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View Tree for Emperor Eparchius AvitusEmperor Eparchius Avitus (b. Abt. 380, d. 457)

Emperor Eparchius Avitus was born Abt. 380 in Auvergne, Gaul, and died 457 in Killed by Majorian, at Placentia.

 Includes NotesNotes for Emperor Eparchius Avitus:
Eparchius Avitus, who was born of a senatorial family circa 395, was a native of the Auvergne in Gaul. His father may have been the Agricola who was consul in 421. Avitus was well educated, being eloquent and perhaps having had some legal training. He had at least three children, Agricola; Ecdicius, who later became Patrician and Master of Soldiers under Julius Nepos in 475; and Papianilla, who married Sidonius, himself a blue-blooded aristocrat of Lyons, the son and grandson of praetorian prefects of Gaul.

Avitus had a distinguished civil and military career. Around his early twenties, ca.415/420, he undertook a civic mission to the Master of Soldiers, and later emperor, Constantius, and early in his life he formed close contacts with the Visigothic court at Toulouse. He then served under Flavius Aėtius in several military posts, and by 437 may have risen to the office of Master of Soldiers in Gaul. Subsequently, he rose to become Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, perhaps ca. 439-440, in which capacity he was able to renegotiate the treaty with the Visigoths. He therefore provides an unusual example of a person obtaining both civil and military offices of very high rank. Avitus then seems to have indulged in the life of leisure to which every senator purported to aspire. Then, in 451, as a civilian, Avitus was influential in gaining the aid of the Visigoths against Attila and the Huns, who were subsequently defeated at the Battle of the Mauriac Plain. But he then returned to his estate, called Avitacum, at Clermont.

In 455, Avitus was appointed magister militum praesentalis ("Master of Soldiers in the Presence") by the short-lived emperor Petronius Maximus and was sent as an ambassador to the Visigoths, presumably to reconfirm them in their federate status. Assisted by a certain Messianus, he was successful. Sidonius recalled,

"The chiefs of the Visigoths were letting loose the war they had planned, when suddenly their fury was checked by tidings that Avitus, armed with an imperial writ, was already entering the home of the Goths, and, having laid aside for a little the pomp of the Master's office, had taken upon himself the authority of an ambassador.... The king and the Master took the stand together, the master with confident look, while the other ... sued for clemency... " (Carm.7.399-434: trans. Anderson, 1.153-155).


Children of Emperor Eparchius Avitus are:
  1. +Papinilla Avitus, b. Abt. 405, d. date unknown.
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