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ATAULPHUS (the Latinized form of the Gothic Ataulf,
“Father-wolf,” from atta, father, and vulfs, wolf; mod. Germ.
Adolf, Latinized as Adolphus, the form used by Gibbon for the
subject of this article), king of the Goths (d. 415). On the death
of Alaric (q.v.) his followers acclaimed his brother-in-law Ataulphus
as king. In 412 he quitted Italy and led his army across
the Alps into Gaul. Here he fought against some of the usurpers
who threatened the throne of Honorius; he made some sort of
compact with that emperor and, in 414, he married his sister
Placidia, who had been since the siege of Rome a captive in the
camp of the Goths. The ex-emperor Attalus danced at the
marriage festival, which was celebrated with great pomp at
Narbonne. In 415 Ataulphus crossed the Pyrenees into Spain
and died at Barcelona, being assassinated by a groom. The
most important fact in his history is his confession, recorded by
Orosius, that he saw the inability of his countrymen to rear a
civilized or abiding kingdom, and that consequently his aim
should be to build on Roman foundations and blend the two
nations into one.
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