In a recent Medieval History class my professor made a statement that Theodoric the Great after he signed up with Byzantines was killed on the orders of Justinian I so the Byzantines could take over Italy. With Theodoric removing Odoacer, with the initial blessing of Zeno it seems that maybe he outlived his usefulness, especially if Theodoric was an Arianist. This supposedly happened in Ravenna, or there abouts. I haven't found much on this, or on Theodoric's death (other than he died on Aug 26, 526). Did Justinian I have Theodoric killed at Ravenna? I don't think it was Justinian I himself, since I can't find anything that says he ever vistied Ravenna but it may have been done on his orders.

Anyone have any primary sources that might note where Theodoric died and how he met his end?

  • 2
    Whoohoo! Thank you for asking a question on a rather obscure subject that I know about! Now I can contribute!
    – Canageek
    Oct 28, 2011 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


I wrote an essay on him last year, and didn't see a single reference to him dying of unnatural causes in any of the following works:

  • Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders 376-814: Volume 3: The Ostrogothic Invasion 476-535 (New York: Russel & Russel, 1880-1889)

  • S. J. B. Barnish, Cassiodorus: Variae, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1992), 90-93

  • Mark J. Johnson, “Toward a History of Theoderic's Building Program”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 42, (1988)

  • Jonathan J. Arnold, “Theoderic, the Goths, and the Restoration of the Roman Empire”, Ph.D. diss., The University of Michigan , 2008)

  • Goffart, Walter, “Rome, Constantinople, and the Barbarians”, The American Historical Review, 86, (1981) 275-306

  • Hutchinson, Paul; Mark, Robert. "On the Structure of the Roman Pantheon." The Art Bulletin, 1986: 24-34.

  • Sanford, Eva Matthews. "The Destruction of Ancient Rome." The Classical Weekly 40, no. 16 (1947): 122-127.

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    Now that is a nice list of sources. Got to give it to you.
    – MichaelF
    Oct 29, 2011 at 10:27

I found a number of different sources that all seem to indicate that he died of old age in his own bed in Ravenna. However, it also appears that he was concerned that Justinian might have been trying to have him killed, because he had become increasingly paranoid about conspiracies. He apparently had a man named Boethius imprisoned and executed on charges of treason which later proved to be false. Theodoric died repentant and remorseful for this act at the ripe old age of 75.




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    Boethius was a good friend of his that he had do a lot of work for him, as shown in Variae.
    – Canageek
    Mar 6, 2012 at 21:46
  • Also, Byzantium The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Emoire, 2008, page 65.
    – Apoorv
    May 22, 2012 at 16:28

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