Gratian grā´shən [key], 359–83, Roman emperor of the West (375–83). At the death of his father, Valentinian I , he accepted the army's election of his brother, Valentinian II , as his colleague. Gratian took Britain, Gaul, and Spain as his own share of the empire and acted as guardian for Valentinian in Italy, Illyricum, and Africa. After the death of Valens (378), he made Theodosius I emperor of the East. Gratian fought successfully against the barbarians. He appointed St. Ambrose as an adviser and vigorously attacked paganism, ordering the removal of the altar of Victory from the senate house and the confiscation of the revenues of the vestal virgins and refusing the title pontifex maximus. Toward the end of his reign he neglected public affairs for hunting. In 383 he was assassinated by the followers of Maximus.
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