Meanwhile for the Emperor at Milan the sands were rapidly running out. The anxiety and fatigue of the recent campaign had proved too severe even for his strong constitution. He was taken ill with a dropsy. A spell of exceptionally inclement weather may have aggravated his malady. Earthquake shocks were felt, incessant fogs shrouded the city in gloom, and for weeks together the rain dripped monotonously. Amid this melancholy dusk and dampness Theodosius grew steadily weaker, and, recollecting the prophecy of John of Lycopolis, became convinced that he would not recover. His remaining energy was applied to the business of providing for the future of the Empire. He arranged that Arcadius should rule the Eastern part and Honorius the Western, and nominated Stilicho though not formally by a legal instrument--as guardian of the two inexperienced Augusti. For his sons he dictated an instruction, in which he earnestly admonished them to be zealous for religion; 'for it is by this', he said, 'that wars are ended, victories are obtained, and peace is secured'. He gave directions for the proclamation of an amnesty to those who had taken arms against him in the recent war, and ordered the recession of a tax which he had promised, but had hitherto neglected, to abolish. By the time that these matters were settled, the Emperor's strength was almost exhausted. The pleasurable excitement of welcoming his younger son on his arrival in Milan produced a temporary rally. Indeed he felt so much better that he gave orders for an exhibition of games in the Hippodrome, and himself watched the morning races from the imperial box. After the dinner-interval, however, he became violently ill, and sent Honorius to represent him at the races in the afternoon. He died in the course of the ensuing night, on the 17th of January, A.D. 395, being then (as seems probable) only in the fiftieth year of his age, and having reigned sixteen years all but two days. Ambrose was with him at the end, and testifies that his last thoughts were for the welfare of the Churches.
It was decided that the corpse should be conveyed to Constantinople, and there interred in the ornate Church of the Apostles. [Here Theodosius was buried on the 8th of November.] First, however, it was embalmed, and for forty days lay in state on a lofty purple-draped couch in the atrium of the palace at Milan. On the fortieth day--Sunday the 25th of February, A.D. 395--a solemn Eucharist was celebrated in the cathedrals and, in the presence of Honorius and the general staff, Ambrose pronounced the funeral oration.
F. Homes Dudden, The Life and Times of St. Ambrose (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935), pp. 438-9.

Within the Galla Placidia page of the Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors, it states: "In 394 she was summoned to Milan, and there she witnesses the death of her father [Theodosius] in early 395." Can anyone direct me to the historical source that first reports this?

What I particularly want to be certain of is whether Galla Placidia was present when Ambrose delivered his obituary of Theodosius, 25 February 395. Ambrose mentions Honorius' presence, but not Galla Placidia's. Honorius was eleven years old at the time, and Galla Placidia was around six years old. If Galla Placidia was present for the funeral oration, then she heard about the earlier Empress, St. Helena and the finding of the True Cross.

Offhand I think it's an inference from Claudian's report of when Serena came to Milan escorting the children...

Thanks for the reference. You are right about Claudian recording Serena bringing Honorius and Galla Placidia to Milan from Rome. Oost, in Galla Placidia Augusta states that there is no real evidence that Galla Placidia was at the funeral oration of Theodosius, but that her presence there is today mostly assumed.

And meanwhile Theodosius is still laying in state at Milan. Scholars assume that along with Honorius, Theodosius' son and the new (eleven year old) Emperor of the West, Galla Placidia, Theodosius' younger daughter and half-sister to Arcadius and Honorius, was also present when Ambrose delivered Theodosius' obituary 25 February 395. And even if Galla Placidia was not there to hear Ambrose breaking the silence about Helena and the finding of the True Cross, there is no doubt that Galla Placidia went on to reenact Helena in the building of many churches, for example Santa Croce at Ravenna. Beyond that, Galla Placidia's whole life was a East-West Roman-Barbarian double theater itself.




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