/gray"shee euhn, -sheuhn/, n. (Flavius Gratianus)
A.D. 359-383, Roman emperor 375-383.

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Latin in full Flavius Gratianus Augustus

born 359, Sirmium, Pannonia
died Aug. 25, 383, Lugdunum, Lugdunensis

Roman emperor (r. 367–83).

He originally shared the office with his father, Valentinian I (r. 364–75), and his uncle, Valens (r. 364–78). He later shared authority with his 4-year-old half brother, who was supported by the army. Following his uncle's death at the disastrous Battle of Adrianople, he became ruler of the Eastern Empire and summoned Theodosius I to share power with him. Influenced by St. Ambrose, Gratian omitted the words pontifex maximus ("supreme priest") from his title. He was murdered opposing the usurper Magnus Maximus.

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▪ Italian scholar
Latin  Gratianus  
born 11th century, , Carraria-Ficulle?, Tuscany [Italy]
died before 1159, , Bologna?

      Italian monk who was the father of the study of canon law. His writing and teaching initiated canon law as a new branch of learning distinct from theology.

      Little is known of his life. A Benedictine monk, Gratian became lecturer (magister) at the Monastery of SS. Felix and Nabor, Bologna, where he completed (c. 1140) the Concordia discordantium canonum (Gratian's Decretum) (generally known as the Decretum Gratiani), a collection of nearly 4,000 texts on all fields of church discipline, presented in the form of a treatise designed to harmonize all the contradictions and inconsistencies existing in the rules accumulated from diverse sources. His materials were drawn from existing conciliar canons up to and including the Lateran Council (1139).

      While not the first systematic compilation of canon law, the Decretum proved to be the right book at the right time, because of its completeness and because of its superior method of combining juristic and scholastic approaches. For the juristic, Gratian was indebted to the Bolognese doctors of civil law; in the scholastic, he was influenced by contemporary French theological trends. The Decretum was also a treatise of Gratian's teaching, and it became the text of canon law as taught in all the universities. Although later papal legislation made much of its content obsolete, it remained the first part of the traditional corpus of canon law of the Roman Catholic church (Roman Catholicism) until the codification of 1917.

▪ Roman emperor
Latin in full  Flavius Gratianus Augustus 
born 359, Sirmium, Pannonia [now Sremska Mitrovica, Yugoslavia]
died August 25, 383, Lugdunum, Lugdunensis [now Lyon, France]

      Roman emperor from 367 to 383. During part of his reign he shared this office with his father, Valentinian I (reigned 364–375), and his uncle Valens (reigned 364–378). By proclaiming the eight-year-old Gratian as Augustus (coruler), his father sought to assure a peaceful succession to imperial power. The boy's education was entrusted to the poet Ausonius (Ausonius, Decimus Magnus), whom he appointed praetorian prefect. Upon the death of Valentinian I (November 17, 375), Gratian was appointed sole ruler of the West. Shortly thereafter he recognized as a colleague his four-year-old half brother, Valentinian, who had been proclaimed Emperor Valentinian II by the troops at Aquincum (near Budapest). Under Ausonius's influence Gratian sought to make his rule mild and popular. He spent most of his reign in Gaul repelling the tribes that were invading from across the Rhine River. In 378 he arrived too late to take part in the disastrous battle with the Goths at Adrianople. As a replacement for Valens, who was killed in that conflict, Gratian appointed Theodosius (Theodosius I) emperor of the East in 379.

      In 383, upon hearing that Magnus Maximus had been proclaimed emperor in Britain, Gratian rushed into Gaul to intercept the usurper. He was deserted by his troops, however, and sought to escape beyond the Alps, but he was treacherously murdered in Lugdunum by the Goth Andragathius (Maximus's magister equitum [cavalry commander and lieutenant]).

      In the latter part of his reign Gratian was greatly influenced by St. Ambrose (Ambrose, Saint). Out of deference to the Christian church, he omitted the words pontifex maximus (“supreme priest”) from his title—the first Roman ruler to do so—and ordered the removal of the pagan statue of Victory from the Senate in Rome. An embassy of the senators, led by Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (Symmachus, Quintus Aurelius Memmius Eusebius), failed to persuade him to rescind his instructions on this matter.

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Universalium. 2010.

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