The Roman festival of wine held every August 19 in honor of the new vintage for the year. It was widely but incorrectly believed that the Vinalia was associated with the goddess Venus. In all probability , the fete was connected with Jupiter, for the Flamen Dialis sacrificed a ewe, cooked it and offered it on an altar of that deity. Once this had been done, the first of the grapes for the year were cut and the harvest began.

Gaius Julius Vindex - Governor in Tres Galliae

Vindex’s revolt against Emperor Nero was one of the major events leading to the fall of Nero that same year. Vindex was a Romanized Gaul, a member of the senatorial class and a figure of great importance with local Gallic tribes.

He was also a member of a growing group of officials who had become tired of Nero’s tyrannies. Thus he entered into communication with his fellow governors and, in the days before the summer of 68, openly declared himself in revolt from Rome.

He did not seek the throne for himself, but supported Servius Sulpicius Galba, then head of Hispania Tarraconensis. His actual goals were never clear, except that he encouraged Galba to seek the purple and promised him the help of the Gallic provinces.

Unfortunately , he failed in his task, as his command over the tribes other than the Aedui and Arverni (Averni) was limited. Further, his headquarters had to be in Vienna (Vienne), not Lugdunum (Lyons), because that city refused to open its gates to him.

Lugdunum proved fatal to his plans, for while he wasted precious time besieging it, Verginius Rufus, legate of Germania Superior, gathered all available troops, marched to the scene and defeated Vindex near Vesontio (modern Besancon). It is possible that both commanders attempted to avoid bloodshed through negotiations, but a battle was eventually fought. After most of his troops died, Vindex killed himself.

M. Macrinus Vindex - Prefect of the Praetorian Guard

Vindex served during the reign of Marcus Aurelius; possibly the successor to Furius Victorinus, who died in battle in 168 C.E. during the Marcommanic Wars. He followed in Victorinus’s footsteps, for in the continued fighting he too was slain (c. 169–170). The emperor erected three statues in his honor.


Modern Vienna, city on the Danube River, to the west of Carnumtum, in the province of Pannonia Superior. Originally a Celtic community, the site was seen as ideal for Roman occupation, and by the end of the first century C.E. , its status had been increased to municipium; it was headquarters of the X Gemina Legion and the main port of the Classis Pannonica, an imperial river fleet. While it did not possess the political power of the provincial capital, Vindobona was clearly important in a strategic sense.


Vingeanne Minor engagement fought in 52 B.C.E. between the armies of Julius Caesar and the chieftain Vercingetorix, leader of the rebelling Gallic tribes. The Gauls avoided an open-field confrontation with Caesar, remembering the other defeats suffered at his hands, but in July Vercingetorix allowed an attack to be made by the Gauls.

Caesar put his cavalry to rout and captured three chieftains of the Aedui. Vercingetorix ordered a retreat to the nearby site of Alesia, setting the stage for a climactic siege and a Roman victory.

Annius Vinicianus

He was a leading figure in the plots against the imperial house during the reigns of Gaius Caligula (37–41 C.E.) and Claudius (41–54 C.E.). In 32 C.E., he was listed as a member of a treasonous group of politicians but escaped trial and condemnation when Tiberius set aside certain cases for personal review.

Nine years later he became one of the organizers in a plot to kill Caligula. After the emperor’s death, Vinicianus called for Valerius Asiaticus to withdraw from seeking the throne, hoping to avert a massacre of the senate by the praetorian guard, which had just proclaimed Claudius emperor.

Immediately unhappy with Claudius, Vinicianus joined a conspiracy to elevate Scribonianus Camillus, governor of Illyricum, to the throne in 42. When the attempt failed utterly , he was one of those who followed Scribonianus’s example—and killed himself.

There was another Annius Vinicianus, said by the historian Tacitus (1) to be 26 years old in 63. He served with Domitius Corbulo in Armenia and was married to Corbulo’s daughter. In 66, he died as a result of a failed plot to replace Nero with his father-in-law. His exact relationship to the first Annius Vinicianus is curious, although he may have been his son.

Marcus Vinicius (1)

One of a new class of imperial favorites who owed their political careers to the new emperor, Marcus Vinicius repaid the faith placed in him with loyalty and competence. In 25 B.C.E. he was sent to the Alps to help quell the local tribes. Over the next few years he campaigned in Pannonia, serving with Marcus Agrippa in 13 B.C.E. and later with Tiberius.

He may also have been the legate of Illyricum mentioned in inscriptions as the conductor of operations over the Danube, sometime between 6 B.C.E. and 4 C.E. His actions hemmed in the chieftain Maroboduus and extended Roman influence north of the Danubian frontier. Vinicius then replaced Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (c. 1 C.E.) as legate in Germany.

Marcus Vinicius (2)

A successful Equestrian (Equites) and Consul in 30 C.E., Velleius Paterculus dedicated his history to him during his consulship and, in 33, Emperor Tiberius chose him to marry Julia (6), daughter of Germanicus. Their marriage was not a happy one; she was banished by Gaius Caligula in 39 but recalled by Claudius in 41, only to be put to death at the instigation of Empress Messallina.

Consul for a second time, in 45, Vinicius was an object of lust to Messallina. He was executed because he refused to have an affair with the empress. He was described as gentle, a graceful speaker, and one who minded his own business in the hope of staying alive.

Titus Vinius

Political ally of Emperor Otho. A former officer of the Spanish provincial government and a greedy fortune hunter who journeyed to Rome in 68–69 C.E. with Emperor Galba, becoming one of his leading advisers, along with Cornelius Laco and the freedman Icelus. Described by the historian Tacitus as the vilest of men, he became a stubborn supporter of Otho for the position of Galba’ s heir and sought to wed his daughter to Otho, who was unmarried.

He lost to Laco, who wanted Piso Licinianus. His backing of Otho was not enough to prevent his own murder in the assassination plot of Otho against Galba on January 15, 69. Vinius was cut down by the Praetorian Guards outside of the Temple of Divus Julius.

Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) - greatest of all Roman poets

Virgil was a master of the finest Roman poetical forms, including the pastoral, didactic, and epic. He was born in Andes, a small town near Mantua, on October 15, 70 B.C.E. to a family of moderate means that nevertheless provided him with the finest possible education, in Cremona (58), in Milan (55) and then in Rome (after 53).

At first he probably studied oratory but moved on to philosophy, learning from the noted Epicurean Siro; also in his field of scholarship were mathematics and medicine. When he returned home is unclear, but in the years 41–40, he was included in the confiscations of land in Italy, begun at that time by the government.

Virgil’s family estate was seized, but, because of friends such as Asinius Pollio and Cornelius Gallus, Octavian (Augustus) was apparently convinced to intercede on his behalf. At the end of the Perusi War, however, Virgil was nearly killed when his home was again taken. With his father, he took up residence in an old house belonging to Siro.

His friends recommended that he go to Rome, where, through the popularity of his Bucolics, he came under the patronage of the powerful Maecenas. Not only were his possessions eventually returned, but he was also admitted to the literary circle of Maecenas (along with Horace) .

Temple of Virilis

A shrine dedicated to the goddess Fortuna but used only by men.


One of the leading cities of the Roman province of Noricum; situated in southern Noricum near the border of Pannonia. From the start of Rome’s occupation, the site was important because of its position on the road connecting the Danube frontier with the major areas of Italy (Aquileta) and Pannonia.

When the traditional center of culture at Noreia (Magdalensberg) was destroyed to augment Romanization of the region, its replacement was Virunum. Here a Municipium was founded and the procurator housed.

The city enjoyed all of the usual architectural gifts of civilization, a bath, forum, basilica, and temples. So Italian did it become that coloniae were unnecessary , and it stood as a model both for the northern regions of the province and for Pannonia.

Following the Marcomannic Wars, in the mid-second century C.E., Ovilava replaced Virunum as the capital, but the procurator remained. Virunum was never fortified because of its location in southern Noricum, always a more peaceful territory.


Visigoths Known as the Western Goths, one of the two major divisions of the Goths, the Visigoths developed separately from the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths). By the close of the Western Empire they had become a powerful kingdom, occupying much of northern Spain and Aquitania.

Splitting from their Ostrogothic kin in the early fourth century C.E., the Visigoths settled in Dacia in the area north of the Danube, remaining in that region throughout much of the century, pursuing a life based largely on agriculture. As with so many other tribes, by 376 the Visigoths were feeling the mounting pressure of the migrations of the Huns from the East.

Under their kings, Fritigern and Alavius, the Visigoths moved to the Danube and sent representatives to Constantinople to ask Emperor Valens for permission to enter imperial territory in Thrace. Fritigern, speaking to Valens on behalf of his people, was successful, although certain demands were made upon them in return, such as the surrendering of hostages and the handing over of all weapons.

Just at the Visigoths seemed ready to settle down, more refugees fleeing from the Huns arrived, renewing ties between the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths. The Roman administration of their domain was also harsh, bringing about war in Thrace.

Alavius was slain in an ambush, but Fritigern, aided by the Ostrogoths under Alatheus and Saphrax, stunned and horrified the Roman world with his smashing victory over Valens on August 9, 378, at Adrianople.

The Visigoths menaced Thrace and plundered the Balkans but were confronted with the lasting problem of finding a home. Fritigern was murd e red in a power struggle, and the Visigoths remained, still unhappy, in Moesia.

Theodosiusi, trying to end the threat of the barbarians and to create a buffer between the provincial cities and the more dangerous hordes of the Huns, made an offer to the Goths. In October 382, he allowed them to inhabit large stretches of Moesia, but as federates of the empire, with the duty of protecting the frontier.

Whether or not this agreement could have lasted was re n d e red moot by the emergence of the influential King Alaric a round 395. Alaric, like his ambitious predecessors, desired a permanent domain for his people and moved out of the Danubian provinces and roamed through Greece before setting out for Italy.

His ultimate goal was the granting of concessions by Emperor Honorius, but he had not counted on the presence of the Magister Militum, Stilicho. Despite Stilicho’s chronic reluctance to finish off any potentially useful barbarian host, he did repulse Alaric twice, at Pollentina (402) and at Verona (403).

With plague, exhaustion, and starvation depleting his ranks, Alaric withdre w. Stilicho had a hand in his easy retreat, for the Visigoths no doubt figured in the magister’s formula for annexing Illyricum from the Eastern Empire .

Alaric allowed himself to serve as a subject of the empire once more, holding Epirus for Honorius (c. 407). By 408, however, he was again strong enough to make his own demands. Sweeping into Noricum he called for payment for his services, and through Stilicho’s influence received Tributum. Stilicho was put to death in that same year, and, with all restraints removed, the Visigoths marched on Italy.

Rome was besieged three times during 409 and 410, and on August 24, 410, Alaric and his warriors entered the Eternal City. For two or three days Rome was pillaged and sacked. The Visigoths had thus not only annihilated a Roman emperor and his army but had desecrated the most venerable city in the empire.

Alaric was still seeking a home for his people and moved south to the edge of Italy , hoping to cross to Africa. A storm wrecked the ships and the king died soon afterward. His brother-in-law Athaulf succeeded him, leading the Visigoths north, out of Italy and into southern Gaul (Gallia Narbonensis).

They had with them a prisoner, Galla Placidia, as a bargaining tool and were soon encamped throughout Narbonensis and Gallia Aquitania. Athaulf then married Galla Placidia but was forced by the patrician Constantius to evacuate into northern Spain.

Events took a dramatic turn in 415, when Athaulf was assassinated. A usurper named Singeric aborted the king’s plans for better relations with Ravenna and the Western Empire, forcing Galla Placidia to endure humiliations. Singeric was replaced quickly by the far stronger Wallia, who was king from 415 to 418 and was important in bringing his people into close relations with the Romans.

He was elected ostensibly because of his anti-Roman sentiments but reinstated Galla Placidia; and, after his fleet bound for Africa was ruined by a storm, he entered into negotiations with Contantius (soon to be Constantius III). According to the agreement, the Visigoths would make war on the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi in Spain while surrendering Galla.

In return, they received corn and large sections of Gaul—Narbonensis and Aquitania—to call their own. Wallia waged cruel war in Spain, virtually annihilating large elements of barbarian tribes, fulfilling his part of the bargain, as his people finally found a homeland in Gaul.

Wallia died in 418, followed on a throne by Theodoric I. Now settled, the Visigoths were able to consolidate and to expand. No opportunity was missed to add pieces of Roman land, although extensive acquisition was always difficult, given the constant movement of other peoples. As federates, the Visigoths had to aid the West, as it was in their own interest to do so.

Such was the case in 451, as Attila the Hun threatened to wipe out every degree of order in Gaul. Theodoric joined the Magister Militumaetius and his allies against Attila at the battle of Catalaunian Plain. In the fierce fighting, Attila was halted but Theodoric fell in the fray.

His son Thorismund screamed for revenge, only to have Aetius fill his head with fears of losing his crown to scheming siblings. Thorismund rode home. Aetius may have been pre s e rving the Huns to maintain a balance in the barbarian realms, but his warning came true. Thorismund was murdered by his brother, Theodoric II, in 453.

Theodoric helped Avitus to occupy the Western throne and launched an assault upon the resurgent Suebi in Spain, destroying them at Astorga in 456. Angered by the fall of Avitus in 456, he rampaged through Gaul, besieging Arles.

Avitus’s successor, Marjorian, sent out his best general, Aegidius, against Theodoric, and the Visigoths were repulsed and forced into new negotiations. Barely 10 years later, in 466, Theodoric was himself assassinated by his brilliant, ambitious brother, Euric.

Eager to enhance the position of the Visigoths, Euric embarked upon a deliberate program of extending Gothic supremacy over all of Gaul. By 475 he was the master of most of Spain, southern Gaul and portions of Gaul’s northern lands.

The Visigoth kingdom extended from Spain to the Loire and the Rhine. He then took the dramatic step of declaring himself free of federate status to Rome. Henceforth his possessions were his alone, a development that did much to sap the fleeting strength of the Western Empire.

The Visigoths now owned a Gallic kingdom, a bastion of Arianism that would survive until 507, when Clovis the Frank would crush Euric’s son, Alaric II, at the battle of Vouille. Spain would then be their home until the coming of the Moors early in the eighth century.

P. Aelius Vitalianus - Prefect of the Praetorian Guard in the reign of Maximinus I Thrax

A loyal supporter of the emperor, Vitalianus was left in charge of Rome during the emperor’s campaigns. Feared and hated for what the historian Herodian called savage and merciless deeds, the prefect became the first target of removal for the African usurper, Gordian I.

Assassins were sent to Rome with the task of carrying “important” documents to Vitalianus, pertaining to the emperor. Entering his study early in the morning they found him alone and stabbed him to death. The way was clear for the Senate to elevate Gordian to the throne.

Aulus Vitellius - Emperor

Vitellius was the son of the powerful Claudian adviser, Lucius Vitelius (1), and used his father’s position to advance his own career. Consul in 48, he had already acquired a loathsome reputation for vice and greed. Gaius Caligula admired his chariot racing, Claudius his skill in dice and Nero his flattery.

From the latter he won a procuratorship in Africa (c. 61–62) and then the post of Curator Aquarum. The fame for gluttony and avarice that Vitellius possessed was probably the reason Galba appointed him in 68 to the powerful office of governor of Germania Inferior.

Galba claimed that he had little to fear from a glutton. From the start, however, Vitellius carefully cultivated the favor of the Legions so that on January 2, 69, in conjunction with the plotting of Fabius Valens and Caecina Alienus, two legates of the Rhine legions, he was proclaimed emperor.

Thus began the march of the legions of Germania Superior and Inferior to Rome. They caused ruin as they advanced but won the first battle of Bedriacum in April, defeating the army of Otho and winning Vitellius the throne.

Their candidate, who lingered behind the advance, entered Rome in July. Enacting often thoughtless edicts, Vitellius proceeded to horrify much of the empire with an overly extravagant lifestyle and stupid appointments, such as the new Praetorian Guard.

While the historians, especially Tacitus and Suetonius, were harsh and perhaps exaggerated in their coverage of his brief reign, Vitellius certainly did nothing to improve his political situation. He was a failure in terms of defending his throne.

The legions of the East declared for Vespasian on July 1, joined by their comrades on the Danube in August. Led by Antonius Primus, the Danubian army set out for Italy. In October they won the second battle of Bedriacum.

With the Flavians on their way to Rome, Vitellius considered abdication but was blocked by his own followers, who besieged Sabinus, Vespasian’s brother, on the Capitol, eventually putting him to death. This act enraged the Flavians, and Rome fell on December 20 after a bitter fight. Vitellius was found in the palace and murdered.

His reign would be condemned by Flavian propagandists, but he did initiate several good measures, including the freedom of all persons to express their opinion. These few acts of moderation were not enough to save him from his contemporaries or from the judgement of history .

Lucius Vitellius (1) - a leading adviser to Emperor Claudius

Lucius was also the father, as well, of Emperor Vitellius. Lucius Vitellius was the younger of four brothers, all of whom attained considerable success in the early first century C.E. He became a friend of Claudius but was appointed governor of Syria by Tiberius in 35 C.E.

Although he had earned a bad reputation in Rome, as the legate of Syria he displayed skill in war and in diplomacy. Pontius Pilate was sent to him after massacring the Samaritans, and Tiridates was set up (briefly) on the Parthian throne, as a result of Vitellius’s actions.

After returning to the capital, his name was again dishonored because of his extreme flattery of Gaius Caligula. Vitellius initiated the tradition of treating the deranged ruler as a god. When Claudius came to the throne, the flattery continued, this time directed at the freedmen and wives of the emperor.

He kissed Messallina’s shoes and prodded the Senate into approving Claudius’s marriage to Agrippina The Younger. For his services he was made consul, censor, and chief counselor and was left in charge of Rome during Claudius’s campaign in Britain.

Although aged, he was attacked in 51 as being treasonous, but Agrippina came to his rescue. He died after this affair injured the political future of his family. Sextilia was his wife. Vitellius was given a public funeral and a statue, inscribed with the epitaph: "Steadfastly Loyal to the Emperor".

Lucius Vitellius (2) - Brother of Emperor Vitellius

He was the son of Lucius Vitellius, governor of Syria, and Sextilia. The historian Tacitus (1) wrote that he suffered from the same vices as his brother but was more active. After receiving the adulation of the Senate upon his brother’s elevation to the throne, he was appointed by Vitellius to command Rome during the civil war with the Flavians.

As the enemy legions advanced on the capital, he moved against Tarracina in Latium, storming the city and causing great loss of life. His wife Triaria supposedly put on a sword and helped slaughter the inhabitants. Captured by the Flavians, Lucius tried to negotiate for his life but was executed.

Publius Vitellius - Uncle of Emperor Vitellius

Vitellius served as an aide to Germanicus during the German Campaign (15 C.E.), taking command of two Legions, the II and XIV, and withdrawing them by land from the theater of operations. A friend of Germanicus, he was horrified by the general’s suspicious death in 19. Using all of his skills he helped secure the trial and downfall of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, the man believed to be Germanicus’s murderer.

He received a priesthood in 20 for his work but was implicated in the fall of the Prefect Sejanus in 31 and imprisoned. According to Tacitus, he asked for a knife, slit his wrists, and died a short time later. Suetonius wrote that his wrists were bandaged, and he survived briefly, dying of illness and despair.

Vitruvius Pollio - Foremost architect of the Augustan Age

The author of the influential treatise De Architectura (On Architecture), Vitruvius apparently served in the Civil Wars, perhaps in the African campaign of 46 B.C.E., and wrote his book at an old age.

Although clearly educated and experienced, he had an eccentric style and at times was unable to communicate clearly or managed to do so in a way that did little justice to Latin. De Architectura, however, was an important work in the field, in that he examined methods of construction, including private dwellings, aqueducts, and even sundials.

He relied heavily upon Greek writers but did cover the training of architects. The entire 10-volume study was dedicated to Augustus, whom he called Imperator and Caesar. Its date was sometime around 14 B.C.E., for Vitruvius mentioned very few buildings in Rome and no great architectural achievements.


The Volcae Tectosages and the Volcae Arecomici were Celtic tribes residing in Gallia Narbonensis; largely peaceful, they were increasingly Romanized under the influence of the governor of the province. Some of the Volcae Tectosages migrated to Galatia in Asia Minor.

Vologases I - King of Parthia

Vologases was the greatest of the five kings who would bear his name, although Parthia was troubled throughout his reign on both its eastern and western borders. He was the son of Vonoses II, a one-time monarch of Media Atropatene.

His mother was reportedly a Greek concubine. Vonones was replaced by Vologases in 51, with the consent of his two brothers, Tiridates (of Armenia) and Pacorus, both of whom expected their own kingdoms.

Pacorus was given the ancestral domain of Media, and Tiridates received the often contested realm of Armenia. Parthian armies then swept into Armenia and placed Tiridates in firm control, precipitating over a decade of hostilities with Rome. Corbulo was sent by Nero to the East in 55, and in 58 Tiridates was ousted.

Vologases could not exert his full strength during the crisis because of troubles in the East, but by 62, the Roman client Tigranes V had fallen. Negotiations were favored over battle, despite the Parthian victory over Paetus. Tiridates journeyed to Rome in 66 and was crowned by Nero. Relative peace followed between Parthia and Rome, especially in the reign of Nero.

Vespasian had Vologases’s backing in 69, and the emperor even pondered sending him troops to aid in the defeat of the barbarian Alans. Better relations allowed domestic opportunities, as Vologases founded the city of Vologesia as a rival to Seleucia. He was followed on the throne by his Son Pacorus II.

Vologases II - King of Parthia

Vologases was most likely the weaker co-ruler with Oroses for many years, perhaps administering the eastern affairs of Parthia while Oroses suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of Trajan. When Vologases finally came to the throne himself, he appointed Mithridates IV to take over his duties in the east. He was succeeded by Vologases III.

Vologases III - King of Parthia

His reign was characterized by a renewed struggle with rome. Around 161–162, Vologases declared war on Rome by placing a client king upon the throne of Armenia. Initial brilliant success was gained over the two Roman governors of Cappadocia and Syria, but these triumphs proved only the deteriorated condition of the Eastern Legions.

Lucius Verus launched a massive campaign in 163–164, recapturing Armenia and stretching Roman supremacy once more into Mesopotamia, to Ctesiphon itself. Plague broke out in the Roman ranks, causing retreat in 165. Vologases remained in power until his death.

Vologases IV - King of Parthia

Eager to avenge the Roman defeats inflicted upon his predecessors, but unable to do so, Vologases watched the numerous smaller kingdoms in Mesopotamia, including Adiabene and Osroene, rise against Roman supremacy.

When Emperor Septimius Severus marched into Mesopotamia (c. 197) to subdue the petty domains, capturing Ctesiphon once again, Vologases could not respond, as a short time later the vassal states of his realm erupted. Vologases was succeeded by his son, Vologases V .

Vologases V - King of Parthia

He succeeded his father, Vologases IV, around 207 and reigned until deposed by his brother, Artabanus V, sometime before 224. Parthia was on the verge of internal collapse.

Recognizing his own political weakness, Vologases refused to be drawn into a war with Rome when Emperor Caracalla made threatening gestures in 214–215. His caution, however, could not prevent a palace coup, for Artabanus desired the throne. Vologases was perhaps allowed to retain a minor post, although he had ceased to exert any influence on the affairs of his realm.


Volturnus One of the incarnations of the river god, Tiber, whose name implied a flowing stream. Volturnus, was held in high esteem, and a Flamen Volturnalis, or chief priest, conducted services dedicated to him. The Volturnalia was his festival, held every August 27.

Gaius Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus Volusianus - Son of Emperor Trebonianus Gallus.

To cement Gallus’s claim to the throne, Volusianus wed the daughter of the deceased Emperor Decius, and in 253 Volusianus became Augustus or co-emperor. When Aemilian, governor of Moesia Inferior, revolted and marched on Italy, he convinced the outnumbered troops of Gallus to murder their master. Volusianus perished with his father.

Rufus Volusianus

Volusianus was noted for his campaign in Africa to quell the revolt of Domitius Alexander, the prefect of Carthage. Taking several cohorts of the Praetorian Guard with him, he crushed Alexander and destroyed most of Carthage in 311—for the support rendered by the city to the rebels.

Vonones I - King of Parthia

The Son of King Phraates IV and ruler of the Parthian Empire from circa 7 to 12 C.E. Vonones had been one of the children sent to Rome to serve as a hostage of good faith and to prevent his murder at the hands of his own family. As it was, Phraates was assassinated by Phraataces, his adopted son.

There followed a period of instability as Phraataces and his successor, Orodes III, were killed. The Parthian nobility then requested that Vonones assume the throne, but from around 7 to 12 C.E. he ruled with such ineptness and foreign manner that a palace coup was inevitable. Parthian nobles especially resented his Greek habits.

With the connivance of the palace, Artabanus, an Arsacid from Media, launched a rebellion that ultimately ousted Vonones, who fled to Syria and took refuge in Antioch. He lived royally there on the money that he had taken with him and in 16 asked Emperor Tiberius to sanction his seizing the vacant throne of Armenia as a springboard for regaining Parthia.

Tiberius, however, detested him and with Artabanus promising war if Vonones was not restrained, Creticus Silanus, governor of Syria, was ordered to arrest the fallen king. In 18, Germanicus, then administering the Eastern provinces, agreed to a request from Artabanus and moved Vonones to Pompeiopolis in Cicilia.

Knowing that he probably would not live to see another such move, Vonones bribed his guards and fled to Armenia, where the Roman cavalry caught up with him. An officer named Remmius, charged with his safety, ran him through, a death desired by Parthia and Rome.

Vonones II - King of Parthia

Following the demise of King Gotarzes II, the throne of Parthia was vacant, largely because Gotarzes had killed virtually every possible claimant to ensure that no rivals could murder him.

Vonones, the head of the vassal state of Media Atropatene, was given the throne by the Parthian nobility but died after a brief time and was succeeded by his son, Vologases I. Two other sons, Pacorus and Tiridates, eventually became kings of Media Atropatene and Armenia, respectively.

Votive coins

Special coins minted to commemorate a vow taken by an emperor on some special occasion, such as a wedding or the Kalends of January , or a vow taken by a ruler who was eager to make a propaganda statement.

Augustus, in 27 B.C.E., promised to bring peace to the entire Roman world within 10 years. In 18 B.C.E., he accepted government over Rome for two five-year periods; in 8 B.C.E. for 10 years more; in 4 C.E. for yet another 10, and in 13 C.E. for one more decade. Other emperors issued votive coins, including Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, and other emperors in the fourth century.


The great fire god of the Romans, whose power was always on display at the volcanos of Etna or Vesuvius. Where he came from originally was never clear, except that he was ancient, perhaps arriving in Rome through the Etrurians and via the Mediterranean. He was not a Roman original.

Later, when Greek influences were keenly felt in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan assumed all of the characteristics of Hephaestus. Thus he was viewed as the mighty smith of the gods, living and working beneath volcanos with his assistants, the Cyclops. According to legend, Romulus introduced Vulcan’s worship to Rome.

The deity received his own member of the Flamens, the Flamen Volcanalis, but was viewed as a counterpart to Vesta, the positive force of fire. Vulcan was the destructive side, the one that had to be appeased. His altar, the Volcanal, stood in the Forum Romanum at the base of the Capitol, and a new temple, built around 214 B.C.E., was found in the Campus Martius.

Two festivals were held in his honor, the Festival of the Fishermen, and the Volcanalia. The former was staged in June, involving the offering of fish caught by fishermen as an act of appeasement.

The Volcanalia, on August 23, was similar to the ceremony in June but was more state-oriented. Live fish were thrown into Vulcan’s fire, again to avoid his wrath. The fish were always caught in the Tiber because the fires were extinguished with water from that river.

Wallia - King of the Visigoths

Wallia was responsible for their settlement in Roman territory . In September of 415, the Visigoth monarch Athaulf was stabbed to death and replaced by Singeric, a cruel and brief-reigning usurper.

Singeric was also slain, after only a week, and an election was held to find a legitimate successor. The Visigoths chose a little-known warrior, Wallia, who was selected because of his desire to have nothing to do with Rome, ironic given his subsequent actions.

Wallia first restored Galla Placidia, Athaulf ’s Roman widow, to her rightful position of respect within the Visigoth community , making up for the harsh treatment meted out to her by Singeric. The most pressing problem, however, was securing the site of permanent Visigothic settlement.

Spain, their current home, was overcrowded and blockaded by the Roman navy . When ships designed to carry the Visigoths to Africa were wrecked in a storm, Wallia looked northward to Gaul and began negotiations with the Roman government, resulting in a treaty in 416 between Wallia and Constantius III.

The Visigoths pledged to serve as clients or federates of Rome, which meant making war upon the Vandals, Suebi, and Alans in Spain. In return the Visigoths received massive amounts of badly needed corn and, ultimately, permission to take up residence in Gallia Aquitania and large sections of Gallia Narbonensis as well.

Over the next year, Wallia waged relentless war upon the barbarians in Spain and was so successful that by 418 the Visigoths were able to move into Gaul, according to their agreement with the Romans. This was Wallia’s legacy, for he died in 418. He was succeeded by Theodoric I, a grandson of Alaric.

Antonine Wall

The second great barrier erected in the second century C.E. by the Romans in the province of Britain. Situated farther north than the Hadrian Wall, it stretched some 33 miles from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde in modern Scotland.

The wall was made of turf, resting on a cobbled base, but lacked the sophistication or complexity of Hadrian’s creation. The wall was only 14 feet wide, with a rampart and small wooden forts located at intervals along its length. A large ditch was dug in front of it, and a road to the interior of the province lay behind it.

Only one road actually went through the wall, and was probably used by the Legions for any advance into wild Caledonia beyond. The Antonine Wall was constructed by the II, VI and XX legions, under the supervision of Governor Lollius Urbicus, in 142 C.E., some 20 years after work had begun on Hadrian’s defenses.

Occupation of the wall continued from 142 to 184–185. From the start, the wall was impractical because of the pressures from the peoples to the north. Any temporary evacuation to suppress provincial uprisings necessitated the virtual destruction of the turf to avoid capture.

In 180 C.E., the wall was destroyed by the Caledonians, leading to the arrival of General Ulpius Marcellus in Britain. It was ultimately decided that the defense was a luxury the province could not afford. Roman troops were withdrawn, and the wall became a monument to Rome’s declining strength.

Aurelian Wall

Large wall erected around Rome between 271 and 275 C.E. to defend the city from attack by barbarians; begun by Aurelian but finished by Probus.

The Juthungine War in Italy in 270 had demonstrated the vulnerability of the city, so construction was begun on the wall with the cooperation of the Senate and the associations of workers and artisans in Rome. Because of the crises and internal threats of the time no Legions were available, so virtually the entire wall was built by civilians.

The Aurelian Wall was not strong enough to withstand a protracted siege, as inconceivable as that must have been to the Romans, but was built to repulse a sudden barbarian onslaught. It was 12 miles long, 12 feet wide and 20 feet high, intertwined with other, older structures. It had 18 gates and 381 rectangular towers, interspersed to provide adequate observation.

Changes were made by Emperor Maxentius (c. 306), who added to its height by installing galleries. A ditch was also initiated when the Magister Militum, Stilicho (c. 401–403) made repairs, followed by similar activities by Valentinian III (c. 442) and post-imperial rulers.

Hadrian Wall

Wall of Hadrian By far the most famous defensive barrier in the Roman Empire; served for nearly 300 years as one of the major dividing lines between Roman Britain and the barbarians of Caledonia. With the exception of the Wall of Antonius, built just to the north, the Wall of Hadrian was unique in all of the imperial provinces.

Emperor Hadrian ordered its construction in 122 C.E., and work was begun by Platorius Nepos, governor of Britain, who completed it around 126. The wall extended some 73 miles (80 Roman miles) from Wallsend (Segedunum) to Bowness-on-Solway (or the Solway Firth). It was intended not as a formidable bastion but as a base from which Rome’s presence could be maintained.

Roman troops, mainly auxiliaries, manned its turrets and were to fight any large enemy force in the field while keeping watch on the frontier. In the event of a direct assault, the defenses were only adequate, perhaps explaining the collapse of Roman power in Britain from time to time.

The original plans were probably drawn by Hadrian. The barrier was to extend some 70 miles and be made mostly of stone, 10 feet thick, while the rest would be constructed of turf, 20 feet thick.

The turf wall was completed, but the stone sections had only just begun when the plan was extended several miles to ensure that the barrier covered the area from sea to sea. Further, the stone portions were to be only 8 feet thick, instead of 10, and approximately 20 feet in height; the turf portions, 13 feet high.

Forts were distanced some 5 miles from each other, with so-called milecastles spread out every Roman mile, connected by watchtowers. Two ditches were dug. The one in front was approximately 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep, designed for defense and V-shaped.

The ditch behind the wall has caused considerable archaeological debate. Called the Vallum (trench), it was straight and flat-bottomed, 20 feet wide, 10 feet deep, and 10 feet across at the bottom, fortified on both sides by earthen walls (but then filled in). Scholars have speculated that it was once used for some other, nonmilitary purpose.

Until the construction of the Antonine Wall in 142, Hadrian’s Wall was the only frontier marker in Britain. With the Antonine Wall in the north, its importance decreased briefly until 180, when the Antonine Wall was destroyed. In 196–197, Clodius Albinus took with him every available soldier in Britain for his bid for the throne, thus allowing the wall to be ruined.

Septimius Severus repaired it from 205 to 207. Peace was maintained until the late third century C.E., when the chaotic situation in Roman Britain following the deaths of the usurpers Carausius and Allectus brought the Picts down from Caledonia.

Constantius I launched a restorative campaign but throughout the fourth century barbarian inroads put pressure upon the wall as Roman influence diminished. More invasions poured over the wall, only to be repulsed by Count Flavius Theodosius in 369. The last garrison on the wall withdrew around 400 as the barrier became a monument to Rome’s past.

Status of Women

Women, status of The status of women in the Roman Empire was characterized by a long period of legal subjugation and family dependence that improved gradually from the time of the late Republic. Throughout the imperial era, women gained for themselves a greater degree of personal, financial, and social freedom.

The subservient condition of women in early Roman society was maintained by the nearly all-encompassing right enjoyed by husbands and fathers within the paterfamilias. According to this dominating patriarchal system, women were excluded from all forms of public life and remained in a kind of legal servitude to their husbands, fathers or nearest male relative.

In general terms, the Roman wife in the Republic existed in manu, meaning that she was subject to the authority (manus) wielded by her husband over her. Manus declined in practice toward the end of the Republic and women began to retain definite rights regarding property and status.

However, women were still considered under the patria potestas of their fathers. The traditional separation of property ownership between husband and wife was altered considerably by the development of the dos (dowry), which made it possible for the wife to be returned the dowry at the end of a marriage.

Outside of marriage, women endured many social, legal, and political handicaps, beginning from birth. A girl born to a Roman was greeted with mourning, and it was not uncommon for a baby girl to be left to die from exposure, much as the Romans commonly put to death any infants with deformities, or severe mental illness.

Growing up, a young girl was entirely under the power of her father, remaining so until he was able to find her a suitable husband. In some cases, a patriarch might even sell daughters into slavery. As noted, marriage in manu meant a form of legal subjugation to husbands, and the wife held no legal control or claim over her children.

For various reasons, the position of women improved gradually during the centuries of the empire. One cause was the established acceptance of the dowry system, which provided greater independence for women in marriage.

Another was the tightening of the laws under Augustus concerning divorce and adultery that discouraged husbands from taking marriage vows too lightly. Finally , women, through determination and patience, created for themselves a better position in the Roman world.

Life for lower-class women was quite different from that of women of the upper classes and nobility. It was marked by a certain stultification, with the days of the peasant women cast in virtual stone from birth to death, in much the same way as that of her male counterpart.

Few details are known about the work and habits of lower-class women, but it is acknowledged that they were engaged in various professions, such as textile production.

Evidence for the involvement of women in industries is found in the remains of Pompeii. We also know little about the daily lives of middle-class women, although their days were certainly spent in more comfort than those of the poorer women of Rome.

The place of wealthy women in the empire was still handicapped by legal and social restrictions, including the inability to vote or participate openly in government, and by other traditional impediments in marriage and divorce. Nevertheless, women could exercise much independence and also political and cultural influence.

Their position was assisted by the largely self-enclosed upper classes. The wealthy intermarried and knew each other, making it easier for women to play a role in political affairs by assisting husbands with their clients and the maintenance of the domus and villa.

Young girls of the upper classes were also frequently given an education equal to boys’, and there are a number of examples of women becoming notable writers, poets, and artists. One of the best known was Sulpicia, wife of Calenus, who was praised by the poet Martial.

Equally, Roman history is replete with women who came to wield great power and influence and who were of great importance in the administration of government. Among these remarkable women were Eudoxia, Galla Placidia, and Theodora, wife of the sixth-century emperor Justinian.


Domain ruled by the Burgundians in Gaul. Centered around the city of Worms, on the Rhine between Mainz and Mannheim. The kingdom was founded in 413 C.E. when Emperor Honorius allowed Gundohar and his people to settle permanently in imperial territory, with the status of a federate state.

Their task was to protect the Rhine frontier from invasion, and they remained faithful. Gundohar reigned until 436, when a Hunnic onslaught overran the Burgundian lands. He and thousands of his men were killed, and the remnants of the Burgundians departed for Savoy, to the south.

Writing Instruments and Materials

As an exceptionally literate and literary people, the Romans relied on a wide variety of writing materials and instruments. There were two chief means of writing: pen and ink on parchment and papyrus or by a stylus on a waxed tablet.

The stylus (pl. styli) was made of bronze, bone, or iron, with a sharpened, pointed end for writing. The other end was flattened to serve as a counter weight, but it had the added practical value of serving to smooth out the excess wax that developed in the process of scratching the waxed tablet. Styli were often decorated. The pen for writing upon parchment of papyrus was a type of pen made of reed or bronze.

The tip of the pen had a split nub. Ink was made of a mixture of carbon black, gum, and water. It was held in inkpots made of samian, bronze, and other pottery forms. They were crafted with a hidden lip to prevent easy spills and a small hole in the top where the pen could be dipped with ease.

The two main writing materials were papyrus and vellum. Papyrus was certainly the most common writing material in the ancient world, originating in Egypt and eventually adopted by the Romans around the third century B.C.E.

Made from the pith of a water plant that grew along the banks of the Nile, papyrus was sold in rolls of 33 feet. Typical papyrus sheets were about 16 inches wide and 9 inches high.

Vellum (vellus, from skin or hide) was made from the skins of cattle, goats, and sheep that was scraped, rubbed with pumice, and then finished with alum. It was later termed parchment, from the city of Pergamum, which was the best-known center of vellum manufacturing. Over time, vellum, or parchment, replaced papyrus as the writing material of choice.

To use, the papyrus roll (volumen) was unrolled from the right and rolled up from the left. Once the scroll had been used, it was then rewound. Sometimes, the end of the scroll was attached to a wooden roller (umbilicus) with knobs.

It was customary for the title of a book or document to be placed at the end of the scroll, as this was the part that was least exposed on a regular basis and was most likely to survive the passage of time.

Scrolls housed in libraries were organized into pigeon holes and were identified by a hanging label, the titulus (pl. tituli). Additionally , important scrolls were rendered official by the attachment of imperial or other types of seals.

One of the most common ways of protecting seals for perpetuity was to enclose them in seal boxes, normally made of bronze. The box had a hinged lid, and wax was poured into the depression of the box. The wax was then stamped by means of an official seal or by a seal ring.

Along with scrolls, papyrus and parchment were used in book form. Called a codex, it dates from around the first century C.E. and was made from eight folded sheets of papyrus or parchment, creating a “book” of 16 pages.

The pages were then stitched together at the spine and bound between wooden boards. Slowly growing into popular usage, the codex replaced the scroll in the fourth century .

Important documents, such as business transactions, were written and preserved on waxed tablets. Normally, such a tablet was a recessed piece of wood filled with beeswax.

Each tablet was then bound into a set by leather thongs or rings threaded through hinge holes in the outer edge. Two tablets bound together formed a diptych; three bound tablets formed a triptych, creating four or six pages of writing space.

The first or outer page was left unwaxed; pages two and three were waxed; page four was either waxed or plain, and sometimes there was a groove down the middle of the page; page five was waxed and always contained a summary of the information on the other pages; page six was plain.

Page four was used for the placement of signatures by witnesses, written either in ink or inscribed in wax. Seal impressions were then added into the groove running the length of the page. Writing was inscribed in the wax by use of a stylus.


Chief city of the province of Lycia, near the mouth of the Xanthus River; besieged in 42 B.C.E. by Marcus Brutus, who wished to exact from the Lycians tribute for his war with Antony and Octavian (Augustus). The proud Lycians refused him, killed themselves and burned down the city. Marc Antony subsequently exempted the impoverished Lycians from taxation and invited them to rebuild Xanthus. They apparently refused.

Xanthus River

The most important river in the province of Lycia; rose in the Taurus Mountains and cut its way across the country to the south. Because of its size and location, the Xanthus was used as part of the water-borne trade system of Rome.

Xenophon - Imperial physician

Xenophon served Emperor Claudius in the last years of his reign (c. 53–54 C.E.). Xenophon was originally from Cos (Kos), where his family was held in high esteem. As a gift to him in 53, Claudius granted a special Immunitas (tax exemption) to the entire island.

Tacitus (1) wrote that Xenophon had been bought by Agrippina and was part of the murder of Claudius in 54. When the poisoned mushrooms failed to bring about the emperor’s death, Xenophon was summoned to use a feather dipped in poison to ensure that Claudius died rapidly.

Yazdagird I - King of Persia

Yazdagird’ s reign was noted for its improved relations with Constantinople and its easing of Christian persecutions begun under Shapur II. Considered powerful, Yazdagird was declared an honorary guardian to the young Emperor Theodosius II in the will of Arcadius upon his death in 408.

Yazdagird’ s willingness to protect the dynastic stability of the emperors was taken as a sign of improved relations between Rome and Persia, and in 409 an attempt was made to reestablish trading ties.

Christianity was allowed to flourish in Persian lands, especially Armenia, until the Christian clergy attempted widescale conversions and was suppressed harshly, ending the brief detente in 420. Yazdagird marched off to war but died on the way. His son Varahran V succeeded him.

Yazdagird II - King of Persia

Yazdagird succeeded Varahran V to the throne. He soon made incursions into the Roman portions of Armenia until bought off probably by the Magister Militum, Aspar. Hence forth his reign was characterized by chronic troubles in Armenia, where the Christians refused to be converted to Persian Zoroastrianism and fought to the death.

These pockets of resistance, however, could not entice Constantinople into widening hostilities, mainly because of the threats from the Huns in the West. Yazdagird died, probably in the saddle, in 457 and was followed by Hormazd III.

Zabdas, Septimius - General in the service of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra

Zabdas led the armies of Palmyrene expansion in 270–271, sweeping into Egypt and, with the aid of the pro - Palmyrene political faction, annexing the entire province in the name of his queen.

Further advances were made throughout the entire East, including Syria and Asia Minor, until Emperor Aurelian took to the field in 271. Zabdas focused on ANTIOCH as his strategic base and moved north to the banks of the Orontes where he had his first engagement with the Romans.

Zabdas probably had a numerical advantage, especially in cavalry units, his horsemen being strongly arm o red on huge mounts, but this failed to serve him. Aurelian’s infantry allowed the cavalry to charge and then simply rolled up the Palmyrene flank.

Defeated but not destroyed, Zabdas retreated to Antioch but had to leave there because of the inhabitants’ unrest. Aurelian entered the city and pushed on, following Zabdas’s circuitous route to Emesa.

Zabdas hoped for Persian aid, which did not materialize, and turned to give battle again. With some 70,000 men at his disposal and the cavalry still large and formidable, Zabdas repeated the tactics of his first encounter with Aurelian, with the same results.

The Roman cavalry (mostly Moors and Dalmatians) was routed, but the Legions weathered the charges and then advanced, demolishing the Palmyrene army . The survivors broke and fled to Emesa, while Zenobia are treated to her native city. What became of Zabdas is unknown.

Zanticus - Iazyges leader

The chief of the Lazyges tribe who, in 175 C.E., went before Marcus Aurelius and admitted defeat and submission to Rome. The terms of the subsequent treaty with the emperor demanded that all of the lazyges abandon the Danube region.


Zealots Name given to a party of Jewish extremists in first century C.E. JUDAEA; they acted as the main organizers of resistance to Roman rule over the Jews. In 6 C.E., the Romans annexed Judaea and installed procurators to administer local government. Inevitably, small pockets of opposition emerged. From 6 to 66 C.E., the Zealots slowly organized themselves, their presence felt by sporadic incidents of unrest or violence.

By 66, they were sufficiently manned to spearhead a major Jewish uprising, inducing the Judaean districts to rebel against ROME. JOSEPHUS, in his Jewish War, called them the Sicarii (Assassins), clearly depicting them as unrepresentative of the Jewish establishment. They pushed for war and then fought valiantly as the Roman LEGIONS under VESPASIAN and then TITUS reclaimed the country .

In JERUSALEM, the Zealots caused dissension and bloodshed by terrorizing the moderates and murdering opponents, thereby inadvertently weakening morale and giving entrance to the unpopular and harsh Idumaeans. They shared in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 but their cause was not so easily extinguished. At MASADA they fought bravely and survived total extirpation until 132–135, and the revolt of Simon BAR COCHBA.


Town in north-central Turkey , about 75 miles inland from the Black Sea; site of a military engagement fought in May 47 B.C.E. between Julius Caesar and Pharnaces II, king of the Bosporus, resulting in a complete triumph for Caesar.

While the Roman world was engulfed by the Civil War of the First Triumvirate, Pharnaces II, son of the famed Mithridates the Great (of Pontus), attempted to emulate his father’s achievements. He marched on Caesar’s legate, Calvinus, in ASIA MINOR, and defeated him at the battle of Nicopolis in October 48.

Caesar, embroiled in the siege of Alexandria, was unable to respond, and Pharnaces extended his conquests throughout Pontus and into Cappadocia. By spring of 47, however, Caesar had finished his Egyptian campaign. The Asian monarch greeted the general’s arrival on the Pontic borders with a delegation that sued for the retention of all lands taken.

Two armies were camped near each other and close to Zela, the site of Mithridates’ success in 67 B.C.E. Caesar had no intention of allowing Pharnaces to keep the lands but allowed the Asian to make new offers and counteroffers while he maneuvered the Legions into a position of advantage. Made aware of Caesar’s ploy, Pharnaces ordered his chariots and infantry to the attack, surprising the Romans, who did not expect such a foolhardy advance.

Chariots armed with scythes tore through the confused Roman cohorts, but were soon rendered ineffective by massed archery and missiles. The legions, inspired by their tactical victory and by their position at the top of a steep hill, moved into action. The battle raged up and down the line, with the VI Legion, on the right, breaking through first.

The rout was on, and Pharnaces fled from the field and was murdered a short time later. Caesar named Mithridates of Pergamum the new ruler of Pontus, now a reduced domain, and then headed for Rome. He summed up the defeat of Pharnaces with the famous words, “Veni, vidi, vici”—“I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Zeno - King of Armenia

Zeno was the son of Polemo I, king of Pontus, and his second wife, Pythodoris, with the support and presence of the Armenian nobility, Germanicus crowned Zeno ruler of Armenia in 18 C.E., naming him Artaxias. His accession was greeted with approval, and the Parthians under Artabanus III were too distracted by internal strife to oppose anything in the client state. Zeno’s reign was the most peaceful in Armenian history. When he died in 34, Artabanus was preparing to move against Roman supremacy in the region.

Zeno (Tarasicodissa) Emperor of the East

Born in Isauria, the wild region between Pisidia and Cilicia in Asia Minor, he bore the name Tarasicodissa and served as chieftain of the Isaurians. Emperor LEO I recruited him and his warriors as a military counter balance to the Germans in the Eastern lands.

Tarasicodissa changed his name to Zeno and was granted command of the newly formed (mostly Isaurian) imperial guard, the Excubitors. A gifted and reliable officer, Zeno was given the hand of Leo’ s daughter, Aelia Ariadne, and the post of Magister Militum in Thrace (c. 470). His official task was to repel an invasion of the HUNS, but Leo was developing him as a political weapon against the German magister militum, ASPAR.

Internal feuding followed as Aspar tried to have Zeno killed, but he fled to Serdica. Leo, in his absence, was forced to elevate Aspar’s son PATRICIUS to the rank of Caesar, and Aspar moved to win the support of the Isaurian contingents. Zeno returned at once from Thrace, and in 471 Aspar and his son Ardaburius were murdered.

What part Zeno played in this is unclear, although he profited handsomely from the deaths. By 473, he held a consulship (469) and the office of magister militum in the East, where he suppressed the banditry of the Isaurian tribes. Then he became the magister militum in Constantinople, where he advised the emperor on all important matters.

In October 473, Leo’ s grandson (by Aelia Ariadne and Zeno) was elevated to Augustus, succeeding to the throne on February 3, 474. He lived only long enough to certify his father’ s already supreme authority, dying on November 17, 474.

Zeno was now sole master of the East, although considered a usurping outsider by the palace. Verina, Leo I’s widow, headed a conspiracy to remove him in favor of her lover, a secretary known as Patricius, and her accomplices included the Isaurian General Illus and Verina’s brother Basiliscus.

Once more Zeno, forewarned, retired to safety , becoming chief of the tribe again in Isauria. Basiliscus betrayed his sister and took power for himself. The people of Constantinople rose up and rejected him, and Zeno returned in August of 476, remaining as emperor until his death in 491.

Meanwhile in the West, Emperor Julius Nepos could not prevent the rise of Romulus Augustulus, son of Nepos’ s own magister, Orestes, and fled to Dalmatia to plead his case.

He found himself in competition with a delegation sent by the barbarian King Odoacer, who had deposed Romulus Augustulus and now sought recognition of his own control of Italy . Zeno chose a compromise, making Odoacer a patrician and reinstating Nepos.

Odoacer agreed, having no intention of keeping his word. He called himself King of Italy until the invasion of the Ostrogoths in 489, and the West passed into history. The other major act of Zeno’s reign was a peace treaty in 474 with King Geiseric and the Vandals that lasted half a century .

Zeno the Stoic - Philosopher, found of Stoicism

Zeno’s views, crystallized by Chrysippus, had a most profound effect upon subsequent Greek and Roman thinking.

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra from 266 to 272

The daughter of Antiochus, she became the wife of Odaenath and aided him in transforming Palmyra into a mighty ally of Rome. He campaigns against Persia secured Palmyran protection of Palestine, Syria, and parts of Asia Minor, with the blessing of Emperor Gallienud.

When Odaenath was murdered sometime in 266 or 267, possibly by the Queen herself, she immediately assumed control of the government, ruling in the name of their son Vaballath. She set about expanding her court, attracting the finest minds of the time, especially the Neoplatonists and Cassius Longinus, who urged her defiance of Rome.

When Emperor Claudius II Gothicus died in 270, Zenobia launched a campaign to increase her power. General Zabdas took command of the Palmyrene army and invaded the provinces of Syria-Palestine, eastern Asia Minor and even into Egypt.

Aurelian, new to the throne of Rome, was preoccupied with barbarian invasions until the summer of 271, when he marched against the Palmyrenes. Zabdas was defeated at Antioch and Emesa, and the Palmyrene acquisitions in Asia Minor and Syria were lost. Zenobia fled to Palmyra, rejecting Aurelian’s offer of peace.

She then tried to escape to the Persians but was captured and forced to walk in Aurelian’ s Triumph in Rome, where she was transported in a golden chair. She lived in Rome and on an estate at Tibur for the rest of her life, on a state subsidy.


Zenonis (fl. fifth century C.E.) Augusta in 475–476 and wife of Eastern emperor Basiliscus. When Zenonis was proclaimed Augusta, she entered a torrid affair with a stunningly handsome courtier named Armatus, trying to conceal the relationship but working to have Armatus promoted to the highest positions in the city . When Basiliscus fell from power, Zenonis and her children were banished with him to Cucusus in Cappadocia, where they were starved to death.


A brief reigning pope (417–418 C.E.), remembered for two stinging defeats of his policy . The first came in Gaul where he attempted to aggrandize the Bishopric of ARLES in 417, giving that prelate the right to co-consecrate the other bishops of GALLIA NARBONENSIS.

A brief and bitter fight ensued, and other popes ended the special status of Arles. The second failure was in Africa, where Zosimus issued a decree in favor of the Pelagians, only to find himself facing St. Augustine, who forced him to recant his decree. He died in 418.

Chrysaphius Zstommas

Highly influential during the reign of Emperor THEODOSIUS II, Zstommas stirred up trouble between PULCHERIA, Theodosius’s sister, and the emperor’s wife EUDOCIA and then forced Pulcheria from the palace.

Eudocia was exiled in 442 to JERUSALEM, where she lived until her death in 460. Zstommas filled the vacuum caused by the departure of those formidable women, using conciliatory policies and vast amounts of the treasury to buy off the HUNS, who were ravaging ILLYRICUM.

His actions naturally brought him many enemies at court, and sometime in 450 Pulcheria returned to her former position, with the help of the army generals. Zstommas fell from power, and during the last months of Theodosius’s reign Pulcheria gained complete control. After Theodosius died in July 450, MARCIAN, his successor, began his rule by executing Zstommas.