Talk:Flavius Aetius

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This has been transfered from Aetius after death part:

New Scholarship Not Included[edit]

This article relies far too heavily on outdated scholarship (i.e. J.B.Bury and Edward Gibbon) which privileged internal collapse over external factors, hence all this talk of Aetius being manly and full of Roman vigour and what not, which is all very picturesque, but not very relevant.

The leading historian on Late Antiquity, Peter Heather, is noticeable by his absence. His 'The Fall of the Roman Empire' (2005) is considered the best work on the subject, and its central thesis (for a summary see Decline of the Roman Empire) has not been seriously contested since he first proposed it ('The Huns and the End of the Roman Empire in Western Europe', English Historical Review 1995).

The best solution would be to edit down the existing sections (which as it is are rather verbose) to reflect this view (which it can be safely said is the majority opinion) and then add a section subsequently on the historiographical tradition in which Aetius became a poster-boy for a particular view of the end of empire (i.e. Gibbon's). This could be profitably linked to the existing section on his representation in the arts.

Incidentally, it is also a concern that whoever wrote the article talks about Aetius only from a Roman perspective. It would be useful to view him from the context of his Hun collaborators who, after all, were the basis of his power. In this respect, see E.A.Thompson's 'The Huns' (the 2nd edition with Peter Heather's afterword) and O.J.Maenchen-Helfen's 'The World of the Huns', both of which provide detailed narratives of Hunno-Roman relations (though differing on many points, cf. Heather's afterword on this).

Finally, the reliance on military history here is a worry. For this period it is unusually bad, and to view Aetius as a general whose career was a series of battles obscures the fact that he was a politician first and a soldier second. Having briefly checked the bibliographies of several standard works on this period, I see no references to either Creasy or Ferrill which makes me suspect they are not considered particularly sound sources. Moreover, on checking Arthur Ferrill's faculty profile (University of Washington), it becomes apparent that late antiquity is not his field, but rather something he took a passing interest in. Consequently, it is misleading to the general wikipedia user to cite him as a repsected authority on this subject.

Aneurin Ellis-Evans (Balliol) 14:00, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Ten years later the entry is still full of imbalanced, outdated and chauvinistic scholarship. This thing needs a rewrite, badly. — Kleio (t · c) 13:26, 15 January 2017 (UTC)
I did give it an extensive overhaul based on some more recent scholarship, although it needs to have a lot done in the area of Aetius' management of the west, which Meghan McEvoy recently wrote an extensive treatise on child emperor rule in 2013 and this article would heavily benefit from (along with the articles on Valentinian II, Valentinian III, Honorius, Stilicho, and Arbogast). The book, in fact, will arrive this week for me (could finally afford my own copy) and I will make some edits then.
There is other scholarship on Aetius as well, but the fact of the matter is that the only affordable biography was written by Ian Hughes. The other two are from the 90's and one will run you about 500 dollars, and the other there are only two copies of, one in England and one in Germany. MMFA (talk) 18:31, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

After death[edit]

His final legacy has been similar to that of Stilicho . Both were the best Roman generals of their time, and both were killed by jealous emperors. Aetius was a brilliant general but failed to look at how the map of Rome would stand later on. At the time of his death not one province of Rome in western Europe was without a significant barbarian presence. After his victories he allowed the barbarians to stay inside the Empire's borders in exchange for peace, and for troops to defend the empire. He also failed to continue to develop Rome's navies, a significant problem for later emperors. Some historians argue while he nominally preserved the peace, his reactionary stances left Rome ripe for its fall. But this ignores that no single figure, at this point in Rome's decline, could have reversed her fortunes. The Romans no longer raised their own armies. They no longer manned their own navies. These problems existed decades, even centuries, before Aetius became the last great Roman commander. Gibbons felt that Aetius delayed the fall, rather than contributed to it. His allowing Barbarians to stay recognized two simple facts: they could not be driven out without leaving Rome without the means to defend herself, because they provided virtually all her troops, and they contributed to the peace as a part of the empire, rather than attacking it from the outside.

On what is the claim of Aëtius' being a "brilliant general" based? He failed to effectively defend the usurper John; he was defeated by Boniface; he fought some minor skirmishes with the Visigoths, but never managed to subdue them; and he participated in an inconclusive battle against Attila in Gaul, but failed to mount any resistance to him at all in Italy. Shouldn't "brilliant general" be amended to "brilliant politician"? Abou 21:59, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
In his first 10 years of rule he has defeated many barbarians invasion, and after that you have Chalons. Yes he has been defeated from Boniface, but he is not guilty for coming late to help John. He has come with barbarian soldiers not his own, so he has not been in possibility to know when he will come. You must not forget that ulmost every great general in history has been defeated minimal 1 time ( Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon ). rjecina

My thinking about that[edit]

I can't agree about this thinking on Aetius after death situation but why not let people see second opinion. Even thinking of Gibbon is without importance and is not have any influence on that part of article ( I am creator of that part ). Strategic situation has been simple. Must important province of "West Roman empire" has been Africa. Even in AD 410 Alaric has see signification of that province and demanded from emperor Attalus which he has created ships for going with Visigoth in Africa. Attalus his puppet has refused to give ships even under death treath because barbarians in Africa is nightmare scenario. Majorian after Aetius death has seen that but he has been defeated. Even "East Roman empire" has started Africa invasion in time of emperor Leo but they have been defeated. 4 emperors ( last is Anthemius )in V century has seen that but not Aetius ??? Even in worst scenario without Gaul, Britannia and Hispania "empire" has good opportunity to survive in Italia, Balcans and Africa with East Roman soldiers which are protecting force. They have make minimal 5 military intervention for protection of "West Roman Empire". They have greatest European army of V century and that can never be forgotten in Europe strategic situation. rjecina

I agree in part, but feel that Gibbons view, and others, such as Watson, should be presented. I tried to do so, while respecting your points, which are well taken. Hope you feel the wording was acceptable...OLDWINDBYEAR

Aetius will be forever remembered for the victory at Chalons.


While I agree that it is necessary to present a diverse group of opinions on Aetius' life and legacy, the current version is all but unreadable. While I commend the desire to credit, internally and externally, sources that present valid criticism of Aetius, it seems that the article has instead become more of a report or a contrast of different interpretations. I was wondering if anyone else thought that something might need to be done to make this a more, umm, readable and informative article. -Whay912 00:15, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Agreed! The current text is simply dreadful! Most readers don't give a French fig for what one dum academic thinks over another. Wikipedia is not intended as an academic pointscoring exercise. This sort of academic argy-bargy could be relegated to a separate section with it's own sub-head. Now if it were a question of the only two antique sources on Aetius giving diametrically different views, then fair enough; some of that should stay in the main text. But it's not. In my view the TEXT DEFINITELY NEEDS A MAJOR RE-EDIT!! And the author of the original piece deserves a conical cap with big 'D' painted on the front, for unnecessary mangling of the English language. 00:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC) Woofgrrr

Aetius v. Aëtius[edit]

I've always seen Aetius, not Aëtius, and browsing books on Amazon and looking at the Encyclopedia Britannica, I see the same - a lack of dieresis. Can anyone justify the use of the dieresis before I change it? Chris Weimer 04:38, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

See discussion on Talk:Aetius. I don't feel strongly about it... --Macrakis 06:51, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

The diaresis was not used in the latin language, It's turkish I think MMFA (talk) 01:50, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Making the article more coherant[edit]

There is obviously massive disagreement here as to Aetius place in history. Was he the fool who lost Africa, or the hero of Chalons who did what he could amid a crumbling Empire whose citizens would not defend themselves? We need the names and references of the historians that allege he lost Africa and ignored the Navy. We obviously cannot do original research per wikipedia policy, and thus the historians who allege these flaws must be named and the references specifically cited. I reworded the legacy to reflect the disagreements in a more coherant way, noted where citations are needed, and await input. If the historical references are not forthcoming, the section will be reworked to reflect the more conventional view of Aetius, with Bury's feelings on Chalons noted. (It must be noted that while Bury was a respected historian, he was nowhere close to the military historian Sir Edward Creasy was, and certainly not considered Gibbon's equal either, and his views are a distinct minority view)old windy bear 00:37, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

  • 1 last point. What is so important in battle of Chalons ?? What has wanted Atila in Galia ?? He has wanted to attack Visigoth and make Galia province of his empire. Now last question ? For Roman Empire in 450 what is more important destruction of Visigoth what for Empire army is not possible to do or 1 province which has been in great part already lost ??rjecina 30.06.2006
rjecina For starters, the greatest recognized military historian of all time, Sir Edward Creasy, says that Chalons was one of the 15 decisive battles of world history. You cannot counter with Bury, who has nowhere near the recognition of even Gibbon. and even Bury does not reach the conclusions about Aetius you do! You must state historians views, and cite sources, or the comments on Africa, the Navy, and reactionary stances by Aetius will be struck. Original research or conclusions is out, you have to cite historians, and the sources, page, et al., of the work they made such a claim in. old windy bear 17:54, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Battle of Chalons importance is typical western european myth. It is even greater of Charles Great. Because you have read Bury maybe, maybe you can read it one more time to look what has he writen about Carthago fall and Battle of Chalons. Now maybe you will now understand something new ? All in all speaking serious you can say that Bury is in part guilty because of my low thinking about Aetius ?? rjecina 23:23 CET, 30.06.2006

rjecina It is not important what I think, though I agree with you in part - but Bury does not "blame" Aetius as much as he does condemn the general decay of the Empire. He is virtually alone in the West in his feelings on Chalons, and no reputable eastern historian I am aware of even supports his theories. You may well be right in your theories - I am not deinerating the intelligence of your work, simply saying we cannot cite it, or mine, because it is original research. I hope you understand. old windy bear 22:30, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Aetius did not lose Africa - he couldn't do anything about it was the problem. In 439 his Hunnic Retainer was lost at toulose by the Incompetent Litorius, and the Eastern Empire couldn't support his Bucellarii and Field army with thier ships when Attila attacked Gaul. When he gathered at Palermo (Panormus) in 440 he had no ships, the Roman Navy hadn't been intact, or at least not competent, in decades. He wasn't a hero of the west; he was a self serving Gallic landlord, which is why all we hear about is his gallic campaigns MMFA (talk) 01:55, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Stewart Irvin Oost on Aetius[edit]

Has anyone read the JSTOR article on Aetius and Majorian by Stewart Irvin Oost? It mentioned Aetius having a vested interest in Gaul because he personally owned a great deal of land in that province. Can anyone verify this? I certainly think that that would have a great deal to do with why he mustered the defense of Gaul so well but not Italy and other provinces...


Gibbons makes a reference to "His Religion" but it is unclear whether he is refering to Aetius or Valentinian (although I suspect it is Valentinian). Aetius seems to be named after an earlier Arian, although his name has been mangled by contemporaries into forms of Attis (a pagan name). Any thoughts on his religion? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dpartlow (talkcontribs) 18:19, 10 August 2009 (UTC)


I noticed the pronunciation is wrong, but I don't have the knowledge of Wikipedia's system to change it.

It should be "Flavius" (A as in "at", V is pronounced as a "w", I as "ee" like "bee", and u as in "oo" like "goose") "Aetius" ("Ae as long I like the word "I", I and U the same as in "Flavius", and the T is pronounced, not melded into -"shush").

The "Ae" being pronounced as "A" as in "Base" doesn't occur in the Latin Language and actually comes from Arabic or Turkish, I think. Although the V as a "w" could probably be skipped out on, the rest needs to be changed.

MMFA (talk) 01:29, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

The current pronunciation is supposed to be the usual way English-speaking people (in practice, academics -- who else talks of Flavius Aetius?) pronounce the name. What you are talking about is a historically correct reconstruction of the actual contemporary Latin pronunciation. I suppose both are worth mentioning, but they shouldn't be confused. Along the same lines, the usual modern pronunciation of Caesar sounds like "s + (g)eezer", not like "k + (my) eyes are". --Macrakis (talk) 02:21, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
The correct pronunciation can be found in the poems of Sidonius Apollinaris, (e.g. Carmen 5.305) where it's arranged in Dactyl Hexameter. The correct pronunciation divides the name into four syllables: A-e-ti-us, because the word comes from Greek, not Latin. Although "Ae" in Latin is a dipthong, since it comes from Greek, it is not. It is correctly pronounced "Ah-eh-tee-oos", with the A- as in "Maw", the -e- as in "bet", -ti- as in "Tea" and -us as in "Caboose". MMFA (talk) 14:54, 2 March 2016 (UTC)