Honorius Flavius°

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HONORIUS FLAVIUS ° (364–423 c.e.), Roman emperor. The second son of *Theodosius i, Honorius ruled the empire of the West (395–423), while his elder brother Arcadius inherited the East. During the first part of his reign he was subject to the influence of the Vandal Stilicho, whose daughter he married, and to that of the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, who urged him to continue with the legislation for the protection of the Catholic religion. The laws of Arcadius concerning the Jews were also valid in the western part of the empire. A few laws by Honorius were later incorporated in the Theodosian Code (C.Th.) and partly also in the Justinian Code (C.J.). In 399 Honorius forbade the gold and silver that had been collected by the synagogues for the patriarch to be sent to Jerusalem, and had it confiscated. Judaism was defined as an unworthy superstition (superstitio indigna) and the patriarch as a plunderer of the Jews (depopulator Judaeorum; C.Th. 16:8, 14). In 404, however, he withdrew the prohibition, basing his decision on ancient principles (C.Th. 16:8, 17); it was partly reestablished by his successors (C. Th. 16:8, 29). Conversion to Judaism was severely punished (C.Th. 16:8, 26; C.J. 1:9, 16). Honorius allowed the Jews to keep Christian slaves on the condition that they allow them to practice their religion and that no attempt be made at proselytism (C.Th. 16:9, 3 of 415 c.e.). Jews and Samaritans were no longer admitted to military service (C.Th. 16:8, 16). The repeated interventions by the emperor to uphold the prohibition against disturbing innocent Jews and their religious meetings and against damaging synagogues (C.Th. 16:8, 21 of 412–21 c.e.; C.Th. 16:8, 26 of 423 c.e.) show that the position of the Jews was insecure. On various occasions the observance of the Sabbath, deprived of its religious meaning, however, was recognized, and judicial proceedings involving Jews were prohibited on the Sabbath and on other Jewish festive days (C.Th. 2:8, 26 of 409; C.Th. 16:8, 20, of 412).


Juster, Juifs; G. Ferrari delle Spade, in: Festschrift… Leopold Wenger, 2 (1945), 102–17 (It.); B. Biondi, Il diritto romano cristiano, 1 (1952); J. Gaudemet, L'église dans l'Empire Romain (1958), 623ff.; A.M. Rabello, in: Labeo, 14 (1968), no. 3, n. 21; E. Demougeot, in: Hommages à L'Hermann (1960), 277ff.

[Alfredo Mordechai Rabello]