Avitus

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Eparchius Avitus[1] (c. 385[2] - after 17 October 456 or in 457) was Western Roman Emperor from July 8 or July 9, 455 to October 17, 456. A Gallic-Roman aristocrat, he was a senator and a high-ranking officer both in the civil and military administration, as well as Bishop of Piacenza.

A representative of the Gallic-Roman aristocracy, he opposed the reduction of the Western Roman Empire to Italy alone, both politically and from the administrative point of view. For this reason, as Emperor he introduced several Gallic senators in the imperial administration; this policy, however, was opposed by both the senatorial aristocracy and by the people of Rome, which had suffered because of the Vandalic sack of the city in 455. Avitus had a good relationship with the Visigoths, in particular with their king Theodoric II, who was a friend of his and who acclaimed Avitus Emperor, but the possibility of a strong and useful alliance between Visigoths and Romans ended when Theodoric invaded Roman Hispania and then refused to help Avitus against the rebel Roman generals who deposed him.

Contents

Biography

Origins and early career

Avitus was born in Clermont, in a noble family of the senatorial aristocracy of Gallic-Roman origin; his father was possibly Flavius Julius Agricola, consul in 421. He had at least two sons and a daughter: Agricola (440 – after 507, a vir inlustris), Ecdicius Avitus (later patricius and magister militum under Emperor Julius Nepos), and [3], clarissima femina (who married the praetorian prefect of Gaul Tonantius Ferreolus). He was also related to Magnus Felix and Priscus Valerianus. Agricola's daughter, also named Papianilla (490–530), married her relative Parthenius (485–548), a Patron in 542 and perhaps a great-grandson of Felix Ennodius.

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