The Anonymus Valesianus II is an important source on the very last days of the Western Roman Empire and the rise in Italy of the kingdom of Odoacar followed by the Ostrogothic kingdom of Theoderic the Great. An anonymous work, it begins with the accession of Julius Nepos as Western Roman emperor in 474 CE and the death of Theoderic in 526 CE. A small part of the work covers internal affairs of the Eastern Roman Empire, which survived the collapse of its western counterpart.
Though the work's author is anonymous, we can glean from the contents that the author was likely living in Italy during the sixth century CE and probably identified as a Roman. The author was certainly of the Catholic Christian faith. Indeed, the most important narrative in the work is the rise and fall of Theoderic, who was of the Arian sect deemed heretical by the Catholic Church. Theoderic is portrayed as initially being on on good terms with the church and managing affairs in Italy very well, but his turn towards attempted persecution of God's true church is presented as the cause of his final downfall, as God saves the Catholic Church from Theoderic's attempt to seize Catholic basilicas for the interests of the Arians. Further, the incident on which the author pins the initial decline of Theoderic from good king to bad tyrant is the king's response to anti-Jewish rioting in Rome and Ravenna, in which the author is clearly condemning Theoderic for perceived favourable rulings towards the Jews against the Christians. At the end of the work, a certain Jewish advocate called Symmachus issues the dictation of Theoderic's orders to seize the basilicas. The implication then is that God thwarted a Jewish-Arian conspiracy against the Catholic Church.
An important point that emerges from the Anonymus Valesianus II is the continuity in Roman institutions in Italy despite the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transition into monarchies led by non-Romans. The Senate in Rome endured, along with positions like the traditional consulship and later Roman offices.
The Latin of this text is far removed from the language of the classical period. One notable feature of the Latin in the Anonymus Valesianus II is the much freer use of the present participle form. For example:
[Zeno] eum invitavit in solacium sibi adversus Basiliscum, obiectans militem, post biennium veniens, obsidens civitatem Constantinopolim.
'[Zeno] invited him [Theoderic] to provide relief for him against Basiliscus. Fielding soldiery, he came after two years and besieged the city of Constantinople.'
The present participle forms, highlighted in italics, could just be rendered as simple finite verbs. A more usual construction of the above sentence in classical Latin could be as follows:
cum eum in solacium sibi adversus Basiliscum invitavisset et milite obiectato post biennium venisset, civitatem Constantinopolim obsessit.
Or consider this excerpt from the opening section:
mox veniens Ravennam; quem persequens Orestes patricius cum exercitu, metuens Nepos adventum Orestis, ascendens navem fugam petit...
'Soon after he [Nepos] came to Ravenna, Orestes the patrician chased him with the army, and Nepos fearing Orestes' arrival boarded a ship and sought flight.'
The present participle forms are again highlighted in italics. The first two present participles are notably in the nominative case and seem to function like ablative absolute phrases that are so familiar from classical Latin.
Certain forms have deviated from their classical Latin understandings and meanings. For example:
subito unus de turba adeptus a daemonio cecidit
'Suddenly one of the crowd, possessed by a demon, fell.'
adeptus (highlighted in italics) is the past participle form of adipiscor ('obtain, get, acquire, possess' etc.), which was understood in classical Latin to be a deponent verb (i.e. passive in form but active in meaning). Thus, adeptus would mean 'having obtained' etc. Here though, adeptus is used as a passive form. Also note the use of de in a partitive sense in the above phrase, similar to the construction we find in Romance languages like French and Spanish.
cunctus senatus vel populus Romanus
'All the Senate and Roman people.'
vel (highlighted in italics) traditionally meant 'or.' Here it has acquired the sense of 'and.' Compare with a later text like the Mozarabic Chronicle, which uses vel extensively in the sense of 'and.'
dum pervenissent cum lectulo...
'When they had reached with the coffin...'
dum intra triduum evacuatus fuisset...
'When he had been emptied out inside a period of three days...'
In the above two phrases the conjunction dum is used with the subjunctive to form a temporal clause, equivalent to the classical Latin construction of cum with the subjunctive to form a temporal clause.
Below is my translation of the text (original Latin here) with endnotes I have added to explain various terms, provide context where necessary, and give some additional source material for comparison.
Therefore by the command of Zeno the Augustus of Constantinople,[i] Nepos[ii] the patrician,[iii] arriving in the harbor of the city of Rome, deposed from power Glycerius[iv] and he was made bishop while Nepos was made emperor of Rome. Soon after he came to Ravenna,[v] Orestes the patrician chased him with the army, and Nepos fearing Orestes' arrival boarded a ship and sought flight to Salona[vi] and remained there for five years. Afterwards indeed he was killed by his own men.[vii] Soon after he left Augustulus[viii] was made emperor. Augustulus ruled for ten years.[ix]
Augustulus, who was called Romulus by his parents before coming to power, was made emperor by his father Orestes the patrician. But Odoachar,[x] arriving with the people of the Sciri,[xi] killed Orestes the patrician in Placentia[xii] as well as his brother Paulus at Pineta[xiii] outside the Classis of Ravenna.[xiv] But entering Ravenna he deposed Augustulus from rule but taking pity on his youth he spared his life and since he was handsome he gave him a pension of six thousand solidi and sent him into Campania[xv] to live as a free man with his relatives. For his father Orestes the Pannonian,[xvi] who in that time when Attila came to Italy[xvii] joined himself to him and was made his secretary. From there he advanced and made it all the way to the dignity of being patrician.
Therefore after Zeno was made emperor by his son Leo,[xviii] who had been born from a daughter of Leo[xix] called Ariagne, he ruled with his son for one year, and the rule of Leo deservedly remained with Zeno. Zeno indeed already having ruled with his son for one year ruled for fourteen years, as he was the most noble man of Isauria[xx] who had been worthy of receiving the emperor's daughter and was trained in arms. They say about him that he did not have kneecaps on the knees, but rather they were mobile, such that he even had a very fast speed of running beyond the manner of humans. In the state matters he was wholly prudent, though favouring his people.[xxi]
Basiliscus[xxii] the first senator himself was plotting against this man. When he learned this, Zeno sought Isauria taking some riches with him. But when he went out, soon Basiliscus, who, as has been said, was plotting against him, seized power.
Basiliscus ruled for two years. Zeno, strengthening the Isauri inside the province, from there sent envoys to the city of Nova[xxiii] where Theodoric[xxiv]- the leader of the Goths and the son of Walameric- was, and invited him to provide relief for him against Basiliscus. Fielding soldiers, he came after two years and besieged the city of Constantinople. But as the Senate and people feared Zeno, lest the city should suffer any evil, they abandoned Basiliscus as all surrendered to him after opening the city. Basiliscus fled to the church and entered into the baptistery with his wife and sons. Although Zeno gave him the oath pledge that he would be spared of bloodshed, he came out and was shut in with his wife and sons inside a dry cistern, and they died in the same place from the cold. Zeno regained the love of the Senate and people, and showed himself munificent to all such that all gave him thanks. He protected the Roman Senate and people, such that even images were put in place for him through various places in the city of Rome. His times were peaceful.
Indeed Odoacar, whom we have mentioned above, was made king and remained in rule for thirteen years[xxv] soon after Augustulus was deposed from power. His father was called Edico, about whom it is thus found in the books of the life of the blessed Severinus the monk inside Pannonia, who advised him, and predicted rule would be his. Thus you find in the relevant place: when certain barbarians came to Italy, they turned to him with a view to receiving benediction. Among them also Odoacar, who later ruled Italy, had arrived as a tall young man in the poorest state. While he had bent himself lest he should touch the covering of the most humble small store-room with the top of his body, he got to know from the man of God that he would be glorious. Indeed he said to him as he said goodbye: 'Go to Italy. Go now covered in the poorest skins, but you will soon grant very many things to the many.' Meanwhile, as the servant of God had predicted to him, he soon entered into Italy and accepted rule. In the same time, Odoacar the king, reminded of the prediction he had heard from the holy man, immediately sent him a letter on friendly terms, saying that if he desired anything, he would willingly grant his wish. Therefore the man of God, taken in by such addresses through his letters, asked that a certain Ambrosius in exile be absolved. Odoacar gladly obeyed his orders. So Odoacar the king wages war against the Rugi,[xxvi] whom he overcame in a second war, and utterly destroyed them. For while he himself was of good will and granted favour to the Arian sect,[xxvii] on one occasion while many nobles were lauding the aforementioned king in the presence of the holy man, as is usual, he asked which king they had praised with such great praises. When they responded 'Odoacer', he said: 'Odoacer, safe between thirteen and fourteen years'- meaning of course the years of his safe rule.
And so Zeno, recompensing Theoderic with benefits, whom he made patrician and consul, gave him much and sent him to Italy. Theoderic had made a pact with him that, if Odoacer were overcome, he would indeed rule in his place as a reward for his labours until he should arrive. Therefore Theoderic the patrician arrived from the city of Nova with the Gothic people, having been sent by the emperor Zeno from the eastern parts so he could defend Italy for him.[xxviii]
Odoacar met him as he came at the river Sontius,[xxix] and fighting there with the same person, he was defeated, fled and departed into Verona. And he put in place a ditch in the lesser field of Verona five days before the Kalends of October.[xxx] There Theoderic followed him. A battle was fought and people fell from both sides. Nonetheless Odoacer was defeated and fled to Ravenna on the day before the Kalends of October.[xxxi]
And Theoderic the patrician headed to Mediolanum,[xxxii] and the greatest part of Odoacar's army surrendered to him, including Tufa the master of soldiers,[xxxiii] whom Odoacer had ordained with his optimates on the Kalends of April.[xxxiv] In that year Tufa the master of soldiers was sent by Theoderic against Odoacar in Ravenna. Coming to Faventia,[xxxv] Tufa besieged Odoacar with the army, with which he had been directed. And Odoacar left Ravenna, and came to Faventia, and they were sent in the sword, and led to Ravenna.
When Faustus and Longinus[xxxvi] were consuls, Odoacar the king left from Cremona and came to Mediolanum. Then the Wisigoths[xxxvii] came to the aid of Theoderic, and a battle was fought over the river Addua,[xxxviii] and people fell from both sides and Pierius the comes domesticorum[xxxix] was killed three days before the Ides of August,[xl] and Odoacar fled to Ravenna, and soon Theoderic the patrician pursued him into Pineta and fixed a ditch, besieging Odoacar as he was shut in for three years in Ravenna, and it was such until a measure of wheat cost six solidi. And Theoderic sent Festus, the head of the Senate, as a delegate to the emperor Zeno, as he hoped the same person would endow him with royal clothing.[xli]
With Olybrius the most distinguished man as consul,[xlii] Odoacar left Ravenna by night, entering with the Heruli into Pineta in the ditch of Theoderic the patrician, and men from both armies fell, while Levila, Odoacar's master of soldiers, was killed on the river Bedente[xliii] as he fled. And Odoacar was defeated and fled to Ravenna on the Ides of July.[xliv] So Odoacar, having been compelled, gave his son Thelanes as a hostage to Theoderic, accepting a pledge that he would be spared from bloodshed. So Theoderic entered and some days later, while Odoacer was laying a trap for him, he was detected beforehand and anticipated in the palace by him, and Theoderic killed him by his own hand with the sword as he reached Lauretum. On the same day his armies were all killed by Theoderic's order- whosoever could be found- along with all his family. And Zeno the emperor died in Constantinople, and Anastasius was made emperor.[xlv]
For Theoderic had directed Faustus Niger[xlvi] in a delegation to Zeno. But when the Goths learnt of his death before the delegation returned, as he entered Ravenna and killed Odoacar, they affirmed Theoderic to be their king, not waiting for the order of the new princeps. For he was most bellicose, and strong, whose biological father was Walamir the aforementioned king of the Goths. His mother, the one called Ereriliva the Goth, was indeed Catholic, and she was called Eusebia in baptism. He was a distinguished man and of good will among all and reigned for thirty-three years. In his times good fortune followed Italy for thirty years, such that there was even peace for the sucessors. For he did nothing incorrectly. Thus he governed two peoples in one: Romans and Goths. While he was indeed of the Arian sect, he did not however try anything against the Catholic region. He displayed Circensian games and the amphitheatre, such that he was even called by the Romans Trajan[xlvii] and Valentinian,[xlviii] whose times he followed as a model, and by the Goths on account of his edict, by which he constituted law, he was judged to be the strongest king among all. He ordained military service to be for the Romans as under the principes. He generously granted gifts and distributions of corn, and although he had found the public treasury to be of hay out of the whole, he recuperated it with his toil and made it opulent.
Though he was illiterate, he was of such great wisdom that some things he said are now considered proverbs. Thus it does not shame us to have placed something of his many sayings in commemoration. He said: 'The one who has gold and a demon, he cannot hide the latter.' Also: 'The poor Roman imitates the Goth and the well-off Goth imitates the Roman.'
A certain man died and left a wife and a small son who did not know his mother. His small son was taken away by someone and led into another province and brought up. When he became a young man he somehow returned to his mother. For the mother had already become engaged to another man. When his mother saw him, she embraced her son, blessing God that she had seen her son again. And he spent thirty days with her. And behold the mother's betrothed came and saw the young man, he asked who he was. She replied he was her son. But when he discovered he was her son, he began to ask for the return of the betrothal money and say: 'Either deny he is your son or I will indeed depart from here.' The woman was compelled by her betrothed, and began to deny her son, whom she herself had previously admitted, and say: 'Go, young man, from my house, because I took you up as a stranger.' So he said that he had returned to his mother in the home of his father. What more? While these things were occurring, the son asked for the king's opinion against his mother, whom the king ordered to be brought into his sight. And he said to her: 'Women, your son asks against you. What do you say? Is he your son or not?' She said: 'He is not my son but I took him up as a stranger.' And while the woman's son made known all things in order in the ears of the king, he said to the woman again: 'Is he your son or not?' She said: 'He is not my son.' The king said to her: 'And what is your property, woman?' She responded: 'Up to 1000 solidi.' And while the king promised under oath he would not make anyone else a husband if she accepted only him and no other as a husband, then the woman became perplexed and admitted he was her son. There are also many other stories about him.
Later indeed he accepted a wife from the Franks called Augoflada. For he had a wife before the kingdom, from whom he had daughters. He gave one called Areaagni to Alaric the king of the Wisigoths in the Gallic lands, and another daughter of his called Theodegotha to Sigismund the son of king Gundebad.[xlix] He made peace with Emperor Anastasius through Festus regarding the assumption of the kingdom, and he sent back all the ornaments of the palace, which Odoacar had sent over to Constantinople.[l]
At the same time a dispute arose in the city of Rome between Symmachus and Laurentius.[li] For they had both been consecrated. By God's order, Symmachus, who was also the deserving one, triumphed. Afterwards, with peace made in the city of the church, King Theoderic came to Rome, and the most devoted man, as though Catholic, met the Blessed Peter. Pope Symmachus and all the Senate and the Roman people met him with all joy outside the city. From there he came and entered the city and came to the city. He addressed the people at Palma,[lii] and promised that with God's help he would inviolably preserve all the things which the previous Roman principes had ordained.
In triumph through a tricennalia,[liii] he came to the people at the palace, putting on display the Circensian games for the Romans. He gave to the Roman people and poor distributions of corn in each year with 120,000 measures. He also ordered for two hundred librae to be granted each year from the wine treasury to restore the palace and even to restore the walls of the city. Also he handed over his sister Amalafrigda to Transimundus the king of the Wandals[liv] in marriage. He made Liberius the praetorian prefect (whom he had appointed at the beginning of his rule) a patrician, and gave a successor to him. And so Theodorus, the son of Basilius, succeeded into the administration of the prefecture. Odoin his comes[lv] was plotting against him. When he discovered this, he ordered for his head to be cut off in the palace that is called Sessorium. And he ordered the words of his promise, which he had addressed to the people, to be inscribed in a bronze tablet and placed in public as per the people's request.
Returning on the sixth month from there to Ravenna, he handed over his sister Amalabirga in marriage to Herminifredus the king of the Turingi[lvi] and thus through the surrounding he made all peoples agreeable to him. For he was a lover of buildings and restorer of cities. This man restored the aqueduct of Ravenna, which the Emperor Trajan had made, and after much time brought in water. He restored the palace to completion, which he did not dedicated. He completed the colonnades around the palace. Also he built the baths of Verona and the palace and added a colonnade from the gate all the way to the palace. He renovated the aqueduct, which had been destroyed over a long period of time, and sent in water. He placed many other new walls around the city. Also he built the palace in Ticinum[lvii] along with the baths, amphitheater and many walls of the city.
But also through other cities he displayed many benefits. For thus he delighted neighbouring peoples, that other peoples gave themselves to him under treaty, hoping he would be their king. Indeed businessmen from various provinces rushed to him. For he was of such great discipline, that if anyone wanted to send silver or gold in his domain, it was thus deemed as if he were inside the walls of the city. And he observed this principle[lviii] through all of Italy in such a great way that he did not make a gate for any city. And the doors were not shut in the city: if anyone had any need, he would do it at any hour that person wanted, as if in the day. They bought sixty measures of corn for a solidus in the time of that man, and thirty amphoras of wine for a solidus.
And at the same time Emperor Anastasius had three grandchildren: that is, Pompeius, Probus and Hypatius. Considering which of them he would make to be emperor after himself, on one day he ordered them to have lunch with him, to have a siesta inside the palace after lunch, and for individual beds to be laid for them. And on one bed, he ordered for royal insignia to be placed at the head, and whoso of them chose to sleep in that same bed, in this he would be recognized as the one to whom he would hand the kingdom later. Indeed one tossed himself on one bed, while the other two, out of brotherly love, placed themselves on another bed. And thus it came to pass, that none of them was sleeping where the royal insignia had been placed. When he saw this, he began to think inside himself, and thinking thus that none of them would rule, he began to pray to God that there should be a revelation to him that he could know while he was still alive which of them would rule after his death. While he was considering these things and praying with fasting, on a certain night he saw a man,[lix] who thus advised him: 'Tomorrow the one who will have been first declared to you inside the bedroom, that person will receive your rule after you.' Thus it came to pass that Iustinus,[lx] who was the comes of the watchmen, when he came, where he had been directed by the emperor, he was the first to be declared to him through the head chamberlain of the bedroom. When he knew this, he began to thank God, who had deigned to reveal the successor to him.
And while he kept these things quietly to himself, [lxi]on a certain day as the emperor came forth, while Iustinus in a hurry wanted to cross over from the emperor's side, wishing to arrange obedience, and he tread on the emperor's cloak. The emperor said this to him: 'Why are you in a hurry?' For at the end of the life of his rule the devil was tempting him, wanting him to follow the Eunomian sect.[lxii] The faithful people kept him in check, such that it was shouted to him in the church: 'You will not send your small lance into the Trinity.' Not much later in his bed inside the city of Constantinople, overcome by illness he closed his last day.
So the king was illiterate and thus with blunt sense that for ten years of his rule he had not at all been able to learn the four letters of the signature of his edict. Regarding this matter he ordered for an engraved gold plate to be made, having the four letters: 'legi'.[lxiii] Thus if he ever wanted to write a signature, the plate would be placed over a paper, he led the pen through it, so that his signature would thus be seen.
So Theoderic, after the consulate was given to Eutharic,[lxiv] triumphed in Rome and Ravenna. This Eutharic was excessively harsh and hostile to the Catholic faith. After this while Theodoric was staying in Verona on account of fear of the peoples, a quarrel arose between the Christians[lxv] and Jews of Ravenna. As the Jews[lxvi] did not want to be baptized, while they played frequently they tossed the water that was offered into the water of the river. Thus the people were enraged, and paying no heed to the king, Eutharic or Petrus, who was then the bishop, they rose against the synagogues and burnt them. The same thing also took place in Rome.[lxvii]
Soon the Jews rushed to Verona, where the king was, while Triwane was acting as bedroom chamberlain. He himself was a heretic favouring the Jews, and urging the king to act against the Christians. Soon on account of the starting of the fire he ordered that the whole Roman people[lxviii] restore through giving money the synagogues which they had burnt with fire. Those who did not have the means from which to give would be beaten and led in a public procession under the voice of a public crier. The orders were given to Eutharic Cilliga and the bishop Petrus according to this course of action and thus it was implemented.
For from this the devil found a way to snatch away a man who was governing the state well without complaint. For soon he ordered for the destruction of the oratorium of Saint Stephanus- that is the altar- next to the fountains in the suburb of the city of Verona. Also he forbade any Roman to use arms, all the way to the dagger. Also a poor woman from the Gothic people, lying under a colonnade not far from the palace of Ravenna gave birth to four snakes: two were seen by the people being carried from west to east in the clouds and heading straight into the sea. Two were carried bearing one head. A star appeared with a little torch, which is called a comet, shining through fifteen days. There were frequent earthquakes.
After this the king began to rage against the Romans with the opportunity having been found. Cyprianus, who was once a letter reporter, and then a comes of the sacred largess and master,[lxix] was driven by greed and began making insinuations about the patrician Albinus,[lxx] claiming that he had sent letters to the Emperor Iustinus against his rule. When summoned he denied this deed, then Boethius the patrician,[lxxi] who was master of the offices, said in the sight of the king: 'Cyprianus' insinuation is false. But if Albinus did it, both I and the whole Senate acted in one plan. It is false, my Lord king.' Then Cyprianus hesitated and produced false witnesses not only against Albinus but also against Boethius. But the king devised a trick against the Romans and asked how he should kill them. He believed the false witnesses more than senators. Then Albinus and Boetius were led into custody at the baptistery of the church. Indeed the king summoned Eusebius, the prefect of the city, to Ticinum, and, despite not hearing out Boethius, brought a judgement against him. Soon he had him killed wretchedly in the Calventian field, where he was held in custody. Receiving a rope on the front, he was tortured for a very long time, such that his eyes cracked, and thus under torment at last he was killed with a club.
Then the king returned to Ravenna, acting not as a friend of God but as an enemy of his law, unmindful of every deed of his of benefit and grace which he had given. Trusting in his arm and believing that the Emperor Iustinus feared him, he sent for and summoned Iohannes,[lxxii] the head of the apostolic seat, to Ravenna. And he said to him: 'Go to Constantinople to the Emperor Iustinus, and tell him among other things to restore those reconciled in the Catholic religion.' Pope Iohannes responded to him as follows: 'What you intend to do, oh king, do it more quickly. Behold I stand in your sight. I do not promise I will do this for you, and I am not going to say to him. But in other causes, which you may have bound to me, I will be able to obtain what you wish from the same man with God's approval.'
Therefore the king, angered, ordered for a ship to be made and for him to be placed on it with other bishops- that is, Ecclesius of Ravenna, Eusebius Fanestris, Sabinus Campanus, and two others- along with the senators Theodorus, Importunus, Agapitus and another Agapitus. But God, who does not abandon his faithful worshippers, guided them with success. The Emperor Iustinus met him as he came such as if he were the Blessed Peter. With an embassy given to him, he promised to do those things except having the reconciled who had given themselves to the Catholic faith restored to the Arians- something he could in no way do.
While these things were occurring, Symmachus the head of the Senate, whose daughter Boethius had as a wife, was led from Rome to Ravenna. The king, fearing that the wretch might devise something against his rule on account of the pain of his son-in-law,[lxxiii] ordered him to be killed with a charge devised against him. Pope Iohannes returned from Iustinius. Theodoric received him in treachery and ordered him to be in his displeasure. After some days he died. As the peoples went before his corpse, suddenly one of the crowd, possessed by a demon, fell. And when they came with the coffin where he lay all the way up to the man, suddenly he arose whole and went forth into the funeral rites. The people and senators saw this and began to remove the remains from his clothes. Thus with the greatest joy of the people his body was led outside the city.
So Symmachus, a Jewish advocate, not by the orders of a king but of a tyrant, dictated orders on a holiday day on the fourth day of the week,[lxxiv] on the seventh day before the kalends of September,[lxxv] in the fourth indiction[lxxvi] during Olybrius' consulship[lxxvii]: that the Arians should seize the Catholic basilicas on the coming Sunday. But He who does not allow his faithful worshippers to be oppressed by alien peoples soon brought the judgement against Arius, the founder of his religion, against him. He was betaken with a loose stomach,[lxxviii] and when he had been emptied out inside a period of three days, he lost both his kingdom and life on the same day in which he rejoiced that he was seizing the churches. Before he should breathe his last, he put his grandson Athalaric in charge of the kingdom.[lxxix] But while he was still alive he made a mausoleum[lxxx] for himself out of rectangular stone, a work of wondrous size, and sought a huge rock to place over it.
[i] Zeno, Eastern Roman emperor in the period 474-475 CE and then 476-491 CE.
[ii] Julius Nepos, Western Roman emperor in the period 474-475 CE.
[iii] A title of high prestige.
[iv] Western Roman emperor in the period 473-474 CE. He was not recognized as legitimate by the court in Constantinople.
[v] At this point the capital of the Western Roman Empire.
[vi] Located in the Dalmatia region. The site of Salona is in modern-day Croatia.
[vii] In 480 CE.
[viii] Romulus Augustus, the son of Orestes and elevated to the throne by his father. 'Augustulus' means 'little Augustus' and derisively referred to his young age at which he was made emperor.
[ix] An error. He actually ruled for less than a year in the period 475-476 CE.
[x] Odoacar, who became the first non-Roman king of Italy. I have preserved the original transcription of the name at this point in the text.
[xi] Cf. Jordanes' history of the Goths, which notes the following about Odoacar's status and his takeover of Italy:
'Indeed after Augustulus was ordained emperor by his father Orestes in Ravenna, soon Odoacer the king of Torcilingi having the Sciri, Heruli and auxiliaries of various peoples with him occupied Italy and after Orestes was killed, he had his son Augustulus driven from rule and punished him with exile in the Castellum Lucullanum of Campania' (De Origine Actibusque Getarum- 46).
Also note Jordanes' account of the events in De Summa Temporum Vel Origine Actibusque Gentis Romanorum:
'But soon Odoacer, a Rogian [Rugian] by descent, bolstered with crowds of the Thorcilingi, Sciri and Heroli, invaded Italy and after removing the Emperor Augustulus from rule he punished him with exile in the Castellum Lucullanum of Campania' (344).
Odoacar's precise ethnicity is not clear, but it would seem he led a coalition of Germanic warriors in deposing Romulus Augustus.
[xii] Modern-day Piacenza in Italy.
[xiv] The port of the Ravenna area. It was important for Roman naval assets.
[xv] A region to the south of Rome.
[xvi] Pannonia was a region primarily corresponding to modern-day Hungary and parts of the northwest Balkans.
[xvii] Attila the Hun, who devastated parts of the Eastern and Western Roman empires. He invaded Italy in 452 CE.
[xviii] Leo II, who briefly ruled jointly with his grandfather Leo I and then his father Zeno following Leo I's death. However, Leo II died soon after while still only a child, leaving Zeno as sole ruler.
[xix] i.e. Leo I.
[xx] A region in south Asia Minor in what is now Turkey.
[xxi] i.e. The Isaurians.
[xxii] He was the brother-in-law of Leo I.
[xxiii] Located in Moesia on the Danube, corresponding to modern-day north Bulgaria.
[xxiv] Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths who deposed Odoacar and became king of Italy.
[xxv] i.e. King of Italy in the period 476-490 CE. Odoacar was killed in 493 CE following a war with Theodoric that lasted three years.
[xxvi] A Germanic tribe that settled in what is now Austria.
[xxvii] A Christian sect that posited that the Son of God was created and was of lower status than the Father. This doctrine runs counter to the standard teaching of the Trinity, which posits the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be one, equal and co-eternal.
[xxviii] The phrasing in this section implies that Theodoric was being sent by Zeno to Italy on the grounds of upholding Roman sovereignty in Italy against Odoacar the usurper. Theodoric would then act as Zeno's regent in anticipation of Zeno's arrival in Italy to incorporate the territory formally into the Eastern Roman Empire, the sole remaining Roman empire.
[xxix] The Soca/Izonzo river between Italy and Slovenia.
[xxx] 27th September.
[xxxi] 30th September.
[xxxiii] Latin: magister militum. A late Roman army command position just below the emperor/king. The use of the title in Odoacar's rule reflects continuity in preserving may Roman institutions and positions.
[xxxiv] 1st April.
[xxxv] Faenza in Italy.
[xxxvi] Longinus was a brother of the Emperor Zeno and consul in 490 CE.
[xxxvii] The Visigoths, who eventually established their kingdom in Spain, which endured until the Muslim conquests in the eighth century CE. In 410 CE, the Visigoths sacked Rome.
[xxxviii] The River Adda in northern Italy.
[xxxix] Another late Roman army position. The use of the title reflects another continuity in preserving many Roman institutions and positions during the rule of Odoacar.
[xl] 11th August.
[xli] Whereas Zeno supposedly sent Theoderic to take over Italy to act as a regent for him, Theoderic hoped to become king of Italy.
[xlii] Olybrius was consul in 491 CE.
[xliii] The Bidente-Ronco river in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
[xliv] 15th July.
[xlv] Eastern Roman emperor in the period 491-518 CE.
[xlvi] Consul of 490 CE.
[xlvii] Roman emperor in the period 98-117 CE. During his rule, the Roman Empire reached its maximum territorial area.
[xlviii] Valentinian the Great, Roman emperor in the period 364-375 CE.
[xlix] Gundobad, king of the Burgundians, a Germanic people who established a realm in parts of modern-day France and Switzerland as the Western Roman Empire declined.
[l] Presumably Odoacar had sent over these ornaments to signify the end of the Western Roman imperial court and that one emperor sufficed for the Roman world.
[li] i.e. A dispute as to who would be Pope.
[lii] An area in Rome.
[liii] Officially meant to mark a thirtieth anniversary of rule.
[liv] The Vandals, a Germanic tribe that eventually established a kingdom based in North Africa (centred on Carthage in modern-day Tunisia). The Vandals sacked Rome in 455 CE.
[lv] Count Odoin is otherwise unknown.
[lvi] A Germanic people who established a realm in what is now central Germany.
[lvii] The modern-day town of Pavia in northern Italy.
[lviii] The Latin noun used here is augurium, which originally pertained to divination involving birds.
[lix] i.e. He saw this man in a dream.
[lx] Justin I, Eastern Roman emperor in the period 518-527 CE.
[lxi] i.e. He did not discuss the dream etc. with others.
[lxii] Named for Eunomius of Cyzicus, an advocate of Arian doctrine.
[lxiii] Meaning 'I have read' in Latin.
[lxiv] Eutharic Cilliga: son-in-law of Theoderic and consul in 519 CE.
[lxv] i.e. The Catholic natives of Ravenna and not the Arian Goths.
[lxvi] Theoderic's reign saw relative toleration of Jews and their practices. For example, note this letter from Theoderic to the Jews recorded by Cassiodorus (who served in Theoderic's administration):
'Just as we wish to provide a just agreement on request, we also do not wish for there to be deceptions against the laws through our benefits, particularly in that area, in which we believe divine reverence to be relevant. Elevated, let them not therefore be seen to insult, destitute as they are of the grace of the divinity. Thus we rule by authority that you can place a covering on the old walls for your current synagogue, granting permission to your petitions in so far as divine agreements have permitted. But let no other decoration be added or there be overstepping in amplifying the temples. And you will have known that severity minimally escapes the old sanction, if you do not abstain from illegal things. Indeed in covering the walls or supporting them we only give permission, if the tricennial precept cannot be a problem for you. Why do you strive for that which ought you to shun? Indeed we give permission, but we laudably blame the desire of those in error. We cannot order religion, because no one can be compelled to believe against his will' (Variae II.27).
[lxvii] Note for comparison: an incident of anti-Jewish violence in Rome and Theoderic's response to it is documented in a letter to the Senate in Rome. Theoderic decreed the following as recorded by Cassiodorus:
'The renowned reputation of the city of Rome must nonetheless be conserved by its institution, and it should not be gripped by strange vices, which have always removed themselves from the probity of customs. Indeed it is not the mark of a Roman to seek the levities of riots and setting fire to one's own city. So the punishment of the laws against the instigators of the deed must be preserved, lest the loathsome aspect of the fire seize the hearts of the common people to engage in wicked imitation. For at the suggestion of the illustrious man the comes Arigernus we learnt that he was struck by the complaint of the Jews, because servile audacity broke forth into murdering their masters. As these people had been subject to public punishment, immediately an inflamed rushing mob of plebs had the synagogue burned by fire, avenging the faults of men by burning of public works, whereas, if any of the Jews were shown to be overstepping, he would have been subject to harsh punishment. But it was not just for there to be a rush to the disgraces of riots or hastening to burn public works. But we- for whom with God's support it is a matter of concern to provide correction for deeds wrongly committed, so that it can bring together customs with all placated- decree with present authority that you should get to know the above mentioned case through proper investigation and against the few instigators of this fire you can find you should implement the considered punishment. For we do not wish anything loathsome to occur, from where Roman gravitas might be subject to accusations. Thus we rule with equal reason that if anyone believes that he has some reasonable case against the Jews, let him come to your judgement to be heard so that he can condemn by censure whoever he implicates in guilt. For know that this has been strongly displeasing to us, that the most vain empty intentions of the peoples have gone all the way to destructions of public works, where we wish all to have been set in fine order' (Variae IV.43).
[lxviii] Ergo, the Goths were not subject to these penalties.
[lxix] Latin: magister. Though it is not clear what his exact position was.
[lxx] Consul in 493 CE. His ultimate fate is not mentioned in the narrative but he was likely executed.
[lxxi] St. Severinus Boethius.
[lxxii] Pope John I (St. John I), whose papacy lasted from 523-526 CE.
[lxxiii] Boethius, who had been killed by Theoderic.
[lxxv] 26th August 526 CE.
[lxxvi] A form of dating that originated in issues of prices of grain at Rome and tributes of grain from the provinces.
[lxxvii] A consul of 526 CE.
[lxxviii] i.e. Diarrhoea. Arius reputedly died in a similar way.
[lxxix] Athalaric, Ostrogothic king of Italy in the period 526-534 CE.
[lxxx] This mausoleum is located in Ravenna.