizing" court practices no doubt continued in order to emphasize the symbolic separation of the emperor from the rest of society. The hieratic, almost semi- divine nature of the imperial person, also became a feature of the eastern ruler.

Perhaps of greatest importance was the political and cultural split between east and west. With the death of Theodosius, the two halves of the Roman Empire increasingly went their separate ways. For the most part, the west was thrown back upon its own resources, unable to deal with the problems of the fifth century. The east proved more compact and more resilient: it largely weathered the political storms from without and within.

Moreover, Constantinople fully became the imperial capital of the east, a Roma nova. The emperor rarely left the city and the palace officials became more influential than many of the more theoretically important ministers outside the city. Constantinople was also made an archepiscopate and Chrysostom and others started to push strongly for its primacy in the east. Both public and private building projects beautified and enlarged the city. Under Arcadius' reign, it truly became the second city of the Roman Empire.

Finally, the hard stance against Germanic officers in Roman government became a central feature in the east. While the reasons for this development were inspired largely out of fear and perhaps racism, the eastern Roman Empire did manage to avoid the largely detrimental succession of Germanic generalissimos who controlled the west in the fifth century. It also encouraged the eastern rulers in the following century to take hard lines against other peoples, including the Isaurians, the Huns and the Persians. Taken in all, the era of Arcadius was far more important than Arcadius himself. He perhaps had his father's pretensions, but none of the skills or powers necessary to leave his mark on the Empire.

Sources and Bibliography

There are a number of sources that treat the age of Arcadius. The historians Zosimus ( New History ), Socrates ( Ecclesiastical History ) and Sozomon ( Ecclesiastical History ) offer the most complete accounts. Additionally, Bishop Synesius of Cyrene in letters and other works ( On the Kingship and On Providence ) specifically addresses a number of the problems and issues going on in Constantinople and the imperial court at that time. The letters and homilies of John Chrysostom are also of enormous value and tell us more about the social history of the capital than any other source. Minor accounts include the Chronicon Paschale and the Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes . Several important saints' lives, including the Life of Porphyry , provide valuable information about events outside the capital. Finally, for the military and political organization of the Roman Empire, the Notitia Dignitatum offers a static look at the early fifth century.

Cameron, Alan, and Long, Jacqueline (1993) Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley).

Demougeot, Emilienne (1951), De l'unité‚ … la division de l'empire romain, 395-410: Essai sur la government impérial (Paris).

Holum, Kenneth (1982), Theodosian Empresses (Berkeley).

Jones, A.H.M. et al. (1970), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire , vol. 1 (Cambridge).

Liebeschuetz, J.H.W.G. (1991), Barbarians and Bishops. Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford).

Martindale, J.R. (1980), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire , vol. 2 (Cambridge).

Seeck, Otto (1896), "Arcadius," in RE , v. 2 (Berlin), 1137-53.

Van Ommeslaeghe, F. (1979) "Jean Chrysostome en conflit avec l'impératrice Eudoxie," Analecta Bollandiana 97, 131-59.

Copyright (C) 1998, Geoffrey S. Nathan. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact. -------------------- Noteringar

His father raised him to the rank of co-Augustus of the east in AD 383, though due to his young age it was a solely ceremonial title at first.

But when in AD 395 Theodosius died, Arcadius succeeded him as emperor of the east at the age of eighteen. Meanwhile his brother Honorius became emperor of the west.

This division of the empire into eastern and western parts was the decisive one, which sent the two on separate ways. Had the empire effectively been split by Valentinian, it had still functioned as a unit. One of the two emperors had always enjoyed seniority over the other. However, the accession of Arcadius and Honorius is widely seen as the division of the Roman empire into two completely separate parts.

Arcadius is therefore often quoted as the first 'Byzantine' ruler.

Arcadius var under hela sitt liv mer upptagen av att framstå som en from kristen än med politiska och militära frågor.


-------------------- Emperor of Rome

view all 12

Arcadius Eastern Roman Emperor's Timeline

377
377
Cauca,Gallaecia,,Spain
395
April 27, 395
Age 18
Spain
399
January 19, 399
Age 22
Constantinople
401
401
Age 24
Constantinople
403
February 12, 403
Age 26
408
April 27, 408
Age 31
Rome,,,Italy
????
????
????
Emperor, Constantinople, Roman, Empire
????
Emperor, Constantinople, Roman, Empire