Romulus Augustus and The "Fall of The Roman Empire"
Orestes, who was partly of German blood, was historically the magister militum — the senior officer of the Roman army second to the emperor. He had indeed promised his German foederati a third of Italy to settle in but not to Odoacer personally. Orestes was himself an usurper, having promised the land to foederati buy their quiescence in his rebellion against the legitimate emperor Julius Nepos. Although Orestes proclaimed his son, Romulus Augustus (derisively called Augustulus, meaning "little Augustus") Emperor, the proclamation was not recognized as legitimate beyond the parts of the Italian Peninsula controlled by Orestes troops. The common identification of Augustus as the "last Western Emperor" dates only from the publication of British historian Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the late Eighteenth Century.
At the time of his proclamation as Emperor, Romulus Augustus was 16, older than portrayed in the film. Upon being captured by Odoacer, the boy usurper was seen to be a victim of his father. He was spared and sent to live in comfortable retirement in southern Italy.
There was a struggle for control of the Eastern Roman Empire at the time but the Emperor alluded to would probably have been Zeno (explicit in the novel). In truth, Zeno never recognized Romulus Augustus and recognized Julius Nepos as Emperor in the West until the latter's death in 480. At the behest of the Roman Senate, Zeno recognized Odoacer's administration of Italy; both he and Odoacer himself maintained the pretense of Nepo's reign. The Eastern Emperor eventually sent the Ostrogothic foederati under Theodoric the Great to depose Odoacer when the latter proved disloyal.
Famous quotes containing the words roman empire, empire, roman, augustus and/or fall:
“Ce corps qui sappelait et qui sappelle encore le saint empire romain nétait en aucune manière ni saint, ni romain, ni empire. This agglomeration which called itself and still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”
—Voltaire [François Marie Arouet] (16941778)
“On 16 September 1985, when the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation, the American Empire died.”
—Gore Vidal (b. 1925)
“How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?”
—William Butler Yeats (18651939)
“I am not a literary man.... I am a man of science, and I am interested in that branch of Anthropology which deals with the history of human speech.”
—J.A.H. (James Augustus Henry)
“If we keep an open mind, too much is likely to fall into it.”
—Natalie Clifford Barney (18761972)