Europe 396: Hunnic invasion of the East
While Alaric was plundering the Balkans in 395, the Huns launched a major attack on both the Roman and Persian empires. Advancing across the Caucasus, they threatened both Syria and Ctesiphon, before finally being defeated and expelled by the Persian army.
27 Nov 395 Assassination of Rufinus▲
Following the premature termination of Stilicho’s campaign against Alaric in the fall of 395, the general Gainas led the possibly frustrated Eastern legions back to Constantinople. Arriving outside the gates in late November, the troops were greeted by the Eastern emperor Arcadius and Rufinus, Praetorian Prefect of the East, but promptly surrounded and killed Rufinus as a traitor. The immediate beneficiary of the assassination was the eunuch Eutropius, who, having earlier engineered Arcadius’ marriage to Aelia Eudoxia, now emerged to become the emperor’s principal advisor.
395? Western Illyricum▲
As one of his first acts after the assassination of Rufinus in November 395, Eutropius arranged for the transfer responsibility over the Diocese of Pannoniae from the Eastern-governed Praetorian Prefecture of Illyricum to the Western-governed Praetorian Prefecture of Italy. Although the move may have placated Stilicho by providing the West with control of the eastern Alpine passes and a buffer zone against attacks from the Danube, it may also have allowed Rufinus to pull Eastern garrisons from Pannoniae for reuse elsewhere. Possibly as a result of this transfer, the diocese was renamed from Pannoniae to Illyricum by the late 4th century.
396 Hunnic invasion of Persia▲
After ravaging Roman Mesopotamia and Syria in 395, a force Huns under the leadership of Basikh and Koursikh turned east, traveling down the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates to threaten the Sasanian Persian capital of Ctesiphon. Although they took much plunder and many captives, they were eventually chased away by the Persian army, which intercepted and killed many of the Huns before they escaped back onto the steppe through the Derbent Pass. As a result of their victory, the Persians liberated some 18,000 prisoners, many of them Romans.
396 Alaric’s invasion of Greece▲
The withdrawal of Stilicho to the West in late 395 encouraged Alaric and his Goths to invade Greece early the following year. Facing little resistance from the garrison at the pass of Thermopylae, the Goths bypassed Thebes to advance on Athens, which they left untouched after the locals agreed to accept Alaric as a guest. They then captured Megara and Corinth, before turning south to overrun Sparta and the Peloponnese.