This "sacrilegus judex" has been identified with Athanaric, a later persecutor, but the identification is not beyond question.
Catholic missionaries had not been wanting in the meanwhile, and in the indiscriminate persecution by Athanaric, between 370 and 375, Catholics and Arians stood and fell side by side.
The religious quarrel either accentuated, or was accentuated by, political differences, and the rival chiefs, Athanaric and Frithigern, appeared as champions of Paganism and Christianity respectively.
Athanaric waged, from 367 to 369, an unsuccessful war with the emperor Valens, and the peace by which the war was ended was ratified by the Roman and Gothic rulers meeting on a barge in mid-stream of the Danube.
Athanaric was a harsh and obstinate heathen, and his short reign was chiefly famous for his brutal persecution of his Christian fellowcountrymen.
The bulk of the Visigothic people sought refuge within the Empire in the region now known as Bulgaria, but Athanaric seems to have fled into Transylvania.
Balamir now directed his victorious arms still farther westward against that portion of the Visigothic nation (or Tervingi) which acknowledged the authority of Athanaric. The latter entrenched himself on the frontier which had separated him from the Ostrogoths, behind the "Greutungrampart" and the Dniester; but he was surprised by the enemy, who forded the river in the night, fell suddenly upon his camp, and compelled him to abandon his position.
Athanaric next attempted to establish himself in the territory between the Pruth and the Danube, and with this object set about heightening the old Roman wall which Trajan had erected in north-eastern Dacia; before his fortifications, however, were complete, the Huns were again upon him, and without a battle he was forced to retreat to the Danube.
The remainder of the Visigoths, under Alavivus and Fritigern, now began to seek, and ultimately were successful in obtaining (376), the permission of the emperor Valens to settle in Thrace; Athanaric meanwhile took refuge in Transylvania, thus abandoning the field without any serious struggle to the irresistible Huns.
Another saint of this name, surnamed "the Goth," suffered martyrdom at the hands of Athanaric the Visigoth in the reign of Valentinian, and he is commemorated on the 12th of April in the Roman Martyrology, on varying days from 12th to, 8th in the Greek Menologies.
His rival Athanaric seems to have tried to maintain his party for a while north of the Danube in defiance of the Huns; but he had presently to follow the example of the great mass of the nation.
Athanaric himself came to Constantinople in 381; he was received with high honours, and had a solemn funeral when he died.
He persuaded the fugitive Visigoth king Athanaric to enter his service, and enlisted 40,000 of his former enemies as foederati, providing them with settlements in various parts of the realm.