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Anician Myths

  • Alan Cameron (a1)


This paper discusses the widely held view that politics in fifth- and sixth-century Italy were largely driven by rivalry between the two great families of the Anicii and the Decii, supposedly following distinctive policies (pro- or anti-eastern, philo- or anti-barbarian, etc.). It is probable that individual members of these (and other) families had feuds and disagreements from time to time, but there is absolutely no evidence for continuing rivalry between Decii and Anicii as families, let alone on specific issues of public policy. Indeed by the mid-fifth century the Anicii fell into a rapid decline. The nobility continued to play a central rôle in the social and (especially) religious life of late fifth- and early sixth-century Italy. Their wealth gave them great power, but it was power that they exercised in relatively restricted, essentially traditional fields, mainly on their estates and in the city of Rome. The quite extraordinary sums they spent on games right down into the sixth century illustrate their overriding concern for popular favour at a purely local level. In this context there was continuing competition between all noble families rich enough to compete. Indeed, the barbarian kings encouraged the nobility to spend their fortunes competing with each other to the benefit of the city and population of Rome.


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1 Matthews, Western Aristocracies; Chastagnol, A., Le sénat romain à l'époque imperiale (1992); Heather, P., CAH xiii (1998), 184210; useful summary by Burton, G. P. in OCD3 (1996), 1386–7.

2 Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius’, in Gibson, M. (ed.), Boethius, his Life, Thought and Influence (1981), 1543, reprinted in Matthews, J., Political Life and Culture in Late Roman Society (1985), ch. 5.

3 Novak, D. M., ‘The early history of the Anician family’, Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 1 (1979), 119–65; Anicianae domus culmen, nobilitatis culmen’, Klio 62 (1980), 473–93; Christol, M., ‘À propos des Anicii: le IIIe siècle’, Mélanges de l'École française à Rome 98 (1986), 141–64; Wilkins, P. I., ‘The African Anicii — a neglected text and a new genealogy’, Chiron 18 (1988), 377–82.

4 Zecchini, G., ‘I Gesta de Xysti Purgatione e le fazioni aristocratiche a Roma alla metà del V secolo’, Rivista di storia della chiesa in Italia 34 (1980), 6074; La politica degli Anicii nel V secolo’, Atti del Congresso Internazionale di Studi Boeziani (1981), 123–38; La politica religiosa di Aezio’, in Sordi, M. (ed.), Religione e politica nel mondo antico (1981), 250–77; Aezio. L'ultima difesa dell'Occidente romano (1983); Ricerche di storiografia latina tardoantica (1993) and Ricerche di storiografia latina tardoantica II (2011); Ruggini, L. Cracco, ‘Nobiltà romana e potere nell'età di Boezio’, Atti … Studi Boeziani (1981), 7396; Gli Anicii a Roma e in provincia’, Mélanges de l'École française de Rome 100 (1988), 6985.

5 ‘solita fratribus odia’, Tacitus, Ann. 4.60.3.

6 The Decii under Theodoric’, Historia 33 (1984), 107–15.

7 Brunt, P. A., The Fall of the Roman Republic and Related Essays (1988), 443502, at 443, citing the most important earlier discussions.

8 Amm. Marc. 16.8.13; Zos. 6.7.4.

9 For full discussion, Cameron, Last Pagans, passim.

10 ‘La presa di potere da parte di Aezio … riporta gli Anicii sulla cresta dell'onda …’, Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1981), 126.

11 As noted in passing by O'Donnell, J. J., ‘Liberius the Patrician’, Traditio 37 (1981), 33: ‘The gens Anicia … is a great favorite of modern scholars (whose enthusiasm has tempted them to attach many unrelated figures, without evidence).’

12 Which one remains uncertain: Cameron, Last Pagans, 179–81.

13 P(raefectus) V(rbis) R(omae); I also use the abbreviation P(raefectus) P(raetori)O for praetorian prefect.

14 Chastagnol, Fastes, 124.

15 The natural assumption is that he married a Claudia, especially if Petronius Claudius is another of his sons (see below).

16 Claud., Ol. et Prob. 9; Prud., contra Symm. 1.551.

17 Part of the name is missing, but the AM is clearly visible, and given her ancestry no other supplement is possible.

18 PIR vi2 (1998), p. 410; PLRE i and ii and PCBE sub nomine.

19 ‘Tyrraniae Aniciae Iulianae c.f. coniugi Q. Clodi Hermogeniani Olybri v.c., consularis Campaniae, proconsulis Africae, praefecti urbis, praef. praet. Illyrici, praef. praet. Orientis, consulis ordinarii, Fl. Clodius Rufus v.p. patronae perpetuae’, ILS 1271.

20 ‘Q. Clodio Hermogeniano Olybrio v.c., fratri admirandae pietatis, Faltonius Probus Alypius v.c.’, ILS 1270; Cameron, Last Pagans, 331.

21 Cod. Theod. 12.1.72; the addresses of laws only give one name, but it is likely that he too was called Anicius.

22 Cameron, A., ‘Anicius Claudius (I. Cret. iv. 322)’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigrafik 57 (1984), 147–8.

23 Seeck and Chastagnol identified Olybrius' wife as a daughter of Anicius Auchenius Bassus, whose wife was called Turrenia Honorata. But even allowing for a teenage bride, how could the consul of 379 marry the daughter of a PVR 382?

24 PLRE i.925–6; Chastagnol, Fastes, 15–17; Chausson, F., Stemmata aurea: Constantin, Justine, Théodose, revendications généalogiques et idéologie impériale au IV s. ap. J.C. (2007), 176–8.

25 CIL vi.1756; ICUR n.s. ii (1935), no. 4219; CIL vi.8.3 (2000), pp. 4752–3; Schmidt, M. G., ‘Ambrosii carmen de obitu Probi’, Hermes 127 (1999), 99116; Trout, D., ‘The verse epitaph(s) of Petronius Probus’, New England Classical Journal 28 (2001), 157–76.

26 Croke, B. and Harries, J. D., Religious Conflict in Fourth-Century Rome (1982), 117, improbably supplement ‘greater than a [normal] consul’.

27 Löfstedt, E., ‘Zu lateinischen Inschriften’, Eranos 13 (1913), 7282 n. 1, a correction I jotted down in my edition of Seeck many years ago, before coming across this article.

28 In fact father and grandfather; the poet used proavi because it fitted the metre.

29 Schmidt, op. cit. (n. 25) has argued that the far more Christian B is the work of Ambrose, but there can be little doubt that Proba commissioned A (cf. A. 15–18), in which case her claim that Probus excelled her own father Olybrius might be thought unflattering to her two brothers, Anicius Claudius and Olybrius. Both were in fact probably dead by 390.

30 OLD s.v. reddo 1.

31 On Furia, see PLRE i.375.

32 For the eldest who died young, purely as a guess I would suggest Anicius (Petronius) Probianus.

33 Taegert, W., Panegyricus dictus Olybrio et Probino consulibus (1988), 25–9; Barnes, T. D., AJP 111 (1990), 418 (reviewing Taegert). Barnes suggests (p. 419) that the firstborn was a son from an earlier marriage, but that would require that his first and second wives should both have been Anicians.

34 Cod. Theod. 12.5.3. On the basis of a dubious inference from Symm., Ep. 9.126 (see too Roda and Callu ad loc.), PLRE i.735 takes his proconsulate back to 396, but the office was normally held for just one year, in this case presumably cut short by Gildo's rebellion: Barnes, T. D., ‘Between Theodosius and Justinian: Late Roman prosopography’, Phoenix 37 (1983), 256–7.

35 But there are plenty of other Bassi (PLRE i.151–8), notably Iunius Bassus cos. 331.

36 As I argued in Journal of Roman Studies 75 (1985), at 166–8.

37 ILS 1263; CIL x.5651; perhaps to be restored in 9.1568.

38 The duties of a late fourth-century praetor were hardly onerous, chief among them being presiding at games provided (and paid for) by his father: Chastagnol, A., ‘Observations sur le consulat suffect et la préture du Bas-Empire’, Revue Historique 219 (1958), 221–53, at 243–53.

39 Full bibliography at Journal of Roman Studies 75 (1985), 164–6.

40 ‘Anicius Auchenius Bassus v. c. et Turrenia Honorata c. f. eius cum filiis deo sanctisque devoti’, ILS 1292.

41 Anicius Paulinus PVR in 380 (Chastagnol, Fastes, 207; PLRE i.678) may be an older brother of Anicius Bassus.

42 ‘Scilicet nunc mihi Proborum et Olybriorum clara repetenda sunt nomina, et inlustre Anicii sanguinis genus, in quo aut nullus, aut rarus est, qui non meruerit consulatum’, Jer., Ep. 130.3.

43 For caput urbis = the senate, Cic., Pro Mil. 90 (even if the true reading is orbis, Prudentius' text might have given urbis).

44 Delmaire, R., Les responsables des finances impériales au Bas-Empire romain (1989), 182–4. Probus was quaestor candidatus in 395 and consul in 406. Symmachus' son Memmius Symmachus was quaestor in 393, when only ten.

45 The name is found among the Ceionii: a Ceionius Italicus is attested as consularis of Numidia in 343 (PLRE i.466).

46 These are the only two examples in PLRE i–ii; PCBE ii. i cites two more from c. 600.

47 PLRE ii.8–9.

48 Cameron, A., ‘Probus' Praetorian Games’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 25 (1984), 193–6.

49 PLRE ii.800–4 cite fifteen.

50 Since A and M are entirely independent of each other, Alypius is not to be seen as a correction of A's Olympius.

51 423/5 would be late in the day for Alypius to have a son in his late teens/early twenties, but there is always the possibility of a second marriage. Note too that Probus is said to have given his own games, whereas in both the other cases the father is named as the provider of the games. Presumably his father was dead.

52 Cracco Ruggini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1988), 83 n. 36.

53 So Sotinel, C., Identité civique et christianisme: Aquilée du IIIe au VIe siècle (2005), 278–9, with full bibliography.

54 Panciera, S., Un falsario del primo ottocento, Girolamo Asquini, e l'epigrafia antica delle Venezie (1970), 5267 (accepting authenticity); Billanovich, M. P., ‘Il falso epitafio aquileiense di Anicia Ulfina’, Rendiconti dell'Istituto Lombardo 108 (1974), 530–50 (against).

55 Cameron, A., ‘Flavius: a nicety of protocol’, Latomus 47 (1988), 2633, at 32–3.

56 CIL v.1071 = CLE 66; Calderini, A., Aquileia Romana: ricerche di storia e di epigrafia (1930), 450–1. The claim that the Aquileian martyrs Cantia, Cantianus and Cantianilla were ‘de genere Aniciorum’, though undoubtedly false, at any rate implies the presence of Anicii in Aquileia: see now Lizzi, R., ‘Gli Anicii, i Canziani e la Historia Augusta’, Hist. Aug. Coll. Bambergense (2007), 279–94; Sotinel, op. cit. (n. 53), 278–80.

57 Olympiodorus' Roman visit is usually dated to 424/25, in which case his Maximus must have been praetor some time between (say) 410 and 425, and so born between 390 and 405.

58 Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1983), 251.

59 As noted by Hodgkin, T., The Letters of Cassiodorus (1886), 424 n. 2.

60 Settipani, Continuité gentilice, 381.

61 Since Olympiodorus' first two examples are listed in reverse chronological sequence (423–5 and 402), it is reasonable to assume that the third is earlier than 402, in which case a much earlier Maximus might be considered, such as Valerius Maximus PVR 361–62.

62 PLRE i.208; A. Chastagnol, L'Italie et l'Afrique au Bas-Empire (1987), 340.

63 For a list of proconsuls between 337 and 392, Barnes, T. D., ‘Proconsuls of Africa, 337–392’, Phoenix 39 (1985), 144–53.

64 Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1980), 73.

65 e. g. ‘praetermitto … usque ad consulatus provectam familiae suae nobilitatem’, Hilarius, Vita Honorati 4.2. For even more fanciful claims to mythological ancestors, see below.

66 PLRE ii.749.

67 If born c. 396, Maximus could not have been born to any of the daughters of Probus' sons, given that the two eldest were still teenagers in 395.

68 Harrison, R. M., Temple for Byzantium: the Discovery and Excavation of Anicia Juliana's Palace-Church in Istanbul (1989).

69 PCBE ii.1.544–5.

70 PLRE ii.635–6.

71 Aug., De bono vid. 8.11. Augustine makes it clear that Iuliana only married once.

72 PLRE ii.452–4; Chastagnol, Fastes, 286–9.

73 Twyman, B. L., ‘Aetius and the aristocracy’, Historia 19 (1970), 480503, at 484.

74 Dondin-Payre, M., Exercise du pouvoir et continuité gentilice: les Acilii Glabriones (1993).

75 Herodian 2.3.4; PIR 2 A.59–73 with stemma on p. 12; Arnheim, M. T. W., The Senatorial Aristocracy in the Later Roman Empire (1972), 68–9, 107–9; generally, Syme, R., ‘An eccentric patrician’, Roman Papers iii (1984), 1316–36.

76 For Sibidius' career, PLRE i.838–9. The gap is partly filled by an otherwise unidentifiable Acilius Glabrio, named with a dozen other senators at the beginning of the fourth century, who donated money for the construction of a building in Rome (CIL vi.37118, re-edited with full commentary in CIL vi.8.3 (2000), pp. 4819–20).

77 Brennan, T. C., ‘Gentilician permanence and strategy over seven centuries?’, reviewing Dondin-Payre, op. cit. (n. 74), in Journal of Roman Archaeology 9 (1996), 335–8.

78 Chastagnol, Fastes, 286–9.

79 As assumed by Chastagnol, Fastes and by Settipani, Continuité gentilice, 194.

80 For what is known of this forum, see Palmer, R. E. A., Studies of the Northern Campus Martius in Ancient Rome, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 80.2 (1990), 4750; Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 356–7; Niquet, H., Monumenta virtutum titulique: Senatorische Selbstdarstellung im spätantiken Rom im Spiegel der epigraphischen Denkmäler (2000), 253–9; for the dedication, see now CIL vi.8.3 (2000), pp. 5094–5.

81 Badel, C., La noblesse de l'empire romain: les masques et la vertu (2005), 140–3.

82 ‘nobilis utrimque’, Tac., Hist. 1.14.11, with Chilver's commentary; Badel, op. cit. (n. 81), 141.

83 Brunt, op. cit. (n. 7), 445.

84 Gillett, A., Envoys and Political Communication in the Late Antique West, 411–533 (2003), 149.

85 As we shall see, Probus/Proba were not exclusively Anician names.

86 So Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1981), 126.

87 Barnish, S. J. B., ‘Transformation and survival in the western senatorial aristocracy, ca 400–700’, Papers of the British School at Rome 56 (1988), 120–55, at 134.

88 Ch. 15 and stemma 9 in R. Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy (1986).

89 De Red. 1.267–72.

90 Cameron, Last Pagans, 241–2.

91 For much more ambitious, but highly speculative, family trees, Settipani, Continuité gentilice, 161, 162, 164 and 165.

92 PLRE ii.761; S. Orlandi, Epigrafia anfiteatrale dell'Occidente Romano VI (2004), 495–6, no. 111. Purely as a conjecture, I have inserted him into the family tree as a second son of Gennadius Avienus; this would explain the Rufius in the next two generations.

93 The interval between Albinus cos. 493 and Basilius cos. 541 is surely too large for a single generation.

94 The entry of Faustus and Avienus into the Decian line among the sons of Basilius cos. 480 (Fig. 3) suggests a marriage link with the Corvini.

95 Momigliano, A., ‘Cassiodorus and Italian culture of his time’, Proceedings of the British Academy 41 (1955), 207–45 = Secondo Contributo alla storia degli studi classici (1960), 191–229, at 247.

96 Llewellyn, P., Rome in the Dark Ages (1970), 28; Lançon, B., Rome dans l'Antiquité tardive (1995), 85.

97 The one exception is Q. Fabius Memmius Symmachus, son of Symmachus cos. 391. Since nothing is known of his career after his praetorship in 402, he may have died young — though not so young that he did not marry and produce a son, the consul of 446. L. Aurelius Avianus Symmachus, the father of Symmachus 391, was consul designate for 367 when he died. For the antiquity of the Symmachi, see Cameron, A., ‘The antiquity of the Symmachi’, Historia 48 (1999), 477505.

98 Cracco Ruggini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1981), 77.

99 The Memmius came into the family from Symmachus cos. 391's father-in-law Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus.

100 Settipani, Continuité gentilice, 412.

101 For a guess about the names of the eldest, see n. 32 above.

102 The Symmachi were unusual in continuing to use the traditional praenomina down into at least the early fifth century: Cameron, op. cit. (n. 97), 485–7.

103 Cameron, Last Pagans, 238.

104 Cameron, Last Pagans, 487.

105 Chastagnol, Fastes, 160, 218; Salzman, M. R. and Roberts, M., The Letters of Symmachus: Book I (2011), xixxx.

106 ‘Tertius hic mihi de optimis fratribus luctus est’, Symm., Ep. 3.6.2, Titianus' death in 380. Presumably all three had one other name as well, unfortunately unknown.

107 Note too that his father gave him a majority of Symmachan names, and that Anicius stands in second place, not, as in almost all other known bearers of the name, in first place.

108 Symmachus cos. 522 is the son of Boethius and a daughter of Symmachus cos. 485. Avianius Symmachus the father of Symmachus cos. 391 died consul designate in 377.

109 Ep. II ad Gallam viduam 31 (CC 91.208).

110 Greg., Dial. 4.14.1 (SC 265, p. 55).

111 Note that he does not give Galla a consular proavus, correctly, since Memmius Symmachus was not consul (Fig. 5).

112 Some strange guesses have been made about the abbreviation NAR (Narses, Cracco Ruggini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1981), 82), but the simplest solution is that the N is an error for M, and that the name abbreviated is Marius: Cameron, A., ‘Boethius's father's name’, ZPE 44 (1981), 181–3.

113 ‘un anicio’, Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1983), 52.

114 Hodgkin, T., Italy and her Invaders iii (1885), 523; Momigliano, op. cit. (n. 95), 252; Wes, M. A., Das Ende des Kaisertums im Western des römischen Reichs (1967), 147; Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1993), 89.

115 Orlandi, op. cit. (n. 92), 436 and 478–9.

116 De consol. phil. 2.3–4.

117 It would have been instructive to know their full names, but (despite the incorrect information supplied on p. xi n.a of the Loeb Boethius) we do not.

118 Conveniently available in the Loeb Boethius (rev. edn S. J. Tester, 1967), 2–4.

119 Oosthout, H. and Schilling, I., A.M.S Boethii De arithmetica (1999), 36.

120 Contra Eutych. pr. (pp. 74–6 Loeb); Chadwick, H., Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology and Philosophy (1981), 181.

121 Cracco Ruggini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1988), 70; Momigliano, op. cit. (n. 95), 189.

122 ‘Similes habuistis olim, patres conscripti, Decios, similes vetustas praedicat fuisse Corvinos’, Var. 8.22.3; for Cyprianus, PLRE ii.332–3.

123 Var. 3.6.4–5; cf. 9.22.3.

124 Ennod. pp. 14.12 and 66.25. Moorhead, J., Theoderic in Italy (1992), 164. has remarked on ‘the lack of interest displayed by Cassiodorus … and Ennodius in the Anicii, and their apparently higher level of interest in the Decii’.

125 Briefly, Kleine Pauly i (1975), 354; Wiseman, T. P., Roman Studies (1987), 341.

126 Often referred to as Anicius Maximus. He may have borne the name Anicius, but it is not actually attested in any surviving text or inscription.

127 Barnish, S. J. B., Cassiodorus: Variae, Translated Texts for Historians 12 (1992), 133 n. 2.

128 An inference from the fact that Theodahad was elderly by 535: PLRE ii.1067–8.

129 Anecdoton Holderi: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte Roms in ostgotischer Zeit (1877), translated into French with useful introduction and bibliography by A. Galonnier, Anecdoton Holderi ou Ordo Generis Cassiodororum: Éléments pour une étude de l'authenticité Boécienne des opuscula sacra (1997).

130 So most recently Giardina, A., Cassiodoro politico (2006), 16.

131 ‘dichiara la sua parentela con gli Anicii’, Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1983), 91 n. 304; so again in ‘La politica religiosa di Aezio’, CISA 7 (1981), 274 n. 142; so too F. Troncarelli in Revue des Études Augustiniennes 35 (1989), 130 (‘C. metteva in risalto i suoi legami di parentela con gli Anicii’).

132 Momigliano, op. cit. (n. 95), 204 (my italics); and in Diz. biogr. degli Italiani 21 (1978), 495. Many others have said something similar.

133 See the entries for Aurelius in PLRE i (seven pages) and ii.

134 ‘coniuncta Aniciorum genus cum Amala stirpe spem adhuc utriusque generi domino praestante promittit’, Get. 314.

135 O'Donnell, J., Cassiodorus (1979), 44.

136 Against, see especially Croke, B., ‘Cassiodorus and the Getica of Jordanes’, CP 82 (1987), 117–34; Heather, P., Goths and Romans 332–489 (1991), 3852; Goffart, W., Barbarian Tides: The Migration Age and the Later Roman Empire (2006), 59.

137 See O'Donnell, op. cit. (n. 135), 271.

138 Where she claimed to be the daughter of (Olybrius and) Placidia, granddaughter of (Valentinian III and) Licinia Eudoxia, and great-granddaughter of (Theodosius II and) Eudocia (AP 1.10.8).

139 Malchus F 18.3 (p. 432. 27 Blockley).

140 For Petronius, PLRE ii.862–4 and PCBE 2. ii.1722–5; Chausson, op. cit. (n. 24), 182–5, rather implausibly, tries to tie together all known Nicomachi.

141 Ennodius, p. 314.36–8 Vogel; and see their entries in PLRE ii. For an imaginative reconstruction of further stages in the family tree, Settipani, Continuité gentilice, 131.

142 Giardina, op. cit. (n. 130), 149–50.

143 Most recently Zecchini, G., ‘Ende und Erbe der lateinisch-heidnischen Geschichtsschreibung’, in Goltz, A. et al. (eds), Jenseits der Grenzen (2009), 92; Ratti, S., Antiquus Error (2010), 219. Against, Cameron, A., JRA 24 (2011), 836.

144 Chrom., Tract. in Matt. 1.

145 Bettini, M., Anthropology and Roman Culture (1991), 169–81 and 298–301; Flower, H., Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture (1996), 211–17 and passim on imagines.

146 Wiseman, T. P., ‘Legendary genealogies in late-republican Rome’, in Roman Studies (1987), 207–20; Cameron, A., Greek Mythography in the Roman World (2004), 228–9.

147 Paula's family tree is reconstructed by Settipani, Continuité gentilice, 133. For more examples of mythological genealogies, including the late antique Greek world, Chausson, F., ‘Les lignages mythiques dans quelques revendications généalogiques sous l'empire romain’, in Auger, D. and Saïd, S. (eds), Généalogies mythiques (1998), 395417.

148 Rut. Nam., De red. 1.169–70; Sidon., Ep. 7.12.1–2.

149 Auson., Epigr. 26 (p. 73 Green, with commentary on pp. 390–1).

150 de Boor, C., Nicephori archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani opuscula historica (1880), xxv, 103–4.

151 Fourteen recorded on Fig. 4, but since Cassiodorus comments so emphatically on the number of consular sons born to Basilius Venantius cos. 508 (‘fecunda prole gaudentem et tot consularibus patrem … tot protulit consulares … tot meretur in filiis consulatus’, Var. 9.23.3–4, of 533), there must have been more than the two so far identified. Surely at least three.

152 Cassiodorus, Var. 5.42.

153 O'Donnell, op. cit. (n. 135), 271.

154 If he was really a descendant of the usurper Petronius Maximus, who we have seen was not an Anician, the Anician connection may have come in a later generation.

155 These betrothals are all uncertain and (even more frustrating) undatable: see the various entries in PLRE ii; Clover, F. M., ‘The family and early career of Anicius Olybrius’, Historia 27 (1978), 169–96; R. W. Mathisen, ‘Anicius Olybrius’, (1998).

156 Malalas's story (375 Bonn = 298 Thurn) that Leo sent him with a letter to Anthemius ordering his execution is a folk motif with Homeric roots. If Leo had really suspected Olybrius of treachery he would never have sent him at all.

157 ACO 2.1.90; cited at PLRE i.733.

158 PLRE ii, s. vv. Olybrius 3 and Irene, known from the genealogy preserved by Nicephorus, p. 104 de Boor.

159 Anth. Pal. 1.10.39; CLRE 587 s.a. 526; Procopius 7.20.19.

160 Momigliano, op. cit. (n. 95), 233; Llewellyn, op. cit. (n. 96), 29; Cracco Ruggini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1988); Cesa, M., Ennodio: Vita del beatissimo Epifanio vescovo della chiesa pavese (1988), 9 n. 6. For some extravagant further conjectures, see Mommaerts, T. S. and Kelley, D. H., ‘The Anicii of Gaul and Rome’, in Drinkwater, J. and Elton, H. (eds), Fifth-Century Gaul: a Crisis of Identity? (1992), 111–21.

161 On the problem of identifying Ennodius' various kinfolk, see the careful analysis in Kennell, S. A. H., Magnus Felix Ennodius: A Gentleman of the Church (2000), 128–67.

162 ‘Gli Anicii e la storiografia latina del VI secolo d. C.’, now in Secondo Contributo ii (1960), 231–53; Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1983), 89–94.

163 Except for a single quotation in Jordanes about the emperor Maximin, who reigned from 235 to 238.

164 Ensslin, W., Des Symmachus Historia Romana als Quelle für Jordanes (Sitz. Bay. Akad. 1948. 3); Wes, op. cit. (n. 114).

165 Croke, B., ‘A.D. 476: the manufacture of a turning point’, Chiron 13 (1983), 81119; see too Croke, B., Count Marcellinus and his Chronicle (2001), 190–5.

166 Texts cited by Croke, op. cit. (n. 165),108.

167 Marcell. a. 476. 2 and 489; cf. n. 153 above; Treadgold, W., The Early Byzantine Historians (2007), 232.

168 Wes, op. cit. (n. 114), 151; against, Cameron, A. and Schauer, D., ‘The last consul: Basilius and his diptych’, Journal of Roman Studies 72 (1982), 126–45, at 128.

169 In addition to Croke, op. cit. (n. 165), see Heather, P., ‘The historical culture of Ostrogothic Italy’, in Giovanditto, A. (ed.), Teodorico il grande e i suoi Goti in Italia (1993), 317–53, at 332–4; Amory, P., People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy (1997), 109; Goffart, op. cit. (n. 136), 53–4; O'Donnell, J. J., The Ruin of the Roman Empire (2008), 214–15.

170 Though with different figures: Marcellinus after 1,231 (actually 1,228) years; Evagrius (HE 2.16) and Theophanes (AM 5965) after 1,303 years. Surprisingly enough, Byzantines do not seem to have been very concerned about fixing an exact date for the foundation of Rome. Syncellus actually offers two different dates, AM 4752 and 4755 (p. 230. 5, 10 and 13 Mosshammer). I am grateful to Richard Burgess for help on this point.

171 Zecchini, op. cit. (n. 4, 1983), 49; (n. 4, 1993), 76–7.

172 See the detailed account by Croke, B., ‘Dynasty and ethnicity: Emperor Leo I and the eclipse of Aspar’, Chiron 35 (2005), 147203.

173 ‘After killing Aetius, Valentinian also killed Boethius the prefect, who had been high in Aetius's favour’, after which he ‘exposed their bodies unburied in the forum’ (F 30, p. 329. 39 Blockley).

174 Laurence, P., ‘Proba, Juliana et Démétrias: le christianisme des femmes de la gens Anicia dans la première moitié du Ve siècle’, Revue des Études Augustiniennes 48 (2002), 131–63; Kurdock, A., ‘Demetrias ancilla dei: Anicia Demetrias and the problem of the missing patron’, in Cooper, K. and Hillner, J. (eds), Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900 (2007), 190224; Machado, C., ‘Roman aristocrats and the Christianization of Rome’, in Lizzi-Testa, R. and Brown, P. (eds), Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (2011), 493516.

175 For the limited rôle of pagan pontifices in the religious life of fourth-century Rome, often overrated in modern studies, Cameron, Last Pagans, ch. 4.

176 Liber Pontificalis § 53.

177 Festus cos. 472 must have received his consulship early, since he was still alive in 513.

178 According to Wes, op. cit. (n. 114), 99 a letter of Avitus of Vienne to Symmachus cos. 485 and Faustus ‘Niger’ proves that Symmachus too backed Pope Symmachus. But Chadwick pointed out that the letter seeks to persuade the two men rather than shows them already persuaded (Chadwick, H., Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology, and Philosophy (1981), 41, 287 n. 27; Schanzer, D. and Wood, I., Avitus of Vienne: Letters and Selected Prose (2002), 159–62).

179 Barnish, op. cit. (n. 87), at 129–30.

180 In the fourth century sometimes only a few months: Chastagnol, A., La préfecture urbaine à Rome sous le Bas-Empire (1960), 187–8.

181 Cass., Var. 1.42.3; 3.11.1; Chastagnol, op. cit. (n. 180), 188.

182 Stein, E., Histoire du Bas-Empire ii (1949), 128–9; Momigliano, Sesto Contributo vi. 2 (1980), 490; Giardina, op. cit. (n. 130), 15–21.

183 Most explicitly by Seeck, O., Gesch. des Untergangs der antiken Welt vi (1921), 90, 407–8 (‘nicht das Heer von Ravenna, sondern der Senat von Rom …’), but the text he cites, οἱ δὲ τῆς ἐν Ῥώμῃ βασιλέως αὐλῆς τῶν τινα ἐκείνῃ στρατιωτῶν … βασιλέα αἱροῦνται (Procop., BV 1.3.7), by identifying John as ‘one of the officials there’, clearly points to the court in Ravenna. ἐν Ῥώμῃ here perhaps just means ‘in the West’.

184 For all sources, Seeck, op. cit. (n. 183) and PLRE ii.595.

185 On the length of the various prefectures, PLRE ii.1248; for Firminus 2, ib. 471.

186 Briefly, Cameron, Last Pagans, 790–1; more detail in Fauvinet-Ranson, V., Decor Civitatis, Decor Italiae. Monuments, travaux publics et spectacles au VIe siècle d'après les Variae de Cassiodore (2006), 303440.

187 Heather, op. cit. (n. 169), 334.

188 His date of birth is unknown, but since he held the consulship (485) forty years before his death (525), he must have held it fairly young. His two grandsons held theirs as small children.

189 Brown, T. S., Gentlemen and Officers: Imperial Administration and Aristocratic Power in Byzantine Italy A.D. 554–800 (1984), ch. 2.


Anician Myths

  • Alan Cameron (a1)


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