Zeno (emperor)

Zeno (emperor)

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Zeno (c. 425 – 9 April 491), 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. His reign saw the end of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 under Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos was Western Roman Emperor de facto from 474 to 475 and de jure until 480. Some historians consider him to be the last Western Roman Emperor, while others consider the western line to have ended with Romulus Augustulus in 476...

 and Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus , was the last Western Roman Emperor, reigning from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476...

, but he contributed much to stabilizing the eastern Empire.

In ecclesiastical history, Zeno is associated with the Henotikon
Henotikon
The Henotikon was issued by Byzantine emperor Zeno in 482, in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences between the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon and the miaphysites...

or "instrument of union", promulgated by him and signed by all the Eastern bishops, with the design of solving the monophysite
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 controversy.

Early life


Zeno's original name was Tarasis. Tarasis was born in 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...

, at Rusumblada, later renamed Zenonopolis
Zenonopolis
Zenonopolis was a city in Isauria, originally called Rusumblada but renamed in honour of Emperor Zeno , who was born there....

 in Zeno's honour. His father was called Kodisa (as attested by his patronimic "Tarasicodissa"), his mother Lallis, his brother Longinus
Longinus (consul 486)
Flavius Longinus was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, brother of Emperor Zeno and twice consul .- Biography :Longinus came from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor...

. Tarasis had a wife, Arcadia, whose name indicates a relationship with the Constantinopolitan aristocracy, and whose statue was erected near the Baths of Arcadius, along the steps that led to Topoi. According to a Near Eastern Christian legend, Zeno had two daughters, Hilaria and Thaopesta, who followed a religious life, but historical sources attest the existence of only one son by Arcadia, called Zenon. Tarasis was probably related to the Isaurian general Zeno
Zeno (consul 448)
Flavius Zeno was an influential general and politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, of Isaurian origin, who reached the ranks of magister militum per Orientem, consul and patricius.- Biography :...

, who had fought against Attila in 447 to defend 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:...

 and had been consul the following year.

The Isaurians were a people who lived inland from the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, in the core of the Taurus Mountains (generally what is now the Konya
Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

/Bozkir
Bozkir
Bozkır is a town and district of Konya Province in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. According to 2008 census, population of the district is 31,601 of which 7,212 live in the town of Bozkır.The town occupied a central position in ancient Isauria...

 area of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). Like most borderland tribes, they were looked upon as barbarians by the Romans even though they had been Roman subjects for more than two centuries. However, being Catholics rather than Arians
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, as the Goths and other Germanic tribes were, they were not formally barred from the throne.

According some scholars, in the mid-460s Eastern Roman Emperor 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 ....

 wanted to balance the weight of the German component of the army, whose leader was the Alan
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

 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...

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...

. He thought that Tarasis and his Isaurians could be that counterweight, and called him, with many Isaurians, to 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:...

. This interpretation, however, has been contested. By mid-460s, Arcadia and Zeno had been living at Constantinople for some time, where also Lallis and Longinus lived, the latter married to a Valeria, possibly a woman of aristocrat rank.

According to ancient sources, the earliest reference to Tarasis dates back to 464, when he put his hands on some letters written by Aspar's son, Ardabur
Ardabur
Ardabur was the son of Flavius Ardabur Aspar, Master of Horse and Magister Militum of the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifth century. Ardabur apparently often served under his famous father during his campaigns. In 466 Ardabur was accused of a treasonous plot, probably by his father's political...

, which proved that the son of the magister militum had incited the Sassanid King to invade Roman territory, promising to support the invasion. Through these letters, which Tarasis gave to Leo, the Emperor could dismiss Ardabur, who at the time was magister militum per Orientem and patricius, thus reducing Aspar's influence and ambition. As reward for his loyalty, that Leo praised with Daniel the Stylite
Daniel the Stylite
Saint Daniel the Stylite is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Churches. He was born in a village by the name of Maratha in upper Mesopotamia near Samosata, in today what is now a region of Turkey. He entered a monastery at the age of twelve and lived there...

, Tarasis was appointed comes domesticorum, an office of great influence and prestige. This appointment could mean that Tarasis had been a protector domesticus, either at Leo's court in Constantinople, or attached at Ardabur's staff in Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

.

In 465 Leo and Aspar quarrelled about the appointment of consuls for the following year; it was in this occasion that Tarasis' position was strengthened, as he become friend and ally of the Emperor.

Son-in-law of Leo I


To make himself more acceptable to the Roman hierarchy and the population of Constantinople, Tarasis adopted the Greek name of Zeno and used it for the rest of his life. In mid-late 466 Zeno married Ariadne
Ariadne (empress)
Aelia Ariadne was the Empress consort of Zeno and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire.-Family:Ariadne was a daughter of Leo I and Verina. Her mother was a sister of Basiliscus....

, elder daughter of 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 ....

 and 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:...

; as there is no reference to a divorce with Arcadia, she should have died in those years. The next year their son was born, and Zeno become father of the heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

 to the throne, as the only son of Leo I's had died in his infancy; to stress his claim to the throne, the boy was called Leo
Leo II (emperor)
Leo II was Byzantine Emperor for less than a year in 474. He was the son of Zeno and Ariadne, and maternal grandson of Leo I and Verina. As Leo's closest male relative, he was named successor upon his grandfather's death. After taking his father as colleague, he died of an unknown disease about 10...

. Zeno, however, was not present at the birth of his son, as in 467 he participated to a military campaign against the Goths.
Zeno, as member of the protectores domestici, did not take part in the disastrous expedition against the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, led in 468 by Leo's brother-in-law 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....

. The following year, during which he held the honour of the consulate, he was appointed 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...

 per Thracias
and led an expedition 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...

. The sources do not clearly state what enemy he fought there, and historians had proposed either Goths or Huns, or the rebels of Anagastes. Either way, before leaving, Leo and Zeno asked for Daniel the Stylite
Daniel the Stylite
Saint Daniel the Stylite is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Churches. He was born in a village by the name of Maratha in upper Mesopotamia near Samosata, in today what is now a region of Turkey. He entered a monastery at the age of twelve and lived there...

's opinion about the campaign, and Daniel answered that Zeno would have been the target of a conspiracy but would have escaped unharmed. What happened was that Leo sent some of his personal soldiers with Zeno to protect him, but they were bribed by 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...

 to actually capture him. Zeno was informed of their intention and fled to Serdica, and because of this episode Leo grew even more suspicious of Aspar.

After the attack, Zeno did not return to 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:...

, where Aspar and Ardabur
Ardabur
Ardabur was the son of Flavius Ardabur Aspar, Master of Horse and Magister Militum of the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifth century. Ardabur apparently often served under his famous father during his campaigns. In 466 Ardabur was accused of a treasonous plot, probably by his father's political...

 were and had still considerable power. Instead he moved to the "Long Wall" (the Chersonese Long Wall or, less probably, the Anastasian Wall
Anastasian Wall
The Anastasian Wall or the Long Walls of Thrace is an ancient, stone and turf fortification located west of Istanbul, Turkey built by the Byzantines during the late 5th century...

), then to Pylai and from there to Chalcedon
Chalcedon
Chalcedon , sometimes transliterated as Chalkedon) was an ancient maritime town of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, almost directly opposite Byzantium, south of Scutari . It is now a district of the city of Istanbul named Kadıköy...

. While waiting here for an opportunity to return in the capital, he was appointed 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...

 per Orientem
. He took the monk Peter the Fuller
Peter the Fuller
Peter Fullo was Patriarch of Antioch and Non-Chalcedonian.Peter received his surname from his former trade as a fuller of cloth. Tillemont Peter Fullo ("the Fuller") was Patriarch of Antioch (471–488) and Non-Chalcedonian.Peter received his surname from his former trade as a fuller of cloth....

 with him and left for Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, his office's see, passing through 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...

, where he put down the rebellion of Indacus. Zeno stayed at Antioch for two years.

While living in Antioch with his family, Zeno sympathised with the Monophysite views of Peter the Fuller, and supported him against his opponent, the Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

 bishop Martyrius
Martyrius of Antioch
Martyrius was Patriarch of Antioch from 460 to 470. A Chalcedonian, his patriarchate was dominated by strife between the Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians....

. Zeno allowed the arrival in Antioch from nearby monasteries of monks who increased the number of Peter's followers, and did not repress effectively their violence. Martyrius went to Constantinople, to ask Leo for help, but returning to Antioch he was informed that Peter had been elected bishop and resigned (470). Leo reacted ordering the exile for Peter and addressing to Zeno a law that forbade the monks to leave their monasteries and to promote rebellion (1 June 471). In 470/471 Zeno had also to deal with an invasion of Tzanni, who attacked Roman Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

.

With Zeno far from Constantinople, Aspar had increased his influence having his son Julius Patricius
Julius Patricius
Julius Patricius was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire of barbarian origin, who rose to the rank of caesar under Emperor Leo I.- Biography :...

 appointed Caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

and married to Leo I's younger daughter, Leontia
Leontia (daughter of Leo I)
Leontia was the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor Leo I.- Biography :Leontia was the daughter of Emperor Leo I and his wife Verina; she was younger sister of Ariadne, but, unlike her, she could claim to be porphyrogenita, "born in the purple", because she was born during the first year of...

 (470). Sources are contradictory on the causes, but clearly state that in 471 Leo I had Aspar and Ardabur treacherously killed, certainly with Zeno's and Basiliscus' approval, as in the eve of the murders, the two generals had moved closer to Constantinople (Zeno was at Chalcedon). After their death, Zeno returned to Constantinople and was appointed magister militum praesentalis.

First reign and Basiliscus' revolt (475–476)


On 25 October 473 Leo I appointed Caesar his nephew Leo II, the son of Zeno and Ariadne
Ariadne (empress)
Aelia Ariadne was the Empress consort of Zeno and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire.-Family:Ariadne was a daughter of Leo I and Verina. Her mother was a sister of Basiliscus....

. On 18 January 474 Leo I died; if Leo II had not already been proclaimed co-Emperor by his grandfather, he become Augustus in that occasion. Since Leo II was seven years old, too young to rule himself, Ariadne and her mother 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:...

 prevailed upon him to crown Zeno, his father, as co-emperor, which he did on February 9, 474. When Leo II became ill and died on November 17, Zeno became sole emperor.

Zeno had to settle the matters with the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

 of King Genseric
Genseric
Genseric , also spelled as Geiseric or Gaiseric, was King of the Vandals and Alans and was one of the key players in the troubles of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century...

, who treated the sea commercial routes with their incursions on the coastal cities of the Empire. Zeno sent Genseric a high-ranking officer as ambassador, Severus, who succeeded in stipulating an "eternal" peace between the Vandals and the Eastern Roman Empire, a peace which allowed the Romans to pay ransoms for the prisoners in Vandal hands and which ended the Vandal persecution of Orthodox Christians in the Vandal territory.

Despite this success, Zeno continued to be unpopular with the people and Senate because of his barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 origins; his right to the throne was limited to his marriage with Ariadne and his relationship to Verina, the dowager Empress. Therefore he chose to support himself on the Isaurian component of the army, in particular to strengthen his bond with the Isaurian generals and brothers 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 Trocundes. However, Verina decided to overthrow her son-in-law Zeno and replace him with her lover, the ex-magister officiorum Patricius, with the help of her brother 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....

. The conspirators caused riots in the capital against the Isaurian emperor; Basiliscus succeeded also in convincing Illus, Trocundes and the Ostrogothic general 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...

 to join the plot.

In January of 475 Zeno was forced to flee Constantinople to Isauria with his wife and mother, some Isaurian fellows and the Imperial treasure. Illus and Trocundes were sent to chase him, and Zeno was compelled to shut himself up in a fortress, where Illus besieged him, capturing also Zeno's brother, Longinus
Longinus (consul 486)
Flavius Longinus was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, brother of Emperor Zeno and twice consul .- Biography :Longinus came from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor...

 and keeping him as an hostage.

However, the conspirators quickly fell in contrast with each other. Basiliscus took the throne for himself, putting to death Verina's lover and candidate, Patricius. He also allowed the mob to kill all of the Isaurians left in Constantinople, an episode that damaged his bond to the Isaurian generals Illus and Trocundes. Basiliscus appointed his nephew Armatus
Armatus
Flavius Armatus was a Byzantine military commander, magister militum under Emperors Leo I, Basiliscus and Zeno, and consul. He was instrumental in the rebellion of Basiliscus against Zeno, and in his subsequent fall.- Origin and early career :...

 magister militum, thus alienating Theodoric Strabo. Since Zeno had left no money, Basiliscus was forced to levy heavy taxes. Finally, he alienated the Church, supporting the Monophysites. The people of Constantinople also put the blame on him for a great fire that burned several parts of the city. With the secret support of the Senate, and with the help of the bribes paid by Zeno, Illus accepted to switch sides and united his army with Zeno's, marching on Constantinople. Basiliscus tried to recover popular support and sent another army against Zeno, under his nephew Armatus' command. Zeno succeeded in bribing Armatus too, promising to confirm his rank of magister militum praesentalis for life and promoting his son (also called Basiliscus) to the rank of Caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

; Armatus' army did not intercept Zeno's troops marching on Constantinople, and the lack of Theodoric Strabo and his army decided the fate of Basiliscus, who fled with his family in the church of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

.

In August 476, Zeno besieged Constantinople. The Senate opened the gates of the city to the Isaurian, allowing the deposed emperor to resume the throne. Basiliscus fled to sanctuary in a church, but he was betrayed by the Patriarch Acacius
Patriarch Acacius of Constantinople
Acacius was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 471 to 489. Acacius was practically the first prelate throughout the Eastern Orthodoxy and renowned for ambitious participation in the Chalcedonian controversy....

 and surrendered himself and his family after extracting a solemn promise from Zeno not to shed their blood. Basiliscus and his family were sent to a fortress in Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

, where Zeno had them enclosed in a dry cistern, to die from exposure.

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, Zeno changed his mind, probably by instigation of Illus who would have gained by the fall of Armatus, and ordered Armatus' death. Zeno confiscated all of the properties of Armatus, deposed his son Basiliscus, and had him ordained priest.

The fall of the Western Empire


In Spring 474, Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos was Western Roman Emperor de facto from 474 to 475 and de jure until 480. Some historians consider him to be the last Western Roman Emperor, while others consider the western line to have ended with Romulus Augustulus in 476...

 left the Eastern Roman Empire territory to conquer the Western Roman Empire from Glycerius
Glycerius
Glycerius was a Western Roman Emperor from 473 to 474. Elevated by his Magister militum, Gundobad, Glycerius’ elevation was rejected by the court at Constantinople, and he was ousted by Julius Nepos. He later served as the bishop of Salona in the early Catholic Church.-Rise to power:Sources on...

, an Emperor elevated by the Western Patrician Gundobad
Gundobad
Gundobad was King of the Burgundians , succeeding his father Gundioc of Burgundy. Previous to this, he had been a Patrician of the Western Roman Empire in 472–473, succeeding his uncle Ricimer.- Early life :...

. 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 ....

 had chosen Julius because he was related to the Emperor through his own wife, a nephew of Leo's, and thus received the agnomen "Nepos", "nephew"; the appointment took place in 473, but the bad weather of the winter sea delayed the operation until the next year; it was therefore Zeno who had to support Julius Nepos' claim for the Western throne. Julius arrived in Italy, deposed Glycerius and became Emperor in June 474. Julius was in good terms with Zeno, and he even minted coins in the names of Zeno, Leo II and himself.

On August 475, during 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....

' reign, while Zeno was in Isauria blocked by 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...

' army, Julius Nepos was overthrown by his own Patricius Orestes
Orestes
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon in Greek mythology; Orestes may also refer to:Drama*Orestes , by Euripides*Orestes, the character in Sophocles' tragedy Electra*Orestes, the character in Aeschylus' trilogy of tragedies, Oresteia...

 and forced to flee in Dalmatia; Orestes elevated to the throne his own son, Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus , was the last Western Roman Emperor, reigning from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476...

. One year later, while Zeno was entering in 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:...

 to end Basiliscus' reign, Romulus was deposed by the Chieftain of the Heruli, 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...

. By will of Odoacer, the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 sent an envoy to Zeno, to bring the restored Emperor the Imperial robes of Romulus and to claim that the West did not need its own Emperor, but that they recognised Zeno as their legitimate ruler; also, the Senate asked Zeno to appoint Odoacer both Patricius and official Imperial governor of Italy. At the same time Zeno received another embassy, sent by Julius Nepos, who asked Zeno to give him the money and the army he needed to take back his throne. Zeno answered the Roman Senate to welcome back Julius Nepos, their rightful Emperor; he also said that Odoacer should receive the patriciate by Julius Nepos, and that he would be glad to grant it unless Nepos granted it first.

After Nepos' death, in 480, Odoacer recognised Zeno as Emperor, even minting coins in his name, but increasingly started using the title Rex ("King") for himself.

Revolt of Marcian (479)


Marcian
Marcian (usurper)
Marcian was a member of the House of Leo and an usurper against Emperor Zeno in 479.- Biography :Marcian was a member of several Roman imperial families...

 was the son of the Western Roman Emperor Anthemius
Anthemius
Procopius Anthemius was Western Roman Emperor from 467 to 472. Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees;...

 (467–472) and a grandson of Emperor Marcian
Marcian
Marcian was Byzantine Emperor from 450 to 457. Marcian's rule marked a recovery of the Eastern Empire, which the Emperor protected from external menaces and reformed economically and financially...

 (450–457). He had married Ariadne
Ariadne (empress)
Aelia Ariadne was the Empress consort of Zeno and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire.-Family:Ariadne was a daughter of Leo I and Verina. Her mother was a sister of Basiliscus....

's sister Leontia
Leontia (daughter of Leo I)
Leontia was the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor Leo I.- Biography :Leontia was the daughter of Emperor Leo I and his wife Verina; she was younger sister of Ariadne, but, unlike her, she could claim to be porphyrogenita, "born in the purple", because she was born during the first year of...

, and was therefore Zeno's brother-in-law; he was twice consul, in 467 and 472.

In 479 Marcian tried to overthrow Zeno and reclaim the throne for himself. With the help of his brothers Procopius Anthemius
Procopius Anthemius
Flavius Procopius Anthemius was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, son of Western Roman Emperor Anthemius.- Biography :Procopius was the son of Anthemius and of Marcia Euphemia, daughter of the Easter Roman Empire...

 and Romulus
Romulus (son of Anthemius)
Romulus was a member of the House of Theodosius, son of Western Roman Emperor Anthemius.- Biography :Romulus was the son of Anthemius and of Marcia Euphemia. His brothers were Anthemiolus, Marcian and Procopius Anthemius, his sister was Alypia...

, he gathered in 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:...

 troops composed by both citizens and foreigners in the house of a Caesarius, south of the Forum of Theodosius
Forum of Theodosius
The Forum of Theodosius was an area in Constantinople. It was originally built by Constantine I and named the Forum Tauri...

, and from there they marched at the same time on the imperial palace and on the house 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...

, who was a supporter of Zeno. The emperor almost fell in the hands of the rebels, who, during the day, overwhelmed the imperial troops, who were hit also by the citizens from the roofs of their houses. During the night, however, Illus succeeded in moving inside Constantinople an Isaurian unit whose quarters were in the nearby Chalcedonia and in corrupting Marcian's soldiers, who allowed Zeno to flee. On the following morning Marcian, understanding that his situation was desperate and that the reinforcements of the Gothic general 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...

 would have not arrive in time, took refuge in the church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

, but was arrested with his brothers.

Zeno sent Marcian and his brothers to Caesarea in Cappadocia. They tried to flee, but Marcian was captured and obliged to become a monk in Tarsus
Tarsus, Mersin
Tarsus is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 2.75 million...

 (Cilicia), or imprisoned in Isauria, in the fortress of Papurius
Papurius
Papurius or Papyrius was a fortress in Cilicia Campestris, near Tarsus.It was in this fortress that the usurper Marcian was held prisoner after his failed revolt in 479, and where Leontius and his general and king-maker Illus were besieged between 484 and 488 by the army of Emperor Zeno.- Sources...

. He tried to escape a second time, and this time he succeeded, but, after gathering new troops and attacking Ancyra, he was defeated and captured by Trocundus
Trocundus
Flavius Appallius Illus Trocundus was a general of the Eastern Roman Empire, involved in the rise and fall of Emperor Basiliscus and the rebellion against Emperor Zeno.Trocundus was the brother of Illus, another Roman general, both from the region of Isauria....

, Illus' brother.

Revolt of Illus (484–488)



The commanding position and popular favour of Illus rendered him an object of suspicion, and Zeno in various ways sought to rid himself of him. Also 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 dowager Empress, was his enemy, and formed a plot against his life. Verina's attempt was defeated, and Zeno, equally jealous of her and of Illus, banished her at the instance of the latter, and confined her in the fort of Papurius
Papurius
Papurius or Papyrius was a fortress in Cilicia Campestris, near Tarsus.It was in this fortress that the usurper Marcian was held prisoner after his failed revolt in 479, and where Leontius and his general and king-maker Illus were besieged between 484 and 488 by the army of Emperor Zeno.- Sources...

. There is some doubt as to the time of these events also. Candidus
Candidus
In Latin, candidus/candida means "clear and white". Candidus became a common Roman cognomen. Candidus may also refer to:- Pen names :*Pen name of Alexander Campbell, Restoration Movement Leader*Pen-name of Loyalist Lt. Col...

 places the banishment of Verina before the revolt of Marcian, and Theodore Lector assigns as the cause of it her share in the revolt of Basiliscus. It is not unlikely, indeed, that this turbulent woman was twice banished, once before Marcian's revolt, for her connection with Basiliscus, and again after Marcian's revolt, for her plot against Illus.

From her prison she managed to interest her daughter Ariadne, the wife of Zeno, in her favour, and Ariadne endeavoured to obtain her release, first from Zeno, and then from Illus, to whom the Emperor referred her. Illus refused her request. Ariadne, like her mother, attempted to assassinate Illus. Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 ascribes her hatred to another cause: he says that Illus had infused jealous suspicions into Zeno's mind which had led Zeno to attempt to end her life, and that her knowledge of these things stimulated her to revenge. The assassin whom she employed failed to kill Illus; he was taken, and Zeno, who appears to have been privy to the affair, was unable to prevent his execution.

Illus — with his friend Pamprepius
Pamprepius
Pamprepius was a philosopher and a Pagan poet who rebelled against the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno....

, Leontius
Leontius (usurper)
Leontius was a general of the Eastern Roman Empire and claimant to the throne who led a rebellion against emperor Zeno in 484–488.- Biography :Leontius was of Syrian origin, coming from Dalisandus...

 and his brother Trocundus
Trocundus
Flavius Appallius Illus Trocundus was a general of the Eastern Roman Empire, involved in the rise and fall of Emperor Basiliscus and the rebellion against Emperor Zeno.Trocundus was the brother of Illus, another Roman general, both from the region of Isauria....

 — now retired from court, went first to Nicaea
Nicaea
Nicaea or Nikaia may be:*The ancient name of several places, including:** İznik, Turkey - formerly Nicaea capital of the Empire of Nicaea**Nice, France**Nicaea, Locris, a fortress city of the Locri Epicnemidii...

, and then, on pretence of change of air and of procuring the cure of his wound, into the East, where he was made magister militum. Having traversed Asia Minor they raised the standard of revolt in 484, when Illus declared Leontius as Emperor. Zeno sent an army to fight them, but Illus won, obtained possession of Papurius
Papurius
Papurius or Papyrius was a fortress in Cilicia Campestris, near Tarsus.It was in this fortress that the usurper Marcian was held prisoner after his failed revolt in 479, and where Leontius and his general and king-maker Illus were besieged between 484 and 488 by the army of Emperor Zeno.- Sources...

, released Verina, and induced her to crown Leontius at Tarsus.

In 485 Zeno sent against the rebels a fresh army, said to consist of Macedonians
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 and Scythians (Tillemont conjectures, not unreasonably, that these were Ostrogoths) under John the Hunchback
John the Hunchback
John the Hunchback or John Gibbo was a general and a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire.- Biography :John was a native of Selymbria, modern Silivri in Turkey....

, or, more probably, John the Scythian
John the Scythian
John the Scythian was a general and a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire who fought against the usurper Leontius and in the Isaurian War .- Biography :John was an officer of the East Roman army...

, and Theodoric the Amal
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, who was at this time consul. John defeated the rebels near Seleucia and drove them into the fort of Papurius where he blockaded them. After few months Trocundus died; the fort was taken only after four years of siege, by the treachery of Trocondus's brother-in-law, who had been sent for the purpose from Constantinople by Zeno, and Illus and Leontius were beheaded (488) and their heads sent to the Emperor.

Affairs with the Goths (474–487)


The aggressions of the two Ostrogoth
Ostrogoth
The Ostrogoths were a branch of the Goths , a Germanic tribe who developed a vast empire north of the Black Sea in the 3rd century AD and, in the late 5th century, under Theodoric the Great, established a Kingdom in Italy....

ic leaders, Theodoric the Amal (Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

), the son of Theodemir
Theodemir
Theodemir was king of the Ostrogoths of the Amal Dynasty, and father of Theodoric the Great. He had two "brothers" actually brothers-in-law named Walamir and Widimir. Theodemir was Arian, while his wife Erelieva was Catholic...

 and leader of the Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

n Ostrogoths, and 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...

, the leader of the Thracia
Thracia
Thracia is a Web-Based computer game created and developed by an exclusively Romanian team, part of Infotrend Consulting, and launched in 2009. At the time, it was the first endeavor of its kind. All browser games were text based, made up mostly of static content...

n Ostrogoths, had been a constant source of danger since 472. Although Zeno at times contrived to play them off against each other, they in turn were able to profit by his dynastic rivalries. It was only by offering them pay and high command that he kept them from attacking Constantinople itself.

At the death of Leo II
Leo II (emperor)
Leo II was Byzantine Emperor for less than a year in 474. He was the son of Zeno and Ariadne, and maternal grandson of Leo I and Verina. As Leo's closest male relative, he was named successor upon his grandfather's death. After taking his father as colleague, he died of an unknown disease about 10...

 (January 474) Theodoric Strabo rebelled against Zeno. His support was fundamental for the overthrowing of Zeno and the rise 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....

 to the Byzantine throne (475), but Theodoric was very upset by Basiliscus, so When Zeno returned to 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:...

 in 476 and defeated Basiliscus, Strabo is not reported to defend the city.

In 476/477, Zeno allied himself with Strabo's rival, Theodoric the Amal, and ordered him to attack Strabo. The leader of the Thracian Goths sent an embassy to the Emperor, offering peace and blaming the Moesian Theodoric. Zeno understood that this offering was hiding further conspiracies, and obtained that the Constantinople Senate and army declare Strabo a public enemy.

The plan of Zeno was to have the two Theodorics attack each other. He sent the Amal against Strabo, who supported the revolt of Marcian
Marcian (usurper)
Marcian was a member of the House of Leo and an usurper against Emperor Zeno in 479.- Biography :Marcian was a member of several Roman imperial families...

, with the promise of a huge Roman force as reinforcement (478). When Theodoric the Amal arrived through the mountains at Mount Soundis, he did not find the Roman reinforcement army he expected, but instead Theodoric Strabo's army, in a strongly fortified camp. The two Theodoric agreed to put forward a joint request to the Emperor, in order to extend to the south the settlement territory of the Ostrogoths in Moesia.

Zeno tried to divide the two Theodoric, bribing the Amal, who refused. The Imperial army obtained some initial successes, however Zeno did not capitalize upon his victory, and allowed the Amal to move westward in Thrace, plundering the territories as he went. With the Amal far away, Strabo accepted an agreement with Zeno: Strabo was to be given back his wealth, money to pay 13,000 soldiers, the command of two palatinae units, and the title once more of magister militum. However, the army of Theodoric Strabo, 30,000-men strong was still a menace for Zeno, who convinced the Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 to attack the Thracian Goths in their own base. Strabo defeated the Bulgars in 480/481, and moved towards Constantinople, but he had to deal with problems with his own men, so he could not capitalize upon his victory and was forced to return to Greece. On his way back, he died in an accident.

After Theodoric Strabo died in 481, the future Theodoric the Great became king of the entire Ostrogoth nation and began to be a source of trouble in the Balkan peninsula. Zeno allied to Theodoric, whom he appointed 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...

 praesentalis
and even consul for the year 484, the first time a barbarian who was not a citizen of the Empire reached such a high distinction. Zeno had Theodoric fight against 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 the usurper Leontius
Leontius (usurper)
Leontius was a general of the Eastern Roman Empire and claimant to the throne who led a rebellion against emperor Zeno in 484–488.- Biography :Leontius was of Syrian origin, coming from Dalisandus...

, besieging them at Papurius
Papurius
Papurius or Papyrius was a fortress in Cilicia Campestris, near Tarsus.It was in this fortress that the usurper Marcian was held prisoner after his failed revolt in 479, and where Leontius and his general and king-maker Illus were besieged between 484 and 488 by the army of Emperor Zeno.- Sources...

 in 484–488. However, in 486 Theodoric revolted again and attacked Constantinople, severing the city's water supply. Zeno bought a peace and agreed with Theodoric that the Ostrogoths should have gone to invade Italy and fight 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...

, who had allegedly supported Leontius, and to establish his new kingdom there (487). This all but eliminated the Germanic presence in the east.

Promulgation of the Henotikon (482)


In religious matter, Zeno is famous for his Henotikon
Henotikon
The Henotikon was issued by Byzantine emperor Zeno in 482, in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences between the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon and the miaphysites...

, "Act of Union", issued in 482 to mediate between Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

 and Miaphysite
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 opposing views about the nature of Christ
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

. The Chalcedonians recognised two natures (physis
Physis
Physis is a Greek theological, philosophical, and scientific term usually translated into English as "nature."In The Odyssey, Homer uses the word once , referring to the intrinsic way of growth of a particular species of plant. In the pre-Socratic philosophers it developed a complex of other...

) in Christ, the Miaphysites only one; the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 (451) had issued the Chalcedonian Creed
Chalcedonian Creed
The Confession of Chalcedon , also known as the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union or the Two-Nature Doctrine, was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 in Asia Minor. That Council of Chalcedon is one of the first seven Ecumenical Councils accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and many...

 and condemned the Miaphysite position, but the Miaphysites were still strong, especially in the Eastern provinces of the Empire, and the Patriarch of Alexandria
Patriarch of Alexandria
The Patriarch of Alexandria is the Archbishop of Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation of Pope , and did so earlier than that of the Bishop of Rome...

, Peter Mongus, was a Miaphysite. Supporting the Miaphysites was one of the mistakes made by 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....

, as the people 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:...

 was Chalcedonian, but Zeno needed the support of the Miaphysite provinces, Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Asia Minor; also the Patriarch of Constantinople
Patriarch of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church....

, Acacius
Patriarch Acacius of Constantinople
Acacius was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 471 to 489. Acacius was practically the first prelate throughout the Eastern Orthodoxy and renowned for ambitious participation in the Chalcedonian controversy....

, was interested in reducing the distance among the two positions.

Therefore, in 482 he issued the Henotikon, a document he had elaborated with the support of Acacius and addressed to the factions in Egypt. The edict affirmed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (i.e. the Creed of Nicaea completed at Constantinople) as affording a common, final and united symbol or expression of faith. All other symbola or mathemata were excluded; Eutyches
Eutyches
Eutyches was a presbyter and archimandrite at Constantinople. He first came to notice in 431 at the First Council of Ephesus, for his vehement opposition to the teachings of Nestorius; his condemnation of Nestorianism as heresy precipitated his being denounced as a heretic...

 and Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

 were unmistakably condemned in an anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

, while the twelve chapters of Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

  were accepted. The teaching of Chalcedon was not so much repudiated as passed over in silence; Jesus Christ was described as the "only-begotten Son of God [...] one and not two" and there was no explicit reference to the two natures.

The bishop of Rome, Pope Felix III
Pope Felix III
Pope Saint Felix III was pope from March 13, 483 to january 3, 492. His repudiation of the Henoticon is considered the beginning of the Acacian schism.-Biography:...

, refused to accept the document and excommunicated Acacius (484), thus beginning the Acacian schism
Acacian schism
The Acacian schism between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches lasted thirty-five years, from 484-519. It resulted from a drift in the leaders of Eastern Christianity toward Monophysitism, and Emperor Zeno's unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the parties with the Henotikon.-Chronology:In the...

, that lasted until 519.

In 488 the patriarch of Antioch, Peter the Fuller
Peter the Fuller
Peter Fullo was Patriarch of Antioch and Non-Chalcedonian.Peter received his surname from his former trade as a fuller of cloth. Tillemont Peter Fullo ("the Fuller") was Patriarch of Antioch (471–488) and Non-Chalcedonian.Peter received his surname from his former trade as a fuller of cloth....

 came to Constantinople to have his right on the Church of Cyprus confirmed. Zeno called the bishop of Cyprus, Anthemius, to answer the accusations. The bishop claimed that before his departure, he had had a vision of St. Barnabas
Barnabas
Barnabas , born Joseph, was an Early Christian, one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem. In terms of culture and background, he was a Hellenised Jew, specifically a Levite. Named an apostle in , he and Saint Paul undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts...

, in which the position of the tomb of the apostle had been revealed to him. In the tomb, Anthemius had found the relics of the apostle and a copy of the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

written in Hebrew by Barnabas himself. Zeno received the relics and the manuscript, and in exchange he proclaimed the autonomy of the Church of Cyprus.

In 489 Zeno closed the Persian school of Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

, by request of bishop Cyrus II of Edessa
Cyrus II of Edessa
Cyrus II of Edessa was the successor of the Saint Nonnus. As well as he was an anti-nestorian. He was closely related to the Patriarch of Antioch. He was the ambassador of the Church of Antioch...

, because it promoted Nestorian
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 teachings, and built a church in its place. The school relocated to its original home of Nisibis
Nisibis
Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...

, becoming again the School of Nisibis
School of Nisibis
The School of Nisibis , for a time absorbed into the School of Edessa, was an educational establishment in Nisibis, modern-day Turkey. It was an important spiritual center of the early Syriac Orthodox Church, and like Gundeshapur, is sometimes referred to as the world's first university. The...

, leading to a wave of Nestorian immigration into Persia.

Suppressing the Samaritan revolt (484)


According to Samaritan
Samaritan
The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism...

 sources, Zeno (whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently died son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. According to these same sources, Zeno was buried on Mount Gerizim.

Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the fingers of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Whitsun
Whitsun
Whitsun is the name used in the UK for the Christian festival of Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to 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...

, the dux
Dux
Dux is Latin for leader and later for Duke and its variant forms ....

 Palestinae
Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno. According to Procopius of Caesarea, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius
Procopius of Scythopolis
Procopius of Scythopolis is venerated as an early martyr and saint. Eusebius of Caesarea writes of his martyrdom, which occurred during the persecution of Diocletian, and states that “he was born at Jerusalem, but had gone to live in Scythopolis, where he held three ecclesiastical offices...

 in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.

Death and succession


Zeno died on April 9, 491, of dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 or of epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

, after ruling for 17 years and 2 months. No sons were to succeed him: Leo had died in 474, Zenon, the first son, in his youth, while living at court. Ariadne then chose a favoured member of the Imperial court, Anastasius
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

, to succeed Zeno, whose brother Longinus
Longinus (consul 486)
Flavius Longinus was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, brother of Emperor Zeno and twice consul .- Biography :Longinus came from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor...

 revolted, starting the Isaurian War
Isaurian War
The Isaurian War was a conflict that lasted from 492 to 497 and that was fought between the army of the Eastern Roman Empire and the rebels of Isauria. At the end of the war, Eastern Emperor Anastasius I regained the control of the Isauria region and the leaders of the revolt were killed.-...

.

According to a popular legend recorded by two ancient historians, Zeno was buried alive after becoming insensible out of drinking or of an illness; he called for help, but Ariadne
Ariadne (empress)
Aelia Ariadne was the Empress consort of Zeno and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire.-Family:Ariadne was a daughter of Leo I and Verina. Her mother was a sister of Basiliscus....

 did not allow anyone to open the sarcophagus.

Zeno in culture


Zeno was a player of Tabula
Tabula
Tabula was a board game in the tables family, and is generally thought to be the direct ancestor of modern backgammon.The earliest description of tabula is in an epigram of Byzantine Emperor Zeno , given by Agathias of Myrine , who describes a game in which Zeno goes from a strong position to a...

, a game related to modern backgammon
Backgammon
Backgammon is one of the oldest board games for two players. The playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice, and players win by removing all of their pieces from the board. There are many variants of backgammon, most of which share common traits...

. In 480 he had a hand that was so unlucky that he wrote an epigram to record it; Agathias
Agathias
Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus , of Myrina , an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor , was a Greek poet and the principal historian of part of the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian I between 552 and 558....

 reproduced it half a century later and this allowed the game to be reconstructed in the 19th century. The game is considered the ancestor of backgammon
Backgammon
Backgammon is one of the oldest board games for two players. The playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice, and players win by removing all of their pieces from the board. There are many variants of backgammon, most of which share common traits...

 and has similar rules. Zeno, who was white, had a stack of six checkers, three stacks of two checkers and three blots, checkers that stand alone on a point and are therefore in danger of being put outside the board by an incoming opponent checker. Zeno threw the three dice with which the game was played and obtained 2, 5 and 6. The white and black checkers were so distributed on the points that the only way to use all of the three results, as required by the game rules, was to break the three stacks of two checkers into blots, thus ruining the game for Zeno.

Zeno is the protagonist of the theatrical drama in Latin language Zeno, composed in 1641 circa by the Jesuit play-writer Joseph Simons and performed in 1643 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, at the Jesuit's English College. On this Latin Zeno is modelled a Greek anonymous drama, belonging to the so-called Cretan Theatre, written and performed at Zakynthos
Zakynthos
Zakynthos , also Zante, the other form often used in English and in Italian , is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It covers an area of ...

 in 1682–1683, which has Zeno buried alive and his brother Longinus
Longinus (consul 486)
Flavius Longinus was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, brother of Emperor Zeno and twice consul .- Biography :Longinus came from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor...

 executed.

The play Romulus the Great (1950), by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Friedrich Dürrenmatt was a Swiss author and dramatist. He was a proponent of epic theatre whose plays reflected the recent experiences of World War II. The politically active author's work included avant-garde dramas, philosophically deep crime novels, and often macabre satire...

, has Zeno as one of its characters. The plot is loosely based on history; here Zeno flees to Italy and tries to convince Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus , was the last Western Roman Emperor, reigning from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476...

 to unite their forces and fight together, but his plan fails. Dürrenmatt's Zeno is an Emperor oppressed by the Byzantine ceremonial.

Primary sources


The events of Zeno's reign are quite obscure; only one continuous account of his reign has been preserved, by Evagrius Scholasticus
Evagrius Scholasticus
Evagrius Scholasticus was a Syrian scholar and intellectual living in the 6th century AD, and an aide to the patriarch Gregory of Antioch. His surviving work, Ecclesiastical History, comprises a six-volume collection concerning the Church's history from the First Council of Ephesus to Maurice’s...

, in his Historia Ecclesiastica (Chapter 3).
Other sources are:
  • Life of Daniel the Stylite
  • Suda
    Suda
    The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

  • Cedrenus, A concise history of the world
  • 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...

    , Bizantiaka
  • 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...

    , Chronographia
  • Procopius of Caesarea, De Aedificiis
  • Theophanes the Confessor
    Theophanes the Confessor
    Saint Theophanes Confessor was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy, who became a monk and chronicler. He is venerated on March 12 in the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church .-Biography:Theophanes was born in Constantinople of wealthy and noble iconodule parents: Isaac,...

    , Chronicle
  • Joannes Zonaras
    Joannes Zonaras
    Ioannes Zonaras was a Byzantine chronicler and theologian, who lived at Constantinople.Under Emperor Alexios I Komnenos he held the offices of head justice and private secretary to the emperor, but after Alexios' death, he retired to the monastery of St Glykeria, where he spent the rest of his...

    , Epitome Historiarum

Secondary sources


For a discussion of recent scholarship on the life of Zeno until Aspar's death, see:
  • Brian Croke, "Dynasty and Ethnicity: Emperor Leo and the Eclipse of Aspar", Chiron 35 (2005), 147–203.


An account of the reign of Zeno after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, see:
  • Stephen Williams, J.G.P. Friell, The Rome that did not fall: the survival of the East in the fifth century, CRC Press, 1999, ISBN 0203982312.

External links