Copyright © 2015 Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
One historian records that Eucher (Flavius Eucherius) and his imperial escort escaped a close encounter with Alaric’s forces and reached Rome, where he was executed sometime in the winter of 408.
Throughout his life, Volusian (Ceionius Antonius Agryptnius Volusianus) continued to correspond with Augustine and Paulinus, who both tried to convert him. He achieved the office of Proconsul of Africa in 410, Quaester of the Sacred Palace before 412, Prefect of Rome in 417 and Praetorian Prefect of Italy in 428. He was converted on his deathbed by his niece, Melania the Younger, and died on Epiphany, 436.
Namatian (Rutilius Claudius Namatianus) became Master of Offices in 412 and Prefect of Rome in 414. In 417, as he left Rome to retire to his native Gaul, he wrote the last work of the classical age, De Reditu Suo. As he described his journey home, he also eulogized the Eternal City and attacked those he counted as her enemies, including Christians and Stilicho, whom he blamed for Rome’s final humiliation. He remained a Pagan to his death.
Proba (Anicia Faltonia Proba) donated her grain reserves to feed the people of Rome when Alaric blockaded the City in 409/410. Legend claims that when Alaric finally succeeded in entering the City in 410, it was Proba who opened the gates for his army. She fled to Africa amid the many other wealthy refugees in 410. Augustine and Pelagius continued to correspond with her, encouraging her to consecrate her granddaughter, Demetrias, which she did in 414. She spent the rest of her life in the Holy Land.
Placidia (Galla Placidia) was the half-sister of one emperor, married a second one, and was the mother of a third, Valentinian III, who became the last western emperor of the Theodosian dynasty in 425. She was a renown Christian and politically astute. She may have been the real power behind Honorius.
Arsace (Arsacius) was promoted from attendant of the Sacred Bedchamber, to Senior Eunuch. In 410, when Stilicho’s remaining supporters gained revenge, Arsace was exiled to Milan.
Both Deuterius and Petrus died under torture without incriminating Stilicho.
Olympius became ascendant after Stilicho’s execution and replaced Stilicho’s men with his own. Three men held separately the military posts once combined under Stilicho, weakening the effectiveness of the western military command. When the war with Alaric continued to go badly, Olympius was discredited. In 409, Honorius exiled him. He returned briefly to favor again in 409/10 but was exiled to the East a second time and clubbed to death on the secret orders of Stilicho’s surviving allies.
In the year of Olympius’s ascendancy, Jovius allied himself with Alaric’s camp. After Olympius’s fall, Jovius returned and orchestrated the exile and deaths of Stilicho’s accusers. With his loyalty split between the empire and Alaric, he was a poor negotiator. When Honorius arrogantly refused a reduced petition for peace, Jovius reported his emperor’s insulting words to Alaric—the last affront that led the Visigothic chieftain to storm the walls of Rome a third and final time.
Alaric was a Christian, sometimes Arian and sometimes Catholic. When his army sacked the City, those who sought refuge in churches were spared any molestation. As a Germanic chieftain, his power was predicated on success in war, and he maintained his power for decades, alternately serving and then attacking the empire. He seemed to covet the titles of Rome more than her gold, and it was Honorius’s harsh rejection of his petition for the office of Master General of the West that precipitated his final, successful campaign in 410. He spent only eight days sacking the City before moving south, where he planned to invade Africa. He died near the south Italian shore the following year.
Faustus became one of the most outstanding intellectuals of his age. He abandoned secular pursuits while still a young man and entered the Abbey at Lérins. He was ordained to the priesthood, became Abbot in 432, and later Bishop of Riez in southern Gaul. Throughout his life, Faustus was an adversary of the extreme forms of theology taught by Pelagius and Augustine. He sought a compromise, believing in men’s weakness and Augustine’s idea of inherited sin but also in men’s strength and Grace received from moral effort. He died a very old man, and his flock built a basilica in his honor.
Honorius (Flavius Honorius Augustus) was one of the most ineffectual and long-lived emperors in Rome’s history. From safe Ravenna, he ruled the West for another thirteen years after Rome fell to Alaric, managing the feat by accepting as “co-emperor” one rebellious general and invader after another. He died peacefully in 423.
Pelagius (Britannicus Pelagius) fled amid the stream of refugees who abandoned the City in 410. His followers, such as Celestius, rather than he, defended his beliefs to an extreme end, insisting that Grace is entirely unnecessary for living a sinless life, that we control our own salvation. One pope absolved Pelagius of a charge of heresy brought by the African bishops, who were led by Augustine. Another pope excommunicated him. He died in obscurity, his optimistic beliefs condemned as heresy and he, a heresiarch.
After Alaric sacked the City, Augustine (Aurelian Augustin) wrote his monumental City of God to reassure Rome that such a worldly event was not, in the end, the horror it seemed. But he was wrong. Although the West continued as an empire until it became merely a Germanic kingdom in 476, the years following the death of Stilicho were a slow descent from a civilization that had been a millennium in the making. In his long life, Augustine fought against many heresies, including the Pelagian heresy. While Pelagians proudly asserted that we are masters of our fate, Augustine’s uncompromising self-analysis led him to believe we are divided from ourselves as surely as we are from God. By the time the West fell, Augustine was a saint, and his submissive theology was to betray the spirit of man for the next thousand years.
The Dark Ages had begun.