Armatus

Armatus

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Flavius Armatus was a Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 military commander, magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

under Emperors Leo I
Leo I (emperor)
Leo I was Byzantine Emperor from 457 to 474. A native of Dacia Aureliana near historic Thrace, he was known as Leo the Thracian ....

, Basiliscus
Basiliscus
Basiliscus was Eastern Roman Emperor from 475 to 476. A member of the House of Leo, he came to power when Emperor Zeno had been forced out of Constantinople by a revolt....

 and Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

, and consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

. He was instrumental in the rebellion of Basiliscus against Zeno, and in his subsequent fall.

Origin and early career


Armatus was a nephew of Basiliscus
Basiliscus
Basiliscus was Eastern Roman Emperor from 475 to 476. A member of the House of Leo, he came to power when Emperor Zeno had been forced out of Constantinople by a revolt....

 and of Empress Verina
Verina
Aelia Verina was the Empress consort of Leo I of the Byzantine Empire. She was a sister of Basiliscus. Her daughter Ariadne was Empress consort of first Zeno and then Anastasius I. Verina was the maternal grandmother of Leo II.-Family:...

, the wife of Leo I. It is known that Armatus had a son, also named Basiliscus. During the last part of Emperor Leo's reign, Armatus, as magister militum per Thracias, successfully quelled a revolt in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, cutting off the hands of the Thracian prisoners and sending them to the rebels. It is possible that the rebels were men of the Thracian Goth
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 Theodoric Strabo
Theodoric Strabo
Theodoric Strabo was an Ostrogoth chieftain who was involved in the politics of the Byzantine Empire during the reigns of Byzantine Emperors Leo I, Zeno and Basiliscus...

, a military commander under Leo, and hence this revolt would have been the one started by Strabo between the death of Aspar
Aspar
Flavius Ardabur Aspar was an Alan patrician and magister militum of the Eastern Roman Empire. Aspar's family exerted a great influence on the Eastern Roman Emperors for half a century, from the 420s to his death in 471, over Theodosius II, Marcian and Leo I, who, in the end, had him killed.Alans...

 (471) and the end of Leo's rule (473).

Rise of Basiliscus


Armatus supported the rebellion of Basiliscus in 475, probably gaining also the support of Verina, who was the mother-in-law of deposed Emperor Zeno, for the rebels. During the short reign of Basiliscus, Armatus exercised noteworthy influence on both the emperor and his wife and Augusta
Augusta (honorific)
Augusta was the imperial honorific title of empresses. It was given to the women of the Roman and Byzantine imperial families. In the third century, Augustae could also receive the titles of Mater castrorum and Mater Patriae .The title implied the greatest prestige, with the Augustae able to...

 Zenonis
Zenonis
Aelia Zenonis was the Empress consort of Basiliscus of the Eastern Roman Empire.- Background :The ancestry of Zenonis is unknown. She was married to Basiliscus, brother of Verina. Her sister-in-law was Empress consort to Leo I and mother to Ariadne...

. There were rumours about a relationship between Armatus and Zenonis. Zenonis convinced Basiliscus to appoint Armatus to the office of magister militum praesentialis. Armatus was also awarded the consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

ship of 476, together with Basiliscus.

Armatus was a sort of dandy
Dandy
A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self...

, who was interested only in his own hair and other body training, and Theodoric Strabo despised him for this reason. Strabo, therefore, grew unsatisfied with Basiliscus, whom he had helped in his uprising against Zeno, because he had given the title of magister militum praesentialis, a rank as high as Strabo's own, to such a man.

After the honours and wealth received by his uncle Basiliscus, Armatus thought of himself as the bravest of the men, dressing as Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

 and parading around his house near the Hippodrome. During his wandering, the people called him "Pyrrus", either because he was of reddish complexion or because they were teasing him.

Fall of Basiliscus and Armatus' death


In the summer of 476, Zeno moved from Isauria to regain his throne, and bribed both the Basiliscus' generals Illus
Illus
Illus was a Byzantine general, who played an important role in the reigns of the Byzantine Emperors Zeno and Basiliscus.Illus supported the revolt of Basiliscus against Zeno, then switched sides, supporting the return of Zeno...

 and Trocondus to join him. Basiliscus gathered all of the troops from Thracia, the city of Constantinople and even the palace guard, and, after binding Armatus with a loyalty oath, sent them to meet and defeat Zeno. When Armatus met Zeno, however, he was bribed into joining the Isaurian emperor, with the promise of the appointment of the title of magister militum praesentalis for life, the awarding of Armatus' son, Basiliscus, of the title of caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

, and of the qualification as heir to Zeno.

After his restoration, Zeno fulfilled his promises, letting Armatus keep his title of magister militum praesentalis (possibly even raising him to the rank of Patricius) and appointing his son Basiliscus Caesar in Nicaea. In 477, however, the Isauria
Isauria
Isauria , in ancient geography, is a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different periods, but generally covering what is now the district of Bozkır and its surroundings in the Konya province of Turkey, or the core of the Taurus Mountains. In...

n Zeno changed his mind, according to Evagrius
Evagrius
Evagrius or Euagrius may refer to:*Evagrius of Constantinople , bishop of Constantinople *Evagrius of Antioch, bishop of Antioch *Evagrius Ponticus , Christian mystic...

 by the instigation of Illus
Illus
Illus was a Byzantine general, who played an important role in the reigns of the Byzantine Emperors Zeno and Basiliscus.Illus supported the revolt of Basiliscus against Zeno, then switched sides, supporting the return of Zeno...

, an Isaurian general who had helped Basiliscus' rise and later changed sides to Zeno, and who would have gained by the fall of Armatus. Armatus was killed by order of Zeno. The murderer was Armatus' own friend Onoulphus
Onoulphus
Onoulphus, also Onoulf, Unulf and Hunulf was a Roman general of Scirian origin, magister militum per Illyricum from 477 to 479.- Biography :...

, who, as a poor barbarian, had been welcomed by Armatus, then made comes
Comes
Comes , plural comites , is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus, especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. The word comes derives from com- "with" +...

, then commander of Illyricum
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
The praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was one of four praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided.The administrative centre of the prefecture was Sirmium , and, after 379, Thessalonica...

; Armatus even lent him a great deal of money to pay for a banquet. The citizens of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 rejoiced after his death. Zeno confiscated all of the properties of Armatus, deposed his son Basiliscus, and had him ordained priest.

Relationship between Armatus and Odoacer


A recent publication by Stephan Krautschick has opened the study of Armatus' life to new interpretations, in particular the relationship between Armatus and Basiliscus' family and Odoacer
Odoacer
Flavius Odoacer , also known as Flavius Odovacer, was the first King of Italy. His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos' death in 480, of the...

, chieftain of the Heruli
Heruli
The Heruli were an East Germanic tribe who are famous for their naval exploits. Migrating from Northern Europe to the Black Sea in the third century They were part of the...

 and later King of Italy. Krautschick assertion, which has been adopted by subsequent scholars, Armatus was brother of Onoulphus
Onoulphus
Onoulphus, also Onoulf, Unulf and Hunulf was a Roman general of Scirian origin, magister militum per Illyricum from 477 to 479.- Biography :...

 and Odoacer, so that the leader of the Heruli was also nephew of Basiliscus and Verina. In particular, this interpretation sheds light on why Armatus was so keen to help Onoulphus, and that it was his own brother that killed him.

The link between Armatus, Odoacer and Onoulphus
Onoulphus
Onoulphus, also Onoulf, Unulf and Hunulf was a Roman general of Scirian origin, magister militum per Illyricum from 477 to 479.- Biography :...

 is a fragment by John of Antioch
John of Antioch
John of Antioch was Patriarch of Antioch and led a group of moderate Eastern bishops during the Nestorian controversy. He is sometimes confused with John Chrysostom, who is occasionally also referred to as John of Antioch. John gave active support to his friend Nestorius in the latter's dispute...

, in which Onoulphus is stated to be the murderer and the brother of Armatus. Before the work of Krautschick, and also according to other scholars, the reading was emended to read that "Odoacer was the brother of the Onoulphus who killed Armatus". This amendment made the fragment of John compatible with the accounts of other historians, since neither John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

 nor Malchus
Malchus (historian)
Malchus was a Byzantine historian. According to Suda Malchus was a Byzantine; but Photius states that he was a native of Philadelphia; and his Syriac name makes it probable that Philadelphia was the ancient Rabbah in the country of Ammonitis, east of the River Jordan.Malchus probably followed his...

make any reference to the fact that Armatus was killed by his own brother, and no reference is made to a blood relationship between Odoacer and Basiliscus.