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EMPRESS VERINA AMONG THE PAGANS1* Margarita Vallejo-Girvés  The long and complex relationship between Emperor Zeno and the Isaurian general Illus, the latter’s rebellion, and Empress Verina’s participation in it were recorded in varying detail by many Late Antique authors, and by historians in the subsequent centuries.2 Nonetheless, scholars such as A. Laniado have noted how fragmentary the ancient accounts are, making it difficult to know precisely how these events actually unfolded.3 Malchus, Candidus, Zacharias Scholastikos4, Liberatus of Carthage, Malalas, Evagrius Scholasticus, John of Antioch, and Theophanes Confessor portray Illus’s revolt as a political showdown with Zeno—a power struggle amongst the Isaurians. However, it can be surmised from their works that they perceived Illus as leaning more toward Dyophisitism than Miaphysitism or to the ideas set forth in the Henotikon, issued by Zeno in 482, two years before the rebellion. These had failed to satisfy all Dyophisites, both eastern and western.5 The Christian Zacharias Scholastikos and the pagan Damascius both allude to the hopes harbored in pagan circles for the success of Illus’s revolt. In two saints’ lives, Zacharias even mentions that Pamprepius, Illus’s main adviser, was a pagan, and, 1  *Research for this paper was conducted in the framework of the project “Contextos históricos de aplicación de las penas de reclusion en el Mediterráneo Oriental (ss. V–VII)” [HAR2014–52744–P], supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Part of the paper was completed in Munich at the Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik. 2  The exception would be Ps. Joshua the Stylite, Chronicle, § 244–246 and Victor of Tunnuna, Chronicon ad a. 483. Although they discuss the rebellion, they do not allude at any time to Verina’s participation in it. 3  Avshalom Laniado, “Some problems in the sources for the reign of the emperor Zeno,”Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (BMGS), 15 (1991): 147–173. 4  With respect to this being the correct identity of the author, rather than Zacharias of Mytilene, see: Sebastian Brock and Brian Fitzgerald, Two Early Lives of Severos, Patriarch of Antioch, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), 15–7. 5 Ariane Kiel-Freytag, “Betrachtungen zur Usurpation des Illus und des Leontius (484–488 n. Chr.),” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 174 (2010), 291–301. i6 p&c 00 book.indb 43 2017.09.20. 16:22 MARGARITA VALLEJO-GIRVÉS 44 furthermore, that some pagans had considered the possibility that paganism could regain its dominance, with Christianity fading away if Illus were victorious.6 Rebellions against imperial power, logically, tended to feature a political component , but at that time it was also common for their leaders to seek support from schools of Christianity struggling to propagate their ideas. It should come as no surprise, then, that as Zeno was more amenable to Miaphysitism, Illus should have attempted to gather Dyophisite support. More perplexing is the relationship which, as we have seen, some authors posit between Illus and the Empire’s pagan intellectual circles.7 All this has led to Illus’s revolt being studied based on profiles of religious affiliations . There have been examinations, for example, of what the relationship between Illus and the Dyophisites leaders of the Eastern Church might have been like.8 Illus’s potential paganism has also been studied, as well as accounts that he had striven to secure pagan support, or that he was effective in securing it.9 Following this line, my intention here is to analyze how the participation of Verina in some episodes of that rebellion—mainly her proclamation of Leontius as the new emperor—is key to the argument that a Christian agenda, rather than a pagan one, was behind the insurrection of Illus. In addition, following the line proposed by Liz James, I shall contribute to the analysis of Verina’s activity in greater depth.10 6 Zach.,Vit. Sev. § 54; Zach.., Vit. Isaiae§ 10; Damasc., Hist. Phil. § 77 b. Cf.The horoscope of Pamprepius in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum(CCAG) 8, 4, 221–224, 20, f. 139v; on the authorship of Rhetorius , see Otto Neugebauer and Henry B. Van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society 1959), 140–41, 187; David Pingree, “Political Horoscopes from the Reign of Zenon,” DOP, 30 (1976) 133–150 (pp. 144–46); cf. Armandus Delatte and Paul Stroobant, ‘L’horoscope de Pamprépius’, Bulletin de l’ Académie Royale de Belgique, Classe des Lettres, 9 (1923), 58–76. 7 To garner support for...


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