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E&D 16: Decius and the Changing Empire

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James Corke-Webster

on 8 March 2017

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Transcript of E&D 16: Decius and the Changing Empire

Imp. Caesar C. Vibius
Trebonianus Gallus
Augustus (251-253)
Imp. Caesar C. Valens
Messius Quintus Augustus (251)
Imp. Caesar C. Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumianus

Imp. Caesar M. Aemilius
Augustus (253)

Decius on campaign north of Danube ("Skythai")
details hazy - Moesia Inferior [modern Bulgaria]
2 sons - Herennius Etruscus (older) & Hostilianus
Herennius Etruscus die on campaign w/ Decius
remainder army proclaims governor Moesius Inferior, Trebonianus Gallus, emperor
rumour Gallus conspired against Decius w/ Goths - unlikely
treaty w/ the Goths
makes own son Volusianus Caesar AND Hostilianus [Augustus...]
part of affiliation w/ previous emperor [also deifies Decius June 24th 251]
progression obscure - Hostilianus dies (of plague)? Volusian made Augustus
major defeat to Persia... again...
aided by rebel Antiochene nobleman Mariades
rise of Uranius Antoninus - house of Emesa!
reliance on local "militia" [legions being massacred...]
"Skythian" maritime raids 252
military action in Lower Moesia in 253 - general Aemilianus
declared emperor by troops, marches on Italy, Gallus die at Interamna [own troops?]
Gallus had called for reinforcements - troops led by Valerianus
[or later justification?]
Sept 253 - Aemilianus dies at Spoletium [own troops?]

Imp. Caesar C. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Augustus

during the millenial year 248 [general stirring/unease?]
Philip had withdrawn subsidies to northern tribes - along Danube
military rebellion - garrison of Moesia declare Pacatianus emperor
Decius = Danubian senator ends revolt
but troops proclaim him emperor instead
Sept 249 Philip launches attach & loses

image problem [usurper]
name change
born C. Messius Quintus Decius Valerinus
C. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius
Dacian emphasis [a fudge]
series of
w/ deified emperors
Philip's name erased from inscriptions etc
...origins of story of Philip's revolt...?

one of first acts once in power = edict of universal sacrifice
a detailed text... that doesn't survive
but we have records of it in practice -
record of act & statement of sacrifice,
names officials witnessing
parallels census registration / tax collection
a persecution?
attempt at self-legitimisation?
response to unease of millenium?
an extension Caracalla's edict to religious sphere
consistency of worship
note vagueness of "ancestral gods"
response to Empire's difficulties?
Christians fell on wrong side of it by a baffling refusal to sacrifice
but was it intended to target them?
absence of search / extensive arrests
empire-wide decree vs locally effected
joining of local cult to imperial government on government's terms
reversal ordinary practice
part of the increasing centralisation & bureacratic methods

Decius and the Changing Empire

"After him another king will rule mighty flourishing Rome, skilled in war,
emerging from the Dacians
, of the number

Orac. Siby. 13.81-83
"It was to be expected that you, because of the goddess for whom your city is named, and because of your relationship and loyalty to the Romans, that
you would have rejoiced at the establishment of our rule and made the appropriate prayers and sacrifices.
Aphrodisias and Rome, n. 25.8-11

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

"And Caesar lied again and did wrong with respect to Armenia.
Then we attacked the Roman Empire and annihilated, at Barbalissos, a Roman army 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, Hieropolis, Aleppo, Chalcis, Apamea, Rhephaiia, Zeugma, Urmia, Gindaros, Arzemaza, Seleucia, Antioch, Cyrrhe, another town of Seleucia, Alexandria, Nicopolis, Sinzara, Hama, Rastan, Dikhor, Doliche, Dura, Circestium, Germanicia, Batna, Khanar, and in Cappadocia the towns of Satala, Domana, Artangil, Suisa, Sinda, Phreata, a total of thirty-seven towns and their surrounding territory."

"Now for you wretched Syria, I have lately been piteously lamenting; a blow will befall you from the arrow-shooting men, terrible, which you never thought would come to you.
The fugitive of Rome will come, waving a spear; crossing the Euphrates with many myriads, he will burn you, he will dispose all things evilly
. Alas, Antioch, they will never call you a city when you have fallen under the spear in your folly; he will leave you entirely ruined and naked, houseless, uninhabited; anyone seeing you will suddenly break out weeping; and you will be the prize of war."

Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle
RIC 29a: aureus of Decius. Obverse: bust of Decius (IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG). Reverse: Victory holding wreath & palm (VICTORIA AVG)
RIC 40: Antoninianus of Trebonianus Gallus. Obverse: bust of Gallus (IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG). Reverse: Mars holding branch and spear (MARTI PACIFERO, ‘to Mars, the bringer of peace’)
RIC 181: Antoninianus issued under Trebonianus Gallus. Obverse: bust of Volusian (IMP CAE C VIB VOLVSIANO AVG). Reverse: Pax with branch & scepter (PAX AVGVS)
RIC 177b: Antoninianus issued under Trebonianus Gallus. Obverse: bust of Hostilian (C VALENS HOSTIL MES QVINTVS N(obilissimus) C(aesar)). Reverse: Mars holding spear & shield (MARTI PROPVGNATORI, ‘to Mars the defender’).
RIC 9: Antoninianus of Aemilianus. Obverse: bust of Aemilianus (IMP AEMILIANVS PIVS FEL AVG). Reverse: Roma with eagle on globe, spear and shield (ROMAE AETERNA).
RIC 3b: Antoninianus of Aemilianus. Obverse: bust of Aemilianus (IMP AEMILIANVS PIVS FEL AVG). Reverse: Hercules with club, bow and lion’s skin (ERCVL VICTORI).
RIC 1: Antoninianus of Aemilianus. Obverse: bust of Aemilianus (IMP AEMILIANVS PIVS FEL AVG). Reverse: Apollo holding lyre & branch (APOL CONSERVAT).
Pacatianus. 248-249 AD. AR Antoninianus (4.38 gm). Viminacium mint. Dated 248 AD.
IMP TI CL MAR PACATIANVS P F I(N...), radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind
ROMAE AETER AN MIL ET PRIMO, Roma seated left on shield, holding Victory with wreath, and spear.
RIC 2b: Trajan Decius AR Antoninianus. IMP TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, radiate, draped & cuirassed bust right / DACIA, Dacia standing left, holding draco standard. RSC 13.
RIC 90, C 1189 Antoninianus, Antoninus Pius Commemorative Obv: DIVOPIO - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Altar.
RIC 78 Antoninianus, Augustus Commemorative Obv: DIVOAVGVSTO - Radiate head of Caesar Augustus. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Altar.
RIC 80, C 652 Antoninianus, Vespasian Commemorative Obv: DIVOVESPASIANO - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle. 250-251 (Rome).
RIC 81a, C 404 Antoninianus, Titus Commemorative Obv: DIVOTITO - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle.
RIC 83a Antoninianus, Nerva Commemorative Obv: DIVONERVAE - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle with head left and up.
RIC 85b, C 566 Antoninianus, Trajan Commemorative Obv: DIVOTRAIANO - Radiate head right, draped left shoulder. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle.
RIC 93, C 1009 Antoninianus, Commodus Commemorative Obv: DIVOCOMMODO - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle with head left and up.
RIC 95, C 799 Antoninianus, Septimius Severus Commemorative Obv: DIVOSEVERO - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle with head left and up.
RIC 97, C 599 Antoninianus, Severus Alexander Commemorative Obv: DIVOALEXANDRO - Radiate head right. Rev: CONSECRATIO - Eagle. 250-251 (Rome).
P.Ryl. 112a-e, http://enriqueta.man.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/ehex29
“To the commissioners of sacrifices from Aurelia Soueris whose mother is Taesis, of the village of Theadelphia.
It has ever been my habit to sacrifice and pay reverence to the gods, and now I have in your presence, in accordance with the commands, made sacrifice and libation and tasted the offerings, and I beg you to certify my statement. Farewell.

We, Aurelius Serenus and Aurelius Hermas saw you sacrificing
. I, Hermas, have signed. The 1st year of the Emperor Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius Pius Felix Augustus, Pauni 26.’”

P.Ryl. 2.112a (20th June 250)
"When another king of Rome will rule, then
ruinous Ares
with his
bastard son
will bring the disorderly races against the Romans, against the walls of Rome."
Orac. Siby. 13.103-5
"This long peace, however, was afterwards interrupted.
Decius appeared in the world, an accursed wild beast, to afflict the Church
. Who but a bad man would persecute religion?"

On the Death of the Persecutors
X -
Claudius, Pertinax, Gordians I, II & III,
Uranius Lucius Iulius Aurelius (Sulpicius Severus) Uranius Antoninus
the afterlife of the dynasty of Emesa
Sampsigeramus, High Priest of Elagabalus at Emesa
proclaimed emperor after Shapur’s capture of Antioch
BMC 24: bronze coin of Emesa, issued under Uranius Antoninus (AD 253), with legends in Greek. Obverse: bust of Uranius (AVTOK COVΛΠ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΝΟC CE). Reverse: hexastyle temple with conical stone of Elagabal, ornamented with eagle; pediment ornamented with crescent (EMICΩΝ ΚΟΛΩΝ ), and dated according to Seleucid era (565).
"The Scythians, taking advantage of the disorder which every where prevailed through the negligence of Philip, crossed the Tanais, and pillaged the countries in the vicinity of Thrace. But Decius, marching against them, was not only victorious in every battle, but recovered the spoils they had taken, and endeavoured to cut off their retreat to their own country, intending to destroy them all, to prevent their ever again, making a similar incursion. For this purpose he posted Gallus on the bank of the Tanais with a competent force, and led in person the remainder of his army against the enemy. This expedition exceeded to his utmost wish ; but
Gallus, who was disposed to innovation, sent agents to the Barbarians, requesting their concurrence in a conspiracy against Decius
. To this they gave a willing assent, and Gallus retained his post on the bank of the Tanais, but the Barbarians divided themselves into three battalions, the first of which posted itself behind a marsh. Decius having destroyed a considerable number of the first battalion, the second advanced, which he likewise defeated, and discovered part of the third, which lay near the marsh.
Gallus sent intelligence to him, that he might march against them across the fen. Proceeding therefore incautiously in an unknown place, he and his army became entangled in the mire, and under that disadvantage were so assailed by the missiles of the Barbarians, that not one of them escaped with life. Thus ended the life of the excellent emperor Decius
New History
"They were killed at Interamna, having completed not even two years' rule;
they achieved nothing notable whatsoever
Eutropius 9.4
most obscurely born, Aemilian ruled obscurely

Eutropius 9.6
"The proconsul said: "Sacrifice."
[Pionius] replied: "No, for I must pray to (the) god."
He said: "
We worship all gods and heaven and all gods who are in heaven. I suppose you hearken to the air? Sacrifice to it
He replied: "I do not hearken to the air but to the one that made the air and heaven and everything in them."
The proconsul said: "Tell me who made them?"
He answered: "It is not possible to say."
The proconsul said: "Obviously it was (the) gods, the very Zeus who is in heaven. For he is king of all the gods."
The Acts of Pionius
"But a certain Nemesion, who also was an Egyptian,
was accused as an associate of robbers; but when he had cleared himself before the centurion of this charge most foreign to the truth, he was informed against as a Christian
, and taken in bonds before the governor."

Ecclesiastical History
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