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Bassus Herculanus

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Flavius Bassus Herculanus (fl. 449–452) was an aristocrat and a politician of the Western Roman Empire, husband of Justa Grata Honoria. He was honoured with the consulate in 452 with Sporacius as his colleague.[1]

He was a member of the senate and his character was very highly regarded.[2] He may have been a member of the Anicii gens.[3]

Engagement to Honoria[edit]

Honoria was the sister of Emperor Valentinian III. In 449, she was 31 and had been forbidden to marry, as had Pulcheria and the other sisters of Theodosius II. She had been ordered to remain celibate by command of her brother the emperor.[4] When Honoria was caught sleeping with her chamberlain, the ensuing scandal forced Valentinian to quickly find her a husband who would not pose a threat to his rule, and so he chose Bassus.[5] Faced with the prospect of a loveless marriage, Honoria instead sent a message and her engagement ring to Attila the Hun, asking for his help.[6] He demanded that she be given over to him along with half of the Western Roman Empire. Valentinian refused and the marriage to Bassus went forward.


  1. ^ Inscriptions dated to his consulate include CIL V, 5414, CIL IX, 1371, AE 1902, 212, and AE 1909, 66.
  2. ^ John of Antioch, Chronicle, fragment 199. Translated by C.D. Gordon, Age of Attila: Fifth Century Byzantium and the Barbarians (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1966), pp. 104f
  3. ^ F.M. Clover speculates over the possibility that his name "Bassus" might indicate a relationship with the Auchenii Bassi, one of the branches of the Anicia gens, but admits "Unfortunately the name Bassus was not the exclusive preserve of the Anicii in late antiquity, and the other two names are indeterminate.""The Family and Early Career of Anicius Olybrius" Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27 (1978), p. 192 n. 100
  4. ^ Oost, Galla Placidia Augusta: A biographical essay (Chicago: University Press, 1968), p. 282
  5. ^ Oost, Galla Placidia Augusta, p. 283
  6. ^ Priscus, Historia, fragments 15, 16; translated by Gordon, pp. 105f

Further reading[edit]

  • Jones, Arnold Hugh Martin, John Robert Martindale, John Morris, "Fl. Bassus Herculanus 2", The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume 1, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-07233-6, pp. 544–545.
Preceded by Roman consul
with Sporacius
Succeeded by