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Rufinus (consul)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flavius Rufinus (Greek: Φλάβιος Ῥουφῖνος; c. 335 – 27 November 395) was a 4th-century Eastern Roman statesman of Aquitanian extraction who served as Praetorian prefect of the East for the emperor Theodosius I, as well as for his son Arcadius, under whom Rufinus exercised significant influence in the state affairs.

He was the subject of the verse invective In Rufinum by the western court poet Claudian.[1]


Rufinus is described as tall, always in movement, acute, ambitious, greedy, and without principles, although a rigorous Christian. His difficulty with the Greek language is recorded by the sources, as well as his Aquitanian origin.

In 388 he was appointed magister officiorum. In 392 he served as Roman consul and in that same year he was appointed as Praetorian prefect of the East.[2] Upon his appointment, he retained the responsibilities of the magister officiorum.[3] In order to become prefect, Rufinus is said to have persuaded the emperor that Eutolmius Tatianus, the current occupant of the position, and his son Proclus, the prefect of Constantinople, committed corruption.[4] Proclus was executed while his father was banished.[4]

Emperor Theodosius trusted Rufinus, and he used this influence to fight his opponents at the court. He came into conflict with Promotus and Timasius, respectively Theodosius' magister equitum and magister peditum. During a meeting of the council, Rufinus insulted Promotus, who slapped him; Rufinus went to Theodosius to report the affront, and Theodosius replied that if nothing changed he would have Rufinus appointed co-emperor. Taking advantage of the imperial support, Rufinus suggested Theodosius send Promotus to Thrace, where he would be entrusted with the training of the troops. Some barbarians followed Promotus in his journey, but, having an agreement with Rufinus, they suddenly attacked and killed Promotus (September 392).[5]

During the period immediately after Theodosius' death, in January 395, Rufinus was virtually the ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire, since he exercised great influence over the young Emperor Arcadius.[6] An account by the Roman poet Claudian stated that he attempted to further join himself to Arcadius by marrying his daughter to the young emperor.[7] This plan was stymied by another of the imperial ministers, Eutropius.[8][9] This official, who held the position of chamberlain, arranged instead a marriage with Aelia Eudoxia, who was a child of one of Rufinus' opponents.[10]

Rufinus hated the western magister militum Flavius Stilicho. During the Revolt of Alaric I Rufinus had opposite interests and opposed him. Stilicho claimed that Theodosius ordered that Stilicho would be given guardianship over both Arcadius and the western Emperor Honorius.[11] Rufinus disputed his power, and maintained strong influence over Arcadius.[2] Rufinus's influence over Arcadius prevented Stilicho from crushing Alaric when he had the chance. Stilicho had trapped Alaric and the Visigoths in Greece (395), but his Eastern troops were commanded by Arcadius, who, at Rufinus' suggestion, recalled them, so that Stilicho was forced to withdraw his forces west across the border.[12] However, under Gainas, the same Gothic mercenaries he had recalled killed Rufinus on 27 November 395.[13][14]

Rufinus had a sister, Silvia,[15] a devout pilgrim recorded in Palladius' Lausiac History.[16]


  1. ^ The Oxford classical dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2012. p. 323. ISBN 978-0-19-173525-7.
  2. ^ a b Ph.D, James Francis LePree; Djukic, Ljudmila (9 September 2019). The Byzantine Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 230–231. ISBN 978-1-4408-5147-6.
  3. ^ Kelly, Christopher (2004). Ruling the Later Roman Empire. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 258. ISBN 0674015649.
  4. ^ a b Hall, Linda Jones (2004). Roman Berytus: Beirut in Late Antiquity (PDF). Oxon: Routledge. p. 158. ISBN 041528919X. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 August 2023.
  5. ^ Zosimus, IV.51.
  6. ^ Thompson, Edward Arthur; Spawforth, Antony (7 March 2016), "Rufinus (1), Flavius", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics, ISBN 978-0-19-938113-5, retrieved 16 August 2023
  7. ^ Coombe, Clare (2018). Claudian the Poet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 33. ISBN 9781107058347.
  8. ^ Lagassé, Paul; Columbia University (2000). The Columbia encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 2457. ISBN 978-0-7876-5015-5.
  9. ^ Coloma, Sean (1 June 2022). "The Sack of Rome". University Honors Theses. doi:10.15760/honors.1266. S2CID 255738437.
  10. ^ Bunson, Matthew (2002). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. New York: Facts on File. pp. 480. ISBN 0816045623.
  11. ^ Coombe, Clare (22 March 2018). Claudian the Poet. Cambridge University Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-1-107-05834-7.
  12. ^ Goldsworthy, Adrian Keith (2009). How Rome fell: death of a superpower. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 292. ISBN 978-0-300-13719-4.
  13. ^ The Romans: from village to empire. New York: Oxford University Press. 2012. pp. 490–491. ISBN 978-0-19-973057-5.
  14. ^ Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro (2013). A brief history of the Romans. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-19-998755-9.
  15. ^ Bernard, J. H. (1891). "On Some Recently Discovered Fragments of an Old Latin Version of Holy Scripture". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (1889-1901). 2: 155–168. ISSN 0301-7400. JSTOR 20503886.
  16. ^ Palladius of Galatia (1918). The Lausiac History Of Palladius. W. K. Lowther Clarke. The Macmillan Company. Retrieved 16 August 2015. html


Political offices
Preceded by Roman consul
with Arcadius Augustus II
Succeeded by
Preceded by Praetorian prefect of the East
Succeeded by