Sextus Petronius Probus

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sextus Claudius Petronius Probus († around 390) was a high-ranking late Roman aristocrat who lived in the 4th century AD.


Probus may have been born in Verona . He came from the respected Petronian family and was considered one of the most distinguished and influential men of his time. His family tomb is located near the alleged burial place of the Apostle Peter .

The Probus' career was like a fairy tale: at a very young age he became 358 proconsul of the province of Africa . In 364 he was appointed Praetorian prefect , one of the highest civil posts in the late Roman Empire, responsible for Illyricum. 368–375 and 383 he should also hold the office of Praetorian prefect, this time for Illyricum, Italy and Africa, where he showed great energy. In 366 he was also responsible for the Gallic prefecture. In 371 Probus held the consulate together with the emperor's son Gratian . In 372/373 he appointed Ambrose governor of the province of Aemilia-Liguria. After Gratian's death, he served Valentinian II and fled with him from the usurper Magnus Maximus to Theodosius I in the Eastern Empire . It seems to have been as if Probus also exercised a kind of guardianship for Valentinian II on behalf of Theodosius in the years 383 to 388. In any case, no other man of his time could look back on such a career. The extraordinary position of power and the high education of the Probus did not fail to impress their contemporaries.

Probus was a Christian, but apparently saw no problem in combining his faith with worldly honors, which were already of great importance to members of the Roman Senate , be they pagans or Christians. In general, the extraordinary career of the Probus shows the possibilities that were still opening up to members of the Senate - especially since Christianity was now becoming more and more attractive for noble families, because Probus was not an isolated case. Even pagan circles apparently tried to maintain a good relationship with Probus. This is highly praised by Ambrosius, Ausonius , whom Probus had probably promoted, and Claudian . Quintus Aurelius Symmachus , with whom he was friends, wrote six letters to Probus. Ammianus Marcellinus, on the other hand, criticizes him in his historical work, deliberately portraying Probus in a very negative way. Probus managed to make a huge fortune, but at the same time he seems to have been quite generous.

He was married to Anicia Faltonia Proba, which earned him the name and fortune of the respected Anicier . His sons Flavius ​​Anicius Hermogenianus Olybrius and Flavius ​​Anicius Probinus were given the high honor in 395 of holding the consulate together.



  1. Neil Brendan MacLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital , Berkeley et al, 1994, p 38f, 42..
  2. See the fundamental study by Salzman, Making of a Christian Aristocracy , pp. 102, 123. The role that holding high public offices played for senatorial families is clarified by Salzman, ibid., Pp. 49f.
  3. See Hagith Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux: genesis of a Gallic aristocracy , New York 1993, p. 114f., But also p. 132f.
  4. Epp. I. 56-61.
  5. Cf. for example Ammian 27:11.
  6. See the falsifying picture in Ammianus Seyfarth, Sextus Petronius Probus , especially p. 424f.
  7. ^ John Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the fourth century , Oxford 2000, pp. 267, 308f.
  8. He probably had four sons and one daughter, see PLRE I, p. 739.