Bassus Herculanus

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Flavius Bassus Herculanus (floruit 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]


Bassus Herculanus was a senator considered "of such good character that it was not expected he would aspire to royalty or revolution."[2] 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 Anicii 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."[3] The sister of the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III, Justa Grata Honoria, in the words of Stewart I. Oost, "was a severely frustrated young woman. In 449 she had reached the age of thirty-one, yet she was forbidden to marry (like Pulcheria and the other sisters of Theodosius II) and devoted to Christian celibacy by command of her brother the emperor."[4]

Honoria caused a scandal by sleeping with her chamberlain; Oost dates this event to 449.[5] Valentinian needed to quickly find a husband who would not pose a threat to his rule, and for this reason Bassus was picked to be her husband. However, faced with the prospect of this loveless union, Honoria rebelled by sending a message -- and her ring -- to Attila asking for his help.[6] Attila demanded she be given over to him with half of the Western Roman Empire; Valentinian refused the demand and she was married to Bassus. The marriage probably took place in 450.


  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. ^ Clover, "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]

Preceded by
Flavius Marcianus Augustus II,
Valerius Faltonius Adelfius
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Flavius Sporacius
Succeeded by
Flavius Rufius Opilio,
Iohannes Vincomalus