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Anicius was the name of a noble Roman family, the gens Anicia . She has been since the 3rd century BC. Attested in the 2nd century BC. The consulate and thus rose to the nobility . It did not appear very much in the Republican era, but all the more so in the late imperial era.

In the 4th century AD, the family gained influence through the Christianization of the empire, since they were one of the first great families to convert to the new faith. It is unclear, however, whether the late antique Anicii / Anicier rightly traced back to the old republican gens - if there was a relationship, then probably at most through adoption: Statistically speaking, in the Roman upper class about every three generations a male inheritance was missing, which is why all of them old republican senatorial families were already extinct in a direct line around the year 100, at the latest by the time of the Severans . This probably also applied to the "republican" Anicier.

A famous family member was about the 4th century Sextus Petronius Probus , who had married into the family, whereby the main line of the Anicier, which in the male line had probably (again) died out in the middle of the 4th century and only survived through adoption (see Anicius Auchenius Bassus ), was now continued directly in the female line. Probus was one of the leading and most influential men of his time, two of his sons held the consulate together in 395.

In the late 5th and early 6th centuries, Boëthius lived and worked . He was not only a statesman, consul and "chancellor", but above all a philosopher, theologian and translator. In addition to Augustine of Hippo and Gregory the Great (who was very likely also an Anicier), Boëthius (full name Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius) is considered the greatest Latin philosopher and theologian of late antiquity . Other famous members of the family were the Western Roman emperor Olybrius and his daughter, the influential aristocrat Anicia Iuliana .

Like almost all Roman senatorial families, the Anicier belonged to the Catholic creed, which at the time of Boëthius was in strong conflict with the Arian creed. Since the family still owned properties throughout the Mediterranean in the 6th century, it can serve as a good example of how long the close contacts between East and West existed. In the early 7th century the trace of the Anicii was lost.

John Moorhead points out that the Anicier should not be imagined as a powerful clan whose members shared common beliefs and acted politically in the same vein. In the Laurentian Schism , Anicians were apparently to be found in both parties to the conflict.

Name bearer


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  1. See Salzman, Making of a Christian Aristocracy , pp. 183f.
  2. With regard to Bassus, however, there is a great deal of uncertainty overall, cf. also AHM Jones et al. a., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire , Vol. 1, Cambridge 1971, p. 153; Stemma ibid., P. 1133.
  3. John Moorhead: Theoderic in Italy , Oxford 1992, pp. 162-164.