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Odotheus (in Zosimus Aedotheus) was a Greuthungi king who in 386 led an incursion into the Roman Empire. He was defeated and killed by the Roman general Promotus.[1] His surviving people settled in Phrygia.

Invasion of Roman Empire[edit]

After the major Gothic entry into the Roman Empire in 376, there still remained substantial numbers of Goths in several kingdoms north and east of the lower Danube.[2] In the year 386 the king Odotheus led his people into the Empire, possibly fleeing Hunnic hegemony, but Heather (1996:103) disputes this. The incursion was described as a heavy assault against the Romans and constituted the second opposition on the Lower Danube frontier, since other Gothic groups also fought the Romans on the same front.[3] An account cited that the Greuthungi were crushed when they tried to cross the Danube.[4] It is also said that many of these armed troops perished in an ambush since the Danube crossing was partially successful.[5] This incident was noted in Claudian's Panegyric, which was delivered to honor Emperor Honorius' fourth consulate.[6]

Odotheus was brought to battle and killed by the general Promotus. Zosimus gives two versions (4.35 and 4.38-9), generally thought to be of the same story; the second version calls them Grothingi and speaks of a betrayal (or entrapment) by Promotus. The survivors of his people were settled in Phrygia; some were drafted into the Army and some became agricultural labourers.[7]

Fate of Odotheus' People[edit]

In 399, Tribigild, a Gothic commander in Roman service who led a unit of these Phrygian survivors of Odotheus' kingdom,[8] rose in revolt. Michael Kulikowski suggests the Goths of Tribigild were in fact survivors of the massacres in Asia Minor of 378/9, after the Battle of Adrianople.[9] Gainas, another Gothic general sent to suppress him, suborned Tribigild's revolt for his own purposes. After some initial successes, Gainas was suppressed and fled north of the Danube, only to be killed by the Hunnic chieftain Uldin.[10] Thus perished many of Odotheus' remaining people; the fate of the rest in Phrygia is unknown.

The Greuthungi's settlement in Phrygia facilitated the so-called Gothicization of the Danubian provinces and, later, Asia Minor.[5]


  1. ^ Zosimus, V.36 seems to put this before the death of Gratian in 383, but in IV.39 he tells of Theodosius recruiting the survivors for the coming campaign against Magnus Maximus, and Claudian Cos. Hon IV 633–37 dates the victory over Odotheus by Honorius’ first consulship, i.e. 386
  2. ^ Heather (1996), 56
  3. ^ Heather, Peter (2007). The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. New York: Oxford University Press, USA. p. 154. ISBN 9780195325416.
  4. ^ Dunn, Marilyn (2013). Belief and Religion in Barbarian Europe c. 350-700. London: Bloomsbury Press. p. 42. ISBN 9781441100238.
  5. ^ a b Wolfram, Herwig (1997). The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780520244900.
  6. ^ Christensen, Arne Søby (2002). Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 214. ISBN 8772897104.
  7. ^ Heather (1996), n. 10 to p. 138. "Zosimus 4.35, 38-9, Cons. Const. s.a. 386 (= CM 1, 244). captivi: Claudian In Eut. 2.582. coloni: ibid. 205".
  8. ^ Heather (1996), 144
  9. ^ Kulikowski 2006, p. 154
  10. ^ Zosimus V.21-22