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Article

Peter Heather

(Ostro-) *Gothic king of Italy 526–34 ce, grandson of *Theoderic (1) son of Amalasuentha and Eutharic (consul 519). After Eutharic's death, Athalaric was Theoderic's heir though still a minor. His succession was difficult, and subsequent Gothic political disputes centred on controlling him, one particular issue being his education. Said by *Procopius to have turned early to dissolution, he died while still a youth.

Article

John F. Matthews

Gothic leader, made a treaty with *Valens in 369 ce but c.376 failed to hold off a Hunnic attack on his territories and withdrew to a refuge in the Carpathian mountains, yielding Gothic leadership to *Fritigern. He later visited Constantinople and died there on 25 January 381. His father had also been a Gothic leader, to whom Constantine is said to have raised a statue at Constantinople. See goths; huns.

Article

Sofie Remijsen

Whereas chariot races gained popularity in late antiquity, athletics declined. Traditional agones, such as the Olympics, disappeared in the course of the 4th and 5th centuries ce. The traditional explanation, that they were abolished by Theodosius I, is no longer widely accepted, as the imperial policy clearly remained positive towards games. Changes to the administration of the cities, which administered the funds of these games, must have had a stronger effect, as did the rise of new, and in particular Christian, values. The drive to compete in the individual competitions typical of Greek athletics can be linked to the ambition to excel that was typical of the earlier political culture, but which was increasingly perceived as a vain pursuit and replaced by an ideal of humility. Not all forms of athletics disappeared, however, as the spread of circus games created new opportunities for the demonstration of spectacular feats by athletes.

Article

Attila  

Peter Heather

Attila, king of the *Huns (435/440–453 ce), at first ruled jointly with his brother Bleda whom he murdered in 445. Member of a dynasty which had united previously separate Hunnic groups around itself, together with many subject peoples (the majority Germanic) to create a substantial empire in central Europe. His major military campaigns were those of 442–443 and 447 against the Balkan provinces of the eastern empire; that of 451, when he invaded Gaul but was defeated at the Catalaunian plains by Roman and allied (especially Visigothic) forces under Flavius *Aetius; and that of 452, when he invaded Italy and sacked several important cities. He intended to invade the east again in 453, but died during the night after his marriage to a girl called Ildico. His campaigns were pursued in support of a diplomatic policy whose main aim seems to have been the extraction of money.

Article

Harold Mattingly and Antony Spawforth

Aurelius Achilleus, according to the literary sources usurper in Egypt, ce 296–7, although papyri style him as *corrector under another usurper, L. Domitius Domitianus, conquered by *Diocletian in person early in 297. He may have assumed leadership of the revolt after the (hypothetical) death of Domitianus.

Article

John Frederick Drinkwater

Aureolus benefited from *Gallienus' patronage of talented soldiers, becoming commander of the cavalry corps in Milan (Mediolanum). He helped Gallienus overcome various rebels, though failed against *Postumus (ce 265). The first of Gallienus' generals to show dissatisfaction with his regime, he mutinied while the emperor was fighting the *Goths (268).

Article

L. M. Whitby

Slavs and Avars were the Roman empire's main enemies on the Danube frontier in the late 6th and early 7th cents. ce. The Slavs arrived first, agriculturalists with rudimentary social organization who gradually filtered south from Poland in family or village groups. They reached the Danube c.500 and, often in conjunction with Bulgar groups, began to ravage the empire. Their pressure was particularly difficult to handle, because they lacked recognized leaders whom Roman diplomacy could target, adapted to the forests or swamps on the margins of civilized life, and quickly acquired military skills from their neighbours.The Avars, nomadic warriors whose hegemony in central Asia was overturned by the Turks, first contacted Justinian in 558. They rapidly dominated the area north of the Black Sea and Danube and by 570 controlled *Pannonia; under their leader the Chagan, a ruthless fighter and unscrupulous diplomat, they established a powerful federation whose military technology and organization were imitated by their Roman opponents. During Maurice's reign (582–602) Avars and Slavs jointly and independently ravaged much of the Balkans, capturing or isolating most inland cities, reaching the Peloponnese, and even subjecting *Constantinople to a fierce siege in 626.

Article

Bishop of Vienne, from c.490 ce. A member of the powerful family of the Aviti, he succeeded his father, Hesychius, as bishop. His brother, Apollinaris, was bishop of Valence. He was related to (perhaps nephew of) *Sidonius Apollinaris. He contributed significantly to religious debate in the kingdom of the *Burgundians, whose kings, Gundobad and Sigismund, he advised. Under Sigismund he oversaw the conversion of the kingdom from *Arianism to orthodoxy. He was also a fine poet, writing a Biblical epic (De Spiritalis historiae gestis), and a lengthy poem on virginity, which has much to say about the female saints of his family. He died 5th February 518.

Article

John Frederick Drinkwater

Roman emperor (455–6 ce). He enlisted Visigothic support against *Attila (451) then, following the Vandal sack of Rome (455), was proclaimed emperor in Gaul by the *Visigoths and the Gallic aristocracy. Arrived in Italy, he was not recognized by the east, fell foul of *Ricimer and, lacking Visigothic military support, was murdered.

Article

Bede (Beda Venerabilis) was Anglo-Saxon England’s most prolific Latin writer, and indeed one of the most distinguished authors of the early Middle Ages. At the end of his most celebrated work, Historia ecclesiastical gentis Anglorum (HE), he provides a cursory autobiographical note which remains the starting point for what we know about his life and many writings.1 Born in the kingdom of Northumbria, at the age of seven he was given by his parents to the monastery at Wearmouth, founded in 674, to be reared and educated. When a sister monastery was founded in 681 some seven miles away at Jarrow, Bede was probably among the monks transferred to that new site, and there he remained until his death in 735, at the age of fifty-nine. Ordained deacon at the age of nineteen and priest at the age of thirty, he devoted the whole of his life to monastic observance and scriptural study, memorably stating that “amid the observance of the discipline of the Rule and the daily task of singing in the church, it has always been my delight to learn or to teach or to write.”2 The fruits of this labour are readily evidenced by the long list of his writings that concludes Bede’s note, with its some forty works in various genres—impressive in any era, to be sure, but not least in one popularly understood as “dark” in comparison to the luminous achievements of the classical past.

Article

L. M. Whitby

Belisarius (c. 500–65 ce), *Justinian's famous general, is known primarily through the writings of his assessor *Procopius. Native of Germania in Thrace, he served in Justinian's bodyguard during Justin's reign. His career as commander began against the Persians, with mixed success: defeat near Callinicum (531) outweighed victory outside Dara (530), prompting demotion and recall, but at *Constantinople in January 532 his bodyguard helped suppress the Nika Riot. Back in *Justinian's favour Belisarius was appointed to command the expedition to reconquer Africa; the Vandals were soon defeated and their king, *Gelimer, captured (533–4). Belisarius was awarded the exceptional honour of a triumph, held the ordinary consulship of 535 in magnificent style, and then returned west to recapture Ostrogothic Italy. Rapid occupation of Naples and Rome preceded much hard fighting, but the surrender of King Vitigis and the Gothic capital *Ravenna marked the apex of Belisarius' military career (540).

Article

Benedict of Nursia was an Italian abbot active in the hinterland of Rome at Subiaco and Monte Cassino in the early 6th century. He is best known as the author of a normative guide for monastic life, The Rule of Benedict (Regula Benedicti; hereafter RB), the only surviving work that bears his name. The earliest account of Benedict’s life and independent reference to the RB appeared in the second book of the Dialogues on the Miracles of the Italian Fathers by Gregory the Great (pope590–604ce). Composed at Rome in 593–594ce, the Dialogues were a popular compendium of hagiographical portraits of 6th-century Italian saints cast as a conversation between the pope and one of his disciples. Gregory’s endorsement of Benedict’s sanctity was instrumental in promoting the RB in the early Middle Ages. As a result, the authority of the RB as a guide to monastic life was unassailable from the time of the Carolingians to the end of the 12th century, so much so that historians have traditionally referred to this period (c.

Article

The Ostrogothic king *Theoderic (1) appointed this leading nobleman consul (510), and *magister officiorum (?522). He resisted official oppression, was implicated in a senatorial conspiracy, imprisoned, and executed. His De consolatione philosophiae is a prison dialogue with Philosophy, a *Menippean mixture of prose and verse, owing much to *Martianus Capella and *Augustine. It justifies providence on a Stoic and Neoplatonic basis (see stoicism; neoplatonism), without overt *Christianity; its reconciliation of free will and divine prescience is philosophically notable; it shows high literary genius, and an astounding memory for classical texts under trying conditions. Boethius' Greek scholarship was rare in Italy; he planned introductions and translations for the mathematical and logical disciplines, and complete translations of *Plato (1) and *Aristotle. The project was never completed, and much is lost or fragmentary. Survivors: De arithmetica and Institutio musica (on which see below); a commentary on *Cicero's Topics, translations and commentaries for *Porphyry's Isagoge, and Aristotle's Prior Analytics, Categories, and Perihermeneias; translations of Aristotle's Topics and Sophistici elenchi.

Article

Bonifacius (or Bonifatius) Romangeneral (d. 432 ce), after long service in North Africa (as tribunus in 417 and comes Africae in 423–5) was appointed comes domesticorum in 425 (see comites), but remained in Africa to wage war against the indigenous barbarian tribes. He was widely believed in 428/9 to have invited the *Vandals to cross from Spain to assist him against the government at Ravenna, from which, despite his longstanding support for Galla *Placidia, he had become estranged through rivalry with Flavius *Aetius. Unable to rid the country of its new allies, he was reconciled to the government but died in Italy of a wound received when trying to overcome Aetius. His office as magister utriusque militiae (see magister militum) was inherited (the legalities are obscure) by his son-in-law Sebastianus. He is repeatedly praised by the historian *Olympiodorus (3).

Article

Alexander John Graham and Stephen Mitchell

Byzantium, a famous city on the European side of the south end of the *Bosporus (1), between the Golden Horn and the *Propontis. The Greek city occupied only the eastern tip of the promontory, in the area now covered by the Byzantine and Ottoman palaces of Constantinople/Istanbul. The evidence of cults and institutions confirms the claim of the Megarians (see megara) to be the main founders, but groups from the Peloponnese and central Greece probably also participated in the original colony, which is to be dated 668 (Hdt. 4. 144) or 659 bce (Euseb. Chron.). Little material earlier than the late 7th cent. has yet emerged from excavations. Except during the *Ionian Revolt the city was under Persian control from *Darius I's Scythian expedition until 478. In the Athenian empire (see delian league) it paid fifteen talents' tribute or more, deriving its wealth from tuna fishing and from tolls levied on passing ships. The city also had an extensive territory not only in European *Thrace but also in *Bithynia and Mysia in Asia.

Article

Lawrence H. Schiffman

The Cairo geniza was a storeroom for no longer usable holy books in the synagogue of Fustat, Old Cairo, where for centuries, old Jewish manuscripts, mostly in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo- Arabic, including also secular documents and communal records, were deposited. In the 19th century, European scholars became aware of this collection and manuscripts were removed to a variety of libraries in Europe and the United States. This material provides those studying the ancient world and ancient Jewish texts in particular with an amazing treasure of documents, throwing light on the history of the biblical text and its interpretation, the Hebrew language, Greek and Syriac versions of the Bible, Second Temple and Rabbinic literature, Jewish liturgy and the later history—political, economic, and religious—of the Jews in the Mediterranean basin. This material has totally reshaped our understanding of these fields. In the area of Bible, these texts illustrate the manner in which the vocalization and cantillation symbols were developed. Hebrew versions of some important Second Temple literature, later found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, had earlier been discovered in the geniza. Many previously unknown Midrashim and rabbinic exegetical materials have become known only from this collection. This material has provided an entirely new corpus of liturgical poetry.

Article

A Menapian of humble origin, who had served as a helmsman, was given a command in ce 285 or 286 to suppress barbarian (Saxon) raiders in the English Channel. After allegedly being accused of retaining recaptured booty, he moved to Britain and proclaimed himself emperor, maintaining himself against attempts to dislodge him, striking coinage, from c.290 even claiming recognition from his ‘brothers’ *Diocletian and *Maximian, and gaining control of Gaul as far as Rouen. He is said to have used barbarian (Frankish) troops and may have constructed some of the *Saxon Shore forts. He was ejected from Boulogne by *Constantius I Caesar in 293, following which he was assassinated and replaced by *Allectus, his rationalis (finance minister).

Article

Elder son of M. Aurelius *Carus, left by him as Caesar in the west, when he marched against Persia (282 ce). Made Augustus before his father's death, Carinus succeeded him as colleague of his brother *Numerianus and crushed the rebel ‘*corrector Venetiae’, Iulianus, in battle near *Verona.

Article

John Frederick Drinkwater

Praetorian prefect from Narbo who overthrew *Probus after rebelling in Raetia in 282 ce. Leaving his elder son, *Carinus, as Caesar in the west, Carus marched against Persia with *Numerianus. He captured Ctesiphon, but, advancing further, was killed, perhaps by treachery (summer 283). He was the first emperor not to seek the senate's approval of his accession.

Article

Cassiodorus was a prominent participant in the political, intellectual, and religious life of 6th-century ce Italy, and a learned scholar of the classical and Christian traditions. As a member of the administration of the Gothic government under Theoderic and his successors, he advanced through what may be considered the late-Roman cursus honorum. He was also witness to the dramatic political and religious debates of the day, including volatile interactions between the royal court at Ravenna, the Senate at Rome, and the emperor in Constantinople. Justinian’s Gothic War in Italy effectively ended his political career, after which he first became an exile in Constantinople, and then the founder of a school for Christian learning (Vivarium) on his ancestral estates in southern Italy. The literary works that he produced span the spectrum of his personal experiences and attest to the intellectual and cultural range of people living during the 6th century: panegyrics, a chronicle, ethnography, letters, treatises on reading, grammars, Christian exegesis, and ecclesiastical history.