Anastasius I (emperor)

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Anastasius I (Latin: Flavius Anastasius; c. 430 – July 518) was Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor from 491 to 518.


Background and personal characteristics

Anastasius was born at Dyrrhachium; the date is unknown, but he is thought to have been born no later than 430 or 431. He was born into an Illyrian family,[1] the son of Pompeius (born c. 410), nobleman of Dyrrachium, and wife Anastasia Constantina (born c. 410). His mother was an Arian, sister of Clearchus, also an Arian, and a paternal granddaughter of Gallus (born c. 370), son of Anastasia (born c. 352) and husband, in turn daughter of Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus and wife and cousin Constantina.[2]

Anastasius had one eye black and one eye blue (heterochromia),[3] and for that reason he was nicknamed Dicorus (Greek: Δίκορος, "two-pupiled").


At the time of the death of Zeno (491), Anastasius, a palace official (silentiarius), held a very high character, and was raised to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire by Ariadne, Zeno's widow, who preferred him to Zeno's brother, Longinus.

Ariadne married him shortly after his accession on 20 May 491. His reign, though afterwards disturbed by foreign and internecine wars and religious distractions, commenced auspiciously. He gained the popular favour by a judicious remission of taxation, and displayed great vigour and energy in administering the affairs of the empire.

Foreign policy and wars

The principal wars in which Anastasius was engaged were the Isaurian War and the War with Persia.

The former, which lasted from 492 to 497, was stirred up by the supporters of Longinus, the brother of Zeno who had been candidate to his succession against Anastasius. The battle of Cotyaeum in 492 "broke the back" of the revolt, but guerrilla warfare continued in the Isaurian mountains for some years longer.

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