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Maximus and Balbinus

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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,
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The two Gallieni

(Vol. III) Historia Augusta

 p3  The Two Valerians1

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1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] . . . to Sapor, the King of Kings2 or, in fact, Sole King: "Did I but know for a certainty that the Romans could be wholly defeated, I should congratulate you on the victory of which you boast. 2 But inasmuch as that nation, either through Fate or its own prowess, is all-powerful, look to it lest the fact that you have taken prisoner an aged emperor, and that indeed by guile, may turn out ill for yourself and your descendants. 3 Consider what mighty nations the Romans have made their subjects instead of their enemies after they had often suffered defeat at their hands. 4 We have heard, in fact, how the Gauls conquered them and burned that great city of theirs; it is a fact that the Gauls are now servants to the Romans. What of the Africans? Did they not conquer the Romans? It is a fact that they serve  p5 them now. 5 Examples more remote and perhaps less important I will not cite. Mithradates of Pontus held all of Asia; it is a fact that he was vanquished and Asia now belongs to the Romans. 6 If you ask my advice, make use of the opportunity for peace and give back Valerian to his people. I do indeed congratulate you on your good fortune, but only if you know how to use it aright."

2 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Velenus, King of the Cadusii,3 wrote as follows: "I have received with gratitude my forces returned to me safe and sound. Yet I cannot wholly congratulate you that Valerian, prince of princes, is captured; I should congratulate you more, were he given back to his people. For the Romans are never more dangerous than when they are defeated. 2 Act, therefore, as becomes a prudent man, and do not let Fortune, which has tricked many, kindle your pride. Valerian has an emperor for a son4 and a Caesar for a grandson, and what of the whole Roman world, which, to a man, will rise up against you? 3 Give back Valerian, therefore, and make peace with the Romans, a peace which will benefit us as well because of the tribes of Pontus."

3 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Artavasdes,5 King of the Armenians, sent the following letter to Sapor: "I have, indeed, a share in your glory, but I fear that you have not so much conquered as sown the seeds of war. 2 For Valerian is being sought back by his son, his grandson, and the generals of Rome, by all Gaul, all Africa, all Spain, all Italy, and by all the nations of Illyricum, the East, and Pontus, which are leagued with the  p7 Romans or subject to them. 3 So, then, you have captured one old man but have made all the nations of the world your bitterest foes, and ours too, perhaps, for we have sent you aid, we are your neighbours, and we always suffer when you fight with each other."

4 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The Bactrians, the Hiberians,6 the Albanians,7 and the Tauroscythians8 refused to receive Sapor's letters and wrote to the Roman commanders, promising aid for the liberation of Valerian from his captivity.

2 Meanwhile, however, while Valerian was growing old in Persia, Odaenathus the Palmyrene9 gathered together an army and restored the Roman power almost to its pristine condition. 3 He captured the king's treasures and he captured, too, what the Parthian monarchs hold dearer than treasures, namely his concubines. 4 For this reason Sapor was now in greater dread of the Roman generals, and out of fear of Ballista10 and Odaenathus he withdrew more speedily to his kingdom. And this, for the time being, was the end of the war with the Persians.

5 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] This is all that is worthy of being known about Valerian, whose life, praiseworthy for sixty years long, finally rose to such glory, that after holding all honours and offices with great distinction he was chosen emperor, not, as often happens, in a riotous assemblage of the people or by the shouting of soldiers, but solely by right of his services, and, as it were, by the single voice of the entire world. 2 In short, if all had been given the power of expressing their choice as to whom they desired as emperor, none other would have been chosen.

3 Now in order that you may know what power lay  p9 in the public services of Valerian, I will cite the decrees of the senate,11 which will make it clear to all what judgement concerning him was always expressed by that most illustrious body.

4 In the consulship of the two Decii, on the sixth day before the Kalends of November, when, pursuant to an imperial mandate, the senate convened in the Temple of Castor and Pollux,12 and each senator was asked his opinion as to the man to whom the censorship13 should be offered (for this the Decii had left in the power of the most high senate), when the praetor had first announced the question, "What is your desire, Conscript Fathers, with regard to choosing a censor?" and then asked the opinion of him who was then the chief of the senate14 in the absence of Valerian (for at that time he was in military service with Decius), then all, breaking through the usual mode of giving the vote, cried out with one voice:15 "Valerian's life is a censorship. 5 Let him judge all, who is better than all. Let him judge the senate, who is free from guilt. Let him pronounce sentence on our lives, against whom no reproach can be brought. 6 From early childhood Valerian has been a censor. All his life long Valerian has been a censor. A wise senator, a modest senator, a respected senator. The friend of the good, the enemy of tyrants, the foe of crimes, the foe of vices. 7 He it is whom we all accept as censor, whom we all desire to imitate. Foremost  p11 in family, noble in blood, free from stain in his life, famed for his learning, matchless in character, a sample of the olden times." 8 When all this had been said repeatedly, they added, "All with one accord," and so they departed.

6 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When this decree of the senate was brought to Decius, he called all his courtiers together and gave orders that Valerian, too, should be summoned. Then, having read the decree before this assemblage of the foremost men, he said: 2 "Happy are you, Valerian, in this vote of the entire senate, or rather in the thoughts and the hearts of the whole world of men. Receive the censorship, which the Roman commonwealth has offered you and which you alone deserve, you who are now about to pass judgement on the character of all men, on the character of ourselves as well. 3 You shall decide who are worthy to remain in the Senate-house, you shall restore the equestrian order to its old-time condition, you shall determine the amount of our property, you shall safeguard, apportion and order our revenues, you shall conduct the census in our communities; 4 to you shall be given the power to write our laws, you shall judge concerning the rank of our soldiers, 5 and you shall have a care for their arms; 6 you shall pass judgement on our Palace, our judges and our most eminent prefects; in short, except for the prefect of the city of Rome, except for the regular consuls,16 the king of the sacrifices, and the senior Vestal Virgin (as long, that is, as she remains unpolluted), you shall pronounce sentence on all. Even those on whom you may not pass judgement will strive to win your approval." 7 Thus Decius; but Valerian's reply was as follows: "Do not, I pray you, most venerated Emperor, fasten upon me the  p13 necessity of passing judgement on the people, the soldiers, the senate, and all judges, tribunes and generals the whole world over. 8 It is for this that you have the name of Augustus. You it is on whom the office of censor devolves, for no commoner can duly fill it. 9 Therefore I ask to be excused from this office, to which my life is unequal, my courage unequal, and the times so unfavourable that human nature does not desire the office of censor."

7 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I could, indeed, cite many other senatorial decrees and imperial judgements concerning Valerian, were not most of them known to you, and did I not feel ashamed to extol too greatly a man who was vanquished by what seems a destined doom. Now let me turn to the younger Valerian.

8 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Valerian the younger,17 the son of a different mother from Gallienus, conspicuous for his beauty, admired for his modesty, distinguished in learning for one of his years, amiable in his manners, and holding aloof from the vicious ways of his brother, received from his father, when absent, the title of Caesar and from his brother, so says Caelestinus,18 that of Augustus. 2 His life contains nothing worthy of note, save that he was nobly born, excellently reared, and pitiably slain.

3 Now since I know that many are in error, who have read the inscription of Valerian the Emperor on a tomb, and believe that the body of that Valerian who was captured by the Persians was given back again, I have thought it my duty, that no error might creep in, to set down in writing that it was this younger Valerian who was buried near Milan and that by Claudius' order the inscription was added: "Valerian the Emperor."

 p15  4 Nothing further, I think, should be demanded concerning either older or younger Valerian. 5 And since I fear to exceed the proper limit of a volume, if I add to this book Valerian's son Gallienus, concerning whom we have already said much, and perchance too much, in the life of his father, or even Gallienus' son Saloninus,19 who is called in the history of his time both Saloninus and Gallienus, let us now pass, as we are bidden, to another volume. For, indeed, we have ever submitted to you and to Fame, to whom we can make no refusal.

The Editor's Notes:

1 The biographies of the emperors Philippus Arabs (244‑249), Decius (249‑251), Trebonianus Gallus (251‑253), Aemilianus (253), and perhaps of their sons also, presumably formed part of the series (see Aur. ii.1), but are missing from the collection as extant. With them has disappeared also the greater part of the vita of Valerian (P. Licinius Valerianus), made emperor in 253 and taken prisoner by Sapor I, Sassanid king of the Persians (see note to Gord. xxvi.3) in 259 or 260. The only extant portion of this vita is the close, containing (p3)chiefly the fabricated "documents" so greatly beloved by these authors; see Vol. I, Intro., p. xix f.

2 The title "King of Kings" was used by Sapor on his coins and in his inscriptions (e.g.βασιλεὺς βασιλέων in CIG 4676 = O. G. I. 434).

3 A Median people, living on the SW coast of the Caspian Sea, also called Gaeli.

4 i.e., Gallienus.

5 There were three Armenian kings of this name during the second and third centuries before Christ and the first century after Christ, but none in the third century. If the author is not merely using a well-known name to give verisimilitude to the letter, as seems most likely, he may have in mind Artavasdes the Mamiconaean, regent for the young Tiridates III during the period which followed the death of his father, (p5)Chosroes I, about 250, as is supposed by P. Adsourian, Polit. Beziehungen zw. Armenien u. Rom., p127 f.

Thayer's Note: The chronology of the rulers of Armenia is fragmentary and disordered; this said, Artavazd V is regularly given by historians as the Arsacid king of Armenia from 252 to 261; see for example the Chronology appendix in Kurkjian's History of Armenia.

6 From Trans-Caucasia.

7 See note to Hadr. xxi.13.

8 In S. Russia, north of the Crimea.

9 See Tyr. Trig. xv.

10 See Tyr. Trig. xviii.

11 The spuriousness of this "senatus consultum" is sufficiently shown by the fact that Decius died in the summer of 251. For other such "senatus consulta" see Maxim. xvi; Gord. xi; Tyr. Trig. xxi.3‑4; Claud. iv; Aur. xix; xli; Tac. iii; Prob. xi.5‑9.

12 See note to Maxim. xvi.1.

13 The attempt to revive the censorship, as described here, is as fictitious as the "senatus consultum" itself, and is merely a part of the biographer's tendency to magnify the importance of the senate. It is true, however, that Decius in 250 conferred (p9)on Valerian some important position — ὴ τῶν πραγμάτων διοίκησις, according to Zonaras, XII.20.

Thayer's Note: One of the sources of the Historia Augusta, which I have not read, is said to speak of reëstablishing the censorship: (Symmach. Ep. IV.29, v.9).

14 Valerian is said to have held this office as early as 238; see Gord. ix.7.

15 On such acclamations in the senate see note to Alex. vi.1. They are also found in Claud. iv.3‑4; xviii.2‑3; Tac. iv.1‑4; v.1‑2; vii.1; Prob. xi.6‑9; xii.8.

16 See note to Carac. iv.8.

17 See note to Gall. xiv.10.

18 Otherwise unknown.

19 See Gall. xix.1‑4.

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