Posted by: ken98 | April 30, 2010

An Entr’acte In Which Everybody Dies, Failed Roman Armadas, and More of Justina’s Strong Women

Day 231 – Ken here (F)(4-30-2010)
(DEF II, v.3, ch.36 pp.390-400)(pages read: 1490)

Tired as usual but forging on…

We continue with chapter 36 (which will hurriedly bring us to the “end” of the Roman Empire in the West – with a flurry of emperors, barbarians, intrigues, and murders) and long discourses on tangential subjects (the raw material of history is getting scarcer and scarcer – so Gibbon is forced to make long digressions on poems and letters rather than histories).

We see the surprising, unexpected, and absolute failure of the empires 2nd (and hideously expensive) naval expedition against the Vandals, the Visigothic triumphs in Gaul and Spain, the last trial of a civilian governor of Gaul in the Senate of Rome (Arvidus – 3 pages on this), Italian civil war and the next Sack of Rome (472), and the deaths of all the major Western Empire players within a few months of each other – Anthemius, Ricimer, Olybrius. Quite the 10 pages.

so…

Included below is the little-known Roman Armada of 468 which like its sister, the Spanish Armada of 1588, was considered invincible, but ended up being very “vincible” (capable of being conquered (pronounced “wink-ibble” – a Ken neologism and one I personally am very pleased with). Also included below is an update on the surprising progeny of Justina – Valentinian’s young wife and her strong, dominating, creative, and survivor-instinct-filled genes still running strong 7 (count them seven) generations out in her very strong female descendants. These Strong Women will crop up again (at the very least) in the time of Justinian (mid 500’s) – so they’re having a good run.

The Story
 
Failure of the Eastern Roman Armada – the East Falls to the Vandals Again in Naval Matters – By the Same Strategies – Sabotage – Don’t the Romans Ever Learn? (468)
 
  • Leo (East) sends General Basiliscus (who just happens to be the brother of the Empress Vorina) – bad choice
  • They assemble the most expensive Armada of the 5th century – and leave from Thrace, landing 40 miles from Carthage with 1100 ships and supposedly 100,000 men
  • Genseric protests, wants 5 days to arrange terms – Basiliscus agrees
  • Genseric sends ships laden with inflammables, sails, flaming, into the Roman Armada, destroys 1/2
  • Whole enterprise is called off, Marcellinus (a great Roman General) retreats to Sicily and death, Heraclius marches back to Egypt through the desert with his troops, Basiliscus heads straight home with 1/2 the force intact, and immed goes for sanctuary in Hagia Sophia, and with help from his sister, prevents Leo from executing him
  • The Vandals now have undisputed reign over the Mediterranean – and re-take Tripoli, then Sicily and Sardinia
  • what gets me is that the VANDALS HAD JUST DONE THIS TO THE WESTERN EMPEROR MAJORIAN in Cartagena Spain in 461 (7 years before) – Genseric got the previous fleet burned – WHAT WERE THE ROMANS THINKING? almost makes you feel they deserved to go down in flames if they couldn’t execute basic military movements successfully – how far we have come from Julian and Persia in the 360’s just 90 years before – I keep on wondering – when are the adults going to show up?
  •  

    Visigoths Build a New Home in Gaul, Spain
     
  • the Visigoths move to become the dominant force in old Gaul and Hispania
  • Under Theodoric II – they gain Narbonne
  • Try for Orleans – but Aegidius (actually fighting against Count Ricimer,allyof Theodoric II) prevents them
  • After Euric executes his brother Theodoric II, they attack Tarragona (Spain) and Lusitania (Portugal) – and permit the Suevi to retain Galicia (far north-west corner of Spain) under a Visigothic Kingship
  • Euric also takes all of Gaul from the Pyrenees to the Rhone
  • Doesn’t look good for the other German tribes of Gaul – it looks like France (or Frankia) is really going to be Gothia
  •  

    The Last Roman Trial of a Governor (of Gaul) – the Tale of Arvidus – Which Could Have Come Out Of the Times of Julius Caesar Almost 500 Years Before (468)
     
  • Remember this date – 468 – one of the lesser-known-dates of When The Empire Fell
  • Arvidus – a typical corrupt Late Roman Governor – uses his province to get rid of all his debts
  • He is brought to trial in Rome (as governors had been for the last 700 years) for his misdeeds
  • He thinks he’ll get off on a technicality – but doesn’t – he is exiled and all his money taken to repay the injured Gallic Provinces, then persued remorselessly by his creditors in court until he is executed
  • Why is this important? because it is an example of Roman law taking its course – AND IT IS THE LAST TIME A ROMAN GOVERNOR is arraigned in court for “over-seas” misdeeds – the END of something like an 800-year run of Roman Governor-ship law
  •  

    Italian Civil War and the 4th Sack of Rome 472
     
  • Count Ricimer and the emperor Anthemius feud – who wouldn’t? Ricimer=power, Anthemius=puppet (puppet is not a comfortable situation for a proud Senatorial Roman to be in)
  • Anthemius prepares to fight for his life (and for an independent emperorship), but the bishop Epiphanius (bishop of Pavia) who was (apparently) very cunning and remarkably innocent-looking – persuades Anthemius to submit to mediation (Anthemius is a fool in this)
  • Count Ricimer gathers together his own army, beseiges Rome (and Anthemius) and takes it – putting Rome through its 4th Sack – the 3rd in the last 75 years – Anthemius is executed (Sack= July 472)
  •  

    An Entre’Acte In Which Everybody Dies
     
  • Count Ricimer places Olybrius on the throne in the West, deposing Anthemius (whom he will kill later in Rome) (3-23-472) – a religious man of impeccable wealth and Roman background who cares not a fig for political/military dominance – Olybrius is of the very ancient and very powerful/wealthy Anicii clan – an excellent choice for Ricimer
  • Count Ricimer dies suddenly of disease (8-20-472), leaving his nephew Gundobald at the helm
  • Anthemius is killed (7-11-472)
  • Olybrius dies of dropsy (10-23-472)
  • …And for a moment (4 months) the West is ruled by Gundobald – then a wild succession of puppet-emperors will ensue in the next 4 years – ending in the inevitable – “Why bother?” and the farce is ended and the Ostrogoths take over for good (until the Lombards kick their behinds in a couple of centuries)
  • THE END IS NEAR – literally
  •  

    An amazing portrait of Anicia Juliana (from Vienna Dioscorides Folio6v Donor Portrait) - circa late 400's.  The daunting line of female players in the empire starting from Justina continues - with Anicia Juliana.  Uniting the imperial side (multiple emperors/empresses as her ancestors) with the famously wealthy, inflential old City-of-Rome Senatorial family of the Anicii, Juliana was the widow of the Western Emperor Olybrius, a glittering, immensely wealthy star of the Constantinopolitan (East) court and one of the first significant Patrons of the Arts.  Here she is shown on one of the earliest lavishly decorated manuscripts extant - Juliana Anicia Codex.  She is shown (center) flanked by Magnaminity and Prudence with "Gratitude to the Arts" shown at her feet

    An amazing portrait of Anicia Juliana (from Vienna Dioscorides Folio6v Donor Portrait) - circa 500's. The daunting line of female players in the empire starting from Justina continues - with Anicia Juliana. Uniting the imperial side (multiple emperors/empresses as her ancestors) with the famously wealthy, inflential old City-of-Rome Senatorial family of the Anicii, Juliana was the widow of the Western Emperor Olybrius, a glittering, immensely wealthy star of the Constantinopolitan (East) court and one of the first significant Patrons of the Arts. Here she is shown on one of the earliest lavishly decorated manuscripts extant - the Juliana Anicia Codex. She is shown (center) flanked by Magnaminity and Prudence with - Gratitude to the Arts - shown at her feet. An amazing woman indeed

    The Incredible Line of Strong Women Continues – Placidia’s Daughter Juliana – daughter of Olybrius (Western Emperor 472), Incomparably Wealthy, Patroness and Star of the Court of Constantinople
     

    Juliana continues the strong line of women who come from the line of women (apparently of strong, willful genetic stock) that originates with Justina, 2nd wife of Valentinian I (wife 370-375, mother of Galla and Emperor Valentinian II).

    The Generations of Strong Women (the numbers in parentheses indicate the generation)

    (1) Justina [empress] + Valentinian I [Emperor-East] (340? – 388)

    (2)  ->Galla (daughter of Justina)[Empress] + Theodosius I the Great [Emperor-East]

    (3)     ->Arcadius (son of Galla) [Emperor-East] (+ Aelia Eudoxia [daughter of a Frankish Roman General, a very powerful woman – one of the reigning empresses of the Late Roman World – one of the big 3])

    (3)     ->Honorius (son of Galla) [Emperor-West] (+ Maria – daughter of Stilicho. + Thermantia – daughter of Stilicho)

    (3)     ->Galla Placidia (daughter of Galla) [Empress-West] (+ Constantius III [Co-Emperor-West with Honorius 421] [married Visigothic King Ataulf 1st, then forced to marry Constantius III, force behind the Western throne]

    (4)       ->Pulcheria (daughter of Arcadius)[Empress] + Marcian [Emperor-East] [one of the reigning empresses of the Late Roman World – one of the big 3]

    (4)       ->Theodosius II (son of Arcadius)[Emperor-East] + (Aelia Eudocia of Athens [one of the reigning empresses of the Late Roman World – one of the big 3]

    (4)       ->Valentinian III (son of Galla Placidia) [Emperor-West] ( + Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of Theodosius II and Eudocia)

    (4)       ->Justa Grata Honoria (daughter of Galla Placidia) [Princess, Troublemaker-West] [Invited the Huns into the empire to marry her with a dowry of 1/2 of West. Rome. Val III, her bro, was not pleased]

    (5)          ->Licinia Eudoxia (daughter of Theodosius II) + Valentinian III [Emperor-West] [Married twice, 1st-Val III, 2nd-“Usurper/Tyrant Maximus”, she summons Vandals to Rome to prevent marriage=Great Sack of 455. A

    (6)                ->Placidia (daughter of Val. III + Licinia Eudoxia) [Empress West (w/Olybrius)] [captured by Vandals, married one of the richest men, most famous families in Rome – Anicii, later Empress]

    (6)                ->Eudocia (daughter of Val. III + Licinia Eudoxia) [captured by Vandals, married Hilderic, (son of Genseric), prince, later King of the Vandals – Justina’s descendants enter royal barbarian bloodlines]

    (7)                     ->Anicia Juliana (daughter of Olybrius + Placidia (daughter of Val. III) [Emperor-West] [Glittering Star of Turn-Of-The-Century Constantinople (Late 400’s, Early 500’s)]
     
     
     
    So, the incredible line of strong women continues – the late 350’s and onwards were a time of incredible turmoil, and an opportunity to create order where there was only chaos and political ambition/intrigue before. Although Western (male) historians (including Gibbon) often slight the female (and eunuch-dominated) influence of the courts (West and East) of the late 300’s and the 400’s (examples – Licinia Eudoxia and Just Grata Honoria inviting barbarians to invade the empire to solve their personal problems), a case can be made that the most of the powerful women of this time (example: Pulcheria and the emperor Marcian) were able to push out a civilizing space at the center of the hurricane which was Late Roman Political life and allow the empire to reconstruct itself and heal somewhat between expensive invasions and more expensive re-conquests.

    These are the women and their histories shown in bold above. Theirs would make a fascinating story of the end of the empire, not from the perspective of men who were desperately trying to squeeze whatever small advantage they could out of a dwindling pile of centuries-old riches, but rather from the perspective of the people left at home in the cities, trying to make and preserve a life in the increasingly crazy and patch-work political world of Late Rome (both East and West).

    Here is someone from our own period – she was very young when she was the Empress of the West – she lived out her life in fabulous wealth and artistic turmoil/production as a patroness of art and culture and a hub of social life in the Eastern Empire’s court. This from Wiki about the Princess/widowed Empress Anicia Juliana.

    Anicia Juliana (Constantinople, 462 – 527/528) was a Roman imperial princess, the daughter of the Western Roman Emperor Olybrius, of the Anicii, by Placidia. Her maternal grandparents were Valentinian III and Licinia Eudoxia.

    With her husband, Flavius Areobindus Dagalaiphus Areobindus, by whom she had issue, she spent her life at the pre-Justinian court of Constantinople, of which she was considered “both the most aristocratic and the wealthiest inhabitant“.

    Her glittering genealogy aside, Juliana is primarily remembered as one of the first non-reigning female patrons of art in recorded history. From what little we know about her personal predilections, it appears that she “directly intervened in determining the content, as well, perhaps, as the style” of the works she commissioned.

    Juliana’s pro-Roman political views, as espoused in her letter to Pope Hormisdas (preserved in the royal library of the Escorial) are reflected in the chronicle of Marcellinus Comes, who has been associated with her literary circle. Whether she entertained political ambitions of her own is uncertain, but it is known that her husband declined to take up the crown during the 512 riots. Although she resolutely opposed the Monophysite leanings of Emperor Anastasius, she permitted her son Olybrius to marry the Emperor’s niece.

    Her name is attached to the outstanding Juliana Anicia Codex (or Vienna Dioscurides), one of the earliest and most lavish illuminated manuscripts still in existence. The frontispiece features her depiction, the first donor portrait in the history of manuscript illumination, flanked by the personifications of Magnanimity and Prudence, with an allegory of the “Gratitude of the Arts” prostrate in front of her. The encircling inscription proclaims Juliana as a great patron of art.

    Of her architectural projects, we know only three churches which she commissioned to be erected and embellished in Constantinople. The ornate basilica of St. Polyeuctus was built on her extensive family estates during the last three years of her life, with the goal of highlighting her illustrious pedigree which ran back to Theodosius I and Constantine the Great. Until Justinian’s extension of the Hagia Sophia, it was the largest church in the imperial capital, and its construction was probably seen as a challenge to the reigning dynasty. The dedicatory inscription compares Juliana to King Solomon and overtly alludes to Aelia Eudocia, Juliana’s great grandmother, who founded this church:

    “ Eudocia the empress, eager to honor God, first built here a temple of Polyektos the servant of God. But she did not make it as great and beautiful as it is… because her prophetic soul told her that she would leave a family well knowing how to adorn it. Whence Juliana, the glory of her blessed parents, inheriting their royal blood in the fourth generation, did not disappoint the hopes of the empress, the mother of a noble race, but raised this from a small temple to its present size and beauty. (Greek Anthology, I.10)

    from Wiki here

    The Vienna Dioscurides Folio (the Juliana Anicia Codex)

    The Juliana Anicia Codex is a beautiful piece of art – it is an illuminated medical manuscript (De Materia Medica by Dioscurides) , an illustrated treatise on birds (by Dionysius) and a short study on snakebites, all of which were commissioned (and possibly, partly directed artistically) by Juliana.

    Interesting point – it is from 515, the earliest, lavishly illustrated manuscript still in existence. It had a long, interesting life – at one point it was apparently used in an Arabic hospital as a working textbook although it was made as a luxury “coffee-table” book (one reason for its survival? what a strange quirk of fate! – see below the annotation in Arabic on one of the illustrations). It used one of the first total-gold-backgrounds known in Eastern Art (something that was going to become a hallmark of iconography – the shimmering beaten-gold background of saints icons – and it started here, or around this time at least). The illustrations are all naturalistic still (strong holdover from Classical times – compare the illustrations with the coins being issued – which are more Expressionist-Modern than naturalistic) – you can actually identify the plants and birds in the illustrations. Art produced in Europe would not reach this point again for many, many centuries.

    Overview

    The Vienna Dioscurides or Vienna Dioscorides is an early 6th-century illuminated manuscript of De Materia Medica by Dioscorides in Greek. It is an important and rare example of a late antique scientific text. The 491 vellum folios measure 37 by 30 cm and contain more than 400 pictures of animals and plants, most done in a naturalistic style.

    In addition to the text by Dioscorides, the manuscript has appended to it the Carmen de herbis attributed to Rufus, a paraphrase of an ornithological treatise by a certain Dionysius, usually identified with Dionysius of Philadelphia, and a paraphrase of Nicander’s treatise on the treatment of snake bites.

    The manuscript was created in about 515 and was made for the Byzantine princess Juliana Anicia, the daughter of Emperor Anicius Olybrius. Although it was originally created as a luxury copy, there is some indication that in later centuries it was used daily as a hospital textbook. It includes some annotations in Arabic.

    The manuscript was discovered in Instanbul in the 1560s by the Flemish diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was in the employ of Emperor Ferdinand I. The Emperor bought the manuscript and it is now held in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. The manuscript was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme Register in 1997 in recognition of its historical significance.

    Illustrations

    The manuscript has 383 extant full-page illustrations of plants out of the original 435 illustrations. The illustrations fall into two groups. There are those that faithfully follow earlier classical models and present a quite naturalistic illustration of each plant. There are also other illustrations that are more abstract. The majority of the illustrations were painted in a naturalistic style so as to aid a pharmacologist in the recognition of each plant. However, it is believed that these illustrations were made as copies of an earlier herbal and were not drawn from nature.

    In addition to the illustrations of the text, the manuscript contains several frontispieces in the form of a series of full-page miniatures. Of special note is the dedication miniature portrait of Anicia Julia on folio 6 verso. (See here.) The manuscript was presented to Anicia out of gratitude for her funding the construction of a church in the suburbs of Constantinople. This portrait is the oldest extant dedication portrait. The portrait has Anicia seated in a ceremonial pose distributing alms. She is flanked by personifications of Magnanimity and Prudence. At her feet, another personification, labeled “Gratitude of the Arts”, kneels. A putto holds a dedication copy up to Anicia. Anicia and her attendants are enclosed within an eight-point star within a circle all formed of intertwined rope. Within the outer spandrels of the star are putti, done in grisaille, working as masons and carpenters. This miniature is an altogether original creation and, with the inclusion of the personifications and the putti, shows the endurance of the classical tradition in Constantinople, despite the fact that Anicia herself was a pious Christian.

    The series of frontispieces in the manuscript begins with two full-page miniatures, each having a group of seven noted pharmacologists. In the second picture (folio 3 verso, see here), the most prominent and only one sitting on a chair is Galen. He is flanked by three pairs of other physicians, seated on stones or the ground. Closest to Galen are Crateuas and Dioscurides. The second pair are Apollonius Mys and Nicander. Farthest from Galen are Andreas and Rufus. Each of the figures is a self-contained portrait and was probably modeled on authors’ portraits from the various authors’ treatises. The seven figures are contained within an elaborate decorated frame. The background is solid gold, which places the figures in an abstract space. This is the earliest known manuscript to use a solid gold background.

    from Wiki (here)

    Juliana's book - Vienna Dioscorides Folio 483v  - a study of various (very identifiable) birds - remember this is all from the middle 500's - an incredible (and absolutely unique) find - a real Late Roman book.

    Juliana's book - Vienna Dioscorides Folio 483v - a study of various (very identifiable) birds - remember this is all from the early 500's - an incredible (and absolutely unique) find - a real Late Roman book (is that an ostrich in the upper left-hand corner? looks like one - at least one whose head has protruded above his margin)


     
     
    Juliana's book - Vienna Dioscorides  - a Pimpernel.  This book is 1,500 years old.  It survived miraculously, and at one time appears to have been a working text (it contains a medical treatise) for an Arabic hospital.  Note the Arabic notation (certainly centuries and centuries older than the book) in the lower left above the plant. Amazing!  Amazing that it survived to be digitized in the late 20th century - what luck!

    Juliana's book - Vienna Dioscorides - a Pimpernel. This book is 1,500 years old. It survived miraculously, and at one time appears to have been a working text (it contains a medical treatise) for an Arabic hospital. Note the Arabic notation (certainly centuries and centuries younger than the book) in the lower left above the plant. Amazing! Amazing that it survived to be digitized in the late 20th century - what luck!


     
     
    Juliana's - Vienna Dioscorides  - Rose Hips?  Another section of a Juliana-sponsored book.  Thanks to her and her exquisite taste we have an example of Late Roman art unparalleled in art history

    Juliana's - Vienna Dioscorides - Rose Hips? Another section of a Juliana-sponsored book. Thanks to her and her exquisite taste we have an example of Late Roman art unparalleled in art history

    Juliana's book - Vienna Dioscorides Folio3v - the Seven Physicians.  Note the pure gold background - the 1st recorded use of the solid gold background in literature - something which became a staple in Eastern Roman Art for centuries

    Juliana's book - Vienna Dioscorides Folio3v - the Seven Physicians. Note the pure gold background - the 1st recorded use of the solid gold background in literature - something which became a staple in Eastern Roman Art for centuries

     
     
     

    Coin of Anicius Olybrius (Emperor 4 months 472) - a rich member of the powerful Anician family, he was raised by Count Ricimer before the Count had totally deposed (by beseiging Rome itself) the previous emperor Count Ricimer had raised (Anthemius).  Anthemius had gotten the ax because he'd become too independent.  This was not going to be a problem for Olybrius - a spiritual rather than a military man.  NOTE: he appears without armor or spear - a militantly, NON-MILITANT man - the perfect puppet

    Coin of Anicius Olybrius (Emperor 4 months 472) - a rich member of the powerful Anician family, he was raised by Count Ricimer before the Count had totally deposed (by beseiging Rome itself) the previous emperor Count Ricimer had raised (Anthemius). Anthemius had gotten the ax because he'd become too independent. This was not going to be a problem for Olybrius - a spiritual rather than a military man. NOTE: he appears without armor or spear - a militantly, NON-MILITANT man - the perfect puppet

    Last Word…
    4 Month Emperor Olybrius – A Placeholder for Ricimer – More Interested in Faith than Ruling
     

    In a strange (unrelated?) turn of events, all the principal players of the soap-opera-like end of the emperor Anthemius died within a few months of each other. Anthemius was murdered in July 472 during the Sack of Rome 472 by Count Ricimer. Count Ricimer’s new emperor Olybrius reigned 4 months to drop dead of dropsy (10-23-472). Count Ricimer himself died of disease suddenly (8-20-472), leaving the empire to Gundobad (Count Ricimer’s nephew – who became the new king-maker in the West).

    Olybrius’s reign short and ineffectual. Wiki notes that his were the first coins minted showing a legend more religious than military – “Salvator Mundi” Savior of the World, rather than Savior of the Republic, and his image was a non-military one – no armor, no spear/sword – marking him as a man of a spiritual nature more than a man of politics or the military.

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    1. […] East and West Romans had sent very costly fleets before 7 decades earlier (Eastern Rome’s Leo’s Armada headed by Basiliscus in 468 and Western Rome’s Majorian’s sabotaged fleet preparations […]


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