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The two Valerians

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1932

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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The 30 Pretenders

(Vol. III) Historia Augusta

p17 The Two Gallieni

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When Valerian was captured (for where should we begin the biography of Gallienus,1 if not with that calamity which, above all, brought disgrace on his life?), when the commonwealth was tottering, when Odaenathus had seized the rule of the East, and when Gallienus was rejoicing in the news of his father's captivity, the armies began to range about on all sides, the generals in all the provinces to murmur, and great was the grief of all men that Valerian, a Roman emperor, was held as a slave in Persia. But greater far was the grief of them all that now having received the imperial power, Gallienus, by his mode of life, as his father by his fate, brought ruin on the commonwealth.2

p19 2 So then, when Gallienus and Volusianus were consuls, Macrianus and Ballista met together, called in the remains of the army, and, since the Roman power in the East was tottering, sought someone to appoint as emperor.3 For Gallienus was showing himself so careless of public affairs that his name was not even mentioned to the soldiers. 3 It was then finally decided to choose Macrianus and his sons as emperors and to undertake the defence of the state. And so the imperial power was offered to Macrianus. 4 Now the reasons why Macrianus and his sons should be chosen to rule were these: First of all, no one of the generals of that time was held to be wiser, and none more suited to govern the state; in the second place, he was the richest, and could by his private fortune make good the public losses. 5 In addition to this, his sons, most valiant young men, rushed with all spirit into the war, ready to serve as an example to the legions in all the duties of soldiers.

2 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Accordingly, Macrianus sought reinforcements on every side and, in order to strengthen his power, took control of the party which he himself had formed. So well did he make ready for war that he was a match for all measures which could be devised against him. 2 He also chose Piso,4 one of the nobles and of the foremost men in the senate, as governor of Achaea, in order that he might crush Valens,5 who was administering that province with the authority of a proconsul. 3 Valens, however, learning that Piso was marching against him, assumed the imperial power. Piso, therefore, withdrew into Thessaly, 4 and there he, p21together with many, was slain by the soldiers sent against him by Valens. Now Piso, too, was saluted as emperor with the surname Thessalicus.

5 Macrianus, moreover, now that the East was brought into subjection, left there one of his sons, and came first of all into Asia, and from there set out for Illyricum. 6 Here, having with him one of his sons and a force of thirty thousand soldiers, he engaged in battle with Domitianus,6 a general of Aureolus the emperor, who had assumed the imperial power in opposition to Gallienus.7 7 He was, however, defeated, together with his son, Macrianus by name, and his whole army surrendered to the Emperor Aureolus.

3 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Meanwhile, when the commonwealth had been thrown into confusion throughout the entire world, Odaenathus,8 learning that Macrianus and his son had been slain, that Aureolus was ruling, and that Gallienus was administering the state with still greater slackness, hastened forward to seize the other son of Macrianus, together with his army, should Fortune so permit. 2 But those who were with Macrianus' son — whose name was Quietus — taking sides with Odaenathus, by the instigation of Ballista, Macrianus' prefect, killed the young man, and, casting his body over the wall, they all in large numbers surrendered to Odaenathus. 3 And so Odaenathus was made emperor over almost the whole East, while Aureolus held Illyricum and Gallienus Rome. 4 This same Ballista murdered, in addition to Quietus and the guardian of his treasures, many of the people of Emesa,9 to whom Macrianus' soldiers had fled, with the result that this city was nearly destroyed. 5 Odaenathus, meanwhile, as if p23taking the side of Gallienus, caused all that had happened to be announced to him truthfully.

6 Gallienus, on the other hand, when he learned that Macrianus and his sons were slain, as though he were secure in his power and his father were now set free, surrendered himself to lust and pleasure.10 7 He gave spectacles in the circus, spectacles in the theatre, gymnastic spectacles, hunting spectacles, and gladiatorial spectacles also, and he invited all the populace to merriment and applause, as though it were a day of victory. 8 And whereas most men mourned at his father's captivity, he, under the pretext of doing him honour — on the ground that his father had been caught through his zeal for valour — made merry beyond measure. 9 It was generally supposed, moreover, that he could not endure his father's censure and that it was his desire to feel no longer his father's authority bearing heavily upon his neck.

4 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam During this same time Aemilianus11 in Egypt took the imperial power, and seizing the granaries he overcame many towns by the pressure of hunger. 2 However, Theodotus, Gallienus' general, after fighting a battle captured him, and stripping him of his emperor's trappings sent him alive to Gallienus. After this Egypt was assigned to Theodotus. As for Aemilianus, he was strangled in prison, while the soldiers of Thebes were cruelly punished and many were put to death.

3 Now while Gallienus, continuing in luxury and debauchery, gave himself up to amusements and revelling and administered the commonwealth like a boy who plays at holding power, the Gauls, by nature unable to endure princes who are frivolous and given over to luxury and have fallen below the standard of p25Roman valour, called Postumus to the imperial power;12 and the armies, too, joined with them, for they complained of an emperor who was busied with his lusts. 4 Thereupon Gallienus himself led his army against him, and when he began to besiege the city in which Postumus was, the Gauls defended it bravely, and Gallienus, as he went around the walls, was struck by an arrow. 5 So for seven years13 Postumus held his power and with the greatest vigour protected the regions of Gaul from all the barbarians surging about. 6 Forced by this evil plight, Gallienus made peace with Aureolus14 in his desire to fight with Postumus, and, as the war dragged on to great length amid various sieges and battles, he conducted the campaign, now with good success and again with ill.15 7 These evils had been further increased by the fact that the Scythians16 had invaded Bithynia and destroyed its cities. 8 Finally they set fire to Astacus, later called Nicomedia, and plundered it cruelly. 9 Last of all, when all parts of the Empire were thrown into commotion, as though by a conspiracy of the whole world, there arose in Sicily also a sort of slave-revolt, for bandits roved about and were put down only with great difficulty. 5Legamen ad paginam Latinam All these things were done out of contempt for Gallienus, for there is nothing so quick to inspire evil men to daring and good men to the hope of good things as an evil emperor who is feared or a depraved one who is despised.

p27 2 In the consulship of Gallienus and Fausianus, amid so many calamities of war, there was also a terrible earthquake and a darkness for many days. 3 There was heard, besides, the sound of thunder, not like Jupiter thundering, but as though the earth were roaring. And by the earthquake many structures were swallowed up together with their inhabitants, and many men died of fright. This disaster, indeed, was worst in the cities of Asia; 4 but Rome, too, was shaken and Libya also was shaken. In many places the earth yawned open, and salt water appeared in the fissures. 5 Many cities were even overwhelmed by the sea. Therefore the favour of the gods was sought by consulting the Sibylline Books, and, according to their command, sacrifices were made to Jupiter Salutaris.17 For so great a pestilence,18 too, had arisen in both Rome and the cities of Achaea that in one single day five thousand men died of the same disease.

6 While Fortune thus raged, and while here earthquakes, there clefts in the ground, and in divers places pestilence, devastated the Roman world, while Valerian was held in captivity and the provinces of Gaul were, for the most part, beset, while Odaenathus was threatening war, Aureolus pressing hard on Illyricum, and Aemilianus in possession of Egypt, a portion of the Goths . . . which name, as has previously been related, was given to the Goths, having seized Thrace and plundered Macedonia, laid siege to Thessalonica,19 and nowhere was hope of peace held out, p29even to a slight degree. 7 All these things, as I have frequently said, were done out of contempt for Gallienus, a man given over to luxury and ever ready, did he feel free from danger, for any disgraceful deed.

6 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Against these same Goths a battle was fought in Achaea under the leadership of Marcianus,20 and being defeated they withdrew from there through the country of the Achaeans. 2 The Scythians — they are a portion of the Goths — devastated Asia and even plundered and burned the Temple of the Moon at Ephesus,21 the fame of which building is known through all nations. 3 I am ashamed to relate what Gallienus used often to say at this time, when such things were happening, as though jesting amid the ills of mankind. 4 For when he was told of the revolt of Egypt, he is said to have exclaimed "What! We cannot do without Egyptian linen!" 5 and when informed that Asia had been devastated both by the violence of nature and by the inroads of the Scythians, he said, "What! We cannot do without saltpetre!" 6 and when Gaul was lost, he is reported to have laughed and remarked, "Can the commonwealth be safe without Atrebatic22 cloaks?" 7 Thus, in short, with regard to all parts of the world, as he lost them, he would jest, as though seeming to have suffered the loss of some article of trifling service. 8 And finally, that no disaster might be lacking to his times, the city of Byzantium, famed for its naval wars and the key to the Pontus, was destroyed by the soldiers of Gallienus himself so completely, that not a single soul survived.23 9 In fact, no ancient family can now be p31found among the Byzantines, unless some member, engaged in travel or warfare, escaped to perpetuate the antiquity and noble descent of his stock.

7 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam Gallienus, then, entered into war against Postumus,24 having with him Aureolus and the general Claudius, afterwards emperor and the head of the family of Constantius our Caesar.25 And Postumus, too, with many auxiliary troops of Celts and Franks advanced to the fight, in company with Victorinus,26 with whom he had shared the imperial power. After several battles had been fought with varying outcome, the side of Gallienus was finally victorious. 2 In fact, Gallienus had the boldness of suddenly aroused valour, for at times he was violently stirred by affronts. Then finally he went forth to avenge the wrongs of the Byzantines. And whereas he had no expectation of being received within the walls, he was admitted next day, and then, after placing a ring of armed men around the disarmed soldiers, contrary to the agreement he had made he caused them all to be slain. 3 During this time, too, the Scythians in Asia were routed by the courage and skill of the Roman generals and retired to their own abode.

4 Now Gallienus, after the slaughter of the soldiers at Byzantium, as though he had performed some mighty feat, hastened to Rome in a rapid march, convened the senators, and celebrated a decennial festival with new kinds of spectacles, new varieties of parades, and the most elaborate sort of amusements.27 8Legamen ad paginam Latinam First of all, he repaired to the Capitol with the senators and the equestrian order dressed in their togas and with the soldiers dressed all in white, and p33with all the populace going ahead, while the slaves of almost all and the women preceded them, bearing waxen flambeaux and torches. 2 There preceded them, too, on each side one hundred white oxen, having their horns bound with golden cords and resplendent in many-coloured silken covers; 3 also two hundred lambs of glistening white went ahead on each side, besides ten elephants, which were then in Rome, and twelve hundred gladiators decked with all pomp, and matrons in golden cloaks, and two hundred tamed beasts of divers kinds, tricked out with the greatest splendour, and waggons bearing pantomimists and actors of every sort, and boxers who fought, not in genuine combat, but with the softer straps.28 All the buffoons29 also acted a Cyclops-performance,30 giving exhibitions that were marvellous and astonishing. 4 So all the streets resounded with merry-making and shouts and applause, 5 and in the midst the Emperor himself, wearing the triumphal toga and the tunic embroidered with palms, and accompanied, as I have said, by the senators and with all the priests dressed in bordered togas, proceeded to the Capitol. 6 On each side of him were borne five hundred gilded spears and one hundred banners, besides those which belonged to the corporations, and the flags of auxiliaries and the statues from the sanctuaries31 and the standards of all the legions. 7 There marched, furthermore, men dressed to represent foreign nations, as p35Goths and Sarmatians, Franks and Persians, and no fewer than two hundred paraded in a single group.

9 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam By this procession the foolish man thought to delude the people of Rome; nevertheless — for such is the Romans' love of a jest — one man kept supporting Postumus, another Regalianus,32 another Aureolus or Aemilianus, and another Saturninus33 — for he, too, was now said to be ruling. 2 Amid all this there was loud lamentation for the father whom the son had left unavenged and for whom foreigners had tried, in one way or another, to exact a vengeance.34 3 Gallienus, however, was moved to no such deed, for his heart was dulled by pleasure, but he merely kept asking of those about him, "Have we anything planned for luncheon? Have any amusements been arranged? What manner of play will there be to‑morrow and what manner of circus-games?" 4 So, having finished the procession, he offered hecatombs and returned to the royal residence, and then, the banquets and feastings having come to an end, he appointed further days for the public amusements. 5 One well-known instance of jesting, however, must not be omitted. As a band of Persians, supposed to be captives, was being led along in the procession (such an absurdity!), certain wits mingled with them and most carefully scrutinized all, examining with open-mouthed astonishment the features of every one; 6 and when asked what they meant by that sagacious investigation, they replied, "We are searching for the Emperor's father." 7 When this incident was reported to Gallienus, unmoved by shame or grief or filial affection, he ordered the wits to be burned alive — 8 a measure which angered the people more than anyone would suppose, but so grieved the soldiers that not much later they requited the deed.

p37 10 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam In the consulship of Gallienus and Saturninus Odaenathus, king of the Palmyrenes, held the rule over the entire East35 — chiefly for the reason that by his brave deeds he had shown himself worthy of the insignia of such great majesty, whereas Gallienus was doing nothing at all or else only what was extravagant, or foolish and deserving of ridicule. 2 Now at once he proclaimed a war on the Persians to exact for Valerian the vengeance neglected by Valerian's son. He immediately occupied 3 Nisibis and Carrhae, the people of which surrendered, reviling Gallienus. 4 Nevertheless, Odaenathus showed no lack of respect toward Gallienus, for he sent him the satraps he captured — though, as it seemed, merely for the purpose of insulting him and displaying his own prowess.36 5 After these had been brought to Rome, Gallienus held a triumph because of Odaenathus' victory;37 but he still made no mention of his father and did not even place him among the gods, when he heard he was dead, until compelled to do so38 — although in fact Valerian was still alive, for the news of his death was untrue. 6 Odaenathus, besides, besieged an army of Parthians at Ctesiphon and devastated all the country round about, killing men without number. 7 But when all the satraps from all the outlying regions flocked together to Ctesiphon for the purpose of common defence, there were long-lasting battles with varying results, but more long-lasting still was the success of the Romans. 8 Moreover, since Odaenathus' sole purpose was to set Valerian free, he daily pressed onward, but this best of commanders, now on a foreign soil, suffered greatly because of the difficult ground.

p39 11Legamen ad paginam Latinam While these events were happening among the Persians, the Scythians made their way into Cappadocia.39 After capturing many cities there and waging war for a long time with varying success, they betook themselves to Bithynia. 2 Wherefore the soldiers again considered the choosing of a new emperor; but since he could not placate them or win their support, Gallienus, after his usual fashion, put all of them to death.

3 Just, however, when the soldiers were looking for a worthy prince, Gallienus was holding the office of archon — chief magistrate, that is — at Athens, showing that same vanity which also made him desire to be enrolled among its citizens and even take part in all its sacred rites — 4 which not even Hadrian had done at the height of his prosperity or Antoninus during a long-established peace,40 and these emperors, too, were schooled by so much study of Greek letters that in the judgement of great men they were scarcely inferior to the most learned scholars. 5 He desired, furthermore, to be included among the members of the Areopagus, almost as though he despised public affairs. 6 For indeed it cannot be denied that Gallienus won fame in oratory, poetry, and all the arts. 7 His, too, is the epithalamium which had the chief place among a hundred poets. For, when he was joining in marriage the children of his brothers, and all the poets, both Greek and Latin, had recited their epithalamia, and that for very many days, Gallienus, holding the hands of the bridal pair, p41so it is reported, is said to have recited repeatedly the following verses:

8 "Come now, my children, grow heated together in deep-seated passion,

Never, indeed, may the doves outdo your billings and cooings,

Never the ivy your arms, or the clinging of sea-shells your kisses."41

9 It would be too long a task to collect all his verses and speeches, which made him illustrious among both the poets and the rhetoricians of his own time. But it is one thing that is desired in an emperor, and another that is demanded of an orator or a poet.

12 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam One excellent deed of his, to be sure, is mentioned with praise. For in the consulship of his brother Valerian and his kinsman Lucillus, when he learned that Odaenathus had ravaged the Persians, brought Nisibis and Carrhae under the sway of Rome, made all of Mesopotamia ours, and finally arrived at Ctesiphon, put the king to flight, captured the satraps and killed large numbers of Persians, he gave him a share in the imperial power, conferred on him the name Augustus,42 and ordered coins to be struck in his honour, which showed him haling the Persians into captivity. This measure the senate, the city, and men of every age received with approval.

2 Gallienus, furthermore, was exceedingly clever, and I wish to relate a few actions of his in order to show his wit. 3 Once, when a huge bull was led into the arena, and a huntsman came forth to fight him but was unable to slay the bull though it was brought out p43ten times, he sent the huntsman a garland, 4 and when all the crowd wondered what it might mean that so foolish a fellow should be crowned with a garland, he bade a herald announce: "It is a difficult thing to miss a bull so many times." 5 On another occasion, when a certain man sold his wife glass jewels instead of real, and she, discovering the fraud, wished the man to be punished, he ordered the seller to be haled off, as though to a lion, and then had them let out from the cage a capon, and when all were amazed at so absurd a proceeding, he bade the herald proclaim: "He practised deceit and then had it practised on him." Then he let the dealer go home.

6 But while Odaenathus was busied with the war against the Persians and Gallienus was devoting himself to most foolish pursuits, as was his custom, the Scythians built ships and advanced upon Heraclea,43 and thence they returned with booty to their native land, although many were lost by shipwreck or defeated in a naval engagement.

13 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam About this same time Odaenathus was treacherously slain by his cousin,44 and with him his son Herodes,45 whom he had also hailed as emperor. 2 Then Zenobia, his wife, since the sons who remained, Herennianus and Timolaus,46 were still very young, assumed the power herself 3 and ruled for a long time,47 not in feminine fashion or with the ways of a woman, but surpassing in courage and skill not merely Gallienus, than whom any girl could have ruled more successfully, but also many an emperor. 4 As for Gallienus, indeed, when he learned that Odaenathus was murdered, he made ready for war with the Persians — p45an over-tardy vengeance for his father — and, gathering an army with the help of the general Heraclianus, he played the part of a skilful prince. 5 This Heraclianus, however, on setting out against the Persians, was defeated by the Palmyrenes and lost all the troops he had gathered,48 for Zenobia was ruling Palmyra and most of the East with the vigour of a man.

6 Meanwhile the Scythians sailed across the Black Sea and, entering the Danube, did much damage on Roman soil.49 Learning of this, Gallienus deputed Cleodamus and Athenaeus the Byzantines to repair and fortify the cities, and a battle was fought near the Black Sea, in which the barbarians were conquered by the Byzantine leaders. 7 The Goths were also defeated in a naval battle by the general Venerianus, though Venerianus himself died a soldier's death. 8 Then the Goths ravaged Cyzicus and Asia and then all of Achaea, but were vanquished by the Athenians under the command of Dexippus, an historian of these times.50 Driven thence, they roved through Epirus, Macedonia and Boeotia. 9 Gallienus, meanwhile, roused at last by the public ills, met the Goths as they roved about in Illyricum, and, as it chanced, killed a great number. Learning of this, the Scythians, after making a barricade of wagons, attempted to escape by way of Mount Gessaces.51 10 Then Marcianus made war on all the Scythians with varying p47success,52 . . . . . . which measures roused all the Scythians to rebellion.

14 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Such, in fact, was the devotion of the general Heraclianus to the commonwealth. But being unable to endure further all the iniquities of Gallienus, Marcianus and Heraclianus formed a plan that one of them should take the imperial power.53 . . . . . . 2 And Claudius, in fact, was chosen, the best man of all, as we shall narrate in the proper place. He had had no part in their plan, but was held by all in such respect that he seemed worthy of the imperial power, and justly so, as was proved by later events. 3 For he is that Claudius from whom Constantius, our most watchful Caesar, derives his descent.54 4 These men had also as their comrade in seeking the power a certain Ceronius, or rather Cecropius, commander of the Dalmatians, who aided them with the greatest shrewdness and wisdom. 5 But being unable to seize the power while Gallienus was still alive, they decided to proceed against him by a plot of the following nature, purposing, now that the state was exhausted by disasters, to remove this most evil blot from the governance of the human race and to save the commonwealth, now given over to the theatre and circus, from going to destruction through the allurements of pleasure. 6 Now the nature of their plot was as follows: Gallienus was at enmity with Aureolus, who had seized upon the position of prince, and was daily expecting the coming of this usurping ruler — a serious and, indeed, an unendurable thing. 7 Being aware of this, Marcianus and p49Cecropius suddenly caused word to be sent to Gallienus that Aureolus was now approaching. 8 He, therefore, mustered his soldiers and went forth as though to certain battle, and so was slain by the murderers sent for the purpose. 9 It is reported, indeed, that Gallienus was pierced by the spear of Cecropius, the Dalmatian commander, some say near Milan, where also his brother Valerian was at once put to death. This man, many say, had the title of Augustus, and many, that of Caesar, and many, again, neither one — 10 which, indeed, is not probable, for we have found written in the official lists, after Valerian had been taken prisoner, "During the consulship of Valerian the Emperor." So who else, pray, could this Valerian have been but the brother of Gallienus?55 11 There is general agreement concerning his family, but not concerning his rank or, as others have begun to say, concerning his imperial majesty.

15 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Now after Gallienus was slain, there was a great mutiny among the soldiers, for, hoping for booty and public plunder, they maintained, in order to arouse hatred, that they had been robbed of an emperor who had been useful and indispensable to them, courageous and competent. 2 Wherefore the leaders took counsel how to placate Gallienus' soldiers by the usual means of winning their favour. So, through the agency of Marcianus, twenty aurei were promised to each and accepted (for there was on hand a ready supply of treasure), and then by verdict of the soldiers they placed the name of Gallienus in the public records as a usurper.56 3 The soldiers thus p51quieted, Claudius, a venerated man and justly respected, dear to all good men, a friend to his native land, a friend to the laws, acceptable to the senate, and favourably known to the people, received the imperial power.

16 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Such was the life of Gallienus, which I have briefly described in writing, who, born for his belly and his pleasures, wasted his days and nights in wine and debauchery and caused the world to be laid waste by pretenders about twenty in number,57 so that even women ruled better than he. 2 He, forsooth, — in order that his pitiable skill may not be left unmentioned — used in the spring-time to make sleeping-places of roses. He built castles of apples, preserved grapes for three years, and served melons in the depth of winter. He showed how new wine could be had all through the year. He always served out of season green figs and apples fresh from the trees. 3 He always spread his tables with golden covers. He made jewelled vessels, and golden ones too. 4 He sprinkled his hair with gold-dust. He went out in public adorned with the radiate crown,58 and at Rome — where the emperors always appeared in the toga — he appeared in a purple cloak with jewelled and golden clasps. He wore a man's tunic of purple and gold and provided with sleeves. He used a jewelled sword-belt and he fastened jewels to his boot-laces and then called his boots "reticulate."59 5 He used, moreover, to banquet in public. He won the people's favour by largesses, 6 and he distributed, seated, portions of food to the p53senate. He invited matrons into his council, and to those who kissed his hand he presented four aurei bearing his own name. 17Legamen ad paginam Latinam When he learned that his father Valerian was captured, just as that best of philosophers, it is said, exclaimed on the loss of his son, "I knew that I had begotten a mortal,60 so he exclaimed, "I knew that my father was mortal."

2 There has even been an Annius Cornicula61 to raise his voice in praise of Gallienus as a steadfast prince, but untruthfully. However, he who believes him is even more perverse. 3 Gallienus often went forth to the sound of the pipes and returned to the sound of the organ, ordering music to be played for his going forth and his returning. 4 In summer he would bathe six or seven times in the day, and in the winter twice or thrice. 5 He always drank out of golden cups, for he scorned glass, declaring that there was nothing more common. 6 His wines he continually changed, and at a banquet he never drank two cups of the same wine. 7 His concubines frequently reclined in his dining-halls, and he always had near at hand a second table for the jesters and actors. 8 Whenever he went to the gardens named after him, all the staff of the Palace followed him. And there went with him, too, the prefects and the chiefs of all the staffs, and they were invited to his banquets and bathed in the pools along with the prince. 9 Women, too, were often sent in, beautiful girls with the emperor, but with the others ugly old hags. And he used to say that he was making merry, whereas he had brought p55the world on all sides to ruin. 18Legamen ad paginam Latinam But the soldiers he treated with excessive cruelty,62 killing as many as three or four thousand of them in a single day.

2 He gave orders to make a statue of himself arrayed as the Sun and greater than the Colossus,63 but it was destroyed while still unfinished. It was, in fact, begun on so large a scale that it seemed to be double the size of the Colossus. 3 His wish was that it should be placed on the summit of the Esquiline Hill, holding a spear, up the shaft of which a child could climb to the top. 4 The plan, however, seemed foolish to Claudius and after him to Aurelian, especially as he had ordered a chariot and horses to be made in proportion to the size of the statue and set up on a very high base. 5 He planned to construct a Flaminian portico64 extending as far as the Mulvian Bridge, and having columns in rows of four or, as some say, in rows of five, so that the first row should contain pillars with columns bearing statues in front of them, while the second and third and the rest should have columns in lines of four.

6 It would be too long to set down in writing all that he did, and if anyone wishes to know these things, he may read Palfurius Sura,65 who composed a journal of his life. Let us now turn to Saloninus. p57

Saloninus Gallienus

19 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He was the son of Gallienus66 and the grandson of Valerian, and concerning him there is scarcely anything worth setting down in writing, save that he was nobly born, royally reared, and then killed, not on his own account but his father's. 2 With regard to his name there is great uncertainty, for many have recorded that it was Gallienus and many Saloninus. 3 Those who call him Saloninus declare that he was so named because he was born at Salonae;67 and those who call him Gallienus say that he was named after his father and Gallienus' grandfather, who once was a very great man in the state. 4 As a matter of fact, a statue of him has remained to the present time at the foot of the Hill of Romulus,68 in front of the Sacred Way, that is, between the Temple of Faustina and the Temple of Vesta near the Fabian Arch, which bears the inscription "To Gallienus the Younger" with the addition of "Saloninus," and from this his name can be learned.69

5 It is well enough known that the rule of Gallienus exceeded ten years.70 This statement I have added for the reason that many have said that he was killed in the ninth year of his rule. 6 There were, moreover, other rebels during his reign, as we shall relate in p59the proper place; for it is our purpose to include twenty pretenders71 in one single book, since there is not much to be told about them, and many things have already been said in the Life of Gallienus.

7 It will suffice, meanwhile, to have told in this book these facts concerning Gallienus; for much has already been said in the Life of Valerian, and other things shall be told in the book which is to be entitled "Concerning the Thirty Pretenders," and these it seems useless to repeat here and relate too often. 8 It must also be added that I have even omitted some facts on purpose, lest his descendants should be offended by the publication of many details. 20Legamen ad paginam Latinam For you know yourself what a feud such men maintain with those who have written certain things concerning their ancestors, and I think that you are acquainted with what Marcus Tullius said in his Hortensius,72 written in imitation of the Protrepticus.73 2 One incident, however, I will include, which caused a certain amount of amusement, albeit of a commonplace kind, and yet brought about a new custom. 3 For since most military men, on coming to a banquet, laid aside their sword-belts when the banquet began, the boy Saloninus (or Gallienus), it is related, once stole these belts studded with gold and adorned with rows of jewels, and since it was difficult to search in the Palace for anything that had disappeared, these military men bore their losses in silence, but when afterwards they were bidden to a banquet, they reclined at table with their sword-belts on. 4 And when asked why they did not lay aside their belts, they replied, it is said, "We are wearing them for Saloninus." And this gave rise to the custom that always thereafter they should dine with the emperor p61belted. 5 I cannot, indeed, deny that many believe this custom had a different origin; for, they say, at the soldiers' ration (prandium) — which they called a "preparation" (parandium) because it prepares them for fighting — men come in wearing belts, and the proof of this statement is that with the emperor men still dine unbelted. These details I have given because they seemed worthy of being related and known.

21 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Now let us pass on to the twenty pretenders,74 who arose in the time of Gallienus because of contempt for the evil prince. With regard to them I need tell but a few things and briefly; 2 for most of them are not worthy of having even their names put into a book, although some of them seem to have had no little merit and even to have been of much benefit to the state.

3 Various, indeed, are the opinions concerning the name of Saloninus, but the author who believes he speaks most truthfully declares that he was named from his mother Salonina,75 whom Gallienus loved to distraction. He loved also a barbarian maid, Pipara by name,76 the daughter of a king. 4 And for this reason Gallienus, moreover, and those about him always dyed their hair yellow.

5 With regard to the number of years through which the rule of Gallienus and Valerian extended, such varied statements are made that, whereas all agree that together they ruled for fifteen years,77 that is, p63that Gallienus himself attained to his fifteenth year, while Valerian was captured in his sixth, some have set down in writing that Gallienus ruled for nine years, and others, again, that it was almost ten — while, on the other hand, it is generally known that he celebrated a decennial festival at Rome, and that after this festival he defeated the Goths, made peace with Odaenathus, entered into friendly relations with Aureolus,78 warred against Postumus and against Lollianus,79 and did many things that mark a virtuous life, but more that tend to dishonour. 6 For he used to frequent public-houses at night, it is said, and spent his life with pimps and actors and jesters.


The Editor's Notes:

1 P. Licinius Egnatius Gallienus Augustus (253‑260 with Valerian; 260‑268 sole emperor). The biographer, like Eutropius and Aurelius Victor, portrays Gallienus in the worst possible light — a tendency due, partly, to senatorial hostility aroused by his exclusion of senators from military commands (Aur. Victor, Caes. 33.33 f.), but particularly to the desire, by blackening Gallienus, to enhance the glories of his successor Claudius, who, as the reputed ancestor of Constantius Chlorus (see note to Claud. XIII.2), is made the hero of this series of biographies. Consequently, the depreciation of Gallienus, as neglecting the welfare of the Empire and interested only in amusements and debauchery, and the (p17)exaltation of Claudius (and his descendant) form the principal theme of the series. A more favourable and, as it is now generally believed, a more truthful, account of his reign is given by the Greek writers Zosimus (I.30‑40) and Zonaras (XII.24‑25). The modern point of view (based on these writers and supported by the evidence of inscriptions and archaeological research), which represents Gallienus as an active and able ruler, has been excellently presented by L. Homo in Rev. Hist. cxiii pp1‑22; 225‑267.

2 Cf. Tyr. Trig. XII.8.

3 The date 261 is incorrect, for papyri show that Macrianus and Quietus were recognized as emperors in Egypt in Sept. 260. On this revolt see Tyr. Trig. XIIXIV; XVIII. This vita, beginning as it does with this event, omits any account of Gallienus' success in repelling the Germans who attempted to (p19)invade Gaul in 254‑258 or of his suppression of the revolt of Ingenuus in Pannonia in 258 or 259 (see Tyr. Trig. IX).

4 See Tyr. Trig. XXI.

5 See Tyr. Trig. XIX.

6 See Tyr. Trig. XII.14.

7 This statement (also in c. iii.1) is incorrect, for Aureolus did not declare himself emperor until 268, and was at this time acting as Gallienus' general; see note to Tyr. Trig. XI.1.

8 See Tyr. Trig. XV.

9 The city of Homs in central Syria.

10 On the contrary, he seems, after suppressing the revolt of Ingenuus (see note to c. i.2),º to have returned to Gaul to take up the war against Postumus (cf. c. IV.4).

11 See Tyr. Trig. XXII.

12 On the revolt of Postumus, see Tyr. Trig. III and notes.

13 But see note to Tyr. Trig. III.4.

14 But see note to Tyr. Trig. XI.1. In fact, Aureolus was entrusted, during Gallienus' absence, with the conduct of the war against Postumus, but he did not push the campaign very vigorously; see Zonaras, XII.24.

15 Gallienus seems to have been called away in the course of the war, but he returned to it later on; see c. vii.1. The cause of the interruption may have been the raid of the (p25)Alamanni, who about this time invaded northern Italy as far as Ravenna, but were defeated by Gallienus at Milan; see Zonaras, XII.24.

16 Throughout these biographies the term Scythian is often used for Goth, as had been done regularly by Dexippus. This invasion of Bithynia seems to have taken place in 258.

17 Salutaris is included by Cicero (de FinibusIII.66) among the cognomina of Jupiter, and dedicatory inscriptions to Iovi Optimo Maximo Salutari have been found at Rome.

18 It had previously raged in the East and wrought great havoc among the troops of Valerian; see Zosimus, I.36. For a vivid description of its ravages in Egypt, see Eusebius, Hist. Eccles.VII.22.

19 The Goths invaded Macedonia and besieged Thessalonica (p27)in 253 or 254 (Zosimus I.29.2), but, if the chronological order is reliable, this would seem to be a later incursion, in 262, in the course of which they were driven back by Marcianus; see c. vi.1 — unless, as is not improbable, this notice belongs to the invasion of 267, described in c. xiii.6 f.

20 See note to c. v.6; on Marcianus' later victory see c. xiii.10 and Zosimus, I.40.1.

21 i.e., the famous temple of Artemis; this invasion (mentioned also in c. vii.3) was in 263.

22 The Atrebates lived in northern Gaul, around the modern Arras, later famous for its tapestry, but the centre of the industry in antiquity seems to have been Turnacum (Tournai).

23 The cause of this outbreak is unknown; on the punishment inflicted, see c. vii.2.

24 See c. iv.6 and note.

25 See Claud. XIII.2 and note.

26 See Tyr. Trig. VI.

27 The Decennalia were celebrated in the autumn of 262, at the beginning of the tenth year after Gallienus' joint accession with Valerian; the festival was commemorated by an issue of (p31)coins with the legends Votis Decennalibus and Votis X et XX; see Matt.‑Syd., V. p138, nos. 92‑96.

28 flacculi occurs only here, but it may perhaps be the same as the ἱμάντες οἳ μαλακώτεραι in use at Elis in Pausanias' time (see Paus. VI.23.3), or the oldest type of the boxing-straps, the untanned μειλῖχαι, contrasted in Paus. VIII.40.3 with the harder ἱμὰς ὀχύς, a development of which was the metal-studded cestus.

29 Apina, supposed to have been the name of a town in Apulia (Pliny, Nat. Hist. III.104), seems to have been used, in the plural, like tricae, to denote trifles; it is applied thus to literary work of a light nature (nugae) by Martial, I.113.2; XIV.1.7. Hence the adjective may be supposed to mean "buffoons."

30 The Cyclops Polyphemus seems in the Hellenistic period to have become a figure in low farcical comedy, perhaps somewhat as represented in the burlesque in Aristophanes, Plutus, 290 f., both as the lover of Galatea and as a comic (p33)drunkard. In this latter capacity especially he appeared in the Roman mimes (see Horace, Sat. I.5.65, and Epist. II.2.125), and the Cyclopea mentioned here and in Car. XIX.3, probably consisted of comic dancing or, possibly, comic feats of strength.

31 i.e., those in the camps of the legions, as also in Herodian, IV.4.8.

32 See Tyr. Trig. X.

33 See Tyr. Trig. XXIII.

34 i.e., Odaenathus; see c. x.1‑3.

35 See Tyr. Trig. XV.1 and note.

36 As a matter of fact, he was acting as the general of Gallienus and under his command.

37 Coins of 264, celebrating this triumph, show Gallienus in a four-horse chariot; see Matt.‑Syd. V pp166‑167, nos. 412‑413. The cognomina Persicus Maximus and Parthicus Maximus are found in papyri and inscriptions.

38 There is no other evidence of Valerian's consecration.

39 This invasion of Cappadocia is mentioned in Zosimus, I.28.1, as in the year 252 or 253, whereas it actually took place in 264.

40 Hadrian had been archon at Athens, but before his accession to power (see Hadr. XIX.1), and both he and Marcus Aurelius were initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries (Hadr. XIII.1; Marc. XXVII.1).

41 Found also in the lost "Codex Bellovacensis" of Binetus (Riese, Anth. Lat. I.2, p176, no. 711 = Baehrens, P. L. M. IV. pp103‑104) with the addition of two more lines:

"Ludite: sed vigiles nolite extinguere lychnos.

Omnia nocte vident, nil cras meminere lucernae."

42 This is incorrect; see note to Tyr. Trig. XV.1.

43 Mod. Benderegli on the northern coast of Bithynia; this seems to have been in 266.

44 See Tyr. Trig. XV.5; XVII.

45 See Tyr. Trig. XVI.

46 See Tyr. Trig. XXVIIXXVIII.

47 See Tyr. Trig. XXX.

48 If this is true, it means a breaking of the friendly relations which had hitherto existed between Rome and Palmyra — perhaps an attempt to put an end to the unusual powers held by Zenobia — but we have no other evidence of it. Odaenathus was killed sometime in 266‑67, and in the summer of 268 Heraclianus was with Gallienus at Milan; see c. xiv.1.

49 This was the great invasion of the Eruli, a Germanic tribe, in 267. Setting forth with 500 ships from the Sea of Azov, they sailed into the mouth of the Danube. Gallienus, engaged in the war against Postumus, deputed the various generals here mentioned to deal with them, but despite their efforts the invaders overran Greece, even as far as the Peloponnese. They were defeated by Dexippus in an attempt to take Athens on their return northward, and again by (p45)Gallienus himself (who had left the war against Postumus and hurried to meet them) in a battle on the river Nestos, the boundary between Macedonia and Thrace. For a fuller account see Syncellus, p717.

50 See note to Alex. XLIX.3.

51 Unknown; perhaps Mt. Rhodope in Thrace.

52 Gallienus, summoned home by the revolt of Aureolus (see note to c. xiv.1), left Marcianus (cf. c. VI.1) and Claudius (cf. Claud. VI.1) to complete the victory and hurried to northern Italy.

53 According to the more complete accounts in Zosimus, I.40 and Zonaras, XII.25, Gallienus defeated Aureolus (at Pons Aureolus = Pontirolo, Aur. Victor, Caes. 33.18) and shut him up in Milan. There a conspiracy was made against Gallienus, which included Claudius and Aurelian as well as Heraclianus, the prefect of the guard. Later, an attempt was made to show that Claudius had nothing to do with it, as here and in Claud. I.3, and a scene was even invented in which Gallienus (p47)on his deathbed was represented as bestowing the imperial insignia on Claudius; see Aur. Victor, Caes. 33.28; Epit. 34.2. The evidence of papyri places the murder in July or August 268.

54 See Claud. XIII.2 and note.

55 He was consul (for the second time) in 265; cf. c. XII.1. He is mentioned in literature only here and in Val. VIII, where also he is said to have received the title of Augustus. However, no coins can be definitely proved to be his (see Matt.‑Syd. V p28), and in the lack of any evidence it may be seriously doubted that he was either Augustus or Caesar. The "inscription" cited in Val. VIII.3 is of equally little value with that quoted in c. xix.4.

56 This, if true, had no legal significance, for a damnatio could be pronounced only by the senate. According to Aur. (p49)Victor, Caes. 33.31‑34, the senate and people gave general vent to their hostility. Nevertheless, Claudius ordered that he should be deified in the usual manner.

57 The manuscript reading viginti here and also in c. xix.6 and XXI.1 seems to show that the author's original plan was to include twenty pretenders, not thirty, in the work now called Tyranni Triginta; see note to Tyr. Trig. I.1 and Peter, Die S. H. A., p37 f.

58 A crown surrounded by projecting rays, originally regarded as the emblem of a deified emperor, but apparently worn by (p51)the rulers of the third century, for it is regularly shown on their coins.

59 i.e., like the network caps worn by women and effeminate men (cf. Heliog. XI.7).

60 This is attributed to Anaxagoras by Cicero, Tusc. Disp. III.30 and 58, by Valerius Maximus, V.10, Ext. 3, and by Plutarch, de Cohib. Ira 16 and de Tranq. An. 16, and to Xenophon by Diogenes Laertius, II.6.55. It was paraphrased (p53)by Ennius in his Telamon frg. 312 Vahlen (quoted by Cicero, Tusc. Disp. III.28), from whom it was taken by Seneca, Cons. ad Polyb. 11.2.

61 Otherwise unknown.

62 But see note to Tyr. Trig. IX.3.

63 See note to Hadr. XIX.12.

64 i.e., extending along the Via Flaminia northward from the Porta del Popolo.

Thayer's Note: The distance is 3.2 kilometers, so this would have been a gigantic project. Since the Via Flaminia after the gate, a razor-straight stretch dismal even now that the area is densely inhabited (see photograph), was well outside the core of the city in the time of Gallienus, this can safely be dismissed as an invention of the writer hell-bent on showing that emperor's frivolity. At the same time the idea makes good topographical sense: the Milvian Bridge crosses the Tiber at the point where, retracing the course of the river, you loop back around the city before climbing into the upper Lazio — the Tiber at this point thus forms the natural boundary of the city, and such a portico, leading from the Porta Flaminia to the Mulvian Bridge, makes the same kind of sense as in Paris the avenue leading from the Arc de Triomphe to La Défense. Even today, the urban area of Rome rather abruptly peters out within a couple hundred meters on the other side of the Milvian Bridge.

65 Otherwise unknown.

66 He was the younger of the two sons of Gallienus, and the correct form of his name is shown by inscriptions and coins to have been P. Licinius Cornelius Saloninus Valerianus. He received the title of Caesar after the death of his older brother, Valerian, in 258. Since the Alexandrian coins bearing his name cease with the year 260‑61, it is generally inferred that he died in this year; but he may be the son (p57)who, according to Zonaras, XII.26, was killed by the senate after the death of Gallienus.

67 On the Dalmatian coast. This derivation is nonsense, for his name was taken from that of his mother Cornelia Salonina, as is correctly stated in c. xxi.3.

68 The Palatine Hill.

69 Since there is no evidence whatsoever that he bore the name Gallienus, this "inscription," like that in Val. VIII.3, may be regarded as one of the author's fabrications.

70 See c. xxi.5 and note.

71 See note to c. xvi.1.

72 A lost work, written in 45 B.C.

73 Aristotle's Προτρεπτικός, now lost, an exhortation to the study of philosophy.

74 See note to c. xvi.1.

75 Cornelia Salonina Augusta. Her name and head appear on many coins.

76 Pipa, according to Aur. Victor, Caes. 33.6 and Epit. 33.1. Her father was a German (Marcomannic) king, with whom Gallienus made a treaty ceding part of Pannonia — perhaps in return for aid against Germanic invaders.

77 253‑268. Since Valerian ceased to rule not later than 260, the "almost ten years" is, of course, an error, evidently due to the celebration of the Decennalia (see c. vii.4 f.) in 262, at the beginning of the tenth year after Gallienus' joint succession with his father.

78 See c. ii.6 and note.

79 See Tyr. Trig. V.


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