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Ch. 11
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Ch. 13, §§1‑4



§ 1. The Usurpation of Basiliscus (A.D. 475‑476)

The new Emperor, Leo II, was a child of seven years, and the regency naturally devolved on his father Zeno. But with the consent of the Senate and the concurrence of the Empress Verina, the child conferred the Imperial dignity on his father, in the Hippodrome (February 9, A.D. 474) and died in the same year, leaving to Zeno nominally as well as actually the sole power (November 17).1

Zeno was not beloved.2 He was unpopular both with the Byzantine populace and in senatorial circles.3 He was hated as an Isaurian. If we remember the depredations of the Isaurians in the reign of Arcadius, it is not surprising that they had an evil name, and it is more than probable that the soldiers introduced into the capital by Leo had not belied their reputation for rudeness and violence. Zeno's accession meant Isaurian ascendancy, p390 high places for the Emperor's fellow-countrymen, and more rude mountaineers in the capital. Historians of the time vent their feelings by describing him as physically horrible and morally abominable,4 and he was said to be a coward.5 His most trusted counsellor was the Isaurian Illus, who was, however, to prove a thorn in his side, and Trocundes, the brother of Illus, also rose into prominence.

The first year of the reign was crowded with anxieties. Vandals, Ostrogoths, Huns, and Arabs were all in arms against the Empire. King Gaiseric must have been deeply displeased by the murder of the Arian Aspar, with whom he is said to have been on friendly terms. After Leo's death, the Vandals descended on the western shores of Greece and captured Nicopolis. Zeno was not prepared for war. He sent to Carthage Severus, a man of high repute, who made a favourable impression on Gaiseric by refusing all his gifts. The king made him a present of all the captives who had fallen to the share of the royal family and allowed him to redeem others from any Vandals who willing to sell. A perpetual peace was then concluded between the two powers (A.D. 474),6 and was maintained for nearly sixty years. Meanwhile Zeno's coronation had provoked Aspar's Ostrogothic relative Theoderic Strabo to new hostilities in Thrace. The Master of Soldiers in the Thracian provinces was captured and slain; but Illus took the field and terminated the war.

If the Emperor was able to cope with foreign foes by negotiation or arms, his position amid a hostile court and people was highly precarious. A formidable conspiracy was formed against him, of which the leading spirit was his mother-in‑law, the Augusta Verina.7 She had concurred in Zeno's elevation, but she did not like him, and being a woman of energy and ambition she found it distasteful to fall into the background, overshadowed by her daughter, the Augusta Ariadne. Her scheme was to raise to the throne and marry her paramour Patricius, who had formerly held the post of Master of Offices. She engaged the co-operation of her brother Basiliscus, who had been living in retirement at p391 Heraclea on the Propontis, and Basiliscus succeeded in seducing the Isaurian brothers Illus and Trocundes to abandon their loyalty to Zeno.8 When all the preparations were complete, the queen-mother, with consummate skill, persuaded Zeno that his life was in danger and that his only safety was in flight. Taking with him a large company of Isaurians, and supplying himself with treasure, he crossed over to Chalcedon (January 9, A.D. 475) and fled to Isauria.9 Those who accompanied him were fortunate, for, when the Emperor's flight was known, the populace indulged in their inveterate hatred of the Isaurians by a colossal massacre. Verina now hoped to reign as mistress of the palace, but she was outwitted by her brother, who was himself ambitious of the purple. The choice of the ministers and Senate fell not on Patricius but on Basiliscus, who was proclaimed and crowned Emperor at the Hebdomon palace. He immediately crowned his wife Zenonis as Augusta, and conferred the rank of Caesar upon his youthful son Marcus, whom he afterwards crowned Augustus.10 The circumstances of his elevation naturally led to a breach with Verina, and, having good reason to fear her capacity for intrigue, he took the precaution of putting Patricius to death.11

Basiliscus reigned for twenty months and in that time he made himself extremely unpopular, chiefly by his ecclesiastical policy. He favoured the heresy of Monophysitism and issued a decree against the Council of Chalcedon. He and his wife had fallen under the influence of Timothy Aelurus, the bishop of Alexandria, who had come to Constantinople, and he went so far as to withdraw the Asiatic sees from the control of the bishop of Constantinople.12 Acacius, the Patriarch, was roused by this injury to the rights of his see. He draped St. Sophia in black and appeared in mourning before a large sympathetic congregation. Basiliscus left the city.

The Emperor had made another enemy in the Ostrogothic p392 Theoderic Strabo, who, as the enemy of Zeno, had supported his elevation, by bestowing a Mastership of Soldiers13 on his relation Armatus, a young fop, who was the lover of the Empress Zenonis. Their love is described by a historian in a passage worthy of a romance.14

Basiliscus permitted Armatus, inasmuch as he was a kinsman, to associate freely with the Empress Zenonis. Their intercourse became intimate, and as they were both persons of no ordinary beauty they became extravagantly enamoured of each other. They used to exchange glances of the eyes, they used constantly to turn their faces and smile at each other; and the passion which they were obliged to conceal was the cause of dule and teen. They confided their trouble to Daniel a eunuch and to Maria a midwife, who hardly healed their malady by the remedy of bringing them together. Then Zenonis coaxed Basiliscus to grant her lover the highest office in the city.

The preferment which Armatus received from his uncle elated him beyond measure. He was naturally effeminate and cruel. Theoderic Strabo despised him as a dandy who only care for his toilet and the care of his body; and it was said that in the days of Leo he had punished a number of Thracian rebels by cutting off their hands. When he was exalted by his mistress's husband, he imagined that he was a man of valour, and dressed himself as Achilles, in which guise he used to ride about and astonish or amuse the people in the Hippodrome. The populace nicknamed him Pyrrhus, on account of his pink cheeks, but he took it as a compliment to his valour, and became still more inflated with vanity. "He did not," says the historian, "slay heroes like Pyrrhus, but he was a chamberer and wanton like Paris."

Basiliscus, perhaps soon after his elevation, had despatched Illus and Trocundes against Zeno, who, now in his native fortresses,15 had resumed the life of an Isaurian chieftain. Basiliscus, however, failed to fulfil what he had promised to the two generals; and they received letters from some of the leading ministers at p393 the court, urging them to secure the return of Zeno. For the city was now prepared to welcome the restoration of the Isaurian, to replace the Monophysite, whose unpopularity was increased by the fiscal rapacity of his ministers.16 Illus decided to change sides, and his resolution may have been reinforced by the fact that he had a certain hold over Zeno, having got into his power Longinus, Zeno's brother, whom he kept a prisoner in an Isaurian fortress. Accordingly, Zeno and Illus joined forces and started for Constantinople. When Basiliscus received news of this danger, he hastened to recall his ecclesiastical edicts and to conciliate the Patriarch and the people.17 But it was too late. Armatus, the Master of Soldiers, was sent with all available forces to oppose the advancing army of the Isaurians, but secret messages from Zeno, who promised to give him the Mastership of Soldiers for life and to confer the rank of Caesar on his son, induced him to betray his master. He avoided the road by which Zeno was advancing and marched into Isauria by another way. This betrayal decided the fate of Basiliscus. Zeno entered the capital without resistance in August 476. Basiliscus was sent to Cucusus in Cappadocia and there beheaded; his wife and children shared his fate. The promise which had been made to Armatus was kept to the letter. His son was created Caesar at Nicaea. But immediately afterwards the Emperor, by the advice of Illus, caused him to be assassinated, and the Caesar was stripped of his rank and compelled to take orders.18

A deplorable misfortune, which occurred in the reign of Basiliscus, is said to have helped, as accidents in superstitious ages always help, to render his government unpopular. This was an immense conflagration,19 which, beginning in the quarter of Chalkoprateia, spread far and wide, reducing to ashes the p394 adjacent colonnades and houses. But more serious was the destruction of the Basilica, the library founded by Julian, which contained no fewer than 120,000 books. Among these rolls, the intestine of a serpent, 120 feet long, on which the Iliad and Odyssey were written in golden characters, is specially mentioned. The fire spread along Middle Street and destroyed the palace of Lausus, which contained among its splendours some of the most beautiful works of Greek plastic art, the Cnidian Aphrodite, the Lindian Athene, and the Samian Here.

§ 2. The Revolts of Marcian and Illus (A.D. 479‑488)

For the first few years after the restoration of Zeno, Illus was all-powerful. He was consul in A.D. 478; he was appointed Master of Offices, and created a patrician. But he was bitterly detested by the two Empresses, Verina and Ariadne, who resented his influence with Zeno. Attempts on his life were made at Verina's instigation. Her favourite, the Prefect Epinicus, suborned a barbarian to assassinate him. The attempt failed; the criminal confessed that the prefect had inspired his act; and Zeno, having deprived Epinicus of his office, handed him over to Illus who sent him to a castle in Isauria.20 Some time elapsed, and then, leaving the capital on a pretext, Illus visited Epinicus in his prison and elicited a confession that he had been instigated by the queen-mother. He then refused (towards the end of A.D. 479) to return to Constantinople unless Verina were surrendered to him. Zeno, to whom Illus was indispensable, complied; she was sent to Tarsus where she was forced to become a nun and was confined by Illus in the castle of Dalisandus.21 The presence of Illus was sorely needed, on account of Ostrogothic hostilities in Illyricum and Thrace,22 and there was still a Gothic faction in the city. In his absence, Zeno had talked of taking the field himself, and there was much dissatisfaction at his failing to do so. He was p395 accused of cowardice, but the true reason probably was that he feared not the enemy but his own army.23

The treatment of Verina supplied a pretext to her son-in‑law, Marcian, to attempt to overthrow Zeno (end of A.D. 479).24 Marcian, who was son of Anthemius, the western Emperor, had married Leontia, Leo's younger daughter, and claimed that he had a better right to the throne than Zeno, because his wife had been born in the purple. This claim, according to the theory of the Imperial succession, was entirely futile, but it illustrates how the idea that children born in the purple had a natural title to the throne was beginning to grow. The barbarians in the city rallied round Marcian and his brother Procopius,25 and the citizens were on their side. The brothers united their forces near the house of Caesarius, to the south of the Forum of Theodosius;26 and then one of them marched upon the palace, while the other attacked the house of Illus.27 The Emperor nearly fell into their hands,28 and during the day the rebels were victorious against the Imperial soldiers, on whose heads the citizens showered missiles from the roofs. But under the cover of night, Illus introduced into the city an Isaurian force from Chalcedon, and the next day Marcian's party was defeated. Marcian was ordained a priest and banished to Cappadocia; Leontia fled to a convent.29 Theoderic Strabo was in league with Marcian, but did not reach the city in time to help him.

It was perhaps not long after this that the Empress Ariadne entreated Zeno to recall her mother. Zeno told her to ask Illus. The Empress sent for Illus and implored him with tears to p396 release her mother. And Illus said, "Why do you want her? Is it that she may set up another Emperor against your husband" Then Ariadne said to Zeno, "Is Illus to be in the Palace or I?" and he replied, "Do what you can. I prefer you." She suborned Sporacius, one of the Scholarian guards, to assassinate Illus, and the attempt was made, on the occasion of a spectacle in the Hippodrome, as Illus was walking through The Pulpita behind the Kathisma. The assassin's sword, aimed at the head, cut off the minister's right ear, and he was hewn to pieces on the spot.30 Illus did not believe Zeno's asseverations that he was ignorant of the plot, and when the wound was healed he requested the Emperor to allow him to go to the East for change of air. Zeno relieved him of the duties of Master of Offices and appointed him Master of Soldiers in the East. Illus proceeded to Antioch, taking with him a considerable number of friends and adherents (481‑482), including Marsus and the pagan quaestor Pamprepius.31 Soon afterwards the patrician Leontius seems to have been sent to Antioch demanding the release of Verina, but Illus won him over to his interests and he did not return to Constantinople.32 The estrangement of the Emperor from his general was now complete, and a contest between the two Isaurians was inevitable. Illus and his party hoped to secure Egypt for their cause, and attempted, but without success, to take advantage of the ecclesiastical disputes which were at this time dividing Alexandria.33 The hostilities of the Ostrogoths prevented Zeno from taking any measures before the end of A.D. 483, or the spring of 484. When his hands were at last free, he commanded Illus to surrender Longinus (Zeno's brother) who had been a prisoner for many years. Illus refused, and Zeno deposed him from his command of the eastern army and appointed John the Scythian in his stead. At the same time he expelled the friends of Illus from Constantinople, confiscated p397 their property, and bestowed it upon the cities of Isauria. War ensued and lasted for about four years.

Illus had employed the two years which he spent at Antioch (482‑484) in making himself popular and gaining friends. He counted, for the coming struggle, on the support of the orthodox adherents of the Council of Chalcedon, who had been displeased be an ecclesiastical decree (the Henotikon) in which Zeno had expressly declined to maintain the dogmas of that assembly (A.D. 481). He may also have hoped for some help from pagans. He was very intimate with the pagan philosopher Pamprepius, who had been appointed Quaestor through his influence, and had accompanied him to Antioch. Deciding not to assume the purple himself, Illus drew from his Isaurian prison the ex-tyrant Marcian, and proclaimed him Emperor. He had sought the assistance of the Patrician and king Odovacar in Italy; he had written to the Persian monarch Piroz and to some of the satraps of Roman Armenia. Odovacar refused; the Persians and Armenians promised help when the time came. A great defeat which the Persians suffered at the hands of the Ephthalites (January, A.D. 484; Piroz was slain) rendered it impossible for them to fulfill their promise.

Zeno sent an Isaurian force against the rebels.34 About the same time Illus changed his plans, and entered into an alliance with his old enemy the Emperor Verina who was still languishing in an Isaurian fortress.35 He brought her to Tarsus, arrayed her in imperial robes; and it was decided to set aside Marcian,36 and to proclaim as Emperor the patrician Leontius. Verina crowned him Emperor, and a proclamation in her name was sent through the provinces of the East and Egypt. In this document she claims that the Empire belongs to her, that it was she who conferred it upon Zeno, and that now, since his avarice is ruining the state, she has determined to transfer it to the pious Leontius.37 p398 The new Emperor was received at Antioch,38 and the rebellion spread. The Isaurian troops which Zeno had sent were obviously unable to cope with it, and Zeno sought the hope of Theoderic the Amal and his Ostrogoths. Theoderic, as Master of Soldiers in praesenti, joined the army of John the Scythian, and though he was recalled almost immediately, his followers seem to have remained and taken part in the campaign.39 Rugian auxiliaries were also sent under the command of Aspar's son Ermenric. A battle was fought, the forces of Zeno were victorious, and Illus, Leontius, and Verina, with all their chief partisans, fled to the strong fortress of Cherris40 in the Isaurian mountains (autumn, A.D. 484). The Empress died in a few days. The cause of Illus was now hopeless, but the fortress held out for nearly four years. It was taken by treachery (488), and Illus and Leontius were beheaded.41

The struggle between Illus and Zeno derives particular interest from the association of Illus with the prominent pagans who still flourished at Athens, Constantinople, and Alexandria. These men seem to have hoped that Illus, if victorious, would be able to secure public toleration for paganism.42 It was impossible, p399 of course, to stamp the movement with a pagan character. If Illus had come forward as a new Julian, he would have had no following. But there is little doubt that he was personally in sympathy with the "Hellenes"; he was a man with intellectual interests and was inclined to the Neoplatonic philosophy. His close intimacy with the pagan savant, Pamprepius of Panopolis, who shared his fortunes, proves this. Pamprepius, who is described as swarthy and ugly, went in his youth from Egypt to the university of Athens, where he studied under the philosopher Proclus and was appointed professor of grammar (literature and philology). A quarrel with a magistrate forced him to leave Athens, and he betook himself to Constantinople, where pagans of talent, if they behaved discreetly, could still find a place.43 At the request of Illus he delivered a lecture, probably explaining the doctrines of Neoplatonism, and Illus procured his appointment as professor of grammar at the university. He established himself in the favour of Illus by public recitation of a poem,44 in reward for which he received a pension. But when Illus was absent in Isauria (A.D. 478), his enemies seized the opportunity to attack Pamprepius as a pagan and a sorcerer. He was banished from the city and retired to Pergamum; but Illus summoned him to Isauria, and then brought him back in triumph, and procured his appointment to the high post of Quaestorship. Henceforward his fortunes were bound up with those of Illus, to whom he acted as confidant and adviser throughout the struggle for the throne. The pagans blamed Pamprepius for the failure of the movement, and represented him as a traitor to the cause of his chief. But we may take it as certain that this charge was false, and that he was slain not because he was suspected of treachery, but because his prophecies had not come true and he had proved himself a blind guide.45

p400 The greater part of Zeno's reign had been troubled on the one hand by the hostile risings of the Ostrogoths, which have still to be described, and on the other by rebellion. In 488 both these troubles were terminated by the departure of the Goths from Italy and by the final suppression of Illus. The Emperor persisted in his policy of firmly establishing Isaurian predominance. His brother Longinus, who had managed to escape from his prison,46 was consul twice and princeps of the Senate.47 Kottomenes had been appointed Master of Soldiers in praesenti, instead of Theoderic, in 484, and Longinus of Kardala at the same time became Master of Offices; both these men were Isaurians.48

A modern historian who was perhaps the first to say a good word for Zeno, observes that "the great work of his reign was the formation of an army of native troops to serve as a counterpoise to the barbarian mercenaries"; and goes on to remark that the man who successfully resisted the schemes and forces of the great Theoderic cannot have been contemptible.49 And even from the pages of a hostile contemporary writer50 we can see that he was not so bad as he was painted. He is said to have been in some respects superior to Leo, less relentless and less greedy. He was not popular,51 for his ecclesiastical policy of conciliation did not find general favour, and he was an Isaurian. But he was inclined to be mild; he desired to abstain from employing capital punishment. In the first year of his reign, Erythrius was Praetorian Prefect, a very humane man, who, when he saw that sufficient revenue could not be raised without severe oppression, resigned his office.52 In fiscal administration Zeno p401 was less successful than his predecessors and his successor Anastasius. We are told that he wasted all that Leo left in the treasury by donatives to his friends and inaccuracy in checking his accounts. In A.D. 477 the funds were very low, hardly sufficient to supply pay for the army. But the blame of this may rather rest with Basiliscus, who, reigning precariously for twenty months, must have been obliged to incur large expenses, to supply which he was driven to extortion, and in the following years the Ostrogoths were an incubus on the exchequer; while we must further remember that since the enormous outlay incurred by Leo's naval expedition the treasury had been in financial difficulties, which only a ruler of strict economy and business habits, like the succeeding Emperor Anastasius, could have remedied. Zeno was not a man of business, he was indolent and in many respects weak. Yet it is said that his reign would have been a good one but for the influence of the Praetorian Prefect Sebastian, who succeeded Erythrius, and introduced a system of selling offices.53 Of Sebastian we otherwise hear very little.

By his first wife Arcadia, Zeno had a son,54 of the same name, whose brief and strangely disreputable career must have been one of the chief scandals at the court. His father desired that he should be carefully trained in manly exercises, but unscrupulous young courtiers, who wished to profit by the abundant supplies of money which the boy could command, instructed him in all the vulgar excesses of luxury and voluptuousness. They introduced him to boys of his own age, who did not refuse to satisfy his desires, while their adulation flattered his vanity to such a degree that he treated all who came in contact with him as if they were servants. His excesses brought on an internal disease, and he died prematurely, after lying for many days in a senseless condition. After his death, Zeno seems to have intended to devolve the succession upon his brother Longinus, who enjoyed a vile reputation for debauchery.55 We have already p402 seen how he was advanced to high posts of dignity. It is related that Zeno consulted a certain Maurianus, skilled in occult learning, who informed him that a silentiarius would be the next Emperor and would marry Ariadne. This prophecy was unfortunate for a distinguished patrician of high fame named Pelagius, who had once belonged to the silentiarii, for Zeno, seized with alarm and suspicion, put him to death.56 The Emperor's unpopularity naturally made him suspicious, and he was in bad health. An attack of epilepsy carried him off on April 9, A.D. 491.

§ 3. The Henotikon (A.D. 481)

The doctrinal decrees of Chalcedon were the beginning of many evils for the eastern provinces of the Empire. Theological discord, often accompanied by violence, rent the Church, and the Emperors found it utterly impossible to suppress the Monophysite, as they had suppressed the Arian, faith. In Alexandria, the monks and the majority of the population were devoted to the doctrine of One Nature, and on the death of Marcian the smouldering fire of dissatisfaction burst into flame. Timothy Aelurus,57 an energetic Monophysite, was set up as rival Patriarch; Proterius was murdered in the baptistery (A.D. 457, Easter) and his corpse was dragged through the city. Timothy sent a memorial to the Emperor Leo demanding a new Council, and Leo formally asked for the opinion of the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and other leading dignitaries of the Church.58 They condemned the conduct of Timothy and he was banished to the Chersonese.59 At Antioch, the part of Timothy was played by Peter the Fuller, who during the reign of Leo was twice raised to the Patriarchal throne and twice ejected.60

p403 When Basiliscus ascended the throne, the Monophysite cause looked bright for a few months. Peter and Timothy were reinstated, and Basiliscus issued an Encyclical letter61 in which he condemned the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo. But this declaration raised a storm in Constantinople which he was unable to resist. The monks were up in arms, and the Patriarch Acacius,62 who was not a man of extreme views, found himself forced to oppose the Emperor's policy. Basiliscus hastened to retract, and he issued another letter, which was known as the anti-encyclical. But the settlement of the ecclesiastical struggle did not lie with him. Zeno returned, and a new policy was devised for restoring peace to the Church. His chief advisers here were Acacius and Peter Mongus, who had been the right-hand man of Timothy Aelurus. The policy was to ignore the Council of Chalcedon, but not to affirm anything contrary to its doctrine; and the hope was that the Monophysites and their antagonists would agree to differ, and would recognise that a common recognition of the great Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople was a sufficient bond of communion.

The Henotikon, a letter addressed by the Emperor to the Church of Egypt, embodied this policy (A.D. 481). It anathematises both Nestorius and Eutyches; declares the truth, and asserts the sufficiency, of the doctrine of Nicaea and Constantinople; and anathematises any who teach divergent doctrine "at Chalcedon or elsewhere." As the document was intended to conciliate all parties, it was a blunder to mention Chalcedon; for this betrayed that the theological leanings of those who framed it were not favourable to the Chalcedonian dogma. The Monophysites gladly accepted it;63 interpreting it as giving them full liberty to denounce Chalcedon and the Tome of Pope Leo.

It is to be noted that Basiliscus by his Encyclical and Zeno by his Henotikon asserted the right of the Emperor to dictate to the Church and pronounce on questions of theological doctrine. They virtually assumed the functions of an Ecumenical Council. This was a claim which the see of Rome was not ready to admit except for itself. After the interchange of angry letters between p404 Pope Simplicius and Acacius, a synod was held at Rome,64 and Acacius and Peter Mongus, who was now Patriarch of Alexandria, were excommunicated.65

The general result of the Henotikon was to reconcile moderate Monophysites in Egypt and Syria, and to secure a certain measure of ecclesiastical peace in the East for thirty years66 at the cost of a schism with the West. But the extreme Monophysites were not reconciled to the policy of Acacius and Peter.

§ 4. The Rise of Odovacar and his Rule in Italy (A.D. 473‑489)

After the death of Olybrius, Leo was sole Roman Emperor for more than four months, and the Burgundian Gundobad, who had succeeded his uncle Ricimer as Master of Soldiers, directed the conduct of affairs in Italy. On March 5, A.D. 473, Glycerius, Count of the Domestics, was proclaimed Emperor at Ravenna "by the advice of Gundobad,"67 just as Severus had been proclaimed in the same city by the advice of Ricimer. Of this Augustus, whose reign was to be brief, one important public act is recorded. Italy was threatened by an invasion of Ostrogoths who, under the leadership of Widemir, began to move from Pannonia, but the diplomacy of Glycerius averted the storm, so that it fell on Gaul.

The election of Glycerius was not approved at Constantinople, and Leo selected another as the successor of Anthemius.68 His choice was Julius Nepos, husband of the niece of the Empress, and military governor of Dalmatia, where he had succeeded his p405 uncle, count Marcellinus.69 We do not hear that any resistance was offered to Nepos, who arrived in Italy, probably escorted by eastern troops; and it was not long before Gundobad, whether perforce or voluntarily, retired to Burgundy where, in the following year, he succeeded his father as one of the Burgundian kings.70 Glycerius was deposed, and at Portus, the town at the mouth of the Tiber, he was ordained bishop of Salona.71 Nepos was proclaimed Emperor and ruled at Rome (June 24, A.D. 474). Once more two Augusti reigned in unison.

To the vacant post of Master of Soldiers, which carried with it almost as a matter of course the title of Patrician, Orestes was appointed. This was that Orestes who had been the secretary of Attila, and he had married the daughter of a certain count Romulus. Possessing the confidence of the German troops he determined to raise his son to the Imperial throne.

We are told that Nepos, driven from Rome, went to Ravenna and, fearing the coming of Orestes, crossed over to Salona. This was on August 28, A.D. 475. The same year that saw the flight of Zeno from Constantinople saw the flight of Nepos from Ravenna. At Salona he lived for five years, and his Imperial authority was still recognised in the East and in Gaul. But in Italy the Caesar Julius was succeeded by the Caesar Augustulus, for so the young Romulus was mockingly nicknamed, whom his father Orestes invested with the Imperial insignia on October 31. These names, Julius, Augustulus, Romulus, in the pages of the chroniclers, meet us like ghosts re-arisen from past days of Roman history.72

It is important to remember that the position of Romulus was not constitutional inasmuch as he had not been recognised by the Emperor at Constantinople, in whose eyes Nepos was still the Augustus of the West. For twelve months Orestes ruled Italy in the name of his son. His fall was brought about by a mutiny of the troops. The army, which the Master of Soldiers commanded, seems to have consisted under Ricimer and p406 his successors almost exclusively of East Germans, chiefly Heruls, also Rugians and Scirians. According to the usual custom,73 they were quartered on the Italians. But they were weary of this life. They desired to have roof-trees and lands of their own, and they petitioned Orestes to reward them for their services, by granting them lands and settling them permanently in Italy on the same principle on which various German peoples had been settled in other provinces. They did not demand the exceptionally large concession of two-thirds of the soil which had been granted by Honorius to the Visigoths; they asked for the only grant of one-third which had been assigned, for instance, to the Burgundians. But such a settlement in Italy was a very different thing from settlement in Gaul or Spain, and Orestes, notwithstanding his long association with Germans and Huns, was sufficiently Roman to be determined to keep the soil of Italy inviolate. He rejected the demand. The discontented soldiers found a leader in the Scirian Odovacar, one of the chief officers of Orestes.74 Ticinum to which Orestes retired was easily taken, and the Patrician was slain at Placentia (August 28, A.D. 476). "Entering Ravenna, Odovacar deposed Augustulus but granted him his life, pitying his infancy and because he was comely, and he gave him an income of six thousand solidi and sent him to live in Campania with his relatives."75

The soldiers had proclaimed Odovacar king.76 But it was not as king over a mixed host of various German nationalities that Odovacar thought he could maintain his position in Italy. The movement which had raised him had no national significance, and if he retained the royal title of an East German potentate, it was as a successor of Ricimer, Gundobar, and Orestes that he hoped to govern the Italians. In other words, he had no idea of detaching Italy from the Empire, as Africa and much of Gaul and Spain had come to be detached. The legal position was to continue as before.77 But the system of Ricimer was to p407 be abandoned. There were be no more puppet Emperors in the West; Italy was to be under the sovranty of the Emperor at Constantinople, and its actual government was to be in the hands of Odovacar, who as Master of Soldiers was to be a minister of the Emperor, while he happened at the same time to be king of the East Germans who formed the army.

With this purpose in view Odovacar made the deposition of Romulus take the form of an abdication, and induced the Roman Senate to endorse formally the permanent institution of a state of things which had repeatedly existed in the days of Ricimer. A deputation of senators, in the name of Romulus, was sent to the Augustus at Constantinople to announce the new order of things. Zeno had already recovered the throne, from which Basiliscus had driven him, when the ambassadors arrived and informed him that they no longer needed a separate Emperor but that his sole supremacy would be sufficient; that they had selected Odovacar as a man capable of protecting Italy, being both a tried soldier and endowed with political intelligence. They asked Zeno to confer upon him the rank of Patrician and entrust him with the administration of Italy. They bore with them the Imperial insignia which Romulus had worn (A.D. 477).78

At the same time messengers arrived from Nepos to congratulate Zeno on his restoration, to ask for his sympathy with one who had suffered the same misfortune as he, and to crave his aid in men and money to recover the throne. But for the existence of Nepos, the situation would have been simple. Zeno could not ignore his legal right, but was not prepared to support it with an army. He told the representatives of the Senate that of the two Emperors they had received from the East, they had slain Anthemius and banished Nepos; let them now take Nepos back. But he granted the other request. He sent to Odovacar a diploma conferring the Patriciate, and wrote to him, praising the respect for Rome and the observance of order which had marked his conduct, and bidding him crown his goodness by acknowledging the exiled Emperor. The fact that Verina was the aunt of the wife of Nepos was a consideration which helped to hinder Zeno from disowning him. Odovacar p408 did not acknowledge the claim of Nepos, and Zeno cannot have expected that he would.

The events of A.D. 476 have been habitually designated as the "Fall of the Western Empire." The phrase is inaccurate and unfortunate, and sets the changes which befell in a false light. No Empire fell in A.D. 476; there was no "West Empire" to fall. There was only one Roman Empire, which sometimes was governed by two or more Augusti. If it is replied that expression is merely a convenient one to signify what contemporary writers sometimes called the Hesperian realm (Hesperium regnum), the provinces which had been, since the death of Theodosius I, generally under the separate government of an Emperor residing in Italy, and that all that is meant is the termination of this line of western Emperors, it may be pointed out that A.D. 480 is in that case the significant date. For Julius Nepos, who died in that year, was the last legitimate Emperor in the West; Romulus Augustulus was only a usurper. The important point to seize is that, from the constitutional point of view, Odovacar was the successor of Ricimer, and that the situation created by the events of A.D. 476 was in this respect similar to the situation in the intervals between the reigns of the Emperors set up by Ricimer. If, on the death of Honorius, there had been no Valentinian to succeed him, and if Theodosius II had exercised the sovranty over the western provinces, and if no second Augustus had been created again before the western provinces had passed under the sway of Teutonic rulers, no one would have spoken of the "Fall of the Western Empire." Yet this hypothetical case would be formally the same as the actual event of A.D. 476 or rather of A.D. 480. The West came finally, as it had more than once temporarily, under the sole sovranty of the Emperor reigning at East Rome.

The Italian revolution of A.D. 476 was, however, a most memorable event, though it has been wrongly described. It stands out prominently as an important stage in the process of the dismemberment of the Empire. It belongs to the same catalogue of chronological dates which includes A.D. 418, when Honorius settled the Goths in Aquitaine, and A.D. 435, when Valentinian ceded African lands to the Vandals. In A.D. 476 the same principle of disintegration was first applied to Italy. The settlement of Odovacar's East Germans, with Zeno's acquiescence, p409 began the process by which Italian soil was to pass into the hands of Ostrogoths and Lombards, Franks and Normans. And Odovacar's title of king emphasised the significance of the change.

It is highly important to observe that Odovacar established his political power with the co-operation of the Roman Senate, and this body seems to have given him their loyal support throughout his reign, so far as our meagre sources permit us to draw inferences. At this time the senators who counted politically belonged to a few old and distinguished clans, possessing large estates and great wealth, particularly the Decii and the Anicii.79 The leading men of these families received high honours and posts under Odovacar. Basilius, Decius, Venantius, and Manlius Boethius held the consulship and were either Prefects of Rome or Praetorian Prefects;80 Symmachus and Sividius were consuls and Prefects of Rome;81 another senator of old family, Cassiodorus, was appointed a minister of finance.82 The evidence indicates that while it was Odovacar's policy to appoint only men of Roman families to the Prefecture of the City, he allowed the Prefect to hold office only for a year, so that no man might win a dangerous political importance.83

Yet the Roman nobility were now compelled to contribute more largely to the maintenance of the military forces which defended Italy. The greater part of the land belonged to them, and by the new settlement one-third of their estates was taken p410 from the proprietors, and Odovacar's barbarian soldiers and their families were settled on them. It is not probable that the number of these soldiers exceeded 20,000 at the most, and it has been reasonably doubted whether this measure was actually carried out throughout the length and breadth of the peninsula.84 We may suspect that the needs of the army were satisfied without a drastic application of the principle of partition. If the illustrious landowners had been mulcted on a large scale, it is hardly credible that they would have co-operated with the king as loyally as they seem to have done.

Soon after the government of Italy had passed into his hands, Odovacar's diplomacy achieved a solid success by inducing Gaiseric, who died in January, A.D. 477, to cede to him the island of Sicily. He undertook indeed to pay for it a yearly tribute, and the Vandal king reserved a foothold in the island, doubtless the western fortress of Lilybaeum.85 The death of Julius Nepos has been mentioned. He was murdered by two of his retainers in his country house near Salona in May, A.D. 480. Odovacar assumed the duty of pursuing and executing the assassins, and at the same time established his own rule in Dalmatia.86 The claims of Nepos, so long as he lived, had embarrassed the relations between Zeno and Odovacar; Zeno's acquiescence in Odovacar's position and the wishes of the Senate had been ambiguous and reserved. The death of Nepos relieved the situation, and there was no longer any difficulty at Constantinople about acknowledging the western consuls whom Odovacar chose. But the relations between the Emperor and his Master of Soldiers in Italy were always strained, and in A.D. 486 there was an open breach.87 Though Odovacar did not help the rebel Illus in his revolt, there were negotiations, and Zeno may have been suspicious and alarmed. Odovacar prepared an expedition into the Illyrian provinces, then pressed hard by the Ostrogoths, and Zeno averted it by instigating the Rugians to invade Italy.88 Odovacar anticipated their attack by marching through Noricum and surprising them in the winter p411 season (end of A.D. 487) in their territory beyond the Danube. Their king Feletheus and his queen were taken to Italy and beheaded, and with the death of his son, against whom a second expedition was sent, the Rugian power was destroyed.89

Of the internal government we know little. The Church was unaffected by his rule;90 as an Arian he held aloof from ecclesiastical affairs. As to the working of the Roman administration under a German ruler, acting as an independent viceroy, and the limitations imposed on his power, we have abundant evidence regarding Odovacar's successor, Theoderic, and when we come to his reign the details will claim our attention.

§ 5. The Ostrogoths in Illyricum and Thrace (A.D. 477‑488)

In the reign of Arcadius the Visigoths had seemed likely to form a kingdom within the Illyrian peninsula, before they invaded Italy and established their home in the west. We shall now see how history repeated itself in the case of the Ostrogoths, how they too almost settled in the lands of the Balkans before they went westward to found a kingdom in Italy.91

It will be remembered that after the collapse of the Hunnic power in A.D. 454 the Ostrogoths, over whom three brothers ruled, Walamir, Theodemir, and Widemir, were allowed by the Emperor Marcian to occupy northern Pannonia, as foederati.92 After some years they were provoked by the Emperor Leo, who refused to pay an annual sum of 100 pounds of gold which Marcian had granted them; and they ravaged the Illyrian provinces and seized Dyrrhachium. Peace was made in A.D. 461, the money grant was continued, and Theoderic,93 the son p412 of Theodemir, was sent as a hostage to Constantinople where he had the advantage of a Roman training. His education, however, in letters appears not to have advanced very fast, for it is said that he was never able to write. During those years his nation was engaged in wars with neighboring German peoples.94 They won a decisive victory over the Scirians which cost Walamir his life. His section of the Goths passed then under the rule of Theodemir, who had soon to resist a large combination of Scirians, Rugians, Gepids, and others. Both parties applied to the Emperor for support, and Leo, acting against the advice of Aspar who was friendly to the Ostrogoths, sent troops to help the Scirian league. In a sanguinary battle the Goths were victors (A.D. 469), and their predominance on the Middle Danube was established.95 Leo then considered it politic to cultivate their friendship and he allowed Theoderic to return to his people. The young prince at once distinguished himself in a campaign against the Sarmatians who had recently occupied Singidunum, and the Goths appropriated the city.

The last act of Theodemir seems to have been an invasion of the provinces of Dacia and Dardania, in which his army advanced as far as Naissus.96 Death befell him soon afterwards and Theoderic was elected as his successor in 471.97 Soon after his accession (before 475) he seems to have led his people from their Pannonian homes to a new settlement in Lower Moesia, the same regions which had once been occupied by the Visigoths of Alaric.98 There is no evidence that this change of habitation was sanctioned by the Roman Emperor; but it does not seem to have been opposed at the time.

After the collapse of the Hunnic empire a large number of Ostrogoths had taken service in the Roman army, and formed the most important part of the German forces on whose support Aspar had maintained his power. We have already met their commander Theoderic (son of Triarius), called Strabo, "squinter," who was not of very distinguished descent but was related through p413 marriage to the family of Theodemir.99 We may call him Strabo to distinguish him from his more famous namesake. We saw the hostile attitude which he assumed towards Leo after the death of Aspar. The German troops gathered round him and proclaimed him king. He then sent an embassy to Leo, demanding for himself the post of Master of Soldiers in praesenti which Aspar had held, and the inheritance of Aspar, and for his troops grants of land in Thrace. The Emperor was willing to appoint him to the generalship, but refused the other demands. Then Strabo ravaged the territory of Philippopolis and reduced Arcadiopolis by starvation. These energetic proceedings extorted concessions from Leo; he agreed to pay a yearly stipend of 2000 lbs. in gold (= £90,000) to the Goths and to allot them a district in Thrace, and he conferred the post of Master of Soldiers in praesenti on Strabo, who was to fight for the Emperor against all enemies except the Vandals, and "enemies" doubtless included the Goths of Theoderic.100 He was, moreover, to be recognised as king of the Goths.101

In the troubles that followed Leo's death, Strabo naturally took the part of Basiliscus against his old foe, while Zeno was supported by Theoderic. After his restoration Zeno deprived Strabo of his military post and bestowed it on Theoderic, whom he also created a Patrician, confirming him in possession of the lands which his people had seized in Lower Moesia and promising him an annual stipend. He even adopted him as a son, according to the German right of adoption.

But there were no sincere feelings behind this favour and friendliness. The policy of the Emperor was to play off one Goth against the other. In the three following years (A.D. 477‑479) the relations between him and the two rivals shifted rapidly through all the stages of possible combinations. In the first stage Zeno and Theoderic are combined against Strabo; in the second the two Theoderics join forces against Zeno; in the third Strabo and Zeno co-operate against Theoderic.

The drama began with an embassy from Strabo desiring reconciliation. The ambassadors reminded Zeno of the injuries p414 which Theoderic had inflicted on the Empire, though he was called a Roman "general" and a friend. Zeno convoked the Senate, and it was concluded to be impossible to support the two generals and their armies, for the public resources were hardly sufficient to pay the Roman troops. The exchequer, it must not be forgotten, had not yet recovered from the failure of the Vandal expedition of the previous reign. As Strabo had always shown himself hostile at heart, was unpopular on account of his cruelty, and had assisted Basiliscus "the tyrant," it was determined to reject his offer. Yet, as Zeno for a time withheld a reply, three friends of Strabo in Constantinople, Anthimus a physician, and two others, wrote him an account of the course which matters were taking; but the letters were discovered, the affair was examined by a senatorial commission of three persons, in the presence of the Master of Soldiers, and the three friends of the Goths were punished by flogging and exile.

Soon after this, probably in A.D. 478, the Emperor, perceiving that Strabo was becoming stronger and consolidating forces, and that Theoderic was hardly in a position to cope with him, deemed it wise to come to terms. He therefore sent an embassy proposing that the son of the chief should be sent to Byzantium as a hostage, and that Strabo himself should live as a private individual in Thrace, retaining what he had already secured by plunder, but binding himself to plunder no more. The chief refused, representing that it was impossible for him to withdraw now without paying the troops whom he had collected. Accordingly Zeno decided on war; troops were summoned from the dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and the East, and it was expected that Illus would assume the command. It seems, however, that Illus did not take the field, for we find Martinianus, his brother-in‑law, conducting a campaign against the Goths in the same year, and proving himself incompetent to maintain discipline in his own army. Then Zeno sent an embassy to Theoderic calling upon him to fulfil the duties of a Roman general and advance against the enemy. He replied that the Emperor and Senate must first swear that they will never make terms with the other Ostrogothic king. The senators took an oath that they would not do so unless the Emperor wished it, and the Emperor swore that he would not break the contract if it were not first violated by Theoderic himself.

p415 Theoderic then moved southwards. The Master of Soldiers of Thrace was to meet him with two thousand cavalry and ten thousand hoplites at a pass of Mount Haemus; when he had crossed into Thrace another force was to join him at Hadrianople, consisting of twenty thousand foot and six thousand horse; and, if necessary, Heraclea (on the Propontis) and the cities in the neighbourhood were prepared to send additional troops. But the Master of Soldiers was not at the pass of Mount Sondis, and the Goths when they advanced farther fell in with the army of Strabo, and the antagonists plundered one another's flocks and horses. Then Strabo, riding near his rival's camp, reviled him as a traitor to desert his own countrymen, and as a fool not to see through the plan of the Romans, who wished to rid themselves of the Goths, without trouble on their own part, by instigating them to mutual destruction, and were quite indifferent which party won. These arguments produced a powerful effect upon Theoderic's followers, and the two leaders made peace (478). This is the second stage of alliance, which we noted above. It was not to last long.

The reconciled Ostrogothic chieftains then sent ambassadors to Byzantium. Theoderic, upbraiding Zeno for have deceived him with false promises, demanded the concession of territory to his people, a supply of cornº to support his army till harvest time, and urged that if these demands were not satisfied, he would be unable to restrain his soldiers from plundering, in order to support themselves. Strabo demanded that the arrangements he had made with Leo (in A.D. 473) should be carried out, that the payment he had been accustomed to receive in former years should be continued, and that certain kinsmen of his, who had been committed to the care of Illus and the Isaurians, should be restored. We are not informed what answer Zeno made to the elder Theoderic, or whether he made any; to the son of Theodemir he replied, that if he consented to break with his namesake and make war upon him he would give him 2000 lbs. of gold and 10,000 lbs. of silver immediately, besides a yearly revenue of 10,000 nomismata, and the hand of a daughter of Placidia and Olybrius102 or of some other noble lady. But his promises did not avail, and Zeno prepared for war, notifying his intention to accompany the army in person. This intention created great p416 enthusiasm among the soldiers, but at the last moment Zeno drew back, and they threatened a revolt, to prevent which the army was broken up and the regiments sent to their winter quarters.

When the army was disbanded, Zeno's only resort was to make peace on any terms with Strabo. In the meantime Theoderic, the son of Theodemir, was engaged in ravaging the fairest parts of Thrace in the neighbourhood of Mount Rhodope, which divides Thrace from Macedonia; he not only ruined the crops, but oppressed the farmers or slew them. Strabo, when he received Zeno's message, — remarking that he was sorry that the innocent husbandmen, for whose welfare Zeno103 did not care in the least, suffered from the ravages of his rival — concluded a peace on the conditions that Zeno was to supply a yearly payment sufficient to support thirteen thousand men; that he was to be appointed to the command of two scholae and to the post of Master of Soldiers in praesenti, and receive all the dignities which Basiliscus had bestowed upon him; that his kinsmen were to inhabit a city assigned by Zeno. The Emperor did not delay to execute this agreement; Theoderic was deposed from the office of Master of Soldiers, and Strabo appointed in his stead (before end of 478). This marks the third stage in these changeful relations.

Theoderic, now threatened by the superior forces of Strabo, was in a difficult position. But he managed to escape across Mount Rhodope into Macedonia (perhaps with the Emperor's collusion), and the town of Stobi felt the full brunt of his wrath. Thence he turned his steps toward Thessalonica, and the inhabitants felt so little confidence in Zeno that they actually believed that the Emperor wished to hand their city over to the barbarians. A sedition broke out which ended in the transference of the keys of the city from the Praetorian Prefect of Illyricum to the archbishop, a remarkable evidence of the fact that the people looked on the ministers of the Church as defenders against Imperial oppression. These suspicions of the Emperor's intentions were undoubtedly unjust. Zeno sent Artemidorus and Phocas to Theoderic, who was persuaded by their representations to stay his army and send an embassy to Byzantium. Theoderic p417 demanded that a plenipotentiary envoy should be sent to treat with him. Zeno sent Adamantius, directing him to offer the Goths land in Pautalia (about Küstendil), and 200 lbs. of gold to supply food for that year, as no corn had been sown in the designated region. The motive of Zeno in choosing Pautalia was that if the Goths accepted it they would occupy a position between the Illyrian and Thracian armies, in which they might be more easily controlled.

Meanwhile Theoderic had proceeded by the Egnatian Way to Heraclea (Monastir), and had sent a message to one Sidimund,104 an Ostrogoth who had been in the service of Leo and had inherited an estate near Dyrrhachium, where he was living peaceably. Theoderic induced him to make an attempt to take possession of that important city of New Epirus, and for this purpose Sidismund employed an ingenious device. He visited the citizens individually, informing each that the Ostrogoths were coming with Zeno's consent to take possession of the city, and advising him to move his property with all haste to some other secure town or to one of the coast islands. The fact that his representations were listened to and that he effected the removal of a garrison of two thousand men proves that he possessed considerable influence. Theoderic was at Heraclea105 when the messenger of Sidimund arrived with the news that the plan had been successfully carried out; and having burnt a large portion of the town because its inhabitants could not supply him with provisions, he set out for Epirus. He proceeded along the Egnatian Way, crossing the range of the Scardus mountains, and arrived at Lychnidus, which is now Ochrida. Built in a strong situation on the shore of Lake Ochrida, and well provided with water and victuals, Lychnidus defied the assault of the barbarians, who, unwilling to delay, hastened onwards, and having seized Scampae, the most important town between Lychnidus and Dyrrhachium, arrived at the goal of their journey.

It may be wondered whether at Dyrrhachium it entered the mind of Theoderic to ship his people across to the western peninsula and attack the Italian kingdom of Odovacar in the p418 south. Adamantius, the ambassador who had been sent by Zeno to treat with him, seems to have thought it more likely that the Ostrogoths would employ vessels for the purpose of plundering the Epeirot or Dalmatian coasts, for he sent a post messenger to Dyrrhachium, to blame Theoderic for his hostile advance while negotiations were pending, and to exhort him to remain quiet and not to seize ships until he arrived himself.

Starting from Thessalonica, and passing Pella on the Via Egnatia, Adamantius came to Edessa, the modern Vodena, where he found Sabinian Magnus, and informed him that he had been appointed Master of Soldiers in Illyricum. The messenger, who had been sent to Dyrrhachium, returned in the company of a priest, to assure Adamantius that he might proceed confidently to the camp of Theoderic; and, having issued a mandate to collect all the troops available, the general and the ambassador moved forward to Lychnidus. Here Sabinian106 made difficulties about binding himself by oath to restore the hostages whom Theoderic was willing to deliver as a gage for the personal safety of Adamantius. This produced a deadlock; Theoderic naturally refused to give the hostages. Adamantius naturally refused to visit Theoderic.

Adamantius invented a simple solution of the difficulty, which led to a striking scene. Taking with him a body of two hundred soldiers he climbed by an obscure and narrow path, where horses had never set hoof before, and reached by a circuitous route an impregnable fort, built on a high cliff, close to the city of Dyrrhachium. At the foot of the cliff yawned a deep ravine, through which a river flowed. A messenger was sent to inform Theoderic that the Roman ambassador awaited him, and, attended by a few horse-soldiers, the Ostrogoth rode to the bank of the river. The physical features, the cliff, the chasm, and the river, are sufficiently simple and definite to enable us to call up vividly this strange scene. The attendants of both Adamantius and Theoderic had retired beyond range of earshot; and standing on the edges of the ravine the Ostrogothic king and the ambassador of the Roman Empire conversed together.

p419 "I elected to live," complained Theoderic, "beyond the borders of Thrace, far away Scythia-ward, deeming that if I abode there I should trouble no man, and should be able to obey all the behests of the Emperor. But ye summoned me as to war against Theoderic, and promised, firstly, that the Master of Soldiers in Thrace would meet me with his army, yet he never appeared; secondly, ye promised that Claudius, the steward of the Gothic contingent, would come with the pay for my troops (ξενικῷ), yet I never saw him; thirdly, ye gave me guides who, leaving the better roads that would have taken me to the quarters of the foe, led me by steep and precipitous rocky paths, where I wellnigh perished with all my train, advancing as I was with cavalry, waggons, and all the furniture of camp, and exposed to the attacks of the enemy. I was therefore constrained to come to terms with them, and owe them a debt of gratitude that they did not annihilate me, betrayed as I was by you and in their power."

"The Emperor," replied Adamantius, "bestowed upon you the title of Patrician, and created you a Master of Soldiers. These are the highest honours that crown the labours of the most deserving Roman officers, and nothing should induce you to cherish towards their bestower other than filial sentiments." Having endeavoured to defend or extenuate the treatment of which Theoderic complained, the envoy proceeded thus: "You are acting intolerably in seizing Roman cities, while you are expecting an embassy; and remember that the Romans held you at their mercy, a prisoner, surrounded by their armies, amid the mountains and rivers of Thrace, whence you could never have extricated yourself, if they had not permitted you to withdraw, not even were your forces tenfold as great as they are. Allow me to counsel you to assume a more moderate attitude towards the Emperor, for you cannot in the end overcome the Romans when they press on you from all sides. Leave Epirus and the cities of this region — we cannot allow such great cities to be occupied by you and their inhabitants to be expelled — and go to Dardania, where there is an extensive territory of rich soil, uninhabited, and sufficient to support your host in plenty."

To this proposal Theoderic replied that he would readily consent, but that his followers, who had recently endured many hardships, would be unwilling to leave their quarters in Epirus, p420 where they had fully expected to pass the winter. He proposed a compromise, and engaged that if he were permitted to winter at Dyrrhachium he would migrate to Dardania in the ensuing spring. He added that he was quite ready to leave the unwarlike mass of his Ostrogoths in any city named by Zeno, and giving up his mother and sister as hostages, to take the field against Strabo with six thousand of his most martial followers, in company with the Illyrian army; when he had conquered his rival he expected to succeed to the post of Master of Soldiers and to be received in New Rome as a Roman.107 He also observed that he was prepared, if the Emperor wished, "to go to Dalmatia and restore Julius Nepos." Adamantius was unable to promise so much; it was necessary to send a messenger to Byzantium to consult the Emperor. And thus the interview terminated.

Meanwhile the military forces, stationed in the Illyrian cities, had assembled at Lychnidus, around the standard of Sabinian. It was announced to the general that a band of the Ostrogoths led by Theodimund, the brother of Theoderic, was descending in secure negligence from Mount Candaira, which separates the valley of the Genusus (Skumbi) from that of the Drilo. This band had formed the rear of the Ostrogothic line of march, and had not yet reached Dyrrhachium. Sabinian sent a few infantry soldiers by a circuitous mountain route, with minute directions as to the hour and place at which they were to appear; and himself with the rest of the army proceeded thither, after the evening meal, by a more direct way. Marching during the night he assailed the company of Theodimund at dawn of day. Theodimund and his mother, who was with him, fled with all speed into the plain, and, having crossed a deep gully, destroyed the bridge which spanned it to cut off pursuit. This act, while it saved them, sacrificed their followers, who turned at bay upon the Romans. Two thousand waggons and more than five thousand captives were taken, and a great booty (A.D. 479).

After this the Emperor received two messages, one from Adamantius announcing the proposals of Theoderic, the other from Sabinian exaggerating his victory and dissuading him from the conclusion of peace. War seemed more honourable to Zeno and the pacific offers were rejected, Sabinian was permitted to continue the war, and for about a year and a half he held the p421 Gauls in check in Epirus. But the active general was murdered by an ungrateful master,108 and John the Scythian and Moschian were sent to succeed him.

The revolt of Marcian towards the end of A.D. 479 had given Strabo a pretext for approaching Constantinople to assist the government. Having extorted money from Zeno, he received two of the conspirators in his camp and refused to surrender them. He was then once more deprived of his dignities and declared an enemy of the republic. He entered again into alliance with Theoderic and devastated Thrace. Zeno invoked the aid of the Bulgarians of the Lower Danube, but they were defeated by Strabo, who then advanced on Constantinople (A.D. 481).

It was a surprise, and we are told that he would easily have captured the city if Illus had not set guards at the gates just in time. He attempted to cross over to Bithynia, but was defeated in a battle on the water, and departed to Thrace. Thence he set forth for Greece, with his son Recitach, his wife, and about 30,000 followers. At a place called the Stable of Diomede, on the Egnatian Road, his horse threw him one morning on a spear which was standing point upwards, close to his tent. The accident was fatal (A.D. 481). Recitach succeeded him, and ruled in Thrace, "performing more outrageous acts than his father had performed."109 Three years later Recitach was slain by Theoderic, son of Theodemir, whom Zeno instigated to the deed.110

In 482 we find Theoderic — the name is no longer ambiguous — ravaging the provinces of Macedonia, and Thessaly, and capturing the town of Larissa. He was no longer held in check by the able general Sabinian who had been murdered the year before. The Emperor decided to make a new agreement. Parts of Moesia and Dacia Ripensis were conceded to the Ostrogoths, and Theoderic was appointed Master of Soldiers (A.D. 483).111 In A.D. 484 he enjoyed the coveted distinction of giving his name to the year as consul, and he assisted Zeno against the rebel Illus. But a new breach soon followed. He devastated Thrace (A.D. 486) and marched on Constantinople (A.D. 487). Rhegium was occupied, Melantias was taken, and the capital once more p422 threatened. But the intervention of his sister,112 who was at Zeno's court, induced him to retire to his headquarters in Moesia, which he was soon to abandon for ever. The days of the Thracian period of Theoderic's career were numbered.

§ 6. Theoderic's Conquest of Italy (A.D. 489‑493)

We have seen that there had been friction between the Emperor and his Viceroy in Italy, and that Odovacar had thoroughly defeated the Rugians whom Zeno had stirred up against him. The thought now occurred to Zeno or his advisers that he might at once punish Odovacar and deliver the Illyrian provinces from the menacing presence of the Ostrogoths by giving Theoderic a commission to supersede the ruler of Italy. Theoderic accepted the charge. A compact was made that (in the words of the chronicler) "in case Odovacar were conquered, Theoderic should, as a reward of his labours, rule in place of Odovacar, until Zeno came himself."113 The last condition is simply a way of saying that Zeno reserved all the Imperial rights of sovranty.

At the head of his people, numbering perhaps about 100,000,114 Theoderic set forth from Moesia in the autumn of A.D. 488. Following the direct road to Italy, past Viminacium and Singidunum, he approached Sirmium, and here he was confronted by a formidable obstacle. This town was in the possession of the Gepids, who now blocked Theoderic's path. The place was taken after fierce fighting, but the Goths passed on with their booty and the Gepids reoccupied it. The winter, spring, and summer of the following year were spent somewhere between Sirmium and the Italian borders, and the causes of this delay are unknown.

It was not till the end of August (A.D. 489) that, having crossed the Julian Alps, the Ostrogoths reached the river Sontius (Isonzo) and the struggle for Italy began. Of this memorable war we have only the most meagre outline. The result was decided within twelve months, but three and a half years were to elapse p423 before the last resistance of Odovacar was broken down and Theoderic was completely master of Italy.115

It was perhaps where the Sontius and the Frigidus meet that Theoderic found Odovacar in a carefully fortified camp, prepared to oppose his entry into Venetia. He had considerable forces, for besides his own army he had succeeded in enlisting foreign help.116 We are not told who his allies were; we can only guess that among them may have been the Burgundians, who, as we know, helped him at a later stage. The battle was fought on August 28; Odovacar was defeated and compelled to retreat. His next line of defence was on the Athesis (Adige), and he fortified himself in a camp close to Verona, with the river behind him.117 Here the second battle of the war was fought a month later (about Sept. 29)118 and resulted in a decisive victory for Theoderic. The carnage of Odovacar's men is said to have been immense; but they fought desperately and the Ostrogothic losses were severe;119 the river was fed with corpses. The king himself fled to Ravenna. The greater part of the army, with Tufa who held the highest command, surrendered to Theoderic, who immediately proceeded to Milan.120

Northern Italy was now at the feet of the Goth; Rome and Sicily were prepared to submit, and it looked as if nothing remained to complete the conquest but the capture of Ravenna. But the treachery of Tufa changed the situation. Theoderic imprudently trusted him, and sent him with his own troops and a few distinguished Ostrogoths against Odovacar. At Faventia (Faenza) he espoused again the cause of his old master and handed over to him the Goths, who were put in irons.

p424 Theoderic made Ticinum (Pavia) his headquarters during the winter, and it is said that one of his motives for choosing this city was to cultivate the friendship of the old bishop Epiphanius, who had great influence with Odovacar. In the following year Odovacar was able to take the field again, to seize Cremona and Milan, and to blockade his adversary in Ticinum. At this juncture the Visigoths came to the help of the Ostrogoths and sent an army into Italy. The siege was raised and the decisive battle of the war was fought on the river Addua (Adda), in which Odovacar was utterly defeated (Aug. 11, A.D. 490). He fled for the second time to Ravenna. It was probably this victory that decided the Roman Senate to abandon the cause of Odovacar, and accept Theoderic. It made him master of Rome, southern Italy, and Sicily.

The agreement that Zeno made with Theoderic had been secret and unofficial. The Emperor did nothing directly to break off his relations with Odovacar.121 But Odovacar seems some time before the battle of the Addua to have courted a formal rupture. He created his son Thela a Caesar, and this was equivalent to denouncing his subordination to the Emperor and declaring Italy independent.122 He probably calculated that in the strained relations which then existed between the Italian Catholics and the East, on account of the ecclesiastical schism, the policy of cutting the rope which bound Italy to Constantinople would be welcomed at Rome and throughout the provinces. The senators may have been divided on this issue, but the battle of the Addua decided them as a body to "betray" Odovacar,123 and before the end of the year Festus, the princeps of the Senate, went to Constantinople to announce the success of Theoderic, and to arrange the conditions of the new Italian government.

Theoderic confidently believed that his task was now virtually finished. But the cause of his thrice-defeated enemy was not yet hopelessly lost. Tufa was still at large with troops at his command; and other unexpected difficulties beset the conqueror. The Burgundian king Gundobad sent an army into p425 North Italy and laid waste the country.124 Theoderic had not only to drive the invaders out, but he had also to protect Sicily against the Vandals, who seized the opportunity of the war to attempt to recover it. Their attempt was frustrated and they were forced to surrender the fortress of Lilybaeum as well as all their claims to the island.125

It seems to have been in the same year that Theoderic resorted to a terrible measure for destroying the military garrisons which held Italian towns for Odovacar. The Italian population was generally favourable to the cause of Theoderic, and secret orders were given to the citizens to slaughter the soldiers on a pre-arranged day. The pious panegyrist, who exultantly, but briefly, describes this measure and claims Providence as an accomplice, designates it as a sacrificial massacre";126 and Theoderic doubtless considered that the treachery of his enemy's army in surrendering and then deserting justified an unusual act of vengeance. The secret of the plot was well kept, and it seems to have been punctually executed. The result was equivalent to another victory in the field; and nothing now remained for Theoderic but to capture the last stronghold of his adversary, the marsh city of Honorius.

The siege of Ravenna lasted for two years and a half. The Gothic forces entrenched themselves in a camp in the Pine-woods east of the city, but were not able entirely to prevent provisions from reaching the city by sea. Yet the blockade was not ineffective, for corn rose to a famine price. One attempt was made by Odovacar to disperse the besiegers. He made a sortie at night (July 10, A.D. 491) with a band of Herul warriors and p426 attacked the Gothic trenches. The conflict was obstinate, but he was defeated.127 Another year wore on, and it appeared that the siege might last for ever unless the food of the garrison could be completely cut off. Theoderic managed to procure a fleet of warships — we are not told whether they were built for the occasion, — and, making the Portus Leonis, about six miles from Ravenna, his naval base, he was able to blockade the two harbours of the city (August, A.D. 492).128 Odovacar held out for six months longer, but early in A.D. 493 negotiations, conducted by the bishop of Ravenna, issued in a compact between the two antagonists (February 25) that they should rule Italy jointly.129 Theoderic entered the city a week later (March 5).

The only way in which the compact could have been carried out would have been by a territorial division. But Theoderic had no mind to share the peninsula with another king, and there can hardly be a doubt that, when he swore to the treaty, he had the full intention of breaking his oath. Odovacar's days were numbered. Theoderic, a few days after his entry into Ravenna, slew him with his own hand in the palace of Lauretum (March 15). He alleged that his defeated rival was plotting against him, but this probably was a mere pretext.130 "On the same day," adds the chronicler, "all Odovacar's soldiers were slain wherever they could be found, and all his kin."131

In three years and a half Theoderic had accomplished his task. The reduction of Italy cost him four battles, a massacre, and a long siege. His capital blunder had been to trust Tufa p427 after the victory of Verona. We may be sure that throughout the struggle he spared no pains to ingratiate himself in the confidence of the Italian population. But when his rival had fallen, and when he was at last securely established, Theoderic's first measure was to issue an edict depriving of their civil rights all those Italians who had not adhered to his cause. This harsh and stupid policy, however, was not carried out, for the bishop Epiphanius persuaded the king to revoke it and to promise that there would be no executions.132

Two more services would be rendered to his country by Epiphanius before his death. The war had a disastrous effect on Italian agriculture.133 Liguria had been devastated by the Burgundians; King Gundobad had carried thousands into captivity, and no husbandmen were left to till the soil and tend the vineyards. Theoderic was prepared to ransom the captives, and he charged Epiphanius with the office of persuading the Burgundian king to release them. The bishop, notwithstanding his infirm age, undertook the cold and difficult journey over the Alps in March (A.D. 494), and was received by Gundobad at Lyons. To the arguments and prayers of the envoy, Gundobad, who was an excellent speaker, replied with the frank and cynical assertion that war permits and justifies everything which is unlawful in peace. "War ignores the bridle of moderation which you, as a Christian luminary, teach. It is a fixed principle with belligerents that whatever is not lawful is lawful when they are fighting. The object of war is to cut up your opponent's strength at the roots." He went on to say that a peace had now been concluded — it had been sealed by the betrothal of a daughter of Theoderic to Gundobad's son Sigismund, — and that if the bishop and his companions would return to their homes he would consider what it were best to do in the interests of his soul and his kingdom. Epiphanius had gained his cause. Gundobad set free all prisoners who were in his own hands, without charge, and those who were the slaves of private persons were ransomed. More than six thousand were restored to Italy.134

The last public act of Epiphanius was to induce Theoderic p428 to grant a reduction of the taxation of Liguria. "The wealth," he urged, " of a landed proprietor is the wealth of a good ruler."135 Theoderic remitted two-thirds of the taxes for A.D. 497. Epiphanius caught a chill in the cold marsh air of Ravenna and died on his return home.136 He had played a considerable and beneficent part in Italian politics for nearly thirty years.

The Author's Notes:

1 See Candidus, p136; John Mal. XIV p376; Theodore Lector, I.24, 27; Theophanes A.M. 5966, 5967. The coronation in the Hippodrome (instead of the Hebdomon) was an innovation. We have coins of the joint reign with Dn Leo et Zeno Pp Aug and on the reverse the two Emperors seated, Zeno on Leo's left; and others with different reverses. There are also tremisses with Dn Zeno et Leo Caes on the obverse. See Sabatier I. Pl. VII.15, 16, 17; Pl. VIII.13.

2 He was married to Arcadia before he married Ariadne, and by her had a son, Zeno, of whom something more will be heard. Zeno was a very fast runner, according to a Ravenna chronicler known as the Anonymus Valesii (see below, p423, n1), who had a marked liking for him. His speed of foot was ascribed to a peculiarity in his knee-caps; perhibent de eo quod patellas in genucula non habuisset, sed mobiles fuissent (Anon. Val. IX.40). Fast running was an Isaurian characteristic; compare the marvellous speed of Indacus (Suidas, sub Ἰνδακός; John Ant. in F.H.G. IV.617).

3 Cp. Joshua Stylites, 12.

4 Cp. Evagrius III.1; Malchus, fr. 16. The prejudice of Malchus, who wrote under Zeno's successor, is undisguised.

5 John Lydus, De mag. III.45, "he could not bear even the picture of a battle."

6 Malchus, fr. 3, Procopius, B. V. I.7.

7 The fullest sources for this conspiracy are Candidus, p136, and John Ant. ib.

8 According to the text in John Ant. Illus persuades Basiliscus, but it seems probable that this is a textual error, and that Basiliscus is really intended to be the subject of ποιεῖται.

9 See Brooks, Emperor Zeno and the Isaurians, p217, n19.

10 Theodore Lector, I.29 and Candidus, p136. That Marcus was successively Caesar and Augustus is borne out by the superscriptions of the Encyclicals (in Zacharias Myt. V.2, cp. 3 ad init.; Evagrius III.4, 5, 7).

11 Candidus, ib. Verina then intrigued to bring back Zeno; Basiliscus discovered her plots; and it might have gone hard for her, if Armatus had not contrived to conceal her.

12 On ecclesiastical affairs see below, § 3.

13 According to John Mal. XXV.378, 379 (camp. Chron. Pasch., sub a. 478) he was mag. mil. in praesenti in 476. Otherwise Suidas (sub Ἀρμάτιος) στρατηγὸν Ἰλλυριῶν, and otherwise again Theoph. A.M. 5969 στρατηγὸν ὄντα τῆς Θρᾴκης. As Suidas is probably copying either Malchus or Candidus, perhaps Armatus was at first mag. mil. in Illyricum and afterwards in praesenti. Shestakov has made it probable that the articles of Suidas Ἀρμάτος (and Βασιλίσκος) which Müller (F.H.G. IV) assigned to Malchus, fr. 7, 8, come partly from Candidus (see his Kandid Isauriski, cp. Bibl. II.2B).

14 The passage is in Suidas and in F.H.G. IV. p117 is printed with the fragments of Malchus. But it is more probable that it comes from Candidus.

15 The strongholds called Salmon (locality unknown), Zachariah Myt. V.1.

16 Especially of Epinicus who, then a favourite of Verina, had in Leo's reign filled the highest financial offices; and was appointed, apparently by Basiliscus, praetorian prefect. (Suidas, sub nomine, calls him ὑπαρχος τῆς πόλεως, but this seems inconsistent with what is said about his oppression of the provinces, καὶ τὰ ἔθνη καὶ τὰς τῆς πόλεις καπηλεύων κτλ., which are only appropriate to a praetorian prefect. The notice must come either from Malchus or from Candidus.) Cp. also Suidas, sub Βασιλίσκος (which appears as Malchus, fr. 7, in F.H.G. IV. p116).

17 See below, § 2.

18 Evagr. III.24. Malchus, ib. The assassin was Onoulf, Mag. Mil. per Illyr., a brother of Odovacar, who at this time was establishing his power in Italy. We have coins of Basiliscus, and of Basiliscus and Marcus together, and of Zenonis (Sabatier, I. Pl. VIII.14‑20); the faces are all conventional.

19 Cedrenus I.618 = Zonaras XIV.22‑24. The ultimate source is evidently Malchus, see Suidas s.v. Μάλχος.

20 John Ant. fr. 95 (De ins.). Cp. Brooks, op. cit. 218, n56 for date.

21 Dalisandus, in the Decapolis of Isauria, is to be distinguished from Dalisandus in Lycaonia, see Ramsay, Hist. Geog. pp335, 366, with the map opp. p330.

22 An earthquake on Sept. 25, 479, had done terrible damage to the walls of the city, and an Ostrogothic assault would have been a serious danger. Cp. Marcellinus, sub 480. Theoph. A.M. 5971, Brooks, C. Med. H. I p476.

23 Cp. Brooks, Emp. Zeno and the Isaurians, p219. This article, to which I am under considerable obligations, has cleared up many difficulties in the chronology, and elucidated the whole story.

24 Date in John Ant. ib. 3. This author and Eustathius (in Evagr. III.26) are the fullest sources.

25 There was also a third brother Romulus (Theodore Lect. I.37). The chief barbarian associated was Busalbos, an officer — perhaps commander of one of the legions of the troops in praesenti.

26 Τὴν Καισαρίου οἰκίαν, to be identified with τὰ Καισαρίου (of which there was a curator), in Theophanes A.M. 6054 (A.D. 561‑562). Evidently near the harbour of Caesarius, and this is confirmed by its proximity to the Forum of Bous, which we can infer from the passage in Theoph.

27 Κατὰ Ἰλλοῦ ἐν τοῖς λεγομένοις Οὐαράνου (John Ant.). I can find no trace of this locality elsewhere.

28 The Stoa of the Delphax was attacked. This was evidently in the Palace, as indeed is expressly stated by Victor Tonn. sub 523 intra palatium loco quod δελφακα graeco vocabulo dicunt. Cp. Procopius, B. V. 1.21 ὅπη βασιλέως εἶναι στιβάδα ξυμβαίνει Δέλφικα τοῦτο καλοῦσι τὸ οἴκημα.

29 Marcian escaped, and attacked Ancyra, but was defeated by Trocundes and imprisoned along with his wife in an Isaurian fortress.

30 John Mal. XV.387 sqq. For the position of the Pulpita cp. Theoph. A.M. 6024, p185, 10.

31 Evagr. III.27. Brooks, 225‑226, gives reasons for thinking that Evagr. (Eustathius) and John Mal. are mistaken in supposing that Leontius also accompanied Illus. Zeno granted to Illus the special power of appointing dukes in the eastern provinces.

32 See Joshua Styl. c14.

33 See Asmus, "Pamprepios," in B. Z. XXII.332 sqq. Pamprepius was sent to Alexandria, to combine measures with John Talaias who ascended the Patriarchal throne in 482, but in the same year (June) was deposed and succeeded by Peter Mongus, who was supported by Zeno. Peter organised an anti-pagan demonstration, and Pamprepius had to flee.

34 Under Conon, a fighting parson (he was bishop of Apamea), and Linges, a bastard brother of Leo.

35 The castle of Papirios, to which she had been removed (cp. Theodore Lector, I.37). It seems to be the same as the fortress of Cherris (Brooks, ib. 228).

36 We are not told why Illus desired the co-operation of Verina to invest the rebellion with the prestige of legitimacy, and we may conjecture that he thought the association of the Empress with her son-in‑law Marcian would be too dangerous a combination.

37 See John Mal. fr. 35, De ins. p165. Brooks well notices that the insistence in this document on the piety of Leontius alludes to Zeno's Henotikon (op. cit. 227). Theophanes (p398) gives the date of the entry of Leontius into Antioch as June 27 ind. 7 (= 484). But a contemporary, Palchus the astrologer, gives the day of the coronation as July 19. See Cumont, "L'Astrologue Palchos," in Revue de l'instruction publique en Belgique, XL p1206, and though Palchus was mistaken in placing the coronation at Antioch, his date must be accepted. If we correct June in Theoph. to July, Leontius entered Antioch only a week after the proclamation at Tarsus. The horoscope of Leontius given by Palchus was drawn incompletely by two astrologers, of whom one no doubt was Pamprepius. They inferred his success. Palchus shows that they overlooked certain data, which would have led to a true prognostication. Leontius appointed Pamprepius as his Master of Offices. For this and other appointments see John Mal. in De insidiis, p165. For coins of Leontius minted at Antioch see Sabatier, I. Pl. VIII.22, 23.

38 He was rejected at Chalcis, and at Edessa.

39 The part played by Theoderic and the Ostrogoths is uncertain. Cp. John Ant. fr. 214.4 and 6; Brooks, 228.

40 The fortress had been well supplied and strengthened by Zeno, as a place of refuge for himself in case of eventualities (Joshua Styl. c12). Art had assisted its natural strength. There was no path leading up to it save one so narrow that not even two persons could ascend at once (ib. c17).

41 The protraction of the siege was partly due to the distraction of Theoderic's rebellion in 486, partly to the strength of the fortress. Illus made some proposals for peace about this time. But he had fallen into despondency, and occupied himself with reading, committing the command of the garrison to Indacus. It was Indacus who betrayed the fortress. (According to Theoph., the husband of the widow of Trocundes was sent by Zeno to the fortress and arranged the treachery. Source, Theodore Lector(?).) Pamprepius was put to death by his friends before the end of the reign, because he had falsely foretold success.

42 The full significance of this element in the rebellion of Illus has been brought out by J. R. Asmus, in (p399) his article on "Pamprepios" (B. Z. XXII.320 sqq.). The principal evidence is in the fragmentary Vita Isidori, of Damascius (on which see Asmus, ib. XVIII.424 sqq., and XIX.265 sqq.), and the art. of Suidas, Παμπρέπιος. There is an interesting statement in Zacharias, Vita Severi, p40, that pagans in Caria (at Aphrodisias) offered sacrifices to the gods and inquired of the entrails of the victims whether Leontius, Illus, and Pamprepius would be victorious over Zeno. One of these Carians was the distinguished physician and philosopher, Asclepiodotus, a pupil of Proclus.

43 Ammonius of Alexandria seems to have taught philosophy at Constantinople in the reign of Zeno (cp. Asmus, "Pamprepios," p326).

44 Perhaps the Ἰσαυρικά, mentioned by Suidas.

45 See the conclusions of Asmus, op. cit.

46 In A.D. 485. Perhaps he had been set free by Illus, with the design of conciliating Zeno.

47 It is possible that he was also created mag. mil. in praes., and continued to hold this office in the first year of Anastasius; see C. J. XII.37.16. Cp. John Mal. XV p386. The dates of his consulships are 486 and 490.

48 John Ant. fr. 98, Καρδάλων is the reading of the cod. Scorialensis, Καρδάμων of the Parisinus.

49 Finlay, History of Greece, vol. I p180.

50 Preserved in Suidas s.v. Ζήνων (probably from Malchus).

51 Yet the Ravenna chronicler known as the Anonymus Valesii represents him as very popular: Zeno recordatus est amore senatus et populi, munificus omnibus se ostendit, ita ut omnes ei gratias agerent. Senato Romano et populo tuitus est, ut etiam ei imagines per diversa loca in urbe Roma levarentur. Cuius tempora pacifica fuerunt. (9.44). One would think that the writer was an Isaurian. Compare also 9.40: in republica omnino providentissimus, favens gentis suae.

52 Suidas s.v. Ἐρύθριος = Malchus fr. 6. Erythrius seems to have succeeded Epinicus in 475; his tenure of office must have been very short. No extant constitutions are addressed to him. It is also possible that he was prefect in the last months of 476 after Zeno's restoration.

53 It is said that Sebastian used to buy for a small amount an office which Zeno bestowed on a friend, and then sell it to some one else for a much higher price, Zeno receiving the profit. He was Praetorian Prefect from 477 to 484. The decline of the Scholarian guards is attributed by Agathias (V.15) to Zeno, who bestowed appointments on Isaurian relatives of no valour.

54 Suidas, s.v. Ζήνων, probably from Malchus, see F. H. G. IV.118.

55 See Suidas s.v. Λογγῖνος (perhaps from Malchus).

56 John Mal. XV p390. Arcadius, the Praetorian Prefect, expressed such indignation at this that Zeno sought to slay him, but Arcadius sought refuge in St. Sophia and escaped with the confiscation of his property.

57 Said to have been called Aelurus or Cat, because he used to creep at night into the cells of the monks at Alexandria to incite them against Proterius (Theodore Lector, I.1). The view that he was a Herul (αἰλουρός being a corruption of Ἕρουλος) is not probable.

58 Fifty-five bishops, Simeon Stylites the younger, and two other monks.

59 A.D. 460. He was succeeded by Timothy Salophaciolus (said to mean white-capped), who retired to a monastery in 475, when the other Timothy returned, and on his death was reinstated in 477. He died in 482.

60 Theodore Lector, I.20; Liberatus, Brev. c18.

61 A.D. 476. This Encyclical will be found in Evagrius, III.4; the Anti-encyclical, ib. 7 (cp. Zachariah Myt. V.5); Zeno's Henotikon, ib. 14.

62 Elected 471, as successor to Gennadius, who succeeded Anatolius in 458.

63 Except an extreme party who were known as Akephaloi or "Headless."

64 A.D. 484 under Felix II, successor of Simplicius. One of the Sleepless monks of Studion pinned the sentence of excommunication on the back of Acacius as he was officiating in St. Sophia. Acacius retorted the sentence on the Pope.

65 After the death of Timothy Salophaciolus in 482, there was a struggle for the Patriarchal throne between Peter and John Talaias. Peter was supported by Zeno, and John, who was actually consecrated, betook himself to Rome and appealed to Simplicius.

66 Nominally till A.D. 518, but after A.D. 512 the spirit of the Henotikon did not prevail in the East (see below, Chap. XIII § 2). Various views are held by modern writers of the Henotikon. Gelzer praises it unreservedly; Harnack considers it unfortunate, but admits that Zeno "simply did his duty" in issuing it (op. cit. p228).

67 Cassiodorus, Chron., Gundibato hortante. Marcellinus, Chron., Glycerius apud Ravennam plus praesumptione quam electione Caesar factus est (this was the view at Constantinople). John Ant. fr. 92. For date see Anon. Cusp.

68 John Ant. ib.

69 His parents were Nepotianus and a sister of Marcellinus.

70 Cp. Schmidt, op. cit. I.380‑381.

71 Anon. Val. factus est episcopus; Marcellinus, Chron., in portu urbis Romae ex Caesare episcopus ordinatus est et obiit, where the form of expression suggests a doubt whether Glycerius ever reached Salona.

72 Am. Thierry made a similar remark. "Ces rapprochements fortuits présentaient dans leur bizarrerie je ne sais quoi de surnaturel qui justifiait la crédulité et troublait jusqu'aux plus fermes esprits : on baissa la tête et on se tut." (Les Derniers Temps de l'empire d'occident, p258).

73 See above, p206.

74 For the nationality of Odovacar see John Ant. 93, Anon. Val. 45. He was son of Edica, probably identical with Edeco, who acted as Attila's envoy to Byzantium in 448. His brother was Onoulf (Malchus, fr. 8, John Ant. ib.).

75 Anon. Val. VIII.38.

76 He is styled rex Herulorum in Cons. Ital. (Chron. Min. I p313, cp. p309).

77 He issued silver and bronze coins in his own name at Ravenna, without the title rex. The inscription was FLavius ODOVAC. See Wroth, Coins of Vandals, p30.

78 These details are preserved in a valuable fragment of Malchus (fr. 10). Candidus relates that after the death of Nepos the Gallo-Romans (τῶν δυσμικῶν Γαλατῶν) rejected the rule of Odovacar and sent an embassy to Zeno, but Zeno rather inclined to Odovacar (fr. 1, p136, F. H. G. IV).

79 There is a useful genealogical tree in Sundwall, Abh. zur Gesch. d. ausg. Römerthums, p131, showing the relationships of the Decii who played a public part from 450 to 540.

80 Flavius Caecina Decius Maximus Basilius iunior was consul in 480, Praet. Pref. 483; Caecina Mavortius Basilius Decius iunior, consul 486, Prefect of Rome, and then Praet. Pref. between 486 and 493; Fl. Decius Marius Basilius Venantius, consul and Prefect of Rome 484; Flavius Manlius Boethius, consul and Prefect of Rome for the second time in 487, and Praet. Pref. earlier. Cp. CIL V.8120.

81 Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus iunior, consul 485, Prefect of Rome probably in same year. Rufius Achillius Sividius, consul 488, and twice Prefect of Rome; cp. CIL XII.133. A bronze tablet of Symmachus (Dessau, 8955) combines the names of Zeno and Odovacar: salvo d.n. Zenone et domno Odovacre.

82 First com. r. pr. afterwards com. s. larg. Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius began, under Odovacar, a career which was to be long and distinguished, but we do not know what posts he held (cp. Cass. Var. II.16). Those parts of the Imperial domains which were appropriated to the Emperor's private purse and were taken over by Odovacar, were placed under an official entitled comes et vicedominus noster; and this post might be held by a German. See Marini, Pap. n82 (grant of land to count Pierius, A.D. 489). These patrimonial lands were chiefly in Sicily.

83 Sundwall, op. cit. 181.

84 Cp. the remarks of Sundwall, 178, and 183, n4.

85 Victor Vit. I.4.

86 Dalmatia had been under Constantinople since the reign of Valentinian III (see above, p125), and we must suppose that when Nepos was created Augustus in 474, Leo handed it over to him.

87 In this year and 487 the names of the western consuls were not published in the East.

88 John Ant. fr. 98, Exc. de Ins. p138.

89 Eugippius, Vita Severini, c44. This source throws interesting light on the derelict provinces of Noricum, which for thirty years were exposed to the depredations of the Rugians, left unprotected by the Italian government, and virtually governed by St. Severinus.

90 Only once does he seem to have intervened. When the clergy met to elect a Pope in succession to Simplicius in March 483, the Praetorian Prefect appeared on Odovacar's behalf, because Simplicius had urgently implored the king not to allow a new Pope to be elected without his consent.

91 The chief sources for the events of this section are fragments of Malchus and John of Antioch, and the Getica of Jordanes.

92 Jordanes, ib. 268, knew how it was apportioned among the three brothers. Theodemir's people were on the Plattensee and eastward towards the Danube.

93 Theoderic may have been born about 454‑455. He is said to have been eight years old when he was sent to Byzantium. His mother seems to have been a concubine treated with the honours of a wife. Her name in Anon. Val. XIV.58, is Ereriliva, but she was a Catholic and took the christian name of Eusebia.

94 As Gasquet (L'Empire byz. p67) observes, "what the barbarians hated most cordially was [not Romans but] other barbarians." Jordanes put it otherwise: the Ostrogoths made war cupientes ostentare virtutem (ib. 52).

95 Priscus, fr. 17, De leg. gent.; John Ant. fr. 90, De ins.; Jordanes, ib. 278.

96 Jordanes, Get. 282‑286, where events belonging to later incursions of Theoderic are mixed up with this invasion of Theodemir.

97 Anon. Val. XVII.67. Theoderic celebrated his tricennalia in A.D. 500.

98 He seems to have resided in Novae. Anon. Val. VI.42.

99 John Ant. fr. 98, Theoderic is said to be ἀνεψιός of Recitach son of Strabo. Schmidt (ib. 127, n3) conjectures that Theodemir's sister had married Strabo's brother.

100 Cp. Schmidt, op. cit. I.136.

101 His wish to be recognised as king by the Emperor shows that he was not of royal descent. Dahn, Kön. der Germanen, II.69.

102 Probably Juliana, whom we afterwards find married to Areobindus.

103 "Zeno or Verina" (Malchus, fr. 9, De leg. Rom.). This seems to show that Verina had a preponderant influence at this time.

104 He was cousin of Aidoing, Count of the Domestics, and a friend of Verina; and he belonged to the Amal family.

105 It is worth noticing that a sister of Theoderic, as well as his mother and brother, accompanied him on his march; she died at Heraclea and was buried there.

106 Sabinian was a strict disciplinarian, see Marcellinus, sub a. 479: disciplinae praeterea militaris ita optimus institutor coercitorque fuit ut priscis Romanorum ductoribus comparetur.

107 Τὸν Ῥωμαικὸν πολιτεύσοντα τρόπον. For Julius Nepos see above, p404.

108 For the fate of Sabinian see John Ant. fr. 97; for the date, 481, Marcellinus, sub a.

109 John Ant. fr.  95. Another account will be found in Eustathius, fr. 3 (apud Evagrium,III.25).

110 Recitach had murdered his uncles, so that the act of Theoderic (who was related to Strabo) was an act of blood-vengeance. John Ant. fr. 98.

111 Marcellinus, Chron., sub a.

112 Perhaps Amalafrida (Schmidt, op. cit. I.147, n4).

113 Anon. Val. II.49. We may conjecture that Theoderic, who had been mag. mil. in praes. in the East since 483, was now appointed mag. mil. in praes. in Italy, to replace Odovacar.

114 Schmidt, op. cit. 1.152.

115 The chief sources are Ennodius (Panegyricus and Vita Epiphanii) and the chronicle known as Anonymus Valesianus, Part 2. The most recent editor, Cessi, has shown (correctly, I think) that it falls into two sections of different authorship (1 = § 36-§ 77; 2 = § 78-§ 96). They are contrasted by the fact that the first is highly favourable to Theoderic, and the second undisguisedly censorious. The first was written before his death, the second probably between 527 and 534 (Cessi, CLXVI sqq.). The conjecture of some that Maximian, archbishop of Ravenna, was the author, will not hold.

116 Ennodius, Pan. p271, says rhetorically universas nationes, and tot reges quot sustinere generalitas milites vix valeret.

117 Ennodius (ib. 272) suggests that Odovacar chose the position to render flight impossible for his army.

118 Sept. 29 or 30 (Hodgkin) seems implied by Anon. Val. 50.

119 Caedis enormitas, Ennod. p273; ceciderunt populi ab utraque parte, Anon. Val. ib.

120 Anon. Val. 51, where it is said Tufa was appointed mag. mil. by Odovacar and his chief men. If so, Odovacar had usurped a right which belonged to the Emperor.

121 This is shown by the fact that the western consul of 490, Flavius Probus Faustus, assuredly nominated by Odovacar, was acknowledged in the East. Sundwall (Abh. 187 sqq.) is right, I think, in his treatment of the political situation in these years.

122 Sundwall would place the elevation of Thela at the beginning of 490. The fact is recorded by John Ant. fr. 99, De ins.

123 John Mal. XV p383 πολεμήσας (Th.) αὐτῷ (Od.) κατὰ γνώμην προδοσίαν τῆς συγκλήτου Ῥώμης.

124 This episode is very obscure. The sources are Ennodius, Pan. p276, Vit. Epiph. 369 sqq.; Hist. Misc. XV.16 (cp. Cassiodorus, Var. 12, 28). Ennodius gives no clear chronological indications. Hodgkin places the event in 490, before the battle of the Addua; but the circumstances seem to point to a later date, for Theoderic was apparently besieged in Ticinum till the arrival of the Visigoths and could not have dealt with the Burgundians. Schmidt's chronology is preferable (op. cit. I.156). The motive for Gundobad's interference is intelligible: he may well have feared the enclosure of his kingdom between a Visigothic power on one side and an Ostrogothic on the other.

125 Cassiodorus, Chron., sub a. 491. Theoderic had also trouble with the Rugians who had joined his expedition. Having plundered Ticinum they went over to Tufa, but then quarrelled with him and returned to Theoderic. Cp. Ennod. Pan. ib., Vit. Epiph. 361 sqq.

126 Nex votiva, Ennodius, Pan. p275. This atrocious act is not mentioned by Anon. Val. It is discussed by Dahn, Kön. der Germ. II.80; Hodgkin, III.226.

127 Consularia Italica, p318.

128 These harbours are now dry land, and are marked, one by the Church of S. Apollinare in Classe, the other by that of S. Maria in Porto fuori.

129 Procopius, B. G. I.1; John Ant. fr. 99 (De ins. p140).

130 Anon. Val. 54 dum ei Odoachar insidiaretur. In the other sources which depend on the Ravennate Annals (Anon. Cuspin., Cont. Prosperi Havn. and Agnellus) there is no mention of a plot, nor in John Ant.; but see Cassiodorus, Chron. (Odoacrem molientem sibi insidias), and Procopius B. G. I.1 ἐπιβουλῇ ἐς αὐτὸν χρώμενον. The plot was evidently part of the official Ostrogothic account.

131 "On the same day" is not quite accurate. See John Ant. ib., who records that Odovacar's son, "whom he had proclaimed Caesar," was exiled to Gaul, but returning to Italy was put to death. Sunigilda, Odovacar's wife, was starved to death. It is true that his brother was slain on the same day. The name of the son was Thela (Anon. Val.), and Ὀκλάν in John Ant. is probably an error for Θήλαν (as Mommsen conjectured). The statement that all Odovacar's soldiers were killed is doubtless an exaggeration.

132 Ennodius, ib. 362 sqq.

133 Ib. 366, uides universa Italiae loca originariis uiduata cultoribus.

134 Ib. 370 sqq. Ennodius accompanied Epiphanius on this embassy.

135 Boni imperatoris est possessoris opulentia, ib. 379.

136 A.D. 497, at the age of 58.

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