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E&D 17: Valerian & Sapor - The Emperor and the King of Kings

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James Corke-Webster

on 7 March 2016

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Transcript of E&D 17: Valerian & Sapor - The Emperor and the King of Kings

Imp. Caesar Publius Licinius Egnatius
Imp. Caesar Marcus Aurelius Valerius
Marcus Aurelius Claudius

Gallienus co-emperor almost immediately w/ Valerian
Gallienus son
Valerian II
as Caesar in 256
he dies in 258; replaced as Caesar by
, also Gallienus' son
emperor of a reduced territory
reorganises the army (
edict of toleration
manages to regain control of east
Macrianus invades Italy in 261/262
beaten w/ Macrianus Jr. by Aureolus, cavalry commander
Gallienus writes to Odaenathus - offers
corrector totius orientis
captures Callistus & Quietus killed by own troops
less tolerant of usurper Postumus in the west - 260-
in effect in 260-262: tripartite Empire

265 - attack on Postumus - victory[ish]... seige... injured
Aureolus [cavalry commander] declares self emperor at Milan & ally Postumus
another seige... Gallienus dies in mutiny summer 268

accession of Claudius Gothicus / Claudius II
numerous accounts
retrospective link to Constantine I
from family with recent citizenship [Caracalla's edict]
equestrian, Balkans
kills Aureolus
deifies Gallienus
269 - famous victory over Goths [hence name!]
Sept 270 - dies [only soldier emperor to die in bed?]

succession plan for brother Quintillus
17 day rule - army acclaim

new invasion of "Skythians" in N. Turkey
Valerian tries & fails to intercept
plague... weakens army
new (3rd) invasion of Sapor [likely spring 260]
battle between Carrhae & Edessa
heavy defeat
Valerian attempts negotiation
Roman emperor captured
life in captivity
Sapor raids in Cilicia
beaten back by alliance
Macrianus - fiscal official
Callistus / Ballista - Praetorian Prefect
Odaenathus - "Lord of Palmyra"
revolt of Macrianus
Aug. 260: declared young sons as co-Augusti
T. Fulvius Iunius
(i.e. Macrianus iunior)
T. Fulvius Iunius
boy-emperors recognised Asia Minor & Egypt later in 260

Valerian & Sapor
The Emperor and the King of Kings



Historia Augusta
Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle
[Gordian - c.263]
Byzantine sources:
1. Zosimus,
New History
[6th C]
2. John Zonaras,
Epitome of the Histories
[12th C]
3. George,
Selection of Chronography
[8th-9th C]
4. John Malalas,
Chronicle of Antioch
[6th C]
all using Athenian historian Publius Herennius Dexippus...
Sapor's trilingual inscriptions from Naqsh-i-Rustam

"Not long afterwards, Valerian also in a state of frenzy lifted his impious hands to assault God, and, even though his time was short, shed much righteous blood.
But God punished him in a new and extraordinary manner, that it might be a lesson to future ages that the adversaries of Heaven always receive the just recompense of their iniquities. He was made prisoner by the Persians and lost not only the power which he had exercised without moderation, but also the liberty of which he had deprived others. He squandered the remainder of his days in the abject form of slavery
: for whenever Shapur, the King of the Persians, who had made him prisoner, chose to get into the carriage or to mount on horseback, he commanded the Roman to stoop and present his back;
then, placing his foot on the shoulders of Valerian,
he said, with a smile of reproach, “This is true, and not what the Romans depicted on their tablets and walls.”
Valerian lived for a considerable time under the well-merited insults of his conqueror; so that the Roman name remained long the scoff and derision of the barbarians: and this also was added to the severity of his punishment, that
although he had an emperor for his son, he found no one to avenge his captivity and most abject and servile state: neither indeed was he ever demanded back
. Afterwards, when he had finished this shameful life under so great dishonour, he was flayed, and his skin, stripped from the flesh, was dyed with vermilion, and placed in the temple of the gods of the barbarians, that the remembrance of a triumph so signal might be perpetuated, and that this spectacle might always be exhibited to our embassadors, as an admonition to the Romans, that, beholding the spoils of their captive emperor in a Persian temple, they should not place too great confidence in their own strength."

On the death of the persecutors
“Aurelius Ptolemy, also known as Nemesian, strategos of the Oxyrhynchite nome: since
the public officials have met and have accused the bankers of the bank of exchange of having closed them because they are unwilling to accept the sacred currency of the Sebastoi
, it has become necessary that
an injunction should be issued to all owners of the banks to open them and accept all currency
, except what is completely mis-struck and counterfeit, and give change for it; not only to them but to all who are engaged in business transactions in whatever way. They are to know that if they do not obey this injunction they shall experience the penalty that the greatness of the prefect has ordered on previous occasions. Signed, in the first year, on Hathor 28th.”

P. Oxy. 1411 (24 November, probably AD 260)
In the third campaign, when we attacked Carrhae and Urhai [Edessa] and were besieging Carrhae and Edessa, Valerian Caesar marched against us. He had with him a force of 70,000 men
from Germania, Raetia, Noricum, Dacia, Pannonia, Moesia, Istria, Hispania, Africa (?), Thracia, Bithynia, Asia, Pamphylia, Isauria, Lycaonia, Galatia, Lycia, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Phrygia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judaea, Arabia, Mauritania, Germania, Rhodes [Lycia] and Mesopotamia.
And beyond Carrhae and Edessa we had a great battle with Valerian Caesar. We made him prisoner with our own hands, as well as the others, commanders of that army, the Praetorian Prefect, Senators. We made all these prisoners and deported to Persis.
And Syria, Cilicia and Cappadocia, we burnt, ruined and pillaged."
"Meanwhile, however, while Valerian was growing old in Persia,
Odaenathus the Palmyrene gathered together an army and restored the Roman power almost to its pristine condition
. He captured the king's treasures and he captured, too, what the Parthian monarchs hold dearer than treasures, namely his concubines. For this reason Sapor was now in greater dread of the Roman generals, and
out of fear of Ballista and Odaenathus he withdrew more speedily to his kingdom. And this, for the time being, was the end of the war with the Persians.

Historia Augusta, The Two Valerians
RIC 107: Antoninianus of Valerian. Obverse: bust of Valerian (IMP VALERIANVS AVG). Reverse: Sol with whip in left hand (ORIENS AVGG).
Relief at Naqsh-e Rustam: Shapur on horseback with two Roman emperors
(probably Philip Arabs and Valerian)
Relief at Bishapur: Shapur on horseback with three Roman emperors: Gordian III trampled under the horse; Philip Arabs as suppliant, and Valerian (standing) captured
RIC 131: Antoninianus of Gallienus (joint reign with Valerian). Obverse: bust of Gallienus (IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG). Reverse: clasped hands (CONCORDIA AVGG)
RIC 49: Antoninianus issued under Valerian and Gallienus (AD 254/5). Obverse: bust of Valerian II (VALERIANVS NOBIL CAES). Reverse: Valerian II with spear & shield, crowning trophy (PRINC IVVENTVTIS)
RIC 27v: Antoninianus struck under Valerian and Gallienus (AD 258/9). Obverse: bust of the deified Valerian II (DIVO CAES VALERIANO). Reverse: eagle (CONSECRATIO)
RIC 9: Antoninianus of Saloninus. Obverse: bust of Saloninus (SALON VALERIANVS CAES). Reverse: sacrificial implements (PIETAS AVG)
Gobl 1406cf: coin of Gallienus (ca AD 264). Obverse: bust of Gallienus (IMP GALLIENVS P F AVG). Reverse: Gallienus on horse-back, hurling spear at bearded barbarian in German dress (VIRTVS AVG).
RIC 157: Antoninianus of Claudius II Gothicus. Obverse: bust of Claudius II (IMP CLAVDIVS P F AVG). Reverse: Pax with olive branch and scepter (PAX AVG)
Calicó 3968: Aureus of Quintillus (AD 270). Obverse: bust of Quintillus (IMP C M AVR QVINTILLVS AVG). Reverse: Fides holding two standards (FIDES EXERCITI)
RIC 9: coin of Quietus, from Antioch mint. Obverse: bust of Quietus (IMP C FVL QVIETVS P(ius) F(elix) AVG). Reverse: goddess Roma seated (ROMAE AETERNAE)
RIC 2: aureus of Macrianus, from Antioch mint. Obverse: bust of Macrianus (IMP C FVL MACRIANVS P F AVG). Reverse: goddess Roma seated (ROMAE AETERNAE)
"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
. 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."

Historia Augusta, The Two Valerians
AD 240-272
reign of Shapur I

I, the Mazda worshipping lord Shapur, King of Kings of Iran and non-Iran, whose lineage is from the gods, son of the Mazda worshipping divinity Ardashir, King of Kings of Iran, whose lineage is from the gods, grandson of King Papak, am ruler of Iranshahr, [and I hold] the lands:
Persis, Parthia, Khuzistan, Mesene, Assyria, Adiabene, Arabia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Segan [Makhelonia], Arran [Albania], Balasakan, up to the Caucasus mountains and the Gates of Albania, and all of the mountain chain of Pareshwar, Media, Gurgan, Merv, Herat and all of Aparshahr, Kerman, Seistan, Turan, Makuran, Paradene, Hindustan [Sind = India], the Kushanshahr up to Peshawar, and up to Kashgar, Sogdiana and to the mountains of Tashkent, and on the other side of the sea, Oman. And we have given to a village district the name Peroz-Shapur and we made Hormizd-Ardashir by name Shapur. And these many lands, and rulers and governors, all have become tributary and subject to us.

AD 244 † Gordian III, in battle against Shapur [Philip]

"He [Philip] made a treaty under oath with Sapor, ending the war and returned to Rome, taking care of the soldiers with abundant gifts of money, sending ahead to Rome the report that Gordian had died of disease. When he came to Rome, he seduced the most important senators with moderate discourses. He judged it necessary to give the most important positionsto those who were closest to him. He appointed his brother, Priscus, to the command of the legions in Syria and entrusted his brother in law, Severianus, with the forces in Moesia and Macedonia."
New History
AD 252 - 2nd Sapor campaign (Syria, Antioch, Armenia) [Gallus]

And Caesar lied again and did wrong to Armenia. then we attacked the Roman empire and annihilated at Barbalissos a Roman force of 60,000 and Syria and the environs of Syria we burned, ruined and pillaged all
. In this one campaign we conquered of the Roman empire fortresses and towns: the town of Anatha with surroundings, {Birtha of Arupan?} with surroundings, Birtha of Asporakan, the town of Sura, Barbalissos, Manbuk [Hierapolis], Aleppo [Beroea], Qennisrin [Chalcis], Apamea, Rhephania, Zeugma, Urima, Gindaros, Armenaza, Seleucia, Antioch, Cyrrhus, another town of Seleucia, Alexandretta, Nicopolis, Sinzara, Hama, Rastan, Dikhor, Doliche, Dura, Circusium, Germanicia, Batna, Khanar, and in Cappadocia the towns of Satala, Domana, Artangil, Suisa, Sinda, Phreata, a total of 37 towns with surroundings."
AD 242-243 Gordian III’s Mesopotamian campaign

When at first we had become established in the empire, Gordian Caesar raised in all of the Roman empire a force
from the Goth and German realms and marched on Babylonia [Assyria] against the empire of Iran and against us. On the border of Babylonia at Misikhe, a great frontal battle occurred. Gordian Caesar was killed and the Roman force was destroyed. And the Romans made Philip Caesar.
Then Philip Caesar came to us for terms, and to ransom their lives, gave us 500,000 denars, and became tributary to us.
And for this reason we have renamed Misikhe Peroz-Shapur."

53 BC
defeat of Crassus at Carrhae/Harran against the Parthians
20 BC
return of the lost Roman standards from the Parthians
Long relatively undisturbed peace
AD 54-66
Nero’s general Corbulo in the East
AD 114-117
Trajan’s Parthian campaigns; creates new provinciae across Euphrates
AD 162-166
Parthian war of Lucius Verus
AD 197-198
Septimius Severus invades Parthia; creation of new provincia
AD 231 ‘Persian campaign’ of Severus Alexander

"When the Eastern governors revealed these developments in their dispatches, Alexander was greatly disturbed by these unanticipated tidings, particularly since, raised from childhood in an age of peace, he had spent his entire life in urban ease and comfort. Before doing anything else, he thought it best, after consulting his advisers, to send an embassy to the King and by his letters halt the invasion and check his expectations.
In these letters he told Artaxerxes [= Ardashir] that he must remain within his own borders and not initiate any action; let him not, deluded by vain hopes, stir up a great war, but rather let each of them be content with what already was his
. Artaxerxes would find fighting against the Romans not the same thing as fighting with his barbarian kinsmen and neighbours. Alexander further reminded the Persian King of the victories won over them by Augustus, Trajan, Verus and Severus. By writing letters of this kind, Alexander thought that he would persuade the barbarian to remain quiet or frighten him to the same course."
Herodian 6.2.3-4

AD 224
"Re-rise of Persia: the Sasanids":
Parthian Artabanus IV defeated by Sasanian Ardashir (Artaxerxes)
Relief at Naqsh-i-Rustam: Ardashir receives crown from Ahura Mazda;horses trample Artabanus & Ahriman [evil god] respectively
I have now come to the Emperor Claudius, whose life I must set forth in writing with all due care, out of respect for Constantius Caesar
. I could not, indeed, refuse to write of him, inasmuch as I had already written of others, emperors created in tumult, I mean, and princes of no importance...
And, in fact, it would not be right to leave unmentioned an emperor who left us such a scion of his race
, who ended the war against the Goths by his own valour, pwho as victor laid a healing hand upon the public miseries, who, though not the contriver of the plan, nevertheless thrust Gallienus, that monstrous emperor, from the helm of the state, himself destined to rule for the good of the human race, who, finally, had he but tarried longer in this commonwealth, would by his strength, his counsel, and his foresight have restored to us the Scipios, the Camilli, and all those men of old."

Historia Augusta, Claudius
As soon as he was made emperor, entering into battle against Aureolus, who was the more dangerous to the commonwealth because he had found great favour with Gallienus, he thrust him from the helm of the state; then he pronounced him a pretender
, sending proclamations to the people and also despatching messages to the senate. It must be told in addition that when Aureolus pleaded with him and sought to make terms, this stern and unbending emperor refused to hearken, but rejected him with a reply as follows: "This should have been sought from Gallienus; for his character was like your own, he, too, could feel fear." Finally, near Milan, by the judgement of his own soldiers Aureolus met with an end worthy of his life and character."
Historia Augusta, Life of Claudius

These barbarians, then, Claudius overcame by his own inborn valour and crushed in a brief space of time, suffering scarcely any to return to their native soil
. What reward for such a victory, I ask you, is a shield in the Senate-house? What reward is one golden statue? Of Scipio Ennius wrote "What manner of statue, what manner of column shall the Roman people make, to tell of your deeds?"
We can say with truth that Flavius Claudius, an emperor without peer upon earth, is raised to eminence not by any columns or statues but by the power of fame.

They had, furthermore, two thousand ships, twice as many, that is, as the number with which all Greece and all Thessaly together once sought to conquer the cities of Asia. This number, however, was devised by the pen of a poet, while ours is found in truthful history. And so do we writers flatter Claudius! the man by whom two thousand barbarian ships and three hundred and twenty thousand armed men were crushed, destroyed and blotted out, and by whom a waggon-train, as great as this host of armed men could fit out and make ready, was in part consigned to the flames and in part delivered over, along with the families of all, to Roman servitude”

Historia Augusta, Life of Claudius

This man also, while commanding the Illyrian armies, was urged on by the soldiers in their contempt for Gallienus (as were all others at that time) and so seized the imperial power
. And when Macrianus and his son Macrianus marched against Gallienus with very large forces, he took their troops, and some he won over to his cause by bribery.
When Aureolus had thus become a mighty emperor
, Gallienus, after trying in vain to conquer so brave a man and being now on the point of beginning a war against Postumus, made peace with him — of which events many have already been related and many are still to be told.
This same Aureolus, after Gallienus was slain, Claudius met in battle and killed
at the bridge which now bears the name of Aureolus' Bridge, and there he bestowed upon him a tomb, but a lowly one as became a pretender.”

Historia Augusta, Lives of the Thirty Pretenders
"To this Macrianus replied: "I admit, Ballista, that to the wise man the imperial office is no light thing. For I wish, indeed, to come to the aid of the commonwealth and to remove that pestiferous fellow from administering the laws, but I am not of an age for this; I am now an old man, I cannot ride as an example to others, I must bathe too often and eat too carefully, and my very riches have long since kept me away from practicing war. We must seek out some young men, and not one alone, but two or three of the bravest, who in different parts of the world of mankind can restore the commonwealth, which Valerian and Gallienus have brought to ruin, the one by his fate, the other by his mode of life."
Whereupon Ballista, perceiving that Macrianus, in so speaking, seemed to have in mind his own two sons, answered him as follows: "To your wisdom, then, we entrust the commonwealth.

And so give us your sons Macrianus and Quietus, most valiant young men
, long since made tribunes by Valerian, for, under the rule of Gallienus, for the very reason that they are good men, they cannot remain unharmed."
Historia Augusta,
Lives of the Thirty Pretenders
Imp. Caesar Publius Licinius
Imp. Caesar Publius Licinius Egnatius

general & "avenger" of Trebonianus Gallus
in his 60s; prominent under Gordians
Italian aristocracy
son - Gallienus
co-emperors, East-West split [ish]
traditional regime?
retro coins - reverses not seen since Severans
limited time at Rome
on campaign - ragged borders of Empire
new "persecution" of the Christians

"Gallus and the other rulers, having held the government less than two years, were overthrown, and Valerian, with his son Gallienus, received the empire. The circumstances which Dionysius relates of him we may learn from his epistle to Hermammon, in which he gives the following account:
And in like manner it is revealed to John; 'For there was given to him,' he says, 'a mouth speaking great things and blasphemy; and there was given unto him authority and forty and two months.'
It is wonderful that both of these things occurred under Valerian; and it is the more remarkable in this case when we consider his previous conduct, for
he had been mild and friendly toward the men of God, for none of the emperors before him had treated them so kindly and favorably
; and not even those who were said openly to be Christians received them with such manifest hospitality and friendliness as he did at the beginning of his reign. For his entire house was filled with pious persons and was a church of God.
But the teacher and ruler of the synagogue of the Magi from Egypt persuaded him to change his course, urging him to slay and persecute pure and holy men because they opposed and hindered the corrupt and abominable incantations
. "

Ecclesiastical History
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