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Detail of Consular diptych of Rufus Gennadius Probus Orestes, showing Althalaric on the left and Amalsuintha on the right C. 530 [1]
King of the Ostrogoths
Reign526 – 534
PredecessorTheoderic the Great
Died2 October 534(534-10-02) (aged 17–18)

Athalaric (Latin: Athalaricus; 516 – 2 October 534) was the king of the Ostrogoths in Italy between 526 and 534. He was a son of Eutharic and Amalasuntha, the youngest daughter of Theoderic the Great,[2] whom Athalaric succeeded as king in 526.[3]

Athalaric was about ten years old, so his mother, Amalasuintha, held all the real power. This power was to make decisions about the kingdom's politics and negotiate with foreign rulers like Justinian I, at least within the 530s. [4] For example, around 533, she had Emperor Justinian protect the Gothic kingdom.[5] Amalasuintha also controlled the type of education Athalaric would undergo.

According to Procopius, the Goth aristocracy desired Athalaric to be raised in Gothic, but Amalasuintha wanted him to resemble the Roman rulers.[6] Amalasuintha adhered to Roman learning and customs that were especially objectionable to other Goths, as they saw it as cowardly and submissive.[7] Eventually, Amalasuintha was forced to accept the will of her fellow Goths by allowing Athalaric to spend time with other boys around his age. It is not clear how effective his Roman education was.[8] It is also unknown who his Gothic teacher was, but generally, the Gothic aristocracy in the palace exerted fierce pressure on the monarchy and focused on military education instead of grammar and rhetoric, which would be done in Roman education.[9]

Athalaric drank heavily and indulged in vicious excesses, which ruined his constitution.[3] After a large party in 533, rumors spread that Athalaric was ill .[10] Athalaric condition would worsen, and he died later in October of 534, probably from a combination of excessive drinking and disease, probably diabetes.[11]

DN ATHAL/ARICV.  King standing, head to the right, holding a spear and a shield C.
Reverse of a nummi with the legends: DN ATHAL/ARICV. It show Athalaric as a warrior holding a spear and shield. [12] [13]


  1. ^ "Rufus Gennadius Probus Orestes".
  2. ^ Amalasuntha. Oxford University Press. January 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-518792-2.
  3. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ Vitello 39
  5. ^ Vitello 187
  6. ^ Vitiello, Massimiliano (2006). ""Nourished at the Breast of Rome": The Queens of Ostrogothic Italy and the Education of the Roman Elite". Rheinisches Museum für Philologie. 149 (3/4): 402. ISSN 0035-449X. JSTOR 41234687.
  7. ^ Vitello 97
  8. ^ Vitello 100
  9. ^ Vitello 97-98
  10. ^ Vitello 119
  11. ^ Frye, David (1995). "Athalaric's Health and the Ostrogothic Character"
  12. ^ "[monnaie : Ostrogoths (Or, 10 nummi)]".
  13. ^ Vitello 98


Further reading

Regnal titles Preceded byTheoderic the Great King of the Ostrogoths in Italy 526–534 Succeeded byAmalasuntha