What was the physical appearance of Theodoric I, the King of the Visigoths? Although there are paintings portraying him as blonde, I haven't come across any sources that provide a description of his appearance. Armored man with a crown and spear

Fantasy style closeup of a blond man with a beard, crown and rings on each finger


1 Answer 1


We don't know.

I believe the closest thing we have to a contemporaneous account about Theodoric is Jordanes' Getica. It was written about 100 years after Theodoric died. He does cite as his source a previous supposedly more extensive work on the Goths by Cassiodorus, however all copies of that work are lost, so all we know about it is the little bit Jordanes chose to give us.

Getica interestingly has a whole page of description for Atilla*, but only this one sentence description for Theodoric (as translated by Charles Christopher Mierow):

He was a man of the greatest moderation and notable for vigor of mind and body.

While not the detailed physical description you were probably hoping for, we can probably surmise that the man should not be portrayed as either overweight or scrawny. At least not according to Jordanes.

* - The description of Atilla was clearly intended to paint the man as the villain of the piece. Its only missing a "Boo! Hiss!" cue card. Which makes the action-hero-esque description of Theodoric a bit suspect too. But its what we have to work with.

  • Extending the action-movie metaphor, its also funny how much more developed of a character the Bad Guy is than the protagonist in this bit of Getica, just like in a typical action flick. I believe the rationale behind that (in the action flicks) tends to be that it leaves the viewer with more wiggle room to insert themselves as the hero.
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:58
  • Thank you for your response. I've noticed that various websites often confuse Theodoric I [Born: 393 AD; Died: 451 AD] with Theodoric the Great [Born: 454 AD; Died: 526 AD], and I had a similar experience. Dec 20, 2023 at 15:11

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