Aetius, Flavius

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Aetius, Flavius (d. 454). Roman general. Gildas's work On the Ruin of Britain contains the passage known as The Groans of the Britons: ‘To Agitius thrice consul, the groans of the Britons. … the barbarians push us back to the sea, the sea pushes us back to the barbarians. Between these two types of death we are either slaughtered or drowned.’ The Agitius of the text is usually identified as Flavius Aetius, consul for the third time in 446 and last effective Roman commander in Gaul. Other possibilities are Aegidius, appointed by the Emperor Majorian (457–61) as commander in Gaul and subsequently ruling independently till his death in 464 but never thrice consul; or another Flavius Aetius of similar date who was consul but whose career lay mainly in the eastern part of the empire. There is no evidence that any of these intervened in Britain.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary