Zenonis Wife of Basiliscus

Zenonis Wife of Basiliscus

Aelia Zenonis was the Empress consort of Basiliscus, the brother of Verina who was the Empress consort to Leo I and mother to Ariadne. Her niece Ariadne was Empress consort to Zeno and mother of Leo II. Her ancestry is unknown. In the meantime, the regime of Basiliscus had brought an extraordinary character named Armatus. Contemporary accounts portray him to be a capricious and effeminate fool who was prone to prancing around the city dressed up as Achilles in order to attract attention. Nevertheless, Armatus was said to have been the secret lover of the new empress, Zenonis. Basiliscus had sent him into battle as a general against Zeno, but he betrayed him and supported Zeno.

During August 476AD, Zeno besieged Constantinople. The Senate opened the gates of the city allowing the deposed emperor to resume the throne. Basiliscus fled to sanctuary in a church, but he was betrayed and surrendered himself and his family after extracting a solemn promise from Zeno not to shed their blood. Basiliscus, his wife Aelia Zenonis and his son Marcus were sent to a fortress in Cappadocia. They were offered their lives in return for submitting to exile, but the Phrygian castle in which they were eventually confined was sealed up and became their tomb. As the story goes, Zeno had them enclosed in a dry cistern, to die from exposure.

 

 

Monetary System

Mints: Milan; Constantinople

Obverse Legends:

AEL ZENONIS AVG


DENOMINATIONS

AU Solidus (4.50 grams)
AE4 Nummus


Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong