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Romulus Augustus

Romulus Augustus (d. after 511) was the last of the Western Roman Emperors.

On September 4, 476 he was compelled to abdicate by Odoacer, an act that was long considered the end of the western Roman Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) continued until 1453). By that time, though, Rome had already lost its hegemony over the provinces, and Germanic generals like Odoacer had long been the real power behind the throne.

He is frequently known by a diminutive nickname "Romulus Augustulus." The Latin termination -ulus diminishes the scale of any noun; hence, "Augustulus" would mean "the Little Augustus." However, his name was Romulus Augustus.

Unlike many of the later western Roman Emperors, Romulus' life after abdication seems to have been a good one. Because of his youth, Odoacer spared his life (although he executed his father Orestes, who had placed Romulus on the throne), and sent him to the district of Campania to live with relatives. He also granted him an annual pension, which was later confirmed by Odoacer's conqueror Theodoric the Great in 507 and again in 511. Romulus founded a monastery that lasted for hundreds of years, but he does not appear to have lived to see the restoration of Roman authority in Italy in 536.

His legitimacy as the last Roman emperor is often questioned. He was never recognized by the eastern Emperor Zeno, who continued to recognize Julius Nepos as emperor even after Orestes deposed him in 475. However, most modern accounts consider Romulus, and not Nepos, as the last emperor of the west.

Romulus Augustus in fiction

Romulus Augustus is the main character of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play Romulus der Große (translated to english as "Romulus"), which revolves around the last days of Romulus' emperorship.

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Preceded by:
Julius Nepos (474 - 475/480)
Roman emperors
(Western Empire ends)