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Domnica Augusta, Wife of the Emperor Valens

Thomas M. Banchich

Canisius College

Domnica (PLRE I, p. 265), or in some sources Dominica, was the daughter of Petronius 3 (PLRE I, pp. 290-291), prior to 364 a praepositus of the Martenses seniores, a legion of the eastern field army, and later raised by his son-in-law Valens to the rank of patricius. Though the date of her marriage to Valens is unknown, it must have preceded his elevation as Augustus, for during the period of Procopius' revolt, i.e., from 365-366 , Anastasia 2 (PLRE I, p. 58) and Carusa (PLRE I, p. 182), the daughters of Domnica and Valens, were old enough to be receiving grammatical instruction from Marcianus 8 (PLRE I, p. 554).[[1]] The Chronicon Paschale (s.a. 364) also mentions the girls by name, along with their younger brother Galates (PLRE I, p. 381).

According to orthodox tradition, when Valens was embroiled in theological controversy surrounding Basil of Caesarea and the Arian Eudoxius, by whom Valens was baptized allegedly at Domnica's prompting (Theodoret Hist. eccl. 4.12.4, p. 232.11-14, edd. Parmentier and Scheidweiler) , the empress, then at Caesarea, was led by a series of dream visions to suspect that the illness of Galates was the result of her husband's brusque handling of Basil (Cf. Rufinus Hist. eccl. 11.9, p. 1016.13-15, ed. Mommsen, and Soc. Hist. eccl. 4.26.21, pp. 202-203, ed. Hussey [Oxford, 1878]). Theodoret's version (Hist. eccl. 4.12.3-4, p. 232.9-16, and 4.19.8-9, p. 244.7-19), notes no dreams but, perhaps misunderstanding references to them in its sources, makes both Galates and Domnica ill. Valens summoned Basil to the scene, and the latter made the emperor's commitment to orthodoxy the condition of the boy's survival. Upon Valens' demurral, Basil departed with the declaration that God's will would be done. Immediately after undergoing baptism by Arians, the young prince died (Theodoret Hist. eccl. 4.19.10, p. 244.16-19). Since Galates was consul prior in 369, this must have occurred either in that year or in 370.[[3]]

Following Valens' death at Adrianople (August 9, 378), Domnica distributed soldiers' wages from the imperial treasury to civilian volunteers willing to take up arms in defense of Constantinople against the Goths (Soc. Hist. eccl. 5.1.3, p. 216, and Soz. Hist. eccl. 7.1.2, p. 302.7-10, edd. Bidez and Hansen) and "served faithfully and bravely" until the appointment of Theodosius (Jordanes Romana 314, p. 40.20-23, ed. Mommsen). The circumstances and date of her death are unknown.


[[1]]Cf. Soc. Hist. eccl. 4.9.4 and Soz. Hist. eccl. 6.9.3. Marcianus, formerly a palatinus but by then a Novation presbyter, supposedly moderated Valens' hostility toward that sect.

[[2]]Hanns Christof Brennecke, Studien zur Geschichte der Homoer, Vol. 73 of Beitrage zur historischen Theologie (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1988), pp. 183-186, examines the source problems and historical context.

[[3]]For his consulship, see PLRE I, p. 381.

Copyright (C) 1997, Thomas M. Banchich This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Thomas M. Banchich

Updated: 3 November 1997

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