6. Praetorian praefect of Italy and Illyricum A. D. 382-3.
He was the intimate friend of Q. Aurelius Symmachus, many of whose letters (nearly the whole of the second book) are addressed to him. Symmachus continually addresses him as his "brother Flavian," which moderns (we know not for what reason) understand as expressive of close intimacy, but not of actual relationship. Gothofredus appears to distinguish between this Flavian and one who was praetorian praefect in 391 and 392 ; but we concur with Tillemont in identifying the two. Tillemont also (and we think justly) refers to this Flavian the inscription given above [No. 5], in which his second praefecture and consulship are recorded.
He was, like Symmachus, a zealous pagan, and a supporter of the usurper Eugenius, from whom he and Arbogastes the Frank solicited and obtained the restoration of the Altar of Victory at Milan.
It is probable that he was the person mentioned by Paullinus of Milan, as having threatened that, if they were successful in the war with Theodosius, they would turn the church of Milan into a stable.
The text of Paullinus has, in the notice of this incident, the name Fabianus, which is probably a corruption of Flavianus.
He was eminent for his political sagacity, and his skill in the pagan methods of divination, in the exercise of which he assured Eugenius of victory; and when Theodosius had falsified his predictions, by forcing the passes of the Alps, he, according to Rufinns, "judged himself worthy of death," rather for his mistake as a soothsayer than his crime as a rebel. Eugenius had appointed him consul (A. D. 394), though his name does not appear in the Fasti; and Tillemont infers from the passage in Rufinus that he commanded the troops defeated by Theodosius in the Alps, and that he chose to die on the field rather than survive his defeats; but this inference is scarcely authorized.
It is more likely that, as Gothofredus gathers from the letters of Symmachus, he survived the war, and that his life was spared, though he was deprived of his praefecture and his property.
It is difficult, however, to distinguish from each other the Flaviani mentioned by Symmachus, whose letters are very obscure; and possibly this Flavian has been confounded with No. 7. (Symmach. Epist.
passim; Sozom. Hist. Ecc.
7.22 ; Rufin. Hist. Ecc.
2.33; Paullin. Mediol. Vita Ambros.
100.26, 31, in Galland. Bibl. Patr.
vol. ix.; Cod. Theod. 1. tit. 1. s. 2; 3. tit. 1. s. 6; 7. tit. 18. s. 8; 9. tit. 28. s. 2; and tit. 40. s. 13; 10. tit. 10. s. 20; 11. tit. 39. s. 11; 16. tit. 7. s. 4, 5; Gothofred. Prosop. Cod. Theod.;
Tillemont, Hist. des Emp.