Gratian the Elder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Gratian the Elder (/ˈɡrʃən/; Latin: Gratianus Funarius; Gratianus Major, "Gratian the Elder") was an Illyrian soldier of the Roman Empire who flourished in the 4th century. He was the father of Roman Emperors, Valentinian I and Valens, founders of the Valentinianic Dynasty.


Gratian originated from the town of Cibalae (Vinkovci), in southern Pannonia Secunda (modern Croatia), possibly in the 280s.[1] During his youth, he obtained the cognomen Funarius /fjˈnɛriəs/, meaning "the rope-man" because he was a rope salesman. Gratian joined the army and rose through the ranks to become protector domesticus during the reign of Constantine the Great.[2] A protector domesticus named "...atianus" is attested at Salona (Split) during this time, leading some to think Gratian could have been stationed there.[2] Gratian's first independent command was as a tribune, probably in the mobile field army of Constantine.[2] During the late 320's or early 330's he was made comes of Africa, possibly to supervise the frontier.[3] However, Gratian was soon accused of embezzlement and was forced to retire.[4] Gratian was recalled during the early 340s and was made comes of Britannia. He may have been recalled to command a unit of comitatenses under emperor Constans I during his campaign on the island in the winter of 342/3.[4] After his military career ended, Gratian returned to his birthplace and lived as a private citizen with good reputation.[5]

In Gratian's retirement, emperor Constantius II (reigned 337–360) confiscated all of his estates because of his suspected support of the usurper Magnentius. Nevertheless he was still popular within the army; this popularity could have contributed to the successful careers of his sons. When his son Valens became emperor in 364, the Senate in Constantinople decreed a brass statue of him.

Family tree[edit]

Valentinian family tree (partial)
Valens, Emp. 1)Marina Severa Valentinian I, Emp. 2)Justina
Gratian, Emp. Valentinian II, Emp. 2)Galla Theodosius I, Emp. 1)Aelia Flaccilla
Constantius III, Emp. Galla Placidia Serena Stilicho
Aelia Eudoxia Arcadius, Emp. Pulcheria
Licinia Eudoxia Valentinian III, Emp. Pulcheria Honorius, Emp. Maria Eucherius
Placidia Olybrius, Emp.


  1. ^ Lenski, Noel Emmanuel (2002). Failure of empire: Valens and the Roman state in the fourth century A.D. University of California Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-520-23332-4. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Tomlin, R. (1973). The Emperor Valentinian I. p. 2. 
  3. ^ Tomlin, R. (1973). The Emperor Valentinian I. p. 3. 
  4. ^ a b Tomlin, R. (1973). The Emperor Valentinian I. p. 4. 
  5. ^ Tomlin, R. (1973). The emperor Valentinian I. p. 5.