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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

WHILE Theodosius was thus occupied in the wise and peaceful government of his subjects, and in the service of God, intelligence was brought that Valentinian had been strangled. Some say that he was put to death by the eunuchs at the solicitation of Arbogastes, a military, chief, and of certain courtiers, who were displeased because the young prince had begun to walk in the footsteps of his father, and had adopted a system of government of which they disapproved. Others assert, however, that Valentinian committed the fatal deed with his own hands, because he found himself impeded from the gratification of the impetuous passions of his age by the authority of those around him, who did not permit him to act according to the dictates of his own will. It is said that he was handsome in person, and of a good disposition, and that had he lived to the age of manhood, he would have shown himself worthy of holding the reins of empire, and would have surpassed his father in magnanimity and justice. But though endowed with these promising qualities, he died in the manner above related.

A certain man, named Eugenius, who was by no means sincere in his profession of Christianity, aspired to sovereignty, and seized the symbols of imperial power. It is thought that his ambition was excited by the predictions of individuals who professed to foresee the future by the examination of the entrails of animals and the course of the stars. Men of the highest rank among the Romans were addicted to these superstitions. Flavian, then a prætorian prefect, a learned and an able man, was noted for being conversant with every means of foretelling the future. He persuaded Eugenius to take up arms by assuring him that he was destined to the throne, that his warlike undertakings would be crowned with victory, and that the Christian religion would be abolished. Deceived by these flattering representations, Eugenius raised an army and took possession of the Julian Alps, an elevated and precipitous range of mountains, among which was a very narrow passage leading into Italy. Theodosius was perplexed as to whether he ought to wait the issue of the war, or whether it would be better in the first place to attack Eugenius; and in this dilemma he determined to consult John, a monk of Thebais, who, as I have before stated, was celebrated for his knowledge of the future. He, therefore, sent Eutropius, a eunuch of tried fidelity, to Egypt, with orders to bring John, if possible, to court; but, in case of his refusal, to question him on the results of the war. The monk could not be persuaded to go to the emperor, but he sent word by Eutropius that the war would terminate in favour of Theodosius, and that the tyrant would be slain; but that, after the victory, Theodosius himself would die in Italy. The truth of both these predictions was confirmed by events.








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