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Emperor Anicius Olybrius

The exact parentage of Anicius Olybrius is somewhat in doubt as I have been unable to locate any source information regarding it. However, it is certain that he was a member of the Italian Anicii, and that he had the name 'Olybrius' indictates that he was a scion of the union of Q. Clodius Hermogenianos Olybrius and Tyrrania Anicia Juliana. This would make him either a son, brother, nephew, or cousin of Anicius Hermogenianus Olybrius who served as consul in 395.

In about 454 he married the Imperial princess Placidia. Shortly thereafter, Olybrius went to Constantinople although his wife remained behind in Rome. In 455, King Gaiseric of the Vandals, sacked Rome and carried Placidia, her mother Empress Licinia Eudoxia, and her sister, Eudoxia away to his capital of Carthage in North Africa. Gaiseric held the three ladies in Africa until he secured the marriage of his son Huneric to the maiden Eudoxia. After this marriage, the two remaining ladies were released and made their way to Constantinople.

In Constantinople, Anicius Olybrius and his wife were active in both politics and religion, renovating a number of churches, and Anicius Olybrius was named consul in 464 by the Emperor Leo I. It was about this time that Anicius Olybrius and his wife had their daughter, Anicia Juliana.

In 472 Anicius Olybrius was sent by Emperor Leo I to arbitrate between the Western Emperor Anthemius and the barbarian general Ricimer. It was discovered, however, that Leo I and Anthemius had devised a plot to kill both Anicius Olybrius and Ricimer. Upon discovery of this plot, Anicius Olybrius allied himself to Ricimer who named him Western Roman Emperor.

Universally recognized as Ricimer's puppet Emperor, Anicius Olybrius accomplished very little during his very short reign. His only notable action was the elevation of Ricimer's nephew, the Burgundian Gundobad, to the rank of Roman patrician and Master of Soldiers. Anicius Olybrius died shortly thereafter. His reign has been given as being either a few days or a few months, but either way, he was elevated to Emperor and died in 472 and accomplished very little.

This being one of the better remembered Anicii, there exists an excellent online biography of him on the DIR site.

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Page last updated: 9-19-98