24 Facts About Anthemius


Procopius Anthemius was the Western Roman emperor from 467 to 472.


Anthemius married into the Theodosian dynasty through Marcia Euphemia, daughter of Eastern emperor Marcian.


Anthemius soon received a significant number of promotions to various posts, and was presumed to be Marcian's planned successor.


However, Marcian's sudden death in 457, together with that of Western emperor Avitus, left the imperial succession in the hands of Aspar, who instead appointed a low-ranking officer known as Leo to the Eastern throne out of fear that Anthemius would be too independent.


Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees; and the unvanquished Vandals, under Geiseric, in undisputed control of North Africa.


Anthemius quickly began to butt heads with Ricimer, his own general of Gothic descent, who had long been the real power behind the Western throne and had controlled most previous emperors like marionettes.


Unlike most of his predecessors, Anthemius refused to yield, and his insistence on ruling independently brought him into conflict with Ricimer.


Anthemius belonged to a noble family, the Procopii, which gave several high officers, both civil and military, to the Eastern Roman Empire.


Anthemius stayed in service under the new emperor; as magister militum, his task was to defend the Empire from the barbaric populations pressing on its border.


Anthemius' election was celebrated in Constantinople with a panegyric by Dioscorus.


The reign of Anthemius was characterised by a good diplomatic relationship with the Eastern Empire; for example, Anthemius is the last Western Emperor to be recorded in an Eastern law.


Anthemius had the honour of holding the consulate sine collega in 468, the first year he started as Emperor, following a similar honour given to Leo in 466.


In late 467, Anthemius organised a campaign of the western Roman army, probably under the command of Marcellinus, but the result was a failure: the bad weather obliged the Roman fleet to return to its base before completing the operation.


Anthemius lost his allies and, with the imperial treasury almost emptied by the failed operation, renounced taking Africa back.


In 470, Anthemius recruited Britons living in either Britain or Armorica to fight Euricus.


Anthemius took the matter into his own hands and decided to attack the Visigoths directly.


Anthemius collected an army under the nominal leadership of his own son, Anthemiolus, but actually commanded by the generals Torisarius, Everdingus, and Hermianus.


Anthemius introduced the practice, common in the East, of appointing even civilians to the patrician rank, and honoured so many members of the aristocracy with this title that it suffered a sort of inflation.


Anthemius had his mints issue solidi depicting the two Emperors joining hands in a show of unity.


Anthemius had restored his court in Rome, and thus this mint became more and more important, overshadowing the other two mints.


The tipping point of their relationship was the trial of Romanus, an Italian senator and patricius supported by Ricimer; Anthemius accused Romanus of treachery and condemned him to death in 470.


At the beginning of 472, the struggle between them renewed, and Anthemius was obliged to feign an illness and took refuge in St Peter's Basilica.


The Eastern Roman emperor, Leo, sent Olybrius to mediate between Ricimer and Anthemius but, according to John Malalas, had sent a secret letter to Anthemius, urging him to kill Olybrius.


Anthemius elevated Bilimer to the rank of Rector Galliarum and had him enter Italy with the loyal army.