Eutropius (Byzantine official)

Eutropius (Byzantine official)

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Eutropius was a fourth century Eastern Roman
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...


He began his career as a eunuch in the palace of Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

. After Theodosius' death in 395 he successfully arranged the marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 of the new emperor, Arcadius
Arcadius was the Byzantine Emperor from 395 to his death. He was the eldest son of Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of the Western Emperor Honorius...

, to Aelia Eudoxia
Aelia Eudoxia
Aelia Eudoxia was the Empress consort of the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius.-Family:She was a daughter of Flavius Bauto, a Romanised Frank who served as magister militum in the Western Roman army during the 380s. The identity of her father is mentioned by Philostorgius...

, having blocked an attempt by Arcadius' chief minister, Rufinus
Rufinus (Byzantine official)
Flavius Rufinus was a 4th century Eastern Roman Empire statesman of Gaulish extraction who served as Praetorian prefect of the East for the emperor Theodosius I, as well as his son Arcadius, under whom Rufinus was the actual power behind the throne.He was the subject of the verse invective In...

, to marry the young and weak-willed emperor to his daughter. After Rufinus' assassination that same year, Eutropius rose in importance in the imperial court, and he soon became Arcadius' closest advisor. His ascension to power was assisted by his defeat of a Hun invasion in 398. The next year he became the first eunuch to be appointed a consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

. He made enemies of both Gaïnas
Gainas was an ambitious Gothic leader who served the Eastern Roman Empire as Magister Militum during the reigns of Theodosius I and Arcadius....

, the leader of the imperial army's Gothic mercenaries, and Eudoxia, the empress he had created, and these two powerful figures engineered his downfall the same year he became a consul.

After Eutropius's fall from power, John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

's pleas kept him alive for a time, but he was eventually executed before the year ended.

During his rise to the consulship, Eutropius earned the enmity of the people due to his reputation for cruelty and greed. He may also have played a role in the assassination of his predecessor Rufinus.