THEODORIC THE OSTROGOTH.
Avitus was a good man, but the Romans grew weary of him, and in the year 457 they engaged Ricimer, a chief of the Teutonic tribe called Suevi, to drive him out, when he went back to Gaul, where he had a beautiful palace and garden. After ten months Ricimer chose another Sueve to be Emperor. He had been a captain under Aetius, and had the Roman name of Majorian. He showed himself brave and spirited; led an army into Spain and attacked Genseric; but he was beaten, and came back disappointed. Ricimer was, however, jealous of him, forced him to resign, and soon after poisoned him.
After this, Ricimer really ruled Italy, but he seemed to have a sort of awe of the title of Caesar Augustus, the Emperor, for he forbore to use it himself, and gave it to one poor weak wretch after another until his death in 472. His nephew went on in the same course; but at last a soldier named Orestes, of Roman birth, gained the chief power, and set up as Emperor his own little son, whose Christian name was Romulus Augustus, making him wear the purple and the crown, and calling him by all the titles; but the Romans made his name into Augustulus, or Little Augustus. At the end of a year, a Teutonic chief named Odoacer crossed the Alps at the head of a great mixture of different German tribes, and Orestes could make no stand against him, but was taken and put to death. His little boy was spared, and was placed at Sorrento; but Odoacer sent the crown and robes of the West to Zeno, the Eastern Emperor, saying that one Emperor was enough. So fell the Roman power in 476, exactly twelve centuries after the date of the founding of Rome. It was thought that this was meant by the twelve vultures seen by Romulus, and that the seven which Remus saw denoted the seven centuries that the Republic stood. It was curious, too, that it should be with the two names of Romulus and Augustus that Rome and her empire fell.
Odoacer called himself king, and, indeed, the Western Empire had been nearly all seized by different kings—the Vandal kings in Africa, the Gothic kings in Spain and Southern Gaul, the Burgundian kings and Frank kings in Northern Gaul, the Saxon kings in Britain. The Ostro or Eastern Goths, who had since the time of Valens dwelt on the banks of the Danube, had been subdued by Attila, but recovered their freedom after his death. One of their young chiefs, named Theodoric, was sent as a hostage to Constantinople, and there learned much. He became king of the Eastern Goths in 470, and showed himself such a dangerous neighbor to the Eastern Empire that, to be rid of him the Emperor Zeno advised him to go and attack Odoacer in Italy. The Ostrogoths marched seven hundred miles, and came over the Alps into the plains of Northern Italy, where Odoacer fought with them bravely, but was beaten. They besieged him even in Ravenna, till after three years he was obliged to surrender and was put to death.