Posted by: ken98 | May 4, 2010

The Most Important Post of the Whole 6 Volumes – The End of the Empire in the West

Day 235 – Ken here (T)(5-4-2010)
(DEF II, v.3, ch.36 pp.400-410)(pages read: 1500)

We finish chapter 36 with the most important 10 pages in the 6 volume set: the End of Rome in the West.

We’ll start chapter 37 tomorrow with another one of those long, Gibbonian tangents into Christianity – on Monasticism and the Conversion of the German Peoples.

The Story
 
The Love-Hate (well, Hate-Hate) Relationship of Julius Nepos and Glycerius
 
  • Olybrius (West Emperor) dies (10-23-472)
  • The empress Vorina (East) proposes Julius Nepos (who had married one of her nieces) – but delays nominating him to the West
  • Glycerius, an obscure soldier, is raised by new emp-maker Burgundian Gundobald (nephew of the previous Emperor-maker Count Ricimer) as a non-entity easy to rule on the lines of Olybrius and Ricimer. Glycerius rules one year (mar 473 – Jun 474)
  • Gundobald declines civil war to defend Glycerius, so Glycerius is given the bishopric of Salona in compensation for stepping down
  • Julius Nepos rules for a year (Jun 474 – Aug 475)
  • Julius Nepos loses Auvergne to the Visigoths
  • Orestes. a Roman patrician, possibly half-barbarian from Pannonia (the stomping grounds – literally – of Attila – the Roman province Attila raided repeatedly – and which was given over to many diff. barbarian nations over the years) brings an army in from Rome to Ravenna to become an emperor-maker himself (475)
  • Orestes refuses the emperorship but gives it to his handsome son (per Gibbon – the handsome part) who becomes the last Roman emperor
  • Julius Nepos goes into exile for 5 years or so, until Glycerius finds him at Salona, assasinates him, and gets the Archbishopric of Milan as a reward
  •  

    Romulus Augustulus and his father Orestes
     
  • While Orestes is in control, the Germanic foederati (allies) milling about Italy demand 1/3 of the lands of Italy for themselves – they want to be as wealthy as the other tribes (Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Franks, etc) who had invaded the Empire and gotten filthy rich with spoils and land in the process
  • Orestes refuses and another Germanic leader within the foederati, Odoacer, leads a rebellions against Orestes
  • Odoacer pins Orestes in Pavia and has him executed. Orestes brother Paul is killed near Ravenna. Romulus Augustulus is deposed (although there is some niggling dispute as to whether he had been a usurper or an emperor the whole time)
  • Odoacer (in a neat trick of legality) sends back the Imperial Ensigns of the Western Empire to the East and to Zeno (Eastern Emperor) – asking that no new emperor be appointed – that they be ruled directly as a Diocese from Constantinople, the last bit of the empire to give up in the West were cities in Southern Gaul (479) – after which land in Western Europe and Africa was administered by barbarian kings directly, or (in the case of Italy for a twilight 14 years – Odoacer – as a “Diocese” of the East)
  •  

    Odoacer – leader of the Germanic Foederati in Italy – Not King – Italy in Ruins
     
  • Odoacer does not rule directly – all the Roman Bureaucratic Machinery is still in place – Odoacer pulls all the strings
  • He does not take the title King
  • After 14 years, the Ostrogoths, under their King Theodoric the Great will take Italy and rule it directly as a barbarian successor-kingdome
  •  

    Coin of Glycerius - a common soldier promoted to emperor - he gave it up without a fight to become Bishop of Salona, to let Julius Nepos be emperor.  Five years later, when Nepos was in exile, he killed Nepos and got the Archbishopric of Milan as a reward

    Coin of Glycerius - a common soldier promoted to emperor - he gave it up without a fight to become Bishop of Salona, to let Julius Nepos be emperor. Five years later, when Nepos was in exile, he killed Nepos and got the Archbishopric of Milan as a reward - dangerous times to be an emperor in - much better to be a bishop


     
    Coin of Julius Nepos - Tremissis.  Julius was raised by the Eastern emperor (he was a nephew of the Eastern empress Vorina - thus the derogatory name - nepos - meaning nephew)  - he ruled a year and then lost to the Patrician and barbarian General Orestes, who put his son (Romulus Augustulus) on the throne (and not himself).  Only Glycerius and the handsome Romulus Augustulus were to survive this imperial cake walk and still be alive in 6 years time:  Romulus because he was harmless, Glycerius because he was not

    Coin of Julius Nepos - Tremissis. Julius was raised by the Eastern emperor (he was a nephew of the Eastern empress Vorina - thus the derogatory name - nepos - meaning nephew) - he ruled a year and then lost to the Patrician and barbarian General Orestes, who put his son (Romulus Augustulus) on the throne (and not himself). Only Glycerius and the handsome Romulus Augustulus were to survive this imperial cake walk and still be alive in 6 years time: Romulus because he was harmless, Glycerius because he was not. NOTE: the meaning of CONOB. Constantinopoli obryzum. The solidus weighed 1-72 of the Roman pound. OB was both an abbreviation for the word obryzum, which means refined or pure gold, and is the Greek numeral 72. Thus CONOB coin may be read - Constantinople, 1-72 pound pure gold


     
     
     
     
     

    Coin of the Last Roman Emperor - Romulus Augustulus - handsome (per Gibbon) son of a leader of German Mercenaries roaming about Italy at this time

    Coin of the Last Roman Emperor - Romulus Augustulus - handsome (per Gibbon) son of a leader of German Mercenaries roaming about Italy at this time

     
     
     

    Last Word…
    The Last Roman Emperor – Romulus Augustulus – Less Interesting to Gibbon than the Villa He was Exiled to
     

    This from Gibbon:

    In the space of twenty years since the death of Valentinian, nine emperors had successively disappeared; and the son of Orestes, a youth recommended only by his beauty, would be the least entitled to the notice of posterity, if his reign, which was marked by the extinction of the Roman empire in the West, did not leave a memorable era in the history of mankind.

    The patrician Orestes had married the daughter of Count Romulus, of Petovio in Noricum; the name of Augustus, notwithstanding the jealousy of power, was known at Aquileia as a familiar surname; and the appellations of the two great founders, of the city and of the monarchy, were thus strangely united in the last of their successors.

    The son or Orestes assumed and disgraced the names of Romulus Augustus; but the first was corrupted into Momyllus by the Greeks, and the second has been changed by the Latins into the contemptible diminutive Augustulus. The life of this inoffensive youth was spared by the generous clemency of Odoacer; who dismissed him, with his whole family, from the Imperial palace, fixed his annual allowance at six thousand pieces of gold, and assigned the castle of Lucullus, in Campania, for the place of his exile or retirement.

    As soon as the Romans breathed from the toils of the Punic war, they were attracted by the beauties and the pleasures of Campania; and the country-house of the elder Scipio at Liternum exhibited a lasting model of their rustic simplicity. The delicious shores of the bay of Naples were crowded with villas; and Sylla applauded the masterly skill of his rival, who had seated himself on the lofty promontory of Misenum, that commands, on every side, the sea and land, as far as the boundaries of the horizon. (129) The villa of Marius was purchased within a few years, by Lucullus, and the price had increased from two thousand five hundred, to more than four-score thousand, pounds sterling. It was adorned by the new proprietor with Grecian arts and Asiatic treasures; and the houses and gardens of Lucullus obtained a distinguished rank in the list of Imperial palaces.

    When the Vandals became formidable to the seacoast, the Lucullan villa, on the promontory of Misenum, gradually assumed the strength and appellation of a strong castle, the obscure retreat of the last emperor of the West. About twenty years after that great revolution it was converted into a church and monastery, to receive the bones of St. Severinus. They securely reposed, amidst the broken trophies of Cimbric and Armenian victories, till the beginning of the tenth century; when the fortifications, which might afford a dangerous shelter to the Saracens, were demolished by the people of Naples.

    (DEF II, v.3, ch.36, pp.405-406)

    A Renaissance Engraving of the youth Romulus Augustulus - Last Roman Emperor

    A Renaissance Engraving of the youth Romulus Augustulus - Last Roman Emperor

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