Valentinian II, Roman Emperor

Valentinian II, Roman emperor

was successor to his brother Gratian. The only noteworthy incident of his reign which requires mention in this place was the attempt of the heathen party, in the year 384, to recover the position it had lost. Symmachus, the praefectus urbis, demanded the retraction of the laws issued by Gratian against paganism, and insisted that the religio urbis should be kept distinct from the private religion of the emperor. He also asserted that, inasmuch as man has no knowledge of divine things, it would be best to rely on the authority of antiquity; that heathenism had made ancient Rome the mistress of the world; and that the famine of the year 383 must be regarded as consequence of the renunciation of the ancient religion. The emperor was induced, however, chiefly through the efforts of Ambrose of Milan, to reject the demand. He was murdered by Arbogastes, May 15, 392. His mother, Justina, was a zealous adherent and defender of the Arian party. See Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. s.v.; and Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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