Augustus (Estern Roman Empire) AD 474 - 491
Tarasicodissa, changed his name to Zeno upon his marriage to Leo I's daughter, Ariadne.
Husband of Aelia Ariadne;
Father of Leo II;
Son-in-law of Leo I and Aelia Verina;
Brother-in-law of Leontia (wife of Patricius).
AD 474 - co-Augustus with Leo II
AD 474 - 475 - First Sole reign
AD 475 - 476 - Deposed
AD 476 - 477 - Augustus with Leo Caesar as Caesar
AD 477 - 491 - Second Sole reign
Paralel rulers of the Western Roman Empire:
Glycerius (AD 473 - 474)
Julius Nepos (AD 474 - 475, 480)
Romulus Augustus (AD 475 - 476)
Odovacar - King (AD 476 - 493)
Zeno's real name was Tarasicodissa and he hailed from the province of Isauria in south-eastern Asia Minor. Emperor Leo I brought him to Constantinople and made him commander of a guard of his compatriots to counterbalance the power of the Alan Aspar and his Germans. He furthermore married him to his daughter and made him Master of Soldiers. The rivalry between the two commanders led, in time to Aspar's elimination. Upon Leo's death he became first regent for his five-year old son Leo, and sole emperor a year later when the youngster died in his turn. Zeno's first problem was to deal with Aspar's friends and kinsmen, the powerful Vandal Gaiseric and the Ostrogoth Theodoric Strabo, and a conspiracy led by his mother-in-law, Aelia Verina, one of his Isaurian generals, Illus. Zeno had to flee to Isauria for twenty months, but after the pretender lost the support of the Senate and the army, he returned in the capital in late 476. His first important action thereafter was to put a de facto end to the Western Empire, for he gave Odoacer the title of Patrician, and the later issued coins in Zeno's name. The rest of his reign was just as troubled, for he had to suppress a new rebellion of Illus, and battle numerous internal and external enemies. Unlike other eastern emperors, he was also religiously tolerant, and his reign is seen as improvement upon that of Loe, for he was less avaricious and less cruel. In 483 Illus was asked to release Longinus, Zeno's brother whom he had taken hostage. When Illus refused to do this, he was dismissed. He rebelled in 484 and Zeno sent another Isaurian, Leontius, against him. Illus persuaded Leontius to desert Zeno and then, with the support of Verina, declared Leontius Augustus. Another general, Ioannes the Scythian, led another army east, and rapidly defeated Illus at Antioch in Syria. Illus was then besieged at Papirius in Isauria. Verina died in the first year of the siege. The fortress was betrayed in 488 and Leontius and Illus were executed. Zeno's interests in the West were minimal, in part because the other problems he faced were so severe. Initial raids by the Vandals were dealt with by negotiation. In 474 Zeno declared Nepos western Emperor in Italy, though by August 475 he had been replaced and forced into Dalmatia. Zeno continued to recognize Nepos as emperor down to his death in 480, then accepted Odoacer as patricius. In the Balkans, down to 481, when Theoderic Strabo died in an accident, Zeno was able to play off the two Gothic groups of Theoderic Strabo and Theoderic the Amal against one another. After 481, Theoderic the Amal proved dangerous until 488, when Zeno sent him against Odoacer in Italy, removing the main independent Gothic body in the Balkans. During Zeno's reign there was a danger of conflict with the Persians, though this was avoided.
Mints: Antioch, Constantinopolis, Cyzicus, Mediolanum, Nicomedia, Ravenna, Rome, Thessalonica.
List all Zeno coins in the Catalog.