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Anicius Olybrius[1](died October 22 or November 2, 472) was Western Roman Emperor from April or May 472 to his death. He was in reality a puppet ruler, put on the throne by the Roman general of Germanic descent Ricimer, and was mainly interested in religion, while the actual power was held by Ricimer and his nephew Gundobad.



Family and early career

Olybrius was born in Rome, in the ancient and powerful gens Anicia,[2] of Italian descent.

According to an hypothesis, which gathers the consensus of the historians, he was related to the Consul Anicius Hermogenianus Olybrius, whose wife and cousin, Anicia Juliana, had the same name Olybrius gave to his own daughter. Other historians consider this a weak clue, as "Juliana" was a common name in the gens Anicia, and because Hermogenianus seems to have begotten only one daughter, who took chastity vows; other possible fathers have therefore been proposed: either Flavius Anicius Probus or, according to some clues, Petronius Maximus.[3]

In 454, Olybrius married Placidia, younger daughter of Western Emperor Valentinian III and of his wife Licinia Eudoxia, thus creating a bond between a member of the senatorial aristocracy and the House of Theodosius.[4]

In 454, the same year of Olybrius' marriage, Valentinian III killed the powerful Magister militum Aetius, the only man who could be as influential as the Emperor himself. The following year, however, Valentinian was killed by some soldiers who had served under Aetius, probably instigated by the Patricius Petronius Maximus, who succeeded to obtain the throne. Petronius, who was a high-ranking imperial officer and a member of a family belonging to the senatorial aristocracy, married Licinia Eudoxia, widow of Valentinian; he also elevated his own son Palladius to the rank of Caesar, and had him marry to Eudocia, elder daughter of Valentinian's. According to those historians who believe that Olybrius was Petronius' son, it was in 455 that Olybrius married Placidia, in particular between April 17, when Petronius was acclaimed Emperor, and May 31, when he died; in this case, the marriage between Olybrius and Valentinian's younger daughter was a move in Petronius' marriage policy.[3]

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