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Governare e riformare l’impero al momento della sua divisione : Oriente, Occidente, Illirico

 | 
Umberto Roberto
, 
Laura Mecella

Parte terza - I Balcani e l’Illirico

Aspar and his phoideratoi : John Malalas on a special relationship

Avshalom Laniado

Texte intégral

  • 1 Seeck 1920, p. 354.
  • 2 Seeck 1896a, col. 607-610 ; Seeck 1920, p. 353 and 356. For Aspar's family connections, see Mathis (...)
  • 3 Bury 1923, I, p. 316-317 ; Vernadsky 1941, p. 58 (according to this historian, Aspar's retinue con (...)
  • 4 Scott 1976, p. 61.
  • 5 Croke 2005, p. 147-203.
  • 6 Croke 2005, p. 181. For Aspar as magister militum praesentalis, see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 692-695. 

1There has always been a broad consensus according to which Aspar, an East Roman general of Alan origin murdered in Constantinople in 471, was an exceptionally powerful figure for an exceptionally long time, but scholars still disagree on the question of his power base, as well as on some details of his life and career. According to Otto Seeck, Aspar did not owe his eminent position to his military exploits, which did not justify his reputation1 ; he owed it to the loyalty of a military force of Goths and Huns who were personally committed to him, as well as to a set of family connections which turned him into the leader of a military aristocracy whose continuity was greater than that of the imperial dynasties of the time2. While Seeck seems to have accorded equal weight to each of the two elements which he singled out as the sources of Aspar's power, many historians have put an emphasis on the former one, without discarding the latter3. In a sharp contrast, Leighton R. Scott deemed it « really unnecessary » to « explain in terms of private armies, personal retainers (οἰκία), Gothic scholae, or foederati, why Aspar would appear with other barbarians from time to time », since barbarians were « the very best material » in elite units under his command as magister militum praesentalis4. Some years ago, Brian Croke insisted on the dynastic aspect of the conflict between Aspar, the Emperor Leo I (457-474) and his Isaurian son-in-law (and future emperor) Zeno, at the expense of the ethnic one, which he rejected altogether5. Besides, Croke argued that the ‘foundation-stone’ of Aspar's power under Leo I was his position as a senior magister militum praesentalis6. In that case, however, this emperor would have relieved him of his command instead of having him treacherously murdered in the imperial palace. As Aspar's tenure of the magisterium militum praesentale hardly explains his exceptionally powerful position, it is advisable to revert to the two elements pointed out by Seeck.

  • 7 She was either his sister or his aunt : see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 930, n. 57, with further bibliogr (...)
  • 8 Siebigs 2010, I, p. 477-480.
  • 9 For the problem of the date, see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 930-937.
  • 10 Heather 1991, p. 259-260.
  • 11 Procop., Arc. IV, 13 (J. Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, III, Leipzig, 19632, p. 26).
  • 12 According to Schmitt 1994, p. 171, Belisarius' buccellarii were an elite force rather than a perso (...)

2In his recent monograph on the early reign of Leo I, Gereon Siebigs combined both the dynastic and the ethnic factors in arguing that Aspar enhanced his position in an unprecedented manner for an East Roman magister militum through an alliance with the Gothic chieftain Theoderic Strabo and his marriage to a relative of the latter7. Thus a Gothic force estimated by him at about 5000 warriors was put at Aspar's disposal8. In making Theoderic Strabo the leader of the Goths in Thrace already in the 450s, and in dating Aspar's third marriage as late as 458/4599, Siebigs disagrees with Peter Heather, who argued that Theoderic Strabo was not the leader of the Thracian Goths before 471/473, and that Aspar married his aunt much earlier10. Whatever the facts were, one may doubt whether an additional force of about 5000 warriors could have secured Aspar's position to the point of making it impossible for Leo I to remove him from his military command, except through murder. A comparison may be made here with Justinian I (527-565), who did not hesitate to have Belisarius replaced, despite his successes in the battlefield and an even larger retinue than the one postulated for Aspar by Siebigs. What is more, the murder of Aspar was followed by a revolt led by a certain Ostrys, while the 7000-strong retinue of Belisarius, far from reacting in such a manner to his dismissal, was peacefully dismantled11. This would suggest that Belisarius' relationship with his retinue was basically different from that of Aspar's with his12. Some confirmation for this assumption seems to be found in the account of Aspar's murder and Ostrys' revolt given by the 6th-century chronicler John Malalas.

John Malalas on Aspar's retinue

  • 13 For John Malalas and his work, see Croke 1990, p. 1-25 ; Treadgold 2007, p. 235-246 ; Beaucamp 201 (...)

3The Chronicle of John Malalas, the first version of which was written in Antioch ca. 53013, offers the most detailed account of Aspar's murder, as well as the earliest extant evidence for Ostrys' revolt. It is transmitted by the 12th-century codex Bodleianus Baroccianus 182, the only manuscript of this Chronicle, but this is an abridgement of the original version. A fuller account, no doubt closer to the unabridged original, is preserved by the 10th-century Excerpta de Insidiis. Here is the text of both versions :

Bodleianus Baroccianus 182 

  • 14 Io. Mal., Chron. XIV, 40-41 (I. Thurn, Berlin and New York, 2000 [Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzanti (...)

Ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς αὐτοῦ βασιλείας ὑπονοήσας τυραννίδα μελετᾶν Ἄσπαρα τὸν πατρίκιον ὡς πρῶτον τῆς συγκλήτου ἐφόνευσεν ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ ἔσω καὶ Ἀρδαβούριον καὶ Πατρίκιον τοὺς υἱοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐν κομβέντῳ, καὶ αὐτοὺς ὄντας συγκλητικούς, κατακόψας τὰ σώματα αὐτῶν εἰς κανθήλια ἐκβαλὼν ἐκ τοῦ παλατίου. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει ταραχή· εἶχαν γὰρ πλῆθος Γότθων καὶ κόμητας καὶ ἄλλους παῖδας καὶ παραμένοντας αὐτοῖς ἀνθρώπους πολλούς. ὅθεν εἷς Γότθος τῶν διαφερόντων τῷ αὐτῷ Ἄσπαρι ὀνόματι Ὄστρυς, κόμης, εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ παλάτιον τοξεύων μετὰ ἄλλων Γότθων· καὶ συμβολῆς γεναμένης [sic] μετὰ τῶν ἐξκουβιτώρων καὶ αὐτοῦ Ὄστρυ κόμητος πολλοὶ ἐκόπησαν. καὶ μεσασθεὶς εἶδεν, ὅτι ἡττήθη, καὶ ἔφυγε λαβὼν τὴν παλλακίδα Ἄσπαρος, Γότθαν εὐπρεπῆ καὶ εὔπορον, ἥτις ἔφιππος ἐξῆλθεν ἅμα αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τὴν Θρᾴκην. καὶ ἐπραίδευσε τὰ χωρία. περὶ οὗ ἔκραξαν οἱ Βυζάντιοι· νεκροῦ φίλος οὐδεὶς εἰ μὴ μόνος Ὄστρυς. Ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς βασιλεὺς Λέων διωγμὸν μέγαν ἐποίησε τῶν Ἀρειανῶν Ἐξακιονιτῶν διὰ Ἄσπαρα καὶ Ἀρδαβούριον, διατάξεις πανταχοῦ καταπέμψας μὴ ἔχειν αὐτοὺς ἐκκλησίας ἢ συνάγεσθαι14

Excerpta de Insidiis

  • 15 Excerpta de Insidiis 31 (C. de Boor, Excerpta Historica iussu Imp. Constantini Porphyrogeniti Conf (...)

Ὅτι Ἄσπαρ ὁ πατρίκιος πολλὰ κακὰ ἐνεδείκνυτο Λέοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ. θαρρῶν γὰρ εἰς τὴν Γοθτικὴν χεῖρα, ἣν εἶχε, ταῦτα ἔπραττεν. ἐν οἷς χρόνοις παρεκάλει Ἄσπαρ ὁ πατρίκιος ἐπὶ τῷ ἐπιγαμβρεῦσαι αὐτῷ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ Πατρίκιον ὄντα Καίσαρα. τοῦ δὲ δήμου ἐνστάντος καὶ τῶν μοναχῶν καὶ τῶν κληρικῶν, ἔνδοσιν ἔλαβε τὰ τοῦ γάμου. ὑπονοήσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Λέων τυραννίδα μελετᾶν Ἄσπαρα τὸν πατρίκιον ἐφόνευσεν ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ ἔσω καὶ αὐτὸν καὶ Ἀρδαβούριον καὶ Πατρίκιον τὸν Καίσαρα τοὺς υἱοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐν κομέντῳ [sic] κατακόψας τὰ σώματα αὐτῶν, εἰς κανθήλια ἐκβαλὼν ἐκ τοῦ παλατίου. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει ταραχὴ μεγάλη. εἶχε γάρ, ὡς εἴρηται, πλῆθος Γότθων καὶ κόμητας πολλοὺς καὶ ἄλλους παῖδας καὶ παραμένοντας αὐτοῖς ἀνθρώπους, οὓς ἐκάλεσε φοιδεράτους, ἀφ'ὧν καὶ αἱ φοιδερατικαὶ ἄννωναι κατάγονται. εἷς δὲ Γότθος τῶν διαφερόντων τῷ Ἄσπαρι, ὄνομα Ὄστρυς, κόμης, εἰσῆλθεν ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ τοξεύων μετὰ ἄλλων πολλῶν Γότθων· καὶ συμβολῆς γενομένης μετὰ τῶν ἐκσκουβιτόρων καὶ τῶν αὐτοῦ πολλοὶ Ὄστροι ἐκόπησαν. καὶ μεσασθείς, εἰδὼς ὅτι ἡττήθη, ἔφυγε καὶ λαβὼν τὴν παλλακίδα Ἄσπαρος εὐπρεπῆ καὶ εὔπορον Γότθισαν, ἥτις ἔφιππος ἅμα αὐτῷ ἐξῆλθεν ἐπὶ τὴν Θρᾴκην. καὶ ἐπραίδευσε χωρία πολλά. περὶ οὗ ἔκραξαν οἱ Βυζάντιοι· νεκροῦ φίλος οὐδεὶς εἰ μὴ Ὄστρυς μόνος. ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Λέων διωγμὸν ἐποίησε τῶν Ἀρειανῶν Ἐξακιονιτῶν διὰ Ἄσπαρα καὶ Ἀρδαβούριον καὶ διατάξεις πανταχοῦ κατέπεμψεν μὴ ἔχειν αὐτοὺς ἐκκλησίας ἢ συνάγεσθαι ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ15.

  • 16 Ostrys is not a Gothic name, as pointed out by Heather 1991, p. 260 and n. 48 ; it could be of Ira (...)
  • 17 Preisigke 1924-1931, I, s.v. διαφέρω (7), col. 367-368.
  • 18 Schmitt 1994, p. 166, n. 166.
  • 19 The words ἄλλους παῖδας are translated as « weitere Söhne » by Thurn - Meier 2009, p. 383. However (...)
  • 20 Seeck 1896b, p. 106.
  • 21 Basilicorum Libri LX, Series B : Scholia, LX, 18, 29 (= Cod. Just. 9, 12, 10), scholion 3 (H.J. Sc (...)
  • 22 Preisigke 1924-1931, II, s.v. παραμένω, col. 252 ; Sarris 2006, p. 167-168.
  • 23 Cf. Preisigke 1924-1931, I, s.v. ἄνθρωπος (3), col. 125 ; for a later period, see Patlagean 2007, (...)
  • 24 For this definition, see Glare 1968-1982, II, s.vcomes, p. 359.
  • 25 Seeck 1900, col. 622-625.
  • 26 On the comitiva as an official honorary rank, see Seeck 1900, col. 629-636 ; Jones 1964, I, p. 104 (...)
  • 27 Maur., Strat. I, 3 (G.T. Dennis, Das Strategikon des Maurikios, Wien, 1981 [Corpus Fontium Histori (...)

4The retinue of Aspar (note the singular εἶχε in the Excerpta de Insidiis) – or Aspar and his sons (note the plural εἶχαν in the Bodleianus Baroccianus 182) –, is reported to have consisted of four elements : a large number of Goths, many comites, παῖδες, and παραμένοντες ἄνθρωποι. The Goths themselves are said to ‘belong’ to Aspar (εἷς δὲ Γότθος τῶν διαφερόντων τῷ Ἄσπαρι, ὄνομα Ὄστρυς16), as clearly indicated by the present participle of the verb διαφέρω, typically used here with the dative17. According to Seeck, both παῖδες (in this context ‘valets’18, rather than ‘slaves’ or ‘sons’19) and παραμένοντες ἄνθρωποι designate here the so-called bucellarii20. As far as the παραμένοντες ἄνθρωποι are concerned, some confirmation for this identification is provided by a legal source which defines the bucellarii as παραμένοντες στρατιῶται21, though it should be pointed out that the use of the present participle of the verb παραμένω (habitually with the dative, as in the passages just quoted) for people who are in the service of others is not limited to the military sphere22. This was the case with ἄνθρωπος as well23. As for the Latin term comes, several possibilities are to be considered. Its basic meaning is « one who goes with or accompanies another »24, hence its use for simple members of retinues of powerful persons, both Romans and non Romans, in Latin literary texts25. Since the reign of Constantine I (306-337), comes is an honorary rank bestowed by the emperor on certain individuals26. Later on, it is a technical term for the commander of a military unit27.

  • 28 For the Latin vocabulary used by this author, see Koerting 1879 ; Wolf 1911-1912, I, p. 73-74 ; Ja (...)
  • 29 Seeck 1896b, p. 107-109 ; Siebigs 2010, II, p. 763-764 and n. 9.
  • 30 Grosse 1920, p. 287 and n. 2.
  • 31 Koerting 1879, p. 13, s.vcomes ; Io. Mal., Chron. (p. 487-488 Thurn), s.v. κόμης.
  • 32 Flusin 1996, p. 22-23. The word 'prefect' is used in the translation by Doran 1995, c. 125, p. 192

5As John Malalas, whose Chronicle abounds in Latinisms28, was not bothered by the concern of some of his contemporaries to avoid non-Attic and foreign vocabulary, it could be argued, following Seeck and Siebigs, that the plural comites stands here for simple members of Aspar's retinue29, or even for ‘private soldiers’, as assumed by Robert Grosse30. On the other hand, the fact that comes as an honorary rank is widespread in early Byzantine literary texts, as in John Malalas' Chronicle31, seems to argue for the second option. As Aspar is reported to have given the name of phoideratoi to the whole of his retinue, it is tempting to recognize in these comites allied chieftains who were given the comitiva by the emperor as part of the conclusion of a foedus. However, these comites are said to have been numerous, which points to the third option. This brings to mind a hagiographical text according to which the magister militum per Orientem Ardabur (Aspar's elder son) was accompanied by 21 comites when attending the funeral of Simeon the Stylite, in 45932. Thus the numerous comites mentioned by John Malalas would have been military commanders under the authority of Aspar (though he is not recorded as a magister militum in the passages quoted above).

  • 33 For the use of the reflexive pronoun in John Malalas' Chronicle, see Wolf 1911-1912, I, p. 43-44 ; (...)

6That the comites mentioned by John Malalas as an element of Aspar's retinue were military commanders and not simple followers or ‘private soldiers’ is strongly suggested by the personal pronoun αὐτοῖς (παραμένοντας αὐτοῖς ἀνθρώπους), which occurs both in the Bodleianus Baroccianus 182 and in the Excerpta de Insidiis. It cannot refer to Aspar (with or without his sons), for in this case a reflexive pronoun (ἑαυτοῖς in the Bodleianus Baroccianus 182 ; ἑαυτῷ in the Excerpta de Insidiis, for Aspar alone) should have been used33. As it is unlikely that παῖδες (valets) had people in their service, the personal pronoun αὐτοῖς must refer here to the comites.

Aspar and the Goths « whom he called phoideratoi »

  • 34 Patzig 1891, p. 13-14 ; Benjamin 1892, p. 3-4 ; Bury 1923, I, p. 43, n. 2.
  • 35 Stein 1949-1959, II, p. 87-88, n. 3.
  • 36 Scharf 2001, p. 45-61. For this book, see the review by A. Laniado, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, (...)
  • 37 Scharf 2001, p. 54-55 ; cf. John of Antioch, ed. trans. U. Roberto, Ioannis Antiocheni Fragmenta e (...)
  • 38 Cf. Flusin 2004, p. 130.
  • 39 Laniado, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 99, 2006, p. 268.

7In the version preserved by the Excerpta de Insidiis, the description of Aspar's retinue concludes with two subordinate clauses which have no counterpart in either the Bodleianus Baroccianus 182 or in the remainder of the indirect tradition : « οὓς ἐκάλεσε (scil. Ἄσπαρ) φοιδεράτους, ἀφ'ὧν καὶ αἱ φοιδερατικαὶ ἄννωναι κατάγονται ». According to some scholars, this would be an interpolation, not a genuine part of the fuller version of John Malalas' Chronicle34. However, Ernst Stein observed that « ce n'est pas là une raison de les négliger car en général les renseignements attribuables à l'interpolateur présumé sont excellents »35. More recently, Ralf Scharf argued, to my mind unconvincingly, that there were no foederati in the Eastern Roman Empire before the reign of Zeno (474-491)36, a conclusion which implies that the words « οὓς ἐκάλεσε φοιδεράτους » are anachronistic for the times of Aspar. Scharf believes that the author of this presumed interpolation was inspired by a fragment of John of Antioch's historical work, according to which the future mutineer Vitalian (513/514-515) was deprived of the phoideratikai annonai (ἀφαιρεθείς <τε> γὰρ <τῆς> σιτήσεως δημοσίας τῶν καλουμένων φοιδερατικῶν ἀνώνων)37. This skeptical view is difficult to accept, for a gloss on the phoideratikai annonai would have been required only if John Malalas had had something to say about the phoideratoi themselves. Thus there is no reason to doubt that the first subordinate clause (οὓς ἐκάλεσε φοιδεράτους) was part of the fuller version of the Chronicle38, and there is no cogent reason to reject as spurious the second one (ἀφ'ὧν καὶ αἱ φοιδερατικαὶ ἄννωναι κατάγονται)39.

  • 40 Stein 1949-1959, II, p. 87-88, n. 3.
  • 41 For these regular troops, see Maspero 1912b, p. 97-109 ; Haldon 1984, p. 100-116 and 245-251 ; Sch (...)
  • 42 E.g. Io. Mal., Chron. VIII, 18 (p. 154 Thurn) (cities founded by Seleucus Nicator).
  • 43 E.g. Io. Mal., Chron. VII, 5 (p. 136 Thurn) (Romulus and the so-called circus factions).
  • 44 E.g. Io. Mal., Chron. XIII, 8 (p. 246 Thurn) (Constantine I builds in Constantinople a basilica an (...)
  • 45 Io. Mal., Chron. XIII, 46 (p. 270 Thurn) : « Ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Ἀρκάδιος ἐποίησε καὶ ἴδιον ἀριθμόν, οὓς ἐκ (...)
  • 46 For the key role played by late Roman magistri militum in the conclusion of foedera, especially un (...)

8 The words « οὓς ἐκάλεσε φοιδεράτους » are preceded by the four components of the retinue. Despite the lack of an indefinite pronoun such as πάντας/ἅπαντας before the verb ἐκάλεσε, it is unlikely that the last component, namely that which consists of the παραμένοντες ἄνθρωποι, is the only antecedent of the relative pronoun οὕς, and there is no reason to doubt that the plural phoideratoi also refers here to the Goths, the only ethnonym in this passage. It follows that Aspar gave the name of phoideratoi to the whole of his retinue. According to Stein, « Si le passage n'est pas aussi clair qu'on le souhaiterait, il n'en semble pas moins indiquer que c'est Aspar qui donna le nom de fédérés à des gens qu'auparavant on ne désignait pas ainsi, et qui par conséquent ne sauraient guère être que les premiers fédérés de style nouveau »40. As these « fédérés de style nouveau » were regular elite troops which are not attested as such before the early 6th century41, it becomes obvious that John Malalas either committed an anachronism or attributed to Aspar an act quite different from the one postulated by Stein. In fact, John Malalas often uses the verb καλέω for instances in which a ruler officially gives a name to a city or a province42, to an institution43, to a building or a monument44, or even to a military unit45. The frequency of this use in his Chronicle implies that, in this author's mind, Aspar gave the name of phoideratoi to his retinue following an official act. As phoideratos is a loan word whose original meaning in Latin is ‘ally’, this act may well have been a foedus concluded by Aspar with a foreign group on behalf of an emperor46.


  • 47 Theoph., Chron. A.M. 5931 (C. de Boor, I, Leipzig, 1883, p. 94, 19-23) : « Γότθοι δὲ Πανονίαν ἔσχο (...)
  • 48 Croke 1977, p. 358-365 (arguing for 421) ; Heather 1991, p. 262 and n. 53 ; Schwarcz 1992, p. 56.
  • 49 Siebigs 2010, II, p. 928-930.
  • 50 Siebigs 2010, II, p. 686.
  • 51 Priscus, fr. 1-1.1 (P. Carolla, Priscus Panita. Excerpta et Fragmenta, Berlin, 2008, p. 1-3).

9As pointed out above, Siebigs argues that Aspar reached the peak of his power through an alliance with Theoderic Strabo, yet the words « οὓς ἐκάλεσε φοιδεράτους » suggest that a foedus in which he presumably acted as the delegate of an emperor could have played an important role in his relationship with the Goths. In that case, it is tempting to look for a possible date for such a foedus. Scholars still disagree on the circumstances of the arrival in Thrace of a group of Goths whose most famous leader was Theoderic Strabo (from 471/473, if not earlier, until his death in 481). Some rely on a controversial passage in the Chronicle of Theophanes47, and place this event in the 420s48, while Siebigs, who opts for the mid-450s, considers the settlement of these Goths in Thrace one of the outcomes of the dissolution of Attila's empire49. At the same time, Siebigs says that Aspar maintained very close relations with the Goths settled in Thrace throughout his life50. Provided the arrival of these Goths in Thrace was the outcome of a foedus, the 420s are to be preferred to the 450s. In fact, the latter possibility falls within the chronological framework of the lost historical work of Priscus of Panium, whose earliest datable fragments deal with the 430s51, and it can be safely assumed that the compilers of the Excerpta de Legationibus would not have left out evidence for a foedus concluded under Marcian (450-457), or in the first years of Leo I.

  • 52 Candidus, ed. trans. C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, Paris, 1851, p. 135 ; ed. tr (...)
  • 53 For this usurper and his defeat, see Seeck 1920, p. 90-97 ; Bury 1923, I, p. 221-225 ; Stein 1949- (...)
  • 54 Socr., H.E. VII, 23 (G.Ch. Hansen, Sokrates Kirchengeschichte, Berlin, 1995, p. 370-372) ; Philost (...)
  • 55 Philost., H.E. XII, 13 (p. 149 Bidez).
  • 56 Supra n. 47.
  • 57 For some suggestions, see Demandt 1970, col. 748 ; Martindale 1980, s.v. Aspar, p. 165-166.

10According to Photius' summary of the lost historical work of Candidus the Isaurian, Aspar's military career began in his youth52.  In 425 he defeated the Western usurper John (423-425)53, and so became the hero of an expedition initially led by his father Ardabur, not by himself54. According to the church historian Philostorgius, Ardabur and Aspar passed through Pannonia and Illyricum (τούς τε Παίονας καὶ τοὺς Ἰλλυριοὺς διελάσαντες) on their way to Italy55, and so crossed the area in which, according to Theophanes56, the Goths dwelt before they moved to Thrace. Though Aspar's exact titles cannot be ascertained for the 420s57, the prestige he gained in the expedition against the usurper John surely made him suitable for fulfilling the role of an imperial delegate in the conclusion of a foedus. Thus he may have been involved in the settlement of a group of Goths in Thrace as early as the 420s. The chronology of the first occurrence of the Latin term foederatus in a Greek text does not contradict such an early dating.

Some Remarks on foederatus as a loanword in Greek58

  • 58 For foederatus as a loan word in Greek, see in detail Laniado 2015a, p. 42-80.
  • 59 Meursius 1614, s.v. φοιδεράτοι, p. 603-604.
  • 60 Du Cange 1688, s.v. φοιδεράτοι, col. 1686.
  • 61 Mommsen 1889, p. 218 and 234 ; cf. Grosse 1920, p. 86.
  • 62 See, for instance, Sophocles 1914, s.v. φοιδερᾶτος, p. 1148 (confederate, ally) ; Lampe 1961, s.v. (...)
  • 63 Phoideratos is wrongly considered an adjective by Avotins 1992, p. 226.
  • 64 For this definition, see Horn 1930, p. 6-7.

11In the early 17th century, Ian van Meurs (1579-1639) understood the plural φοιδεράτοι as the designation of a certain category of soldiers (militum genus), and pointed out that they were Goths (erant autem Gothi)59. He was followed by Charles Dufresne Du Cange (1610-1688), who included the following remark in the relevant entry of his Glossarium : ita appellati Gotthi asciti a Romanis in Foederatos60. Towards the end of the 19th century, Theodor Mommsen argued that ‘foederati’ and ‘Goths’ were practically the same thing for the Byzantines, and that the use of foederatus as a loan word in Greek was restricted to Constantinople61. Unfortunately, these observations were not adopted by 20th-century lexicographers, who ascribed to foederatus as a loan word in Greek the same meaning as that of the original Latin term62. In fact, there are some differences between the two : while foederatus in Latin can be either a noun or an adjective, it is always a noun in the masculine gender in documents and literary texts written in Greek63. Moreover, foederatus in Latin – but not in Greek – is a general term for allies who owe their status to a foedus societatis concluded with the Romans64. Besides, the circumstances under which foederatus was introduced into the Greek language still need to be clarified, for there was no dearth of equivalent terms such as ἔνορκος, ἔνσπονδος, ἐνσύνθηκος, ὁμόσπονδος, ὑπόσπονδος and σύμμαχος. 

  • 65 Schulz 1993, p. 69-70.
  • 66 One of the letters of Nilus of Ancyra, who died ca. 430, is addressed to a certain phoideratos cal (...)
  • 67 Wiemer 2009, p. 31-32 and n. 38.

12According to Raimund Schulz, these Greek terms were too imprecise to convey the special status (Sonderstellung) of the Goths settled on imperial soil following the foedus concluded with them in 382, hence the need to adopt this Latin term65. However, this explanation is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the first occurrence of foederatus in a Greek text turns up almost half a century later, in the historical work of Olympiodorus of Thebes. Leaving aside an occurrence of dubious authenticity and date in the correspondence of Nilus of Ancyra66, the second one is provided by Malchus of Philadelphia, whose lost historical work was no doubt written under Anastasius I (491-518)67. Here is the beginning of his account of an embassy sent to Zeno in 477, six years after Aspar's murder :

  • 68 Malchus of Philadelphia, fr. 11, ed. trans. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, p. 119 ; (...)

Ὅτι ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς ἔτει ἐπὶ Ζήνωνος πρέσβεις ἦλθον ἐκ Θρᾴκης τῶν ὑποσπόνδων Γότθων, οὓς δὴ καὶ φοιδεράτους οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι καλοῦσιν, ἀξιοῦντες Ζήνωνα Θευδερίχῳ σπείσασθαι τῷ παιδὶ Τριαρίου68.

  • 69 See, for instance, Cesa 1984, p. 311.
  • 70 Liebeschuetz 1990, p. 36, n. 41.
  • 71 See the translation by Blockley, op. cit., p. 421 : « In the following year envoys came to Zeno fr (...)

13It is often inferred from this fragment that Malchus regards ὑπόσπονδος as the equivalent of the Latin term foederatus69, while Wolfgang Liebeschuetz believes that ‘federates’ and ‘Goths’ are here synonymous70. However, the accusative plural φοιδεράτους corresponds here to the genitive plural ὑποσπόνδων Γότθων, not to ὑποσπόνδων alone71. As the object of this embassy was to beg Zeno to make a treaty (σπείσασθαι) with Theoderic Strabo, it is obvious that there was no valid foedus between them, and that the hypospondoi Gotthoi mentioned by Malchus were not allies (foederati in Latin) of the empire at that moment. An elegant way to solve these problems would be to assume that the plural phoideratoi is used here as the nickname of a group, not as a general term. In that case, this was surely not a recent loan word, for some time had to elapse before it could acquire such a specific meaning in Greek. At any rate, there is nothing far-fetched in the idea that a general term could evolve into a nickname for a particular group. An interesting parallel is in fact provided by Procopius' words on the Moors of Kidame (province of Tripolitania ; nowadays Ghadames in Libya) :

  • 72 Procop., Aed. VI, 3, 10-11 (J. Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, IV, Leipzig, 19642, p. 17 (...)

ἐνταῦθά τε Μαυρούσιοι ᾤκηνται Ῥωμαίων ἔνσπονδοι ἐκ παλαιοῦ ὄντες· οἵπερ ἅπαντες πεισθέντες Ἰουστινιανῷ βασιλεῖ, δόγματι τῷ Χριστιανῶν ἐθελούσιοι προσεχώρησαν. Πακᾶτοι (mss. πάκατοι) δὲ οὗτοι τανῦν οἱ Μαυρούσιοι ἐπικαλοῦνται, ἐπεὶ πρὸς Ῥωμαίους ἀεὶ σπονδὰς ἔχουσι· πάκεν γὰρ τὴν εἰρήνην τῇ Λατίνων καλοῦσι φωνῇ72.

  • 73 To Malchus' fragment 11 and John Malalas' description of Aspar's retinue, one should add Procop., (...)
  • 74 Suda, Φ 781 (A. Adler, Suidae Lexicon, IV, Leipzig, 1935, p. 769) : « Φοιδεράτοι· οὕτω καλοῦσι Ῥωμ (...)
  • 75 Wolfram 1987, p. 11.
  • 76 In the 6th century, some Heruls were recruited as phoideratoi, but these were by now regular troop (...)

14It could hardly be a coincidence that in Greek sources for the 5th-century Eastern Roman empire, phoideratos is closely associated with the Goths73. It refers once to the ‘Scyths’74, an ethnonym often used for Goths in literary texts75, but never to any other people76. On the other hand, foederatus is not associated with a particular ethnonym in the 5th-century Western Roman Empire, as is borne out by its very first occurrence in a Greek text, the lost historical work of Olympiodorus of Thebes. Here is the relevant passage, as summarized by Photius :

  • 77 Olympiodorus, fr. 7, ed. trans. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, p. 59 ; ed. trans. B (...)

Ὅτι τὸ Βουκελλάριος ὄνομα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ὁνωρίου ἐφέρετο κατὰ στρατιωτῶν οὐ μόνον Ῥωμαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ Γότθων τινῶν· ὡς δ'αὔτως καὶ τὸ [scil. ὄνομα] φοιδεράτων κατὰ διαφόρου καὶ συμμιγοῦς ἐφέρετο πλήθους77.

  • 78 See, for instance, Maspero 1912b, p. 97 ; Liebeschuetz 1986, II, p. 465 ; Schwarcz 1995, p. 296.

15It has often been assumed that the use of these terms under Honorius (395-423) is implicitly compared here to their use under his father and predecessor Theodosius I (379-395)78. This is not the only possibility, for it cannot be ruled out that we have here an implicit comparison between the West under Honorius (senior Augustus from 408 to 423) and the East under Theodosius II (senior Augustus from 423 to 450). As there is no evidence for non Gothic phoideratoi in Greek texts for the 5th-century East, it can be argued that Olympiodorus' aim was to explain to his readers a difference in the use of the term in question between the West (where it did not apply to a specific group) and the East (where it may have been already closely associated with the Goths, or even with a particular group amongst them). As Olympiodorus wrote his historical work sometime between 425 and 450, it becomes obvious that there is not a single occurrence of the term in question in any Greek text which can be safely dated prior to Aspar's participation in the expedition against the usurper John, or prior to the arrival of the Pannonian Goths in Thrace, presumably in the 420s.

Aspar, the Goths and the Arians

  • 79 On the other hand, soldiers (« a numberless host of soldiers ») are mentioned in the description o (...)
  • 80 Though Pseudo-Zachariah has little to say about Aspar's murder, he does record the fact that he wa (...)
  • 81 This title is not recorded by the version preserved by the Excerpta the Insidiis.

16John Malalas describes Aspar's powerful position in ‘private’ as well as in ‘public’ terms. He had a Gothic force in which he had confidence (θαρρῶν γὰρ εἰς τὴν Γοθτικὴν χεῖρα, ἣν εἶχε) ; Goths like Ostrys ‘belong’ to him ; his retinue included many comites (‘public’ military commanders rather than ‘private’ followers or foreign chieftains), as well as παραμένοντες ἄνθρωποι who were in the service of the latter. A word for ‘soldiers’ is conspicuous by its absence79. Moreover, the fact that Aspar was magister militum praesentalis (the ‘foundation-stone’ of his power according to Croke) is overlooked80. On the other hand, he is recorded here both as patricius and as the senior member of the senate (πρῶτος τῆς συγκλήτου81). What is more, he is reported to have called his followers phoideratoi, a loan word derived from a Latin public term. This blend suggests that, in John Malalas' mind, Aspar turned a group of foreigners into imperial allies, and turned the latter into his retinue.

  • 82 Cf. Wood 2011. According to this scholar, John Malalas follows the official propaganda of Leo I's (...)
  • 83 Hostility to Goths may explain why he writes that the Western emperor Anthemius (467-472) feared R (...)
  • 84 On this difficult question, see Jeffreys 1990, p. 167-216 ; Treadgold 2007, p. 246-256 ; Beaucamp (...)

17One could question John Malalas' reliability by arguing that he chose to insist on the ‘private’ and ‘Gothic’ aspects of Aspar's powerful position out of hostility towards a person suspected of complotting against the emperor82, perhaps even out of hostility towards the Goths themselves83, yet there is no reason to suspect that this author (or his unidentifiable source for this episode84) invented all the elements of a retinue described in exceptional detail. What is more, the ethnic aspect of Aspar's powerful position seems to be taken for granted by authors who have much less to say about him, and who cannot be suspected of being hostile.

  • 85 Phot., Bibl. cod. 242, 69 (ed. trans. Henry, VI, Paris, 1971, p. 23) ; ed. C. Zintzen, Damascii Vi (...)
  • 86 Croke 2005, p. 202.
  • 87 Asmus 1911, p. 43 (« den Anführer der Goten »), Henry (« le chef des Goths »), and Athanassiadi (q (...)

18According to Photius' summary of Damascius' Vita Isidori, divination by clouds was invented under Leo I by a woman called Anthusa out of concern for her husband, who had been sent to Sicily on a military mission. Following her prayer, « there formed out of a clear sky a cloud around the sun which eventually grew and took the shape of a man. Another cloud broke away from it and grew until it reached an equal size and took the shape of a lion who became angry and, opening his mouth wide, swallowed the man ; the man-shaped cloud looked like a Goth. Soon after these apparitions the emperor Leo treacherously put to death Aspar, the leader of the Goths and his children (τὸν ἡγεμόνα τῶν Γότθων Ἄσπερα βασιλεὺς Λέων ἐδολοφόνησεν αὐτὸν καὶ παῖδας) »85. As part of his attempt to discard the ethnic element of the conflict between Aspar, Leo I and Zeno, Croke asserts that, according to Damascius, « Aspar was a Gothic leader »86, yet the definite articles make it plain that he was the leader of the Goths87. This is the only detail on Aspar's position in this text. The original version may have been more informative, yet Photius' summary suggests that for Damascius himself Aspar was first and foremost the leader of the Goths.

  • 88 Vita Sancti Marciani Oeconomi, ed. trans. J. Wortley, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 103, 2010, p.  (...)
  • 89 For Arianism in Constantinople in the 5th-6th centuries, see Greatrex 2001, p. 72-81.
  • 90 Vita Sancti Marciani Oeconomi, c. 16, p. 753-754 (text) ; p. 769 (translation).

19According to the Vita Sancti Marciani oeconomi88, Aspar was the leader of the Arians too89. Marcianus was oikonomos of Saint Sophia in Constantinople under Leo I, and according to his biographer, he was honoured by the senate, and especially by Aspar. Both he and his son Ardabur were patricians (ὁ ἐν πατρικίοις σὺν τῷ υἱῷ Ἄσπαρ γραφεὶς καὶ Ἀρδαβούριος) who « happened to differ from us concerning the true faith but nevertheless, out of respect for the holy father, they still made very many well worth seeing and costly offerings at the same all-holy martyrium of the martyr Anastasia, being its neighbours to the north. In exchange for these the saint granted them a reward : he stipulated that on high days (ταῖς ἐπισήμοις ἡμέραις) the divinely inspired Scriptures should be read in their native language of the Goths (τῇ πατρῴᾳ αὐτῶν γλώττῃ τῶν Γότθων) at the same most holy martyrium »90.

  • 91 Vita Sancti Marciani Oeconomi, p. 725-728.
  • 92 Seeck 1896a, col. 608.
  • 93 See, for instance, Jord., Get. 239 (F. Giunta, A. Grillone, Iordanis de Origine Actibusque Getarum(...)
  • 94 Cf. Snee 1998, p. 176-180.

20The editor, who assigns this text to the 7th century or even to the 8th, assumes that the hagiographer knew that the Scriptures were read in Gothic in that church, and suspects that he decided to « supply an aetiology where none was known »91. This is not the place to discuss the date of this vita, but there seems to be no reason to discard the passage in question as a pure invention. It is true that it contains a mistake, for Aspar was an Alan, not a Goth, yet this is not a compelling argument in favor of a late date. As is well known, Aspar was related to Goths through marriage alliances92, and was occasionally considered a Goth himself93. As for Marcianus' decision, it is represented by the hagiographer as a personal reward, but it implies the existence of a congregation of Gothic-speakers whose needs were taken care of by Aspar and Ardabur94.

  • 95 G. Dagron, La Vie ancienne de saint Marcel l'Acémète, in Analecta Bollandiana 86, 1968, ch. 34, p. (...)
  • 96 Io. Mal., Chron. XIV, 41 (p. 295 Thurn). For these measures, see Greatrex 2001, p. 76-77.

21The author of the Vita Marcelli Acoemeti, another hagiographical text situated in 5th-century Constantinople, ignores the ethnic aspect of Aspar's and Ardabur's powerful position, while insisting on the adherence of Aspar, his sons and the whole of his household to the Arian heresy (ὁ Ἄσπαρ καὶ οἱ παῖδες αὐτοῦ καὶ πᾶς ὁ οἶκος αὐτοῦ ἐνόσουν τὴν ἑλληνικὴν δυσσεβεστάτην Ἀρείου μανίαν)95. Last, but not least, the failure of Ostrys' revolt was followed, according to John Malalas, by measures taken by Leo I against the Exakionite Arians « because of Aspar and Ardabur ». Imperial decrees announcing these measures were sent ‘everywhere’, yet they no doubt aimed, first and foremost, at the Arians in Constantinople, who had just lost their patrons96.


  • 97 According to Sivan 2011, p. 105, Western senatorial circles may have offered Aspar the Western thr (...)
  • 98 Acta Synhodi A. DI., 5 (MGH AA XII, p. 425) : Aliquando Aspari a senatu dicebatur, ut ipse fieret (...)
  • 99 Von Haehling 1988, p. 100-101 : « Letztlich treffen hier zwei unvereinbare Prinzipien aufeinander  (...)

22To judge by the diverse literary evidence presented here, Aspar was widely recognized as the leader of a substantial number of people who were, just like him, heretics of foreign origin. In modern research, Aspar's origin and Arianism were often considered a sufficient explanation for the fact that, despite his might, he never assumed imperial power, and even refused it when offered to him by the senate (presumably of Constantinople97), as we learn from a letter of Theoderic the Great, king of Italy (493-526)98. On the other hand, Raban von Haehling argued that it was the nature of his military leadership which was incompatible with the exercise of imperial power99. In other words, Aspar never became emperor because of a ‘special relationship’ with a large number of followers who, in the eyes of the authors of the literary sources, were neither Romans nor orthodox.

23Conclusion

24There is no reason to doubt that Aspar's exceptionally powerful position was based, to a large extent, on the support of a substantial number of Gothic followers who were personally committed to him, and who adhered, like him, to Arianism. The evidence examined in this paper even suggests that at a certain moment of his long career, perhaps as early as the 420s, Aspar concluded a foedus with a group of Pannonian Goths who settled in Thrace. These Goths seem to have constituted later on the dominant element in his retinue.

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Seeck 1896a = O. Seeck, Ardabur 2, in RE II, 1, 1896, col. 607-610.

Seeck 1896b = O. Seeck, Das deutsche Gefolgswesen auf römischem Boden, in Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte ‒ Germanistische Abteilung, 17, 1896, p. 97-119.

Seeck 1900 = O. Seeck, Comites, in RE IV, 1, 1900, col. 622-679.

Seeck 1920 = O. Seeck, Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt, VI, Stuttgart, 1920.

Siebigs 2010 = G. Siebigs, Kaiser Leo I : Das oströmische Reich in den ersten drei Jahren seiner Regierung (457-460 n. Chr.), I-II, Berlin-New York, 2010 (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, 276).

Sivan 2011 = H. Sivan, Galla Placidia : The Last Roman Empress, Oxford, 2011.

Snee 1998 = R. Snee, Gregory Nazianzen's Anastasia Church : Arianism, the Goths, and Hagiography, in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 52, 1998, p. 157-186.

Sophocles 1914 = E. A. Sophocles, Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, Cambridge (Mass.)-Leipzig, 1914.

Stein 1949-1959 = E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire, I, De l'État romain à l'État byzantin (284-476), Paris-Bruges, 1959 ; II, De la disparition de l'empire d'Occident à la mort de Justinien (476-565), Paris-Bruges, 1949.

Stickler 2002 = T. Stickler, Aëtius : Gestaltungsspielräume eines Heermeisters im ausgehenden Weströmischen Reich, Munich, 2002 (Vestigia, 54).

Thurn - Meier 2009 = J. Thurn, M. Meier, Johannes Malalas : Weltchronik, Stuttgart, 2009 (Bibliothek der Griechischen Literatur, 69).

Treadgold 2007 = W. Treadgold, The Early Byzantine Historians, New York, 2007.

Vernadsky 1941 = G. Vernadsky, Flavius Ardabur Aspar, in Südost-Forschungen, 6, 1941, p. 38-73.

Von Haehling 1988 = R. Von Haehling, Timeo, ne per me consuetudo in regno nascatur : die Germanen und der römische Kaiserthron, in M. Wissemann (ed.), Roma Renascens : Beiträge zur Spätantike und Rezeptionsgeschichte Ilona Opelt von ihren Freunden und Schulern zum 9.7.1988 in Verehrung gewidmet, Frankfurt, 1988, p. 88-113.

Wiemer 2009 = H.-U. Wiemer, Kaiserkritik und Gotenbild im Geschichtswerk des Malchos von Philadelphia, in A. Goltz et al. (ed.), Jenseits der Grenzen : Beiträge zur spätantiken und frühmittelalterlichen Geschichtsschreibung, Berlin, 2009 (Millennium-Studien, 25), p. 25-60. 

Wolf 1911-1912 = K. Wolf, Studien zur Sprache des Malalas, I, Formenlehre, Munich, 1911 ; II, Syntax, Munich, 1912.

Wolfram 1987 = H. Wolfram, History of the Goths, trans. Th.J. Dunlap, Berkeley, 19872.

Wood 2011 = Ph. Wood, Multiple Voices in Chronicle Sources : The Reign of Leo I (457-474) in Book Fourteen of Malalas, in Journal of Late Antiquity, 4, 2011, p. 298-314.

Notes

1 Seeck 1920, p. 354.

2 Seeck 1896a, col. 607-610 ; Seeck 1920, p. 353 and 356. For Aspar's family connections, see Mathisen 2012, p. 164.

3 Bury 1923, I, p. 316-317 ; Vernadsky 1941, p. 58 (according to this historian, Aspar's retinue consisted of Goths, Alans and Slavs) ; Demandt 1970, col. 770-773 ; Maenchen-Helfen 1973, p. 481 ; Wolfram 1987, p. 259-260 ; Siebigs 2010, II, p. 685.

4 Scott 1976, p. 61.

5 Croke 2005, p. 147-203.

6 Croke 2005, p. 181. For Aspar as magister militum praesentalis, see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 692-695. 

7 She was either his sister or his aunt : see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 930, n. 57, with further bibliography.

8 Siebigs 2010, I, p. 477-480.

9 For the problem of the date, see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 930-937.

10 Heather 1991, p. 259-260.

11 Procop., Arc. IV, 13 (J. Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, III, Leipzig, 19632, p. 26).

12 According to Schmitt 1994, p. 171, Belisarius' buccellarii were an elite force rather than a personal retinue, which may explain why it was easy to dismantle.

13 For John Malalas and his work, see Croke 1990, p. 1-25 ; Treadgold 2007, p. 235-246 ; Beaucamp 2012, p. 119-131.

14 Io. Mal., Chron. XIV, 40-41 (I. Thurn, Berlin and New York, 2000 [Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae, 35], p. 294-295).

15 Excerpta de Insidiis 31 (C. de Boor, Excerpta Historica iussu Imp. Constantini Porphyrogeniti Confecta, III, Berlin, 1905, p. 160-161 = Io. Mal., Chron. p. 294-295, *9-22 Thurn).

16 Ostrys is not a Gothic name, as pointed out by Heather 1991, p. 260 and n. 48 ; it could be of Iranian or Slavic origin according to some scholars : see Vernadsky 1941, p. 62. It goes without saying that onomastics is not a safe guide for matters of ethnicity.

17 Preisigke 1924-1931, I, s.v. διαφέρω (7), col. 367-368.

18 Schmitt 1994, p. 166, n. 166.

19 The words ἄλλους παῖδας are translated as « weitere Söhne » by Thurn - Meier 2009, p. 383. However, it is unlikely that John Malalas, who mentions παῖδες as the third component of Aspar's retinue, refers here to his sons.

20 Seeck 1896b, p. 106.

21 Basilicorum Libri LX, Series B : Scholia, LX, 18, 29 (= Cod. Just. 9, 12, 10), scholion 3 (H.J. Scheltema et al., Groningen, 1985, IX, p. 3536) ; Gascou 1976, p. 143 and 145 ; Sarris 2006, p. 170-171.

22 Preisigke 1924-1931, II, s.v. παραμένω, col. 252 ; Sarris 2006, p. 167-168.

23 Cf. Preisigke 1924-1931, I, s.v. ἄνθρωπος (3), col. 125 ; for a later period, see Patlagean 2007, p. 171-178.

24 For this definition, see Glare 1968-1982, II, s.vcomes, p. 359.

25 Seeck 1900, col. 622-625.

26 On the comitiva as an official honorary rank, see Seeck 1900, col. 629-636 ; Jones 1964, I, p. 104-106 and 526 ; Chastagnol 1982, p. 192-194 ; Scharf 1994.

27 Maur., Strat. I, 3 (G.T. Dennis, Das Strategikon des Maurikios, Wien, 1981 [Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae, 17], p. 86) : « Κόμης δέ ἐστιν ἤτοι τριβοῦνος ὁ τοῦ τάγματος ἢ ἀριθμοῦ ἢ βάνδου ἡγούμενος ».

28 For the Latin vocabulary used by this author, see Koerting 1879 ; Wolf 1911-1912, I, p. 73-74 ; James 1990, p. 222-223.

29 Seeck 1896b, p. 107-109 ; Siebigs 2010, II, p. 763-764 and n. 9.

30 Grosse 1920, p. 287 and n. 2.

31 Koerting 1879, p. 13, s.vcomes ; Io. Mal., Chron. (p. 487-488 Thurn), s.v. κόμης.

32 Flusin 1996, p. 22-23. The word 'prefect' is used in the translation by Doran 1995, c. 125, p. 192.

33 For the use of the reflexive pronoun in John Malalas' Chronicle, see Wolf 1911-1912, I, p. 43-44 ; II, p. 13.

34 Patzig 1891, p. 13-14 ; Benjamin 1892, p. 3-4 ; Bury 1923, I, p. 43, n. 2.

35 Stein 1949-1959, II, p. 87-88, n. 3.

36 Scharf 2001, p. 45-61. For this book, see the review by A. Laniado, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 99, 2006, p. 265-271.

37 Scharf 2001, p. 54-55 ; cf. John of Antioch, ed. trans. U. Roberto, Ioannis Antiocheni Fragmenta ex Historia Chronica, Berlin - New York, 2005 (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, 154), fr. 311, p. 534-535 ; ed. trans. S. Mariev, Ioannis Antiocheni Fragmenta Quae Supersunt Omnia, Berlin - New York, 2008 (Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae, 47), fr. 242, 1, p. 452-453 (= fr. 214e, 1, ed. C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, V, Paris, 1938, p. 32). For this fragment, see Laniado 2015b.

38 Cf. Flusin 2004, p. 130.

39 Laniado, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 99, 2006, p. 268.

40 Stein 1949-1959, II, p. 87-88, n. 3.

41 For these regular troops, see Maspero 1912b, p. 97-109 ; Haldon 1984, p. 100-116 and 245-251 ; Scharf 2001, p. 62-80 ; Sarantis 2010, p. 391-393 ; Laniado 2015a, p. 80-127.

42 E.g. Io. Mal., Chron. VIII, 18 (p. 154 Thurn) (cities founded by Seleucus Nicator).

43 E.g. Io. Mal., Chron. VII, 5 (p. 136 Thurn) (Romulus and the so-called circus factions).

44 E.g. Io. Mal., Chron. XIII, 8 (p. 246 Thurn) (Constantine I builds in Constantinople a basilica and calls it Σενάτον).

45 Io. Mal., Chron. XIII, 46 (p. 270 Thurn) : « Ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Ἀρκάδιος ἐποίησε καὶ ἴδιον ἀριθμόν, οὓς ἐκάλεσεν Ἀρκαδιακούς ».

46 For the key role played by late Roman magistri militum in the conclusion of foedera, especially under rulers who seldom left their capitals, see Schulz 1993, p. 153-156.

47 Theoph., Chron. A.M. 5931 (C. de Boor, I, Leipzig, 1883, p. 94, 19-23) : « Γότθοι δὲ Πανονίαν ἔσχον πρῶτον, ἔπειτα τῷ ιθ' ἔτει τῆς βασιλείας Θεοδοσίου τοῦ νέου ἐπιτρέψαντος τὰ τῆς Θρᾴκης χωρία ᾤκησαν ἐπὶ νη' χρόνους ἐν τῇ Θρᾴκῃ διατρίψαντες Θευδερίχου ἡγεμονεύοντος αὐτῶν, πατρικίου καὶ ὑπάτου, Ζήνωνος αὐτοῖς ἐπιτρέψαντος, τῆς ἑσπερίου βασιλείας ἐκράτησαν ». The historical value of this passage is discarded by Alföldi 1926, p. 95 (unavailable to me) ; Maenchen-Helfen 1973, p. 78, n. 328 ; Mango - Scott 1997, p. 148, n. 11 ; Siebigs 2010, II, p. 920-929.

48 Croke 1977, p. 358-365 (arguing for 421) ; Heather 1991, p. 262 and n. 53 ; Schwarcz 1992, p. 56.

49 Siebigs 2010, II, p. 928-930.

50 Siebigs 2010, II, p. 686.

51 Priscus, fr. 1-1.1 (P. Carolla, Priscus Panita. Excerpta et Fragmenta, Berlin, 2008, p. 1-3).

52 Candidus, ed. trans. C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, Paris, 1851, p. 135 ; ed. trans. R.C. Blockley, The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire : Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus, II, Liverpool, 1983 (Arca : Classical And Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs, 10), p. 464-465 ; Photius, Bibliothèque, cod. 79, ed. trans. R. Henry, I, Paris, 1959, p. 162 : « ἐκ νεαρᾶς δὲ στρατευσάμενος ἡλικίας ».

53 For this usurper and his defeat, see Seeck 1920, p. 90-97 ; Bury 1923, I, p. 221-225 ; Stein 1949-1959, I, p. 282-285 ; Stickler 2002, p. 25-35.

54 Socr., H.E. VII, 23 (G.Ch. Hansen, Sokrates Kirchengeschichte, Berlin, 1995, p. 370-372) ; Philost., H.E. XII, 13 (J. Bidez, Philostorgius Kirchengeschichte, Berlin, 19813, p. 148-149). John Malalas ignores Ardabur's role (Chron. XIV, 7, p. 275-276 Thurn), while Procopius writes that the expedition was led by Aspar and his son (sic) Ardabur (Procop., Vand. I, 3, 8 [J. Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, I, Leipzig, 19622, p. 319-320]).

55 Philost., H.E. XII, 13 (p. 149 Bidez).

56 Supra n. 47.

57 For some suggestions, see Demandt 1970, col. 748 ; Martindale 1980, s.v. Aspar, p. 165-166.

58 For foederatus as a loan word in Greek, see in detail Laniado 2015a, p. 42-80.

59 Meursius 1614, s.v. φοιδεράτοι, p. 603-604.

60 Du Cange 1688, s.v. φοιδεράτοι, col. 1686.

61 Mommsen 1889, p. 218 and 234 ; cf. Grosse 1920, p. 86.

62 See, for instance, Sophocles 1914, s.v. φοιδερᾶτος, p. 1148 (confederate, ally) ; Lampe 1961, s.v. φοιδερᾶτος, p. 1487 (allied).

63 Phoideratos is wrongly considered an adjective by Avotins 1992, p. 226.

64 For this definition, see Horn 1930, p. 6-7.

65 Schulz 1993, p. 69-70.

66 One of the letters of Nilus of Ancyra, who died ca. 430, is addressed to a certain phoideratos called Iulius (Epistolae, I, 284 [PG 79, 185C] : Ἰουλίῳ φοιδεράτῳ). However, the addressees of Nilus' letters are of dubious authenticity and date, as argued by Cameron 1976, p. 182-196.

67 Wiemer 2009, p. 31-32 and n. 38.

68 Malchus of Philadelphia, fr. 11, ed. trans. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, p. 119 ; ed. trans. L.R. Cresci, Malco di Filadelfia : Frammenti, Naples, 1982 (Byzantina et Neo-Hellenica Neapolitana, 9), p. 87 and 135 ; ed. trans. Blockley, The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire, II, fr. 15, p. 420-421. For this embassy and its failure, see Stein 1949-1959, II, p. 11-12 ; Wolfram 1987, p. 271 ; Heather 1991, p. 279.

69 See, for instance, Cesa 1984, p. 311.

70 Liebeschuetz 1990, p. 36, n. 41.

71 See the translation by Blockley, op. cit., p. 421 : « In the following year envoys came to Zeno from the allied Goths in Thrace, whom the Romans call foederati ». For a parallel, see Malchus of Philadelphia, fr. 1, ed. trans. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, p. 113 ; ed. trans. Cresci, p. 69 and 125 ; ed. trans. Blockley, op. cit., fr. 1, p. 404-405 : « ἀφικνεῖταί τις τῶν Σκηνιτῶν Ἀράβων, οὓς καλοῦσι Σαρακηνούς ».

72 Procop., Aed. VI, 3, 10-11 (J. Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, IV, Leipzig, 19642, p. 179). On these Moors, see Maspero 1912a, p. 64-65, n. 6 ; Modéran 2003, p. 380, n. 264 ; p. 658-659 and n. 51 ; Roques 2011, p. 404 and p. 418, n. 38-39.

73 To Malchus' fragment 11 and John Malalas' description of Aspar's retinue, one should add Procop., Goth. IV, 5, 11-14 (J. Haury, Procopii Caesariensis Opera Omnia, II, Leipzig, 19622, p. 505) (on the Goths settled in Thrace) ; Io. Mal., Chron. XIV, 23 (p. 285 Thurn) (on Areobindus, a Goth said to have been comes of the phoideratoi in 422, no doubt an anachronism). For the 6th century, see Cod. Just. 1, 5, 12, 17 (527 C.E.).

74 Suda, Φ 781 (A. Adler, Suidae Lexicon, IV, Leipzig, 1935, p. 769) : « Φοιδεράτοι· οὕτω καλοῦσι Ῥωμαῖοι τοὺς ὑποσπόνδους τῶν Σκυθῶν ».

75 Wolfram 1987, p. 11.

76 In the 6th century, some Heruls were recruited as phoideratoi, but these were by now regular troops, not allies. See Procop., Goth. III, 33, 13 (p. 444 Haury) : « τινὲς δὲ αὐτῶν [scil. Ἑρούλων] καὶ Ῥωμαίων στρατιῶται γεγένηνται ἐν τοῖς φοιδεράτοις καλουμένοις ταττόμενοι ».

77 Olympiodorus, fr. 7, ed. trans. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, p. 59 ; ed. trans. Blockley, The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire, II, fr. 7, 4, p. 158-159 ; Photius, Bibliothèque, cod. 80, ed. trans. Henry, I, Paris, 1959, p. 168.

78 See, for instance, Maspero 1912b, p. 97 ; Liebeschuetz 1986, II, p. 465 ; Schwarcz 1995, p. 296.

79 On the other hand, soldiers (« a numberless host of soldiers ») are mentioned in the description of Ardabur's retinue in the Syriac vita of Simeon the Stylite (supra, n. 32).

80 Though Pseudo-Zachariah has little to say about Aspar's murder, he does record the fact that he was a magister militum (στρατηλάτης) : Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor : Church and War in Late Antiquity, trans. R. R. Phenix, C. B. Horn, Liverpool, 2011 (Translated Texts for Historians, 55), III, 12a, p. 128 : « Aspar the magister militum and his sons were killed ».

81 This title is not recorded by the version preserved by the Excerpta the Insidiis.

82 Cf. Wood 2011. According to this scholar, John Malalas follows the official propaganda of Leo I's reign in presenting Aspar as a barbarian and a heretic.

83 Hostility to Goths may explain why he writes that the Western emperor Anthemius (467-472) feared Ricimer for being a Goth (Io. Mal., Chron. XIV, 45, p. 297 Thurn : « φοβηθεὶς αὐτὸν ὡς Γότθον ») ; cf. Anders 2011, p. 227-228.

84 On this difficult question, see Jeffreys 1990, p. 167-216 ; Treadgold 2007, p. 246-256 ; Beaucamp 2012, p. 128-130.

85 Phot., Bibl. cod. 242, 69 (ed. trans. Henry, VI, Paris, 1971, p. 23) ; ed. C. Zintzen, Damascii Vitae Isidori Reliquiae, Hildesheim, 1967 (Bibliotheca Graeca et Latina Suppletoria, 1), § 69, p. 98 ; ed. trans. P. Athanassiadi, Damascius : The Philosophical History, Athens, 1999, fr. 52, p. 148-149. Anthusa's unnamed husband would have been Ardabur, Aspar's son, according to Demandt 1986, p. 113-117. This highly speculative identification was rejected by Scharf 1993, p. 213-223.

86 Croke 2005, p. 202.

87 Asmus 1911, p. 43 (« den Anführer der Goten »), Henry (« le chef des Goths »), and Athanassiadi (quoted here).

88 Vita Sancti Marciani Oeconomi, ed. trans. J. Wortley, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 103, 2010, p. 715-771.

89 For Arianism in Constantinople in the 5th-6th centuries, see Greatrex 2001, p. 72-81.

90 Vita Sancti Marciani Oeconomi, c. 16, p. 753-754 (text) ; p. 769 (translation).

91 Vita Sancti Marciani Oeconomi, p. 725-728.

92 Seeck 1896a, col. 608.

93 See, for instance, Jord., Get. 239 (F. Giunta, A. Grillone, Iordanis de Origine Actibusque Getarum, Rome, 1991 [Fonti per la Storia d'Italia, 117], p. 98) : Aspar, primus patriciorum et Gothorum genere clarus. According to Photius' summary of Damascius (supra, n. 85), the cloud which stood for Aspar looked like a Goth.

94 Cf. Snee 1998, p. 176-180.

95 G. Dagron, La Vie ancienne de saint Marcel l'Acémète, in Analecta Bollandiana 86, 1968, ch. 34, p. 317. This text was probably written under Zeno or Anastasius, as argued by Déroche - Lesieur 2010, p. 290-291.

96 Io. Mal., Chron. XIV, 41 (p. 295 Thurn). For these measures, see Greatrex 2001, p. 76-77.

97 According to Sivan 2011, p. 105, Western senatorial circles may have offered Aspar the Western throne as early as 425.

98 Acta Synhodi A. DI., 5 (MGH AA XII, p. 425) : Aliquando Aspari a senatu dicebatur, ut ipse fieret imperator : qui tale refertur dedisse responsum : ῾timeo, ne per me consuetudo in regno nascatur᾽.

99 Von Haehling 1988, p. 100-101 : « Letztlich treffen hier zwei unvereinbare Prinzipien aufeinander : die Universalherrschaft und die stammesbezogene, partikularistische Herrschaftsausübung ». For a similar attempt to explain why the West Roman general Ricimer never became emperor, see Anders 2011, p. 357-361. For a different explanation for Aspar's refusal to assume imperial power, see Siebigs 2010, II, p. 670-678.

Auteur

Tel Aviv University - laniadoa@post.tau.ac.il

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