Theodosius I the Great

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Theodosius I the Great


(also Flavius Theodosius). Born circa 346; died 395. Roman emperor from 379.

A native of Spain, Theodosius was the son of a general. He was an energetic military leader and a shrewd diplomat. After the death of Emperor Valens, Theodosius was proclaimed the emperor Gratian’s coruler and accorded the title Augustus. Theodosius was given the eastern part of the empire to govern. He checked the advance of the Goths by defeating their army in 382 and reaching an agreement with them whereby they were settled within the empire as foederati.

With the edict De Fide Catholica of 380, Theodosius confirmed the supremacy of orthodox Christianity. He persecuted the Arians and prohibited the celebration of pagan rites. Under his rule, many pagan temples were destroyed, the library at Alexandria was burned, and in 394 the Olympic Games were abolished. The Christian church honored the emperor with the appellation “Great.” Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over a united Roman Empire (394–395); after his death the eastern and western halves were administered separately.


Ensslin, W. Die Religionspolitik des Kaisers Theodosius. Munich, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.