2. JUSTA GRATA HONORIA, was the daughter of Constantius III., emperor of the West [CONSTANTIUS III.], and Galla Placidia [GALLA, No. 2], and daughter of Theodosius the Great.
The time of her birth is not known, but it may be estimated approximately by the marriage of her parents, which took place on Jan. 1, 417, and the birth of her brother, Valentinian III., younger than herself, which occurred in A. . 419.
She fled into the eastern empire, with her mother and brother, upon the death of Honorius (A. D. 424) and the usurpation of Joannes; and shared in the danger from the sea and the deliverance therefrom, which are recorded in an inscription now in the wall of St. John's Church at Ravenna [GALLA, No. 2].
In that inscription she is termed Augusta, which title was probably given her after the restoration of Valentinian III. to the western empire; and, it is conjectured, in order to prevent her marrying, by raising her above the rank of a subject. Impatient at being restricted from marriage, she secretly communicated, by one of her eunuchs, whom she sent on the mission, with Attila, who had lately become king of the Huns, inviting him to come into Italy and to marry her.
There is some doubt as to the time of this mission; but we prefer, on the whole, to follow Jornandes, who fixes it before her connection with Eugenius.
It was probably at this time that she sent her ring to Attila as a pledge of her faith; but Attila did not attend to her invitation, and Honoria's unbridled appetite led her into an illicit connection with her own steward, Eugenius, by whom she became pregnant. On the discovery of her condition, she was confined, but not in the palace, and then sent (A. D. 434) to Theodosius II. at Constantinople. Valesius has affirmed that Eugenius was put to death, but this assertion appears to be unsupported by testimony. In A. D. 450, after the death of Theodosius, she appears to have been sent back to her brother, Valentinian; for in that year Attila, anxious to find a cause of quarrel with the western empire, sent an embassy to Valentinian complaining of the wrongs of Honoria, claiming her as betrothed to him, and, with her, that portion of the empire to which she was entitled. Valentinian replied that she could not marry Attila, as she had a husband already; that women had no part in the succession to the empire, and that, consequently, his sister had no claim.
This assertion that Honoria had a husband has led to the conjecture that she was forced at this time to marry some obscure person, and that this enforced marriage was one occasion of a second embassy of Attila, reiterating his claim to her, and sending her ring as an assurance that she had engaged herself to him. Valentinian sent a similar reply to his former one; and the invasion of Gaul by Attila soon followed [ATTILA]. Of the subsequent history of Honoria nothing appears to be known ; Gibbon states, but apparently without authority, that she was condemned to perpetual imprisonment. (Marcellin. Chronicon ;
Priscus, de Legation.
1.7, 8, 2.1; Jornand. de Rcb. Get.
100.42, de Regn. Success.
100.97; Olympiod. apud Phot. Bibl.
cod. 80; Theophan. Chronog.
vol. i. p. 16(2, ed. Bonn ; Tillemont, Ilist. des Emp.
vols. v. and vi.; Gibbon, 100.35; Eckhel, vol. viii. p. 189; Gruter, Inscript.