THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ARCADIUS (378-408), Roman emperor, the elder son of Theodosius the Great, was created Augustus in 383, and succeeded his father in 395 along with his brother Honorius. The empire was divided between them, Honorius governing the two western prefectures (Gaul and Italy), Arcadius the two eastern (the Orient and Illyricum). Both were feeble, and, in Gibbon’s phrase, slumbered on their thrones, leaving the government to others. Arcadius submitted at first to the guidance of the praetorian prefect Rufinus, and, after his murder (end of 395) by the troops, to the counsels of the eunuch Eutropius (executed end of 399). His consort Eudoxia (daughter of a Frank general, Bauto), a woman of strong will, exercised great influence over him; she died in 404. In the last year of his reign, Anthemius (praetorian prefect) was the chief adviser and support of the throne. The first years of the reign were marked by the ravaging of the Greek peninsula by the West Goths under Alaric (q.v.) in 395-396. The movement of the Goth Gainas (who held the post of master of soldiers) in 399-400 is less famous but was more dangerous. At that time there were two rival political parties at Constantinople, the “Roman” party led by Aurelian (son of Taurus), praetorian prefect, and supported by the empress and a Germanizing and Arianizing party led by Aurelian’s brother (possibly Caesarius, praetorian prefect in 400). Gainas entered into a close league with the latter; fomented a Gothic rebellion in Phrygia; and forced the emperor to put Eutropius to death. For some months he and the party which he supported were supreme in Constantinople. He was, however, finally forced to leave, and having plundered for some time in Thrace was captured and killed by the loyal Goth Fravitta. The Roman party recovered its power; Aurelian was again praetorian prefect in 402; and the Germanization which was to befall the western world was averted from the east. Another important question was decided in this reign, the relation of the patriarch of Constantinople to the emperor. The struggle between the court and the patriarch John Chrysostom (q.v.), who assumed an independent attitude and gravely offended the empress by his sermons against the worldliness and frivolity of the court, with open allusions to herself, resulted in his fall and exile (404). This virtually determined the subordination of the patriarch 342 of Constantinople to the emperor. The rivalry of the see of Alexandria with Constantinople was also displayed in the contest, Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, assisting the court in bringing about the fall of Chrysostom. Throughout the reign of Arcadius there was estrangement and jealousy between the two brothers or their governments. The principal ground of this hostility was probably dissatisfaction on both sides with the territorial partition. The line had been drawn east of Dalmatia. The ministers of Arcadius desired to annex Dalmatia to his portion, while the general Stilicho, who was supreme in the west, wished to wrest from the eastern realm the prefecture of Illyricum or a considerable part of it. His designs were unsuccessful, and during the reign of Theodosius II., son of Arcadius (who died in 408), Dalmatia was transferred to the dominion of the eastern ruler.

Authorities.—Ancient: Fragments of Eunapius and Olympiodorus (in Müller’s Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, vol. iv.); fragments of Philostorgius, Socrates, Sozomen, Zosimus, Synesius of Cyrene (“The Egyptian”), Claudian. Modern: Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, vol. iii., ed. Bury; J.B. Bury, Later Roman Empire, vol. i. (1889); T. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, vol. i. (ed. 2, 1892); Güldenpenning, Geschichte des ostromischen Reiches unter den Kaisern Arcadius und Theodosius II. (1885).


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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