Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 907
Emperor Constantine III is sieged in Arles (Gaul) by the general Gerontius. Gerontius escapes the army of emperor Honorius who eventually defeats Constantine III. Constantine escapes to the church and is ordained a presbyter. Then he is sent with his son Julian to Italy, and both are murdered during the journey, AD 411. Account of Olympiodorus of Thebes (East), after AD 425.
Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 80
16. Ὅτι Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ τυράννου καὶ Κώνσταντος τοῦ παιδὸς, ὅς πρότερον μὲν καῖσαρ, ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ βασιλεὺς ἐκεχειροτόνητο, τούτων ἡττηθέντων καὶ πεφευγότων, Γερόντιος ὁ στρατηγὸς, τὴν πρὸς τοὺς βαρβάρους ἀσμενίσας εἰρήνην, Μάξιμον τὸν ἑαυτοῦ παῖδα, εἰς τὴν τῶν δομεστίκων τάξιν τελοῦντα, βασιλέα ἀναγορεύει· εἶτα ἐπιδιώξας Κώνσταντα, κατεπράξατο ἀναιρεθῆναι, καὶ κατὰ πόδας εἵπετο, διώκων καὶ τὸν πατέρα Κωνσταντίνου. Καὶ καταλαβόντες τὴν Ἀρήλατον, ἔνθα τὰς διατριβὰς ἐποιεῖτο Κωνσταντῖνος σὺν Ἰουλιανῷ τῷ παιδὶ, ταύτην πολιορκοῦσι. Καὶ Κωνσταντῖνος καταφυγὼν εἰς εὐκτήριον πρεσβύτερος τότε χειροτονεῖται, ὅρκων αὐτῷ ὑπὲρ σωτερίας δοθέντων. Καὶ τοῖς πολιορκοῦσιν αἱ πύλαι τῆς πόλεως ἀναπετάννυται· καὶ πέμπεται σὺν τῷ υἱῷ Κωνσταντῖνος πρὸς Ὁνώριον. Ὁ δὲ μνησικακῶν αὐτοῖς ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνεψιῶν αὐτοῦ, οὕς ἐτύγχανε Κωνσταντῖνος ἀνελὼν πρὸ τριάκοντα τῆς Ῥαβέννης μιλίων παρὰ τοὺς ὅρκους προστάττει τούτους ἀναιρεθῆναι. Γερόντιος δὲ, παραγενομένων Οὐλφιλᾶ καὶ Κωνσταντίου, φεύγει· καὶ καταληφθεὶς, ὅτι ἐγκρατῶς ἦρχε τοῦ οἰκείου στρατοῦ, ὑπ᾽αὐτῶν ἐκείνων ἐπιβουλεύται. Πῦρ γὰρ κατὰ τῆς οἰκίας αὺτοῦ ἀνῆψαν. Ὁ δὲ πρὸς τοὺς ἐπαναστάντας κρατερῶς ἐμάχετο, ἕνα συναγωνιστὴν ἔχων Ἀλανὸν τὸ γένος, εἰς δούλους αὐτοῦ ἀριθμούμενον. Τέλος τόν τε Ἀλανὸν καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα, τοῦτο προθυμουμένους, ἀναιρεῖ, ἐπικατασφάζει δὲ καὶ ἑαυτόν. Μάξιμος δὲ ὁ παῖς ταῦτα μαθὼν, πρὸς τοὺς ὑποσπόνδους φεύγει βαρβάρους.
(ed. Muller 1861: 60-61)
Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 80
16. The tyrant Constantine and his son Constans, who was first appointed Caesar and afterwards Augustus, having been defeated and put to flight, his general, Gerontius, gladly made a peace with the barbarians and proclaimed an emperor Maximus, his own son, who was holding an office among his domestics. He then pursued Constans, put him to death, and set out after Constantine. While these events are taking place, Constantius and Ulphilas are sent by Honorius against Constantine; having reached Arelate, where Constantine was living with his son Julian, they lay siege to it. Constantine takes refuge in a church and is ordained priest, having been solemnly promised that his life should be spared. The city gates are thrown open to the besiegers, and Constantine and his son taken to Honorius. But the emperor, bearing a grudge against them for the murder of his cousins by Constantine, orders them to be put to death in violation of his oath, thirty miles from Ravenna. Gerontius, on the arrival of Constantius and Ulphilas, takes to flight, and is seized by his mutinous troops, who resented his severe discipline. The house where he seeks refuge is set on fire, but he offers a brave resistance to the mutineers, together with one of his servants, an Alan by birth. At last, he slays the Alan and then his wife, at their earnest request, and then stabs himself. His son Maximus, on hearing of this, takes refuge with friendly barbarians.
(trans. Freese 1920: 138)


Constantine III was a Roman general who was elevated as the emperor in Britain in 407. He crossed to the continent and there his armies, led by Iustinianus and Nebiogastes, and later by Edobichus and Gerontius, were fighting with Sarus, lieutenant of Stilicho, whom he eventually forced to retreat to Italy. In 408 Constantine established his capital in Arles, and after the next war he won with the Roman armies of Honorius he was recognised as co-emperor. Later however he had to deal with the revolt of his own general Gerontius. Gerontius defeated the forces of Constantine III's son Constans in Vienne in 411, and consequently besieged Constantine III in Arles. Constantius, a general of Honorius, defeated Gerontius and continued the siege of Arles. The remaining support of Constantine in Gaul abandoned him to support the rebel Jovinus. Constantine surrendered, and was ordained a presbyter, imprisoned, and finally killed (Blockley 2008: 129-130; Drinkwater 1998).
Olympiodorus probably used the account of Sozomen see [895].

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Arles
  • Ravenna

About the source:

Author: Olympiodorus of Thebes
Title: Histories, Historiae
Origin: Constantinople (East)
Denomination: Pagan
The fragments of the historical work of Olympiodorus of Thebes are known to us through the relation of Photius in his Bibliotheca (cod. 80) and by Zosimus. Olympiodorus was born in Egyptian Thebaid possibly in the 380s. He was classically educated and later served at the imperial court in Constantinople. In 412 he was a head of the embassy to the Huns, in 415 he was in Athens; he also travelled to Egypt, and in 425 he went to Rome (it is the last event from Olympiodorus` life we know of). According to Photius the history of Olympiodorus covered the years 407-425 AD in twenty-two books. Writing his history he made use primarly of Sozomen, and Philostorgius (Matthews 1970).
Ch. Muller ed., Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, vol. 4, Paris 1851, 58-68 (with Latin translation)
J.H. Freese trans., The Library of Photius, vol. 1, Translations of Christian Literature. Series 1. Greek Texts, New York 1920, 140-148
R.C. Blockley, The fragmentary classicising historians of the later Roman empire. Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus, 2 vols. Liverpool 1981
R.C. Blockley, "The Dynasty of Theodosius”, [in :] Cambridge Ancient History, ed. A. Cameron, P. Garnsey, v. 13, 2008, 111-137.
J.F. Drinkwater, "The Usurpers Constantine III (407-411) and Jovinus (411-413)”, Britannia 29 (1998), 269-298.
1. J. Matthews, "Olympiodorus of Thebes and the History of the West (A.D. 407-425)”, The Journal of Roman Studies 60 (1970), 79-97.


Social origin or status - Monarchs and their family
Family life - Offspring
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Reasons for ordination - Involuntary ordination
Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
Conflict - Violence
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER907,