Ablabius (consul)


Flavius Ablabius or Ablavius (Greek: Ἀβλάβιος; fl. 4th century, died 338) was a high official of the Roman Empire and contemporary of Emperor Constantine I (r. 306–337).[1][2][3]

Family and early lifeEdit

Ablabius was a Greek from the island of Crete and a man of humble birth.[4] When his mother was pregnant with him, she allegedly received a prophecy from an Egyptian astrologer about him, that she would almost have borne an emperor.[4] His date of birth is unknown, the identities of his parents are unknown, and it is unknown whether he had any siblings or relatives and his early life is largely a mystery. Ablabius was of a non-aristocratic and non-senatorial background.[5][6] Ablabius was at birth a pagan who converted later to Christianity and became one of the officials of the Roman governor of Crete.[4] At some point, he left Crete and travelled to Constantinople to make his fortune.[4]

Constantine I and his familyEdit

After arriving at Constantinople, Ablabius by chance acquired great influence over the Roman emperor Constantine I and became one of the most important senators of Constantinople.[7][6] Ablabius served as vicarius of the Diocese of Asia, held the praetorian prefecture of the East from 329 to 337/338, and served as ordinary consul in 331.[4] Ablabius was active in the Roman East and West[8] and during his political career, he was based at Antioch.[2]

Considering his provincial background,[8] Ablabius seemed to be attached to Constantine I, making him one of a small number of Easterners who held high offices throughout the Roman Empire.[9] Ablabius convinced Constantine that the failure of grain supplies to arrive at Constantinople had been caused by the magical arts of the pagan sage Sopater of Apamea, who had verbally attacked the emperor and Ablabius for their dissolute behavior. Constantine followed the advice of Ablabius and had Sopater put to death. In 333, Constantine addressed a letter to Ablabius which is still preserved, in which he decreed that each party in a trial could appeal to a bishop's judgment.[4]

In 336, Constantine ordered a Greek inscription carved on a pedestal of a statue representing himself in Antioch, where Ablabius is named with his fellow senators Lucius Papius Pacatianus, Valerius Felix, Annius Tiberianus and Nestorius Timonianus.[2] Constantine also made Ablabius tutor and preceptor of his son Constantius II.[4] When Constantine died in May 337, Constantius succeeded him. Later in 337, Ablabius sided with Athanasius of Alexandria, the Nicene Bishop of Alexandria who had powerful enemies at the court of the pro-Arian Constantius. Due to Ablabius’ support for Athanasius, Constantius dismissed him from the imperial court, and Ablabius retired to his estates in Bithynia.[4] In 338, Constantius condemned Ablabius to death following false accusations of intending to usurp the throne; the emperor had him executed in front of his own house.[4] His house in Constantinople later belonged to the Empress Galla Placidia.[4]


Ablabius had married an unnamed noblewoman by whom he had two known children:



  1. ^ Salzman 2002, pp. 100, 302; Nordgren 2004, pp. 383–385.
  2. ^ a b c Millar 1993, p. 210.
  3. ^ a b c Budge 1907, "Chapter xlii. Of the Blessed Woman Olympias", pp. 163–165.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jones, Martindale & Morris 1971, "Fl. Ablabius 4", pp. 3–4.
  5. ^ Salzman 2002, pp. 100–101.
  6. ^ a b Clark 1990, p. 28.
  7. ^ Eunapius. The Life of Philosophers and Sophists, VI.III.1–7.
  8. ^ a b Salzman 2002, p. 100.
  9. ^ Salzman 2002, p. 302.
  10. ^ Nordgren 2004, p. 385: "The daughter of Ablabius, Olympias, who had been engaged with Constans, was in 360 married away by Constantius II with the Armenian king Arsaces as part of his alliance-politics."
  11. ^ Faustus of Byzantium. History of the Armenians, IV.15.
  12. ^ Jones, Martindale & Morris 1971, "SELEVCVS I", pp. 818–819.
  13. ^ Chausson 2002, p. 207.


  • Budge, Ernest A. Wallis (1907). The Paradise of the Holy Fathers. Vol. I. London: Chatto & Windus.
  • Chausson, François (2002). "La familie du préfet Ablabius". In Pallas Revue d'Études Antiques (ed.). Sertorius, Libanios, Iconographie. Université de Toulousse-Le Mirail et Université de Provence: Presses Universitaire du Mirail. pp. 205–230. ISBN 2-85816-662-5.
  • Clark, Elizabeth A. (1990). "2 Early Christian Women: Sources and Interpretation". In Coon, Lynda L.; Haldane, Katherine J.; Sommer, Elizabeth W. (eds.). That Gentle Strength: Historical Perspectives on Women in Christianity. Charlottesville and London: The University Press of Virginia. pp. 19–35. ISBN 0-8139-1286-5.
  • Jones, Arnold Hugh Martin; Martindale, John Robert; Morris, John (1971). The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume I: A.D. 260–395. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-07233-6.
  • Millar, Fergus (1993). The Roman Near East, 31 BC – AD 337. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-77885-5.
  • Nordgren, Ingemar (2004). The Well Spring of the Goths: About the Gothic peoples in the Nordic Countries and on the Continent. New York, Lincoln and Shanghai: iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-78450-X.
  • Salzman, Michele Renee (2002). The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00641-0.

Further readingEdit

  • Halsall, Guy, ed. (2002). Humour, History and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81116-3.
  • Parvis, Sara (2006). Marcellus of Ancyra And the Lost Years of the Arian Controversy 325–345. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-928013-1.
  • Potter, David S. (2004). The Roman Empire at Bay: AD 180-395. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10057-7.
Preceded by Roman consul
With: Junius Bassus
Succeeded by
L. Papius Pacatianus
Mecilius Hilarianus
Preceded by
Praetorian prefect of the East
Succeeded by