Visigothic chieftain from 364 to 376 who fiercely persecuted the Christians in Dacia (approximately modern Romania). The persecutions occurred between 369 and 372; his most important victim was St. Sabas the Goth. In 376 Athanaric was defeated by the Huns. He fled with a few followers to Transylvania (region in present-day Romania), but the bulk of his people, led by Fritigern, fled to the Roman Empire. Athanaric, too, took refuge there in 381 but died at Constantinople a fortnight after his arrival.
Learn more about Athanaric with a free trial on Britannica.com.