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Augustus of the Western Roman Empire
Solidus Glycerius Ravenna (obverse).jpg
Solidus of Emperor Glycerius
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign March 3/5 473 AD – 24 June 474 AD
Predecessor Olybrius
Successor Julius Nepos
Co-emperors Leo I (Eastern Emperor, 473-474)
Leo II (Eastern Emperor, 474)
Died After 474 (possibly 480)
Full name
D(ominus) N(oster) Glycerius Augustus
Regnal name
Imperator D.N. Caesar Flavius Glycerius Augustus
Religion Chalcedonian Christianity

Glycerius (Latin: D(ominus) N(oster) Glycerius Augustus) (–after 474 AD) was Western Roman Emperor from 473 to 474. He served as comes domesticorum during the reign of Olybrius, until Olybrius died on 2 November 472. After a four-month interregnum, Glycerius was proclaimed Western Emperor on 3 or 5 March 473 by the magister militum and power behind the throne Gundobad. Very few of the events of his reign are known, other than that he repelled the invasion of the Ostrogoths, who were attempting to invade Italy, and diverted them to Gaul. Glycerius was not recognized by the Eastern Roman Emperor Leo I, instead he nominated Julius Nepos as Emperor and sent him with an army to invade the Western Empire. Glycerius was left without allies, because Gundobad had left to rule the Burgundians, and therefore was forced to abdicate on 24 June 474. After his abdication he became Bishop of Salona. He may have had a role in the assassination of Julius Nepos in 480. He died some time after 474, possibly in 480.


D(ominus) N(oster) Glycerius Augustus was born at an unknown date, in Dalmatia.[1][2][3] Glycerius rose to the rank of comes domesticorum during the reign of Western Roman Emperor Olybrius, who was a puppet emperor controlled first by the Magister militum Ricimer and then by his nephew, the Magister militum Gundobad. After the death of Olybrius on 2 November 472, and an interregnum of nearly four months, Gundobad proclaimed Glycerius as Western Roman Emperor at Ravenna on either 3 or 5 March 473; The Fasti vindobonenses states that it was on the 5th, however the Paschale campanum asserts it was on the 3rd.[4][1][5][6]

Many events of Glycerius' reign are unknown.[7][5] Glycerius was able to repel the invasion of both the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, through a mixture of diplomatic and military acts. In 473, the Visigoths King Euric ordered an invasion of Italy, but his commander, Vincentius, was killed by the comites Alla and Sindila. After Vincentius was killed, Euric chose instead to invade Gaul, occupying both Arles and Marseilles. The Ostrogoth King Videmir proposed to invade Italy, however Glycerius was able to dissuade him through gifts, and transferred them from Italy to Gaul, where they were later attacked by surrounding groups.[6][7][5] These actions to defend Rome may be the reason that Glycerius receives a generally favorable reception from Roman and Byzantine sources. Theophanes describes him only as a "not despicable man", however Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, describes him more thoroughly in his Vita St. Epiphanus:[6]

"After Olybrius, Glycerius ascended to the rule. With regard to whom I summarize, in my desire for brevity, the numerous things he did for the well being of many people. For, when the blessed man [Bishop Epiphanius of Pavia] interceded, he pardoned the injury done to his mother by some men under his authority".[6]

It is believed that Glycerius primarily reigned from Northern Italy, as all but one coin found from his reign was minted in either Ravenna or Milan. The only law created by Glycerius which has survived was dated 11 March 473, and issued to Himilco, the Praetorian Prefect of Italy, and later reissued to the Praetorian Prefects of Illyricum, the East, and Gaul, regarding Simony. It was adopted not just by the Prefects of Italy and Gaul, who were a part of Western Roman Empire, but also by the Prefects of Illyricum and the East, despite the fact that he did not actually have the authority to issue laws to them.[6]

It is possible that Glycerius attempted reconciliation with the Eastern Roman Empire, evidenced by the fact that Glycerius did not nominate a consul for 474, and instead accepted the eastern consul.[6] Despite this, the Eastern Roman Emperor, Leo I, refused to recognize Glycerius as Western Emperor because he was merely a puppet emperor. Emperor Leo instead chose to recognize one of his own men, Julius Nepos, and sent him with a fleet to invade the Western Empire. Glycerius was without allies, as Gundobad had already left to become King of Burgundy, leaving him with no option but to surrender. Nepos landed at Ostia in June 474, and Glycerius abdicated on 24 June 474, in Ravenna, and was ordained as Bishop of Salona, and became Nepos' personal bishop.[7][2] According to Malchus, Glycerius had some part in organizing the assassination of Julius Nepos in 480, after Nepos had been forced to flee Italy and was ruling in exile in Dalmatia, although the historical records for the assassination are muddled.[6][8][9] Glycerius died some time after 474, possibly in 480.[7] Some historians suggest he was made archbishop of Milan by Odoacer, but this is likely rumor rather than fact.[6]


Primary sources


  1. ^ a b Meijer 2004, p. 159.
  2. ^ a b Adkins & Adkins 2014, p. 37.
  3. ^ Cooley 2012, p. 508.
  4. ^ Lee 2013, p. 96.
  5. ^ a b c MacGeorge 2002, p. 272.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Mathisen.
  7. ^ a b c d Meijer 2004, pp. 159–160.
  8. ^ MacGeorge 2002, p. 31.
  9. ^ MacGeorge 2002, p. 62.


  • Adkins, Lesley; Adkins, Roy A. (2014). Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780816074822. 
  • Cooley, Alison E. (2012). The Cambridge manual of Latin epigraphy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521840262. 
  • Lee, A. D. (2013). From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748668359. 
  • MacGeorge, Penny (2002). Late Roman Warlords. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191530913. 
  • Meijer, Fik (2004). Emperors Don't Die in Bed. Routledge. ISBN 9781134384051. 


  • Mathisen, Ralph W. "Roman Emperors - DIR Glycerius". Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018. 
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Western Roman Emperor
Succeeded by
Julius Nepos
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