Avi'tus, M. Maeci'lius
emperor of the West, was descended from a noble family in Auvergne, and spent the first thirty years of his life in the pursuits of literature, field-sports, jurisprudence, and arms.
The first public office to which he was promoted was the praetorian praefecture of Gaul, and whilst in retirement in his villa near Clermont, he was appointed master of the armies of Gaul. During this period, he twice went as ambassador to the Visigothic court, first in A. D. 450 to Theodoric I., to secure his alliance on the invasion of Attila; secondly in A. D. 456, to Theodoric II., on which last occasion, having received the news of the death of Maximus, and of the sack of Rome by the Vandals, he was, by the assistance of the Visigoths, raised to the vacant throne; but, after a year's weak and insolent reign, was deposed by Ricimer, and returned to private life as bishop of Placentia.
But the senate having pronounced the sentence of death upon him, he fled to the sanctuary of his patron saint lulian, at Brivas in Auvergne, and there died, or at least was buried. (A. D. 456.)
His private life is chiefly known from the Panegyric of his son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinarus; his public life from Gregor. Turon. 2.11, and Idatius, Chronicon. [A.P.S
The annexed coin of Avitus has on the obverse the head of Avitus crowned with a diadem of pearls, and the inscription D. M. AVITUS PERP. F. AUG., and on the reverse the emperor wearing the paludamentum, and standing with one foot upon a barbarian; in the right hand he holds the cross, and in the left a small figure of Victory.