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AD 340-341.


It is the year AD 340. Twenty-eight years have passed since Constantine the Great saw, as he declared, in vision the symbol of the Crucified, and was bidden to hope for victory, temporal and eternal, through Him alone; twenty-eight years since the tyrant Maxentius lost his power and his life at the Milvian bridge; twenty-seven since Constantine’s second edict, dated not from Rome, but from Milan, released the Christians from the fear of persecution, and launched the Cross on an unimpeded career of conquest.

It is fifteen years since the memorable time when the three hundred and eighteen at Nicaea affirmed, in the happy word Consubstantial, the truth of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son, very God of very God, made very man; four since the unhappy heresiarch Arius perished at Constantinople by a strange and sudden death; seven since the busy brain of another enemy of the faith, not heretic, but scoffer, Iamblichus, of Chalcis in Syria (once the kingdom of Herod Agrippa II), was stilled in the grave; three since the great Emperor himself deceased, and left his empire to a triad of unworthy and incapable sons; and but a few days since Constantine, the eldest of them, grasping at the dominions of Constans, the youngest, was slain by his partisans—a death so well deserved, and yet so melancholy in its circumstances, that we doubt whether to call its infliction an act of stern justice, or a miserable fratricide.

Julius I is Bishop of Rome; the mitre of Constantinople is still worn by the pious Alexander, the aged opponent of Arius.

Eusebius, the historian and courtly confessor of Constantine the Great, is sinking into his grave at Caesarea in Palestine.

The great St. Basil and his brother Gregory, afterwards named of Nyssa, are children of eleven and nine at another Caesarea in Cappadocia. At the same Caesarea his friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, now a youth of fifteen, has been receiving his early education, and is now preparing, at Eusebius’s Caesarea, for his finishing studies at Alexandria and Athens.

St. Epiphanius, now thirty years old, is studying and praying at his monastery of Ad, in Palestine, and St. Ephraem the Syrian is similarly engaged at Nisibis.

St. Cyril has lately been ordained presbyter at Jerusalem. The great Athanasius, now in his forty-third year, is at Alexandria, contending at once against calumny and heresy, and compelled to unite the vindication of his own moral character with his strenuous defence of the faith.

St. Jerome is a boy of nine, eagerly preparing for the time when he shall leave his Dalmatian home to study in the great Roman metropolis.

Another translator of the Scriptures, Ulfilas the Goth, is now about the same age, and is being trained, somewhere in the farther East, for his future work.

Martin the Pannonian, destined hereafter to hold the episcopal office at Tours during exactly the same years as Ambrose at Milan (374-397), is now serving in the army, a young officer of four-and-twenty.

Prince Julian, now some nine years of age, is safe at the castle of Macellum, near Caesarea, with his brother Callus, learning that Christianity which he is ere long to reject for a philosophized heathenism.

Photinus, at Sirmium, is concocting a heresy, to be published some three years later, and promptly repudiated alike by Catholic and Arian.

At Carthage the Donatists have been availing themselves of the Toleration Decree of 321 to propagate that schism which was not the least of the causes that wrought the destruction of the Church of North Africa.

It is a remarkable time, if any time can be termed specially remarkable in the history of that standing miracle, the Church of Christ. Many a living Christian remembers vividly the horrors of the tenth persecution; not a few literally “bear in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus”; but things are now strangely altered. Kings and queens are becoming nursing fathers and nursing mothers of the Church; the Empire no longer persecutes, but recognizes Christianity; and the only question, a question as yet unsettled, is, which form it shall recognize, whether the philosophical religion that Artemon and Paul of Samosata and Arius have embellished with their eloquence and systematized with all their intellectual power, or the simple yet wondrous faith revealed in Scripture, preached and witnessed by many a saint, affirmed by the fathers of Nicaea, and earnestly contended for by Athanasius, the faith of the Catholic Church, that Jesus Christ is “very God of very God”.


There is a commotion in the house of Ambrosius, the Christian Prefect of the Gauls—lord lieutenant, as we should say, of France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain. Whether the house is at Treves, or Arles, or Lyons, it is impossible to gather from the records we possess. But, wherever it is, the Prefect is told that he is the father of a third child and a second son, and decides that the infant shall bear his own name, Ambrosius, “the Immortal”, a poetical equivalent of Athanasius, the “Deathless”.

Though the elder Ambrosius was a Christian, the child was not brought to the font. The christening, which now for many centuries has followed close upon birth, was in the fourth century more usually deferred. Infant baptism was practised, but it was the exception, not the rule. The newly-born infant was claimed from the powers of evil and dedicated to God by an office of exorcism and benediction, in which salt and the sign of the cross were employed; but the Sacrament of the new birth was postponed, not from the idea that infants are incapable of grace, or that the benefits of the Sacrament are limited to those who have attained a particular stage of intellectual development, but because Christians felt strongly that the Church’s one baptism was “for the remission of sins”, and habitually took what we may call an exaggerated and rather Novatian view of the heinousness of post-baptismal sin.

Baptism was deferred as long as possible, in order that the catechumen might receive in it a plenary absolution, not only from original guilt, but also from actual sin, and might be in less danger of staining the robe of the new-born through the heedlessness of youth. And there was an unworthy notion, too, that an unbaptized man might safely do much as he liked;—“let him do what he chooses, for he is not yet baptized” is an expression which St. Augustine has recorded for us;—but that, once baptized, he was tied to a stricter life; and friends were loth to curtail the possible pleasure of the young, and bind them down to what was wrongly imagined to be a round of gloomy austerities.

Precisely the same error exists among ourselves, and withholds many a one who has received Baptism and Confirmation from the Lord’s Table; the carelessness about transgressions before baptism, the horror at those committed after it, are by us transferred to pre-Eucharistic and post-Eucharistic sins. It was this dread of committing himself to too much which no doubt led to the delay in the Baptism of Constantine the Great.

We must remember, also, that in the earlier days of the Church, over and above the ordinary temptations to which humanity is exposed, there was a special danger of which we know nothing, that of apostasy in persecution. It was natural for pious parents to hesitate, and shrink from bringing an infant to the laver of regeneration when it was not impossible that they and all its Christian friends might be called to bear witness in death to their Master’s name, and their little one be left an orphan, to be educated in a Pagan home. Such reluctance was not right, perhaps; it would have been best to obey the Master’s command, and leave the future to Him; but it was certainly natural, and perhaps, under the circumstances, hardly blamable. as arising from an exalted view of the greatness of the Sacrament, and the holiness of the baptized.

At the period of Ambrose’s birth, and possibly in his case, there was another reason which induced, or rather compelled, Catholic Christians to delay Baptism. So widely had Arianism spread, and so much had it been patronized by those in high places, that it was not always easy, and indeed was in some places impossible, to find a bishop or presbyter who could be relied on to administer the sacrament with the valid formula. The divinely revealed form of words was too often altered so as not to clash with the sentiments of the Arians; and the orthodox were obliged to defer baptism, lest in accepting the ministrations of an Arianizing bishop they should be involved in the difficulties attending a ceremony of doubtful validity; lest, if the officiant chose to employ an irregular form, they should have to choose between leaving the catechumen possibly unbaptized after all, and incurring the risk of sacrilegious iteration of a sufficient sacrament.


One story of the infancy of Ambrose has been preserved. His cradle had been placed in the open court of the Prefect’s house, no doubt for the sake of air and coolness, since the cells which, under the name of cubicula, were all that even the proudest Roman mansions possessed as bed-chambers, must have been sadly deficient in ventilation, and unsuitable for nursery purposes. It was the time of year when bees are abroad—probably the spring of 341,—and a swarm entered the court, and settled upon the sleeping infant’s head, crawling in and out of the mouth, as though it were the entrance to a hive. The nurse was for endeavoring to drive them away; and had she carried out her intentions the child’s life would have been in deadly peril. Happily, the father and mother were close at hand, and stopped her forthwith, waiting, says Paulinus, to see what would be the termination of the marvel; or, as we, looking at the occurrence in a more matter-of-fact way, should imagine, understanding the habits of swarming bees better than their domestic did. Whatever the risk of leaving the creatures alone, the danger of disturbing them would have been far greater. After a time they quitted the cradle, and flew upwards till they were out of sight; and the Prefect, with a sigh of relief, exclaimed, “If the boy lives, he will surely turn out something great”

It was a natural exclamation enough when a son had been preserved from what appeared a considerable peril. But the belief in omens still subsisted in Gaul, and was not confined to the heathen; indeed, we can hardly say with truth that it has yet disappeared from any part of the prefecture of Ambrosius, even from those islands which formed its north-western extremity; and the event was held to betoken the holy eloquence and sweet persuasiveness which should, in time to come, distinguish the unconscious occupant of the cradle.



A.D. 341-374


Of the boyhood of Ambrose we know nothing. We may presume that he went through the childish training so graphically described by St. Augustine in his “Confessions”—the “three R's” (legere, scribere et numerare), the sing-song “one and one are two, two and two are four”, the Virgil and the Greek grammar, the scoldings for saying omo instead of homo.

His father appears to have remained in his high post under Constantius, who, after the assassination of his brother Constans by the followers of Magnentius in 350, remained sole ruler of his illustrious parent’s empire. Three years after this event, however, the Prefect was removed by death, and the widowed mother took her sons Satyrus (who seems to have had a second name, Uranius) and Ambrose, and her daughter Marcellina, who was about to take the vows as a member of a religious order, to reside at Rome.

Only a few months later was born that saint on whose life, as we shall see hereafter, Ambrose was to have so important an influence, and through him on the whole history of the Western Church—Aurelius Augustinus, of Tagaste in Numidia, son of Patricius, a heathen, and Monica, a fervent Christian. 

We have one anecdote of the youth of Ambrose. He remarked that his mother and sister usually kissed the hands of the clergy, and sportively offered them his own, saying, “You ought to do the same to me”; a joke for which he was very properly reproved by his mother, but which his biographer Paulinus considers to have been a fore­shadowing of the high place in the Church he was destined to fill. This is the only record we possess of this period of his life. Where he studied, and under whom, we are alike ignorant; we only know that both he and his elder brother, Satyrus, applied themselves with great success to the study of the law, and that Ambrose was, moreover, remarkable for his proficiency in Greek. His spiritual adviser was a Roman priest named Simplician, whom he loved as a father, and who, in spite of advanced age, became his successor in the archiepiscopal dignity.

These unrecorded days of Ambrose’s life were full of stirring incident and varying fortune both for Church and State. The treason, or folly, of the Caesar Callus in Antioch was followed by his capital punishment, or murder, at Pola, in 354. Constantius, the Arian, was succeeded in 361 by Julian, the philosophical pervert to heathenism; his short but brilliant tenure of power was followed by the still briefer reign of the orthodox Jovian; and the eleventh year of Ambrose’s residence at Rome saw Valentinian the Great exercising the Imperial authority at Milan over the West, and his weaker brother, Valens, at Constantinople, beginning his struggle with Procopius for the empire of the East.

Under the firm rule of Valentinian, orthodox but tolerant, the Western Church and people were far happier than the East under Valens, whose feebleness led him to persecute, while his unhappy perversion to the Arian heresy ultimately directed that persecution against the maintenance of the Catholic faith. Authorities differ as to the date of his error; one historian (Theodoret) tells us he was orthodox till after 374, and was led astray by his wife; another (Socrates) puts his Arianism earlier. But that he became Arian there is no doubt.

And so ten years more passed away, while the defeat or pacification of Alemanni and Burgundians in Germany, of Picts and Scots in Britain, and of Firmus the Moor in Africa, bore witness to the wisdom that guided the strong hand which wielded the scepter of the West.

In due time Ambrose entered on the business of an advocate, and practiced in the Court of the Praetorian Prefect of Italy, an officer who, under a military title, exercised such authority over the whole of Italy, Rhaetia, and part of Africa, as Ambrose’s father had possessed over Gaul.

The brilliant young pleader attracted the attention of Anicius Petronius Probus, who then filled this important post; he was soon made the Prefect’s legal adviser, and not long after, in the early part of 374, was appointed President, or, as it was termed, Consular, of Liguria and Emilia, with the rank of senator. This appointment included both judicial and administrative functions, and compelled him to take up his residence in Milan, a city which was then disputing with Rome the honor of being the civil metropolis of Italy. Probus was a Christian, and a man of high principle. He dismissed Ambrose to his new sphere of duty with words which, before the year was ended, had become prophetic: “Go, and conduct yourself not as a judge, but as a bishop”.




AD 374

The see of Milan was then filled, and had been filled for 19 years, by Auxentius. A synod held at Milan in 355 had required Dionysius, the orthodox bishop, to subscribe an Arian creed, and on his refusal driven him into exile, together with Liberius of Rome, who made so bold a stand against heresy, and, if Arian tales be true, so disgracefully repented of his boldness. Auxentius, an adherent of Ursacius, bishop of Singidunum (Belgrade), and Valens, bishop of Mursa (Essek), the Arian leaders, was, under the patronage of Constantius, substituted for Dionysius in what was then called the metropolis of Italy.

A few months after the elevation of Ambrose to his consular office, the see of Milan was vacated by the death of this Auxentius, and the appointment of a successor became the subject of the most violent party feeling. The Arian faction strained every nerve to obtain a metropolitan who favored their views. The emperor’s inclination to the side of orthodoxy was known; the number of the adherents of the Nicene faith had been steadily increasing; and it was seen pretty clearly that if the new prelate were of that number, Arianism in Italy would receive a mortal blow.

Valentinian assembled the provincial bishops, with whom the election lay, and urged them to be careful whom they put on the metropolitan throne. “Let him be”, said he, “such a man as I myself may be able to submit to, receiving the reproofs he may administer (for I am but a man, and must needs often offend) as a salutary medicine”. The bishops entreated the emperor to make the selection himself; desirous, no doubt, of relieving themselves from the invidious task, and dreading the exasperation which their performance of it would infallibly produce in the party whose candidate was not the object of their choice. The emperor, however, declined to accede to their request, and dismissed them to their deliberations. “The task is too great for me”, he said; “you who have received the Divine illumination will come to a better determination than I could”.

The church in which the Synod met was thronged with people, and the ferment was so great that apprehensions were entertained lest it should break out into a fray. The president, Ambrose, judged it to be his duty to take measures for quelling the tumult. He entered the church, and exhorted the people to concord and tranquility. Immediately a cry arose, begun, it is said, by a single voice like that of a child, “Ambrose is bishop!”. Both parties joined in accepting the proposal. With a unanimity more remarkable than, and as vehement as, their former discord, they urged Ambrose to undertake the sacred office, seeing as they did how desirous he was of promoting unity and peace, and believing that the voice which first uttered his name had proceeded from no noisy partisan on earth, but from some benevolent angel.

The Episcopate was in those days not only an honorable distinction in itself, but recognized as such by society : still it was not one to be coveted by all; least of all to be desired, in a worldly point of view, in exchange for a high State appointment. Much danger beset the prelate’s path: much care and wisdom, and a rigid self-denial, were demanded of him.

The old paganism was not yet extirpated: it had to be confronted from time to time, and men were not yet sure that Diocletian’s persecution was the Church's last tribulation till the coming of Antichrist. And there was Arianism in all its forms, with its kindred errors, to be met and combated, even in high places, and on ecclesiastical and civil thrones. Nolo episcopari was a very real sentiment with all : the worldly man shrank from a trial which brought no riches, and the timid from inevitable peril, while the devout Christian could not but think within himself “Who is sufficient for these things?” and dread the greatness of the task. Ambrose was reluctant to undertake it. Mixed feelings, among which a humble sense of his own deficiency was the most powerful, though perhaps a distrust of the popular voice was not altogether wanting, led him to endeavor to divert from himself the sentence pronounced in his favor. The expedients he resorted to, though quite in keeping with the spirit of his age, seem to us somewhat peculiar.

Leaving the church, he proceeded forthwith to his court, and then and there made a show of giving orders for the application of the torture, hoping, it appeared, to impress the people with an idea that he was both unjust and cruel. But they were not to be deceived. They knew his character. A few months of his rule had shown what manner of man he was. They saw that his pretended tyranny was a feint : “Thy sin be upon us”, was the cry : for where no sin was, save the venial one of self-excusation from a weighty burden, the people might safely undertake to bear it. Then he tried, in a somewhat singular way, to persuade them that his moral character was not unblemished. This was almost an actual falsehood : but it lacked the poison of a real falsehood, for it failed to deceive : “Thy sin be upon us”, was the cry again.

He next sought refuge in flight, but without success : he was soon found and triumphantly brought back to Milan. All thought that there was something more than human in the circumstances of his election. The emperor himself joined in the common belief, and heartily accepting the choice of the people ordered that the President should forthwith be baptized and consecrated. The provincial bishops endorsed the action of the prince and people. Ambrose was compelled to consent to receive the office and dignity thus enforced upon him by the whole body of the faithful, and that not of their own mere motion, but, as all agreed, under the manifest guidance of a higher power. He only stipulated that the officiating bishop at his baptism should be a Catholic, and not an Arian. Within a week from his reception of the sacrament he had been duly consecrated, and was bishop of Milan and Metropolitan (December 7, 374).




AD 374.


If a general view of the difficulties of the episcopal office led Ambrose to shrink from undertaking it, the special circumstances of the times must have filled him with dismay at finding himself one of the chief pastors of the spiritual flock, entrusted with a charge which seemed to place in his hands, for good or for evil, both the earthly fortunes of a large portion of Christ’s holy Catholic Church, and the welfare of the Christian faith and the Christian people. For Christians, alas! were far from being united, though not three centuries had passed since the Apostle of Love bade farewell to the world, not three and a half since the Divine Master Himself offered the One Sacrifice for sin.

The spirit of Antichrist, which even in St. Paul’s time wrought in the children of disobedience, had given rise to many a sad schism, and many a falling away from the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. There were Manichaeans, who professed what Socrates, the Church historian, calls a “Hellenizing Christianity”, a compound of Gentilism and Gospel, mingling the teachings of prophets and evangelists with those of Zerdusht and other Eastern mystics

They held that there were two deities, two originators of existence, an evil and a good, ever in conflict, and ever to remain so till a far-distant day of final triumph for the latter. Priscillian the Spaniard was, in his revived Gnosticism, beginning to teach somewhat similar doctrines in the farther West.

The heresy of Paul of Samosata, and of the earlier Ebion, that Christ was a mere man, and nothing more, was held and taught by the followers of Photinus of Sirmium, a prelate of high abilities, who, after his deposition in 351, wrote a powerful treatise against all heresies except his own. The Arians, alike in their refusal to accept the Catholic creed as enunciated at Nicaea, were divided into at least three different schools or parties.

The Semi-Arians, or Homoiousians, though they would not assert the Son to be of one substance with the Father, were ready to acknowledge Him to be of a substance absolutely and entirely like to that of the Father; not seeing that to admit a second divine being like to the First Cause was in effect a denial of the unity of Cod.

The Acacians acknowledged a likeness of substance, but not entire nor absolute.

The Anomoians, followers of Aetius, “the godless”, as he was called, and his pupil Eunomius, asserted the absolute unlikeness of the Son to the Father.

The Meletian schismatics in Egypt, and the Donatists in North Africa, upheld, or were inclined to, the Arian theology. Macedonius, the Semi-Arian patriarch thrust on Constantinople for eight years from 351 had given especial prominence to the logical outcome of Arianism, by denying in set terms the Deity of the Holy Spirit; and his followers, called “Pneumatomachi”, or “opponents of the Holy Ghost”, maintained the coequal Comforter to be but a creature, an emanation, or an energy. While these denied the “very God of very God”, Apollinarius of Laodicea and his sect assailed the perfect humanity of our Lord, by teaching that He had no human soul, the place of which was supplied by the Deity, and that His body, instead of being born like that of a man, was sent down from heaven.

There were schisms, too, as well as heresies. The Donatists and Meletians have already been mentioned. The fanatical Euchites or Enthusiasts, the Jumpers and Shakers of the fourth century, had begun to disseminate their strange fancies, and contemptuously to partake of the Holy Eucharist as a thing which could do neither harm nor good.

Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari, the brave confessor in 355 with Liberius of Rome and Dionysius of Milan, had, owing to some squabble with Eusebius of Vercelli, broken off from the communion of the Church. His schism ultimately died out, but it was looked upon as so serious at the time, that Satyrus, the elder brother of Ambrose, when in Africa was extremely careful not to communicate with a Luciferian bishop, holding orthodoxy of belief to be seriously compromised by rending the body of Christ. Then the Novatians,—setting up, as the Emperor Constantine put it, a ladder by which they might ascend to heaven by themselves,—denied communion to all who had been guilty of post-baptismal sin; not putting limits to God’s mercy, but absolutely denying the power of the Church to pronounce absolution in such cases.

And then, in addition to heresy and schism, there was, as has been already observed, what still remained of the power of the old religion, a dogged, stubborn, resisting force, ready to league itself with misbelief against the truth, and with the powers of this world against the Church. “Manasseh, Ephraim, and Ephraim, Manasseh; and they together shall be against Judah”. It was an unquiet time for a Catholic prelate. Well might St. Basil, in replying to the announcement of his consecration made, according to custom, by the new bishop of Milan, exhort him to stand firm.  There was much to make him quail.



death of valentinian i.

ad 374-375

Ambrose, while receiving the education of a lawyer and a statesman, had not confined himself to secular studies. Though only a catechumen, he had been allowed free access to the sacred writings and to the works of commentators and divines, and had freely availed himself of the permission. He was not himself satisfied with his store of Christian learning. “Hurried as I was”, he says in his treatise on “Duties”, written in 391, “from the seat of judgment and the head-gear of a magistrate to the priesthood, I began to teach you what I had not myself learnt.

So it came about that I began to teach before I began to learn; and I have to learn and teach at the same time, because I had not had time to learn before”. Still there is little doubt that he was already well prepared with theological learning; and so im­mediately after his unlooked-for election and consecration he began to write and to preach. If we must understand literally the expressions which he makes use of in addressing his sister Marcellina, in the preface to his three books “Of virgins”, we must conclude that his oratorical powers were not great : for he writes of himself as “unable to speak”, and expresses a hope that he may be gifted with the power, “like the dumb Zacharias, and the ass of Balaam”. But his expressions are probably due to an excess of humility.

The practiced pleader in the court of the Praetorian prefect could hardly be a man of slow speech and of a slow tongue. At all events, if not an orator, he was a writer and a deep thinker. Scarcely a single year passed from that of his consecration to that of his death without the composition and publication of some theological treatise : sometimes evidently what had been orally delivered, or the transcript of notes for viva voce lectures : sometimes apparently never delivered, nor intended for delivery, proceeding from the study rather than from the pulpit. True, St. Jerome carps at some of his productions, as not original, and spoilt in the transference. But St. Jerome is not infallible; and there are those who think that Ambrose, in altering and adopting, has improved what he has touched, instead of appearing (to use St. Jerome’s phrase) like the daw in borrowed plumes.

Nor did he preach only, but at once began, according to the Apostolic precept, to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. He boldly remonstrated with the Emperor Valentinian respecting some malpractices of the magistrates, and was answered with the respectful courtesy due to his good intentions and his sacred office. “I knew how bold you were, and with that knowledge I not only did not oppose your election, but voted in your favor. Apply now, as the divine law enjoins, proper remedies to the failings of our souls”. He seems to have taken the monarch at his word; for it was mainly owing to his influence that a synod was soon after held in Illyricum, which reaffirmed the Nicene faith, and its synodical letter, together with an imperial rescript, was sent to the bishops of Asia Minor.

There was, however, a difficulty which he soon had to face, far more serious than that of lecturing a willing emperor, or of addressing the assembled Church, and drawing on the stores of a theology which he had amassed, while all the while,—strange as it seems to us,—he was disregarding the precept “Repent and be baptized every one of you”.

The winter (November) of 375 saw the sudden death at Bregetio, on the Danube (near Presburg), of the great and orthodox emperor Valentinian; brought about, it was said, by the conduct of the envoys of the Quadi. The paroxysm of fury into which he permitted himself to fall on hearing from them what was intended for a humble apology, but which he seems to have looked upon as an audacious prevarication, caused the rupture of a large blood-vessel. Surgical aid was, with some difficulty, obtained, but to no purpose : the sufferer, after an ineffectual effort to speak, accompanied with terrible struggling, soon breathed his last.

Justina, his empress and second wife—espoused, if the scandal repeated by Socrates be true, during the lifetime of his first wife Severa, the mother of Gratian,—had become a pervert to the Arian heresy, and had no friendly feeling towards the Catholic who was clearing away the traces of the evil work of Auxentius. During her husband's lifetime she concealed her sentiments, or at least forbore from expressing them; but when the restraint of his presence was removed, and she felt sure of the support of her brother-in-law Valens, the Emperor of the East, it became apparent that the orthodox had nothing to look for from her but active and undisguised enmity. Gratian, her stepson, who had now reached the age of 17, was firmly attached to his father’s faith, and was proof against her persuasions; but she used every artifice—and for a time, we are told, with success—to poison the mind of her own son Valentinian, whose tender age at the time of his father’s death (4 years) left him completely in his mother’s power.

Gratian had already been raised to the rank of Augustus, and succeeded at once to the Imperial throne; but, as the soldiers at Bregetio had proclaimed his infant half-brother emperor, he consented to share the dignity; and Gratian and Valentinian the Second became colleagues of their uncle Valens. The elder had scarcely reached his twentieth year, when that uncle’s tragical death made them emperors of the East as well as of the West.