Who was more powerful, Odoacer or Zeno?

Who was more powerful?


  • Total voters
    5

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,675
Dispargum
#2
Zeno, although it's not an easy choice. In the 470s both had to deal with major challengers to their thrones. Odoacer had early threats from the Visigoths in Gaul and from the Alamanni. Zeno had to put down a few usurpations. Only in the 480s could they concentrate their efforts against each other. Zeno at least had the shroud of legitimacy. He was a recognized emperor while Odoacer could never gain that recognition.
 
Feb 2019
197
Thrace
#3
Zeno, although it's not an easy choice. In the 470s both had to deal with major challengers to their thrones. Odoacer had early threats from the Visigoths in Gaul and from the Alamanni. Zeno had to put down a few usurpations. Only in the 480s could they concentrate their efforts against each other. Zeno at least had the shroud of legitimacy. He was a recognized emperor while Odoacer could never gain that recognition.
Was there any other emperor more powerful or at least competent than them strictly in that time period? (476-488)
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,675
Dispargum
#4
Until he died in 480, Zeno recognized Julius Nepos as the legitimate Western Emperor but Nepos had no power. He had been Western Emperor until overthrown in 475 by Odoacer's predecessor Orestes. Nepos spent most of his time in Dalmatia, in exile, hoping to regain the Italian throne but he remained a poor exile until he died. Romulus Augustulus, Orestes' son and puppet emperor, was still alive but also powerless. Basiliscus, uncle of Zeno's wife, was a competent soldier, and was the main opposition to Zeno. Basiliscus siezed the eastern throne in 475 but was a terrible politician who quickly lost all of his support. Zeno regained the throne in 476. Zeno quickly killed Basiliscus. Marcian, a son and grandson of western emperors but living in the east revolted against Zeno in 479 but was ultimately unsuccessful. There were other revolts or threats of revolts, mostly among the senior generals of the Eastern Army. If any of them could have emerged supreme they may have been more successful, but Zeno was generally able to turn the various generals against each other. So there were lots of claimants to both the eastern and western thrones. With better luck any of them could have overthrown either Odoacer or Zeno, but it didn't happen.
 
Feb 2019
197
Thrace
#5
Until he died in 480, Zeno recognized Julius Nepos as the legitimate Western Emperor but Nepos had no power. He had been Western Emperor until overthrown in 475 by Odoacer's predecessor Orestes. Nepos spent most of his time in Dalmatia, in exile, hoping to regain the Italian throne but he remained a poor exile until he died. Romulus Augustulus, Orestes' son and puppet emperor, was still alive but also powerless. Basiliscus, uncle of Zeno's wife, was a competent soldier, and was the main opposition to Zeno. Basiliscus siezed the eastern throne in 475 but was a terrible politician who quickly lost all of his support. Zeno regained the throne in 476. Zeno quickly killed Basiliscus. Marcian, a son and grandson of western emperors but living in the east revolted against Zeno in 479 but was ultimately unsuccessful. There were other revolts or threats of revolts, mostly among the senior generals of the Eastern Army. If any of them could have emerged supreme they may have been more successful, but Zeno was generally able to turn the various generals against each other. So there were lots of claimants to both the eastern and western thrones. With better luck any of them could have overthrown either Odoacer or Zeno, but it didn't happen.
I see. How about the rest of the world? The Chinese and Sassanids seemed rather unimpressive as far as great rulers. The Gupta emperor was inferior to his predecessors.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2013
1,441
Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
#8
In case some are interested in seeing how Zeno was depicted on gold coin here is an example:

ZENO (Second reign, 476-491).jpg

The size is somehow the same as the top of your thumb finger. It may look crude now that the image is zoomed in, but once you hold it on your hand with naked eye it is soooooo beautiful and stunning.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,718
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#10
I see. How about the rest of the world? The Chinese and Sassanids seemed rather unimpressive as far as great rulers. The Gupta emperor was inferior to his predecessors.
The Chinese and Sassanid rulers might not have been impressive or great rulers, but their realms were large and powerful.

The Sassanid Kings of KIngs were Peroz I (459-484) and Balash (484-488).

The Chinese rulers were:

Northern Wei - Xiao Wen Di (471-499)

Liu Song - Hou Fei (473-477), described as an evil child, Shun (477-479), a child - Southern Qi - Gao (479-482), evil usurper, Wu (482-493).

King of Kings of Axum or Aksum - Ebana? Nezool or Nezana? Someone else?

Gupta Empire - Budhagupta (c.476-495).

Vakataka dynasty - Harishena of the Vatsagulma branch (r. c.475-500).

And there may have been a few other persons who claimed to be western Roman emperors in the period of 476-488.

Masties ruled the kingdom of Aures in North Africa from about 426-494, or from about 447-516, or possibly between other dates. An inscription claims that he ruled for 67 years as a dux, and for 40 (or maybe 10) of those years as emperor of "Romans and Moors". Thus he may have claimed to be emperor from 454 or 484 to 494, or from 476 or 506 to 516, or for some other period that may included part or all of 476-488.

Aegidius was appointed Roman magister militum of Roman Gaul and continued to rule a part of northern Gaul until 464, and his son Syagrius ruled until defeated by Clovis in 486. A century later Gregory of Tours refers to Syagrius as king of the Romans, which may mean that he claimed to be emperor. Or Syagrius might have been loyal to someone who claimed to be emperor.

It is possible that after Constantine III, the Roman usurper from Britain, was defeated in 411, the rulers of Britain used the imperial title claiming to be his successors. Procopius claimed that after Constantine III Britain was ruled by "tyrants", meaning usurpers of the imperial title, down to his time.