« Privatus, bp. of Lambaesis Probus, Sextus Anicius Petronius Prochorus, a deacon »

Probus, Sextus Anicius Petronius

Probus (4), Sextus Anicius Petronius (Corp. Inscrip. vi. i, n. 1752), a member of one of the most illustrious families in Rome, consul with Gratian in a.d. 371, and four times pretorian prefect of Italy, Illyricum, the Gauls, and Africa. He had also been proconsul in Africa in 358 (Cod. Theod. xi. 36; xiii.). He was appointed pretorian prefect of Italy and Illyricum in 368 (Ammian. xxvii. 1). During his tenure of office he chose St. Ambrose, then a young advocate, as one of his council, and afterwards appointed him governor of Liguria and Aemilia with the rank of consular. On this occasion Probus uttered the words, afterwards considered prophetic, "Go, act not as a judge but as a bishop"; and many years later he sent one of his servants, who was possessed with a devil, to be healed by him (Paulinus, Vita Ambr. 5, 8, 21, in Migne, Patr. Lat. xiv. 28, 29, 34). Probus continued prefect of Italy until Valentinian died in 374. He appears as pretorian prefect of Italy in 380, and as pretorian prefect in 383–384 (Cod. Theod. vi. 28 ii.; xi. 13 i.; vi. 30 vi.). After the murder of Gratian in 383 he acted as regent to Valentinian II. in Italy, accompanying him and his mother Justina in their flight to Thessalonica on the invasion of Maximus in 387 (Socr. H. E. v. 11; Soz. H. E. vii. 13). He died before the end of 394 (Claudian. in Prob. et Ol. Cons. 31) at the age of nearly 60, after having received baptism (Corp Inscrip. vi. 1, p. 389). It may be owing to his Christianity that Ammianus (xxvii. 11) paints him in such unfavourable colours, a remarkable contrast to the glowing panegyric of Claudian and Ausonius (Ep. 16). All agree as to his immense wealth and boundless liberality. His wife Anicia Faltonia Proba belonged to the Anician house, and their sons Probinus and Olybrius had the unique honour of being consuls together in 395. Six letters of Symmachus, who was his intimate friend (Epp. i. 56–61), are addressed to him (Tillem. Emp. v. 42, 72).

[F.D.]

« Privatus, bp. of Lambaesis Probus, Sextus Anicius Petronius Prochorus, a deacon »
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