Vetranio (Latin: Flavius Vetranio Augustus; died c. 356), sometimes incorrectly referred to as Vetriano, was a Roman soldier and statesman, a native of the province of Moesia (in modern Serbia).
|Emperor of the Roman Empire|
|Reign||1 March – 25 December 350
(together with Constantius II)
|Born||Moesia in modern Serbia|
Though unlettered, he rose rapidly through the ranks from obscurity, being ultimatly elevated by Constans to the government of Illyria. He held this command during a long period, and by the time of Constans' death (A.D. 351) was considered an officer of popularity and experience. After the murder of that prince by the usurper Magnentius, Constantia, Constans' sister and the daughter of Constantine the Great, asked the aged Vetranio to assume the purple. She perhaps thought Vetranio could protect her family and herself against the usurper, and merely hoped to secure his fidelity, though Gibbon credits her notoriously unscrupulous ambition for the scheme, suggesting intrested motives on her part.In any case, Constantius II. was then embroiled in a dangerous struggle with the king of Persia, and she may have doubted her brother's resolution.
Vetranio accepted, and coins were minted in his name, showing the title of Augustus (full emperor), rather than Caesar, and the coins indicated that he expected to rule for five years, and hoped for ten. Constantius was not initially disinclined to accept the election of the Illyrian emperor, but the latter soon joined himself to the cause of Magnentius, and the two presented a united front against Constantius II. in their embassy to his court at Heraclea in Thrace, whither he had arrived from the Persian war. They offered him the senior title in the Empire, and Magnentius proposed to wed his daughter to Constantius, himself to marry Constantia the emperor's sister. But they required that the emperor lay down his arms and ratify their claims to the western provinces. Constantius, supposedly inspired by his father Constantine in a nocturnal vision, indignantly declined the offer.
Constantius, however, designed to conceal his enmity to Vetranio, and, while disdaining negotiation with Magnentius, speciously conceded his (Vetranio's) claims and title, wishing to reconcile him to his cause for the war against Magnentius. The vacillating Illyrian accepted the rapproachment, again uniting himself to the house of Constantine. Constantius met with Vetranio either at Naissus, or Sirmium, or at Serdica, to unite their strength for the war. Constantius presently threw off the disguise. On 25 December 350, in a scene contrived by officers in Vetranio's army well-disposed towards Constantius, the two emperors mounted a tribunal to adress the assembled legions; Constantius succeeded, by means of a strong speech, in which he invoked the glories of the house of Constantine I., to have the Illyrian legions acclaim him sole emperor. Vetranio threw himself on the ground and begged Constantius' clemency. The emperor took the aged general by the hand, called him father, and led him from the field. Though dismissed from his command, he was allowed to live the remainder of his years as a private citizen on a state pension in Prusa ad Olympum, Bithynia. He lived a further six years, dying in simple happiness.
See Philostorgius 3.22 for detail on his rise to power.
- Roman Empire, Vetranio
- Edward Gibbon, The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, (The Modern Library, 1932), chap. XVIII., p. 589, note 75
- Ibid. p. 589
- Roma Numismatics: Roman Empire, Vetranio - Not so Loyal After All
- Gibbon, Ibid. p. 590
- Ibid. p. 591, note 78. Gibbon favors the latter.
- Ibid. p. 592
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vetranio.|
- M. DiMaio Jr., "Vetranio (350 A.D.)", in DIR (1996).
- Vetranio coinage
- Most complete internet database of known coin types of Vetranio
Served alongside: Constantius II