prime minister of Theodosius the Great, one of the most able, but also most intriuing, treacherous, and dangerous men of his time. Suidas calls him βαθυγνώμος ἄνθρωπος καὶ κρύψινος.
He was a native of Elusium, the capital of Novempopulania, a portion of Aquitania, in Gaul, now Eause in Gascony. Although of low birth, he succeeded in working his way up to the imperial court, and early attached himself to the fortune of Theodosius, with whom he became a great favourite.
He employed his ascendancy over the emperor to abuse his confidence, and Theodosius seemed to have been struck with a blindness which prevented him from seeing the odious vices and public crimes of this dangerous mall.
At the time of the great troubles at Thessalonica, in A. D. 390, Rufinus held the important post of magister officiorum, and having great influence in the imperial cabinet, excited the vindictive Theodosius to those cruel measures which brought ruin upon that flourishing city. In 392 Rufinus was consul, and raised himself to the dignity of praefectus praetorio by deposing the then prefect Tatianus, sending him into exile, and putting to death his son Proculus, the praefect of Constantinople.
In consequence of these proceedings, and his boundless rapacity through which the eastern provinces were nearly ruined, Rufinus incurred the general hatred; and the empire was surprised when, after the death of Theodosius in the same year, 392, he continued his former influence over the weak Arcadius.
There were, however, men in the empire able to cope with him, and little dreading his power. Among these Stilicho and Eutropius were the principal, and they consequently became objects of fear and hatred to Rnfinus.
In order to divert the attention of these powerfill men from his own person, and prevent them from joining in Constantinople for his destruction, Rufinus persuaded the Huns and the Goths to make an inroad into the empire.
The former came from Scythia by sea, landed in Asia Minor, and carried destruction as fir as Antioch, where their farther progress was arrested. The Goths were met by the brave Stilicho who, owing to the nachinations of Rufinus, sustained more defeats than he obtained victories, and was unable to chastise the barbarians as they deserved. They retreated, however, and now Stilicho entered with Gainas, the Gothic ally of Arcadius, into a plan for ruining Rufinus. Gainas soon gained the assistance of his officers, land approached Constantinople under the pretext of having his troops reviewed by the emperor. Ruifinus had meanwhile prevailed upon Arcadius to make him co-emperor, and they set out from Constantinople to meet the returning army, and have the proclamation made in presence of Gainas and his men, whom they thought devoted to the all-powerful minister. Rufinus was so sure of his nomination, that he had already money coined with his effigy, destined to be distributed among the soldiers. Arcadius and Rufinus arrived in the camp of Gainas on the 27th of November 395, and the solemnity was on the point of taking place, when suddenly one of Gainas' men rushed upon Rufinus, who stood close to the emperor, and plunged his sword in his breast. Others soon followed his example, and in a moment Rufinus fell a victim to their fury. His head was cut off, stuck upon a spear, and paraded through the camp. His right hand was likewise cut off, and a soldier carried it about among his comrades, crying in mockery, "Charity, charity to the hand that could never get enough!" Arcadius fled in consternation from the scene of murder, but his fears were soon removed, and he agreed to confiscate the immense property of Rufinus. Of this Eutropius, who was secretly privy to the murder, got the lion's share. Others, who had been robbed by Rufinus, tried to obtain an indemnity by seizing whatever they could find belonging to him, till at last Arcadius issued an edict, at the instigation of Eutropius, by which the whole residue of the property of Rufinus was declared to be imperial, or more properly speaking Eutropian, property.
The wife and daughter of Rufinus were exiled to Jerusalem, and there died in peace many yeats after. Rufinus was the brother of Saint Sylvia. (Claudian. Rufinus ;
Suidas, s. v. Ῥουφῖνος ;
Sozom. 7.24, &c.; Zosim. lib. iv. v.; Theodoret. 5.17, &c. ; Philostorg. 11.1, &c.)