An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors
Aurelian (A.D. 270-275)
[An additional entry on this emperor's life (in French) is available in DIR Archives]
University of Bern
AURELIAN AND REBELLIONS DURING HIS REIGN (A.D. 270-275)
1. AURELIAN (A.D. 270-275)
The main sources for the reign of Aurelian were written about one hundred years afterwards, in the second half of the 4th century: Aurelius Victor (whose description is partly lost []), Eutropius and the Historia Augusta, a collection of imperial biographies which combines fiction and fact []. Two Byzantine sources, Zosimus (5th-6th century) and Zonaras (11th-12th century), are also very important for Aurelian's reign. Inscriptions and coins provide additional information.
1.2. Birth and origins, career before 270 (A.D. 214/215-270)
Lucius Domitius Aurelianus was born on the 9th of September 214 or 215 in either Dacia ripensis or in Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica, in Pannonia), i.e.
in the region of today's northern Serbia, southern Romania, and western
Bulgaria[]. He was of humble origins, his father being a colonus (tenant) of a senator named Aurelius []. Aurelian had a military career; as dux equitum (commander of the cavalry), he joined the conspiracy against the emperor Gallienus in A.D. 268 and supported the new ruler Claudius II Gothicus, under whose reign he continued his career, becoming supreme commander of the whole cavalry of the Roman army [].
1.3. Ascent to power (A.D. 270)
Claudius died of the plague in September A.D. 270; his brother Quintillus became his successor. But the soldiers in Sirmium revolted and proclaimed Aurelian emperor in May or September of that same year []. He defeated Quintillus and was confirmed by the senate after Quintillus had died under obscure circumstances []. The official propaganda claimed that on his deathbed Claudius II had designated Aurelian as his successor []; Aurelian later (perhaps in A.D. 272) placed his dies imperii on the day of Claudius' death, thereby dismissing Quintillus as a mere usurper [].
1.4. The years 270 and 271
Aurelian spent the winter 270/271 in Rome. In A.D. 270 or 271, he fought in Northern Italy and in the Danube region against the tribes of the Vandals, Juthungi and Sarmatians []. (This was the last time that German tribes invaded Italy before the raid of Alaric and his Visigoths in A.D. 401.) The extreme pressure on the Roman Empire resulting from these invasions caused several rebellions: Septiminus or Septimius, Urbanus, and Domitianus revolted, and it seems that also Felicissimus'rebellion is to be dated to the beginning of Aurelian's reign (see below chapters 2-3 and 5-6).
1.5. The years 271 and 272
In A.D. 271, Aurelian received the title Germanicus maximus and entered his first consulate []. Returning to Rome for the winter 271/272, he initiated work on the Aurelian wall, in part still visible today. He also fortified other Italian cities, e.g. Pisaurum and Fanum Fortunae []. His coins of this early phase clearly show that he promoted the army: they bear legends like concordia exercitum / militum / legionum, fides militum, virtus militum / equitum, thereby celebrating the unity, loyalty and bravery of the soldiers. Other coins emphasize the region where Aurelianus was born and later proclaimed emperor: genius Illyrici, virtus Illyrici. In A.D. 272, he had to fight the Goths, and thus assuming the title Gothicus maximus []. He abandoned the province of Dacia north of the Danube. As a compensation for the settlers that had left the abandoned province and to conceal the shame of abandoning Roman territory, he created a new province Dacia on the safer southern bank of the Danube on the territory of the provinces of Moesia and Thracia []. The capital of this new province was Serdica (today Sofia), where a mint was opened in A.D. 272. This new province was important for Aurelian's prestige: Since he had abandoned Roman territory, he had to create a new Dacia to replace the lost province.
1.6. The Palmyrene war (A.D. 272-273)
Aurelian's next project was the reintegration of the Eastern provinces into the Roman Empire []: Zenobia of Palmyra and her son Vaballathus had established the Palmyrene Empire extending from Egypt to Asia Minor. When Aurelian came to power in A.D. 270, he first seems to have reached an agreement with the Palmyrenes since he was too weak to fight them: Vaballathus in his coinage recognized Aurelian as emperor, but also called himself rex and imperator[]. When Aurelian felt strong enough, he started his campaign. Marching through Asia Minor, he faced little resistance except for the city of Tyana []. He was eager to show himself willing to gain the loyalty of the Easterners. In the summer of A.D. 272, Aurelian defeated the Palmyrene army near Antiochia (perhaps at Immae). Zenobia and her general Zabdas flew to Emesa where Aurelian again defeated their army []. Afterwards, he besieged and conquered Palmyra in the Syrian desert. Zenobia tried to escape to the Persians (who had supported her), but was captured at the Euphrates []. The emperor spared her life, but the philosopher Longinus and other friends of hers whom she betrayed to Aurelian were put to death []. Aurelianus assumed the titles Parthicus maximus and Persicus maximus and was hailed as restitutor Orientis.
Returning to the west, Aurelian defeated the tribe of the Carpi in the Danube region in A.D. 273 and settled some of them in the Empire, assuming the title Carpicus maximus []. In the meantime, the Palmyrenes had revolted again under a man named Apsaeus. First, they tried to convince Marcellinus, governor of the province of Mesopotamia, to become emperor. But Marcellinus informed Aurelian of the rebellion. The Palmyrenes therefore proclaimed Antiochus emperor. This Antiochus may be identical with the Septimius Antiochus who is called son of Zenobia in an inscription []. Aurelian conquered the city again and destroyed it. He also suppressed the revolt of Firmus (see below chapter 4) in Egypt. Roman rule in the East was now established firmly. The emperor celebrated his triumph in Rome (see below chapter 1.7.).
1.7. The war against the Gallic Empire (A.D. 274)
In A.D. 274, Aurelian entered his second consulate and now turned towards the west, where the Gallic provinces had formed an empire of their own in A.D. 260. In a battle at the Catalaunian fields (Châlons-sur-Marne), the emperor of the Gallic Empire, Esuvius Tetricus, deserted his troops and allied with Aurelian, who defeated Tetricus' army []. After this victory, Gallia and Britannia were reintegrated into the Roman Empire. Aurelian celebrated his second triumph, where he is said to have presented Zenobia and Tetricus, and called himself restitutor orbis []. Tetricus afterwards became corrector of Lucania, while Zenobia is said to have lived near Rome [].
1.8. The years 274 and 275
After the culmination of the crisis that had started in the fifties and sixties of the third century with the emergence of the Gallic and the Palmyrene Empires, Roman rule was now consolidated again. The emperor initiated necessary reforms in the interior. A monetary reform was enforced []. People had lost their faith in the antoninianus, a consequence of the swift depreciation during the third century: The antoninianus was officially worth two denars but the governments had debased its weight and its value. The main aim of Aurelian's reform was to reestablish the trust of the people in the antoninianus [].
The emperor tried to achieve more unity in the Empire by establishing Sol invictus as supreme god of the Roman Empire. On coins, Sol is called Dominus imperi Romani. A priesthood called "priests of the Sun-god" was created. At the end of A.D.274, perhaps on the 25th of December (Sol's alleged birthday), he inaugurated the new temple of the Sun-god in Rome on the eastern Campus Martius (today between the Via del Corso and the Piazza San Silvestro). Annual ludi and an agon Solis every fourth year were being held in honor of the Sun-god []. Aurelian also restored discipline in the army [].
Aurelian was married to Ulpia Severina (her name is only known from inscriptions and coins) and had a daughter. In autumn A.D. 274, Ulpia received the title Augusta []. The empress bore also the title mater castrorum et senatus et patriae, known from the Severan empresses and from Otacilia Severa, the wife of Philippus the Arabian []. Perhaps, Ulpia Severina was the daughter of the Ulpius Crinitus who is mentioned in the Historia Augusta. Ulpius Crinitus is said to have stemmed from the emperor Trajan and to have adopted Aurelian []. The whole story and perhaps even the person seem to be invented with the aim to connect Aurelian with the "good emperor" Trajan[].
1.9. Aurelian's end (A.D. 275)
In A.D. 275, Aurelian, by now consul for the third time, suppressed revolts in Gaul and fought invading barbarians in Vindelicia (southern Germany today) []. He now planned to march against the Persians []. On his way to Byzantium, he was murdered in September or October 275 at Caenophrurium (between Perinthus and Byzantium). The emperor's secretary had planned a conspiracy, telling the officers of the Praetorian Guard falsely that Aurelian was about to kill them; the troops therefore murdered Aurelian. The secretary probably had economic motives: He felt threatened by the emperor's actions against corruption []. According to Eusebius, Aurelian's death prevented a persecution of the Christians which the emperor had planned[]. The damnatio memoriae seems to have been inflicted on Aurelian for a short time, as some inscriptions seem to indicate, but later he was consecrated as Divus Aurelianus [].
Ulpia Severina may have reigned for a short time until Tacitus was elected as successor of Aurelian, since some of her coins seem to have been minted after Aurelian's death []. In any case, the sources claim that there was a short interregnum between the reign of Aurelian and the election of Tacitus[]. Aurelian, an excellent general, had a disciplined and upright character, but was also severe[]. He tried to proceed against the corruption of the revenue-officers and the provincial governors []. Loved by his troops, he was not as popular with the senate (see also below under chapter 3) which may be the reason why his deification was delayed. Many of his reforms and measures anticipate late antiquity: the military reorganization, new forms of protecting the frontiers, the monetary reforms, his religious policy that was directed to religious unity, the elevation of the ruler. (Aurelian appears already in his lifetime, A.D. 274, on coins of Serdica as deus et dominus natus, "God and born ruler", although he did not bear this title officially [].) In the Epitome de Caesaribus, his achievements are compared to those of Alexander the Great and Caesar [].
2. DOMITIANUS (CA. A.D. 270/271)
Domitianus was proclaimed emperor at the beginning of Aurelian's reign, but killed soon afterwards []. His rebellion seems to have been the result of the barbaric invasions at the beginning of Aurelian's reign (see above chapter 1.4.) []. He perhaps is to be identified with the general Domitianus who is said to have defeated the Macriani about A.D. 261 []. The discovery of a second specimen (2004) of a coin minted in the name of Domitianus strengthens the view that Domitianus was acclaimed emperor. [].
3. FELICISSIMUS (CA. A.D. 271)
Felicissimus was chief (rationalis) of the fiscus under Aurelian []. He instigated his employees to forge coins. When this was disclosed, he started a revolt on the mons Caelius []. The imperial troops could suppress this revolt only with difficulty []. Felicissimus died in the struggle []. Several senators and equites seem to have been involved in the uprising; in any case, Aurelian executed several senators []. No source mentions that Felicissimus tried to become emperor, nor are there any extant coins minted in his name []. According to the sequence of events as narrated by Aurelius Victor, the revolt could be dated after the defeat of Tetricus and before the inauguration of the temple of Sol, i.e. in A.D. 274. But perhaps A.D. 271 is to be preferred, since in A.D. 274, Aurelian was in firm control of the Empire, having defeated the invading tribes and the Gallic and Palmyrene Empire. Moreover, the mint in Rome seems to have stopped its work for some time before the monetary reform in A.D. 274, which could be a consequence of the rebellion. Finally, according to Zosimus and the Historia Augusta, there was unrest only at the beginning of Aurelian's reign [].
4. FIRMUS (A.D. 273)
Firmus, a salesman from Seleukeia, was very rich because of his business connections, which expanded as far as India []. He was a friend of Zenobia. After the second defection of Palmyra, he instigated a revolt in Alexandria in A.D. 273 to support the Palmyrenes, interrupting the corn supply for Rome. Aurelian suppressed the revolt and Firmus was killed []. In fact, Firmus was never proclaimed emperor []. His extant coins have been proved to be forgeries [].
From Ammianus and Zosimus, it is certain that there was unrest in Egypt following the defeat of Palmyra. But neither historian mentions Firmus. Bowman proposes an interesting hypothesis: The Egyptian papyri of the time mention an (corrector) named Claudius Firmus. A corrector could be appointed to deal with upheaval in a province. Perhaps, this was also the reason for the appointment of the corrector Firmus: in that case, he would not have instigated the revolt, but have been appointed to suppress it. The anonymous author of the Historia Augusta on the other hand could have been inspired to invent a usurper "Firmus" because there was an African rebel named Firmus under the reign of Valerian; the anonymous author therefore would have invented the usurper Firmus under Aurelian by transposing several elements known from two totally different persons [].
5. SEPTIMIUS (CA. A.D. 271/272)
Septimius (or Septiminius, as some manuscripts of the Epitome de Caesaribus read []) was proclaimed emperor about A.D. 271/2 in Dalmatia, perhaps because the region was threatened by the Gothic invasions. Septimius was killed soon afterwards by his own troops [].
6. URBANUS (CA. A.D. 271/272)
Urbanus revolted against Aurelianus ca. A.D. 271/272, but was killed soon afterwards []. It has been suggested that the person may be invented [].
7.1. Abbreviations and general works
Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt. Geschichte und Kultur Rom im Spiegel der neueren Forschung, ed. by H. Temporini and W. Haase, Berlin / New York 1972ff.
G. Barbieri, L’albo senatorio da Settimio Severo a Carino (193-285), Roma 1952 (Studi pubblicati dall’Istituto Italiano per la Storia Antica, Fasc. 6).DNP: Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopädie der Antike, ed. by H. Cancik and H. Schneider, Stuttgart / Weimar 1996ff.Hartmann, 1982: F. Hartmann, Herrscherwechsel und Reichskrise. Untersuchungen zu den Ursachen und Konsequenzen der Herrscherwechsel im Imperium Romanum der Soldatenkaiserzeit (3. Jahrhundert n. Chr.), Frankfurt a. M. / Bern 1982 (Europäische Hochschulschriften, Ser. 3, Vol. 149).Kienast, 1996: D. Kienast, Römische Kaisertabelle. Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie, Darmstadt 21996.KlP: Der Kleine Pauly. Lexikon der Antike, ed. by K. Ziegler and W. Sontheimer, Stuttgart 1964ff.Peachin, 1990: M. Peachin, Roman imperial titulature and chronology, A.D. 235-284, Amsterdam 1990 (Studia Amstelodamensia ad Epigraphicam, Ius Antiquum et Papyrologiacam pertinentia, Vol. 29).PG: Patrologia GraecaPIR and PIR2: P. von Rohden / H. Dessau, Prosopographia Imperii Romani Saec. I.II.III, Berlin 1897ff.PLRE:
E. Groag / A. Stein (continued by others), Prosopographia Imperii Romani Saec. I.II.III, 2nd edition, Berlin / Leipzig 1933ff.
A. H. M. Jones / J. R. Martindale / J. Morris, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I: A.D. 260-395, Cambridge 1971.RE: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. by G. Wissowa (continued by others), Stuttgart 1893ff.RIC: H. Mattingly / E. A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. V, Part I, London 1927.s.v.:
P. H. Webb, The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. V, Part II, London 1933.
sub voce7.2. Sources
7.3. Aurelianus and Ulpia Severina
- Sextus Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus. Origo gentis Romanae. Liber de viris illustribus urbis Romae. Epitome de Caesaribus, ed. Fr. Pichlmayr, corrected by R. Gruendel, Leipzig 1966.
- Aurelius Victor, Die römischen Kaiser. Liber de Caesaribus. Lateinisch - deutsch, ed. and transl. by K. Gross-Albenhausen and M. Fuhrmann, Zürich / Düsseldorf 1997.
- Eusebi Chronicorum Canonum quae supersunt, Vol. II, ed. by A. Schoene, Berlin 1866 (repr. 1967).
- Eutropius, Breviarium ab urbe condita, ed. F. Ruehl, Leipzig 1887 (repr. Darmstadt 1975).
- Historia Augusta. Römische Herrschergestalten, Vol. II: Von Maximinus Thrax bis Carinus, ed. by J. Straub, transl. by E. Hohl, commented by E. Merten, A. Rösger and N. Ziegler, Zürich / München 1985.
- T. Mommsen, Chronica Minora Saec. IV.V.VI.VII, Vol. I, Berlin 1892, Vol. II, Berlin 1894 (repr. 1981) (Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Auctores antiquissimi, Vol. 9 and 11).
- Scriptores Historiae Augustae, ed. by E. Hohl, corrected by Ch. Samberger, W. Seyfarth, Vol. II, Leipzig 31971 (Teubner).
- The Scriptores Historiae Augustae, transl. by D. Magie, Vol. III, Cambridge (Mass.) / London 1932 (repr. 1954, 1961) (Loeb).
- Synopsis Sathas: ’Synopsis Chronike, ed. by C. N. Sathas, Paris / Venedig 1894 (Mesaiwnikç Biblioqë kh. Bibliotheca Graeca Medii Aevi, Bd. 7) (repr. Hildesheim / New York 1972).
- Zonaras, Opera omnia, in: Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 134, ed. by J.-P. Migne, Turnholt, no indication of year.
- Zosime, Histoire nouvelle, Vol. I: Livres I et II, ed. and transl. by F. Paschoud, Paris 1971.
- Zosimus, Neue Geschichte, transl. by O. Veh, commented by S. Rebenich, Stuttgart 1990 (Bibliothek der griechischen Literatur, Vol. 31).
- Barbieri, 1952, p. 273, no. 1551, and p. 318, no. 1766.
- A. Birley, s.v. Aurelianus no. 3, DNP 2, 1997, col. 317-319.
- J. Calzini Gysens / F. Coarelli, s.v. Sol, Templum, in: E. M. Steinby (Ed.), Lexicon topographicum Urbis Romae, Vol. 4, Rome 1999, pp. 331-333.
- E. Cizek, L’empereur Aurélien et son temps, Paris 1994 (Collection histoire).
- W. Eck, s.v. Ulpius no. 33 and no. 57, RE Suppl. XIV, 1974, col. 939 and 943f.
- E. Groag, s.v. Domitius no. 36, RE V.1, 1903, col. 1347-1419.
- R. Hanslik, s.v. Aurelianus no. 4, KlP 1, 1964, col. 761-763.
- A. H. M. Jones et al.., s.v. "Aurelianus no. 6", PLRE I, 1971, pp. 129f.
- A. H. M. Jones et al., s.v. Severina no. 2, PLRE I, 1971, p. 830.
- D. Kienast," Die Münzreform Aurelians," Chiron 4, 1974, pp. 547-565.
- Kienast, 1996, pp. 234-237.
- Peachin, 1990, pp. 43f., 87-92, and 383-405.
- RIC 5.1, pp. 248-318.
- P. von Rohden / H. Dessau, PIR III, 1898, pp. 466f., Nr. 586.
- L. Schumacher, "Aurelian 270-275," in: M. Clauss (Ed.), Die römischen Kaiser. 55 historische Portraits von Caesar bis Iustinian, München 1997, pp. 245-251.
- G. Sotgiu, Aureliano (1960-1972), in: ANRW II.2, 1975, pp. 1039-1061.
- A. Stein, PIR III2, 1943, pp. 41f., Nr. 135.
- K. Strobel, "Ulpia Severina Augusta: Eine Frau in der Reihe der illyrischen Kaiser," in: E. Frézouls / H. Jouffroy (ed.), Les empereurs illyriens. Actes du colloque de Strasbourg (11-13 octobre 1990), Strassburg 1998 (Université des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg. Contributions et travaux de l’Institut d’Histoire Romaine VIII), pp. 119-153.
- A. Watson, Aurelian and the Third Century, London 1999.
- G. Winkler, s.v. Ulpius no. 2 and no. 8, KlP 5, 1975, col. 1044 and 1045f.
- A. Birley, s.v. Domitianus no. 2, DNP 3, 1997, col. 750.
- R. Hanslik, s.v. Domitianus no. 2, KlP 2, 1967, col. 125.
- A. H. M. Jones etc., s.v. Domitianus no. 1, PLRE I, 1971, p. 262.
- Kienast, 1996, p. 237.
- L. Okamura, "Forging a usurper in late Roman Aquitania," Hermes 120, 1992, pp. 103-109.
- Peachin, 1990, pp. 45 and 406.
- RIC 5.2, pp. 578 and 590.
- A. Stein, s.v. Domitianus no. 2, RE V.1, 1903, col. 1311f.
- A. Stein, PIR III2, 1943, p. 27, Nr. 114.
- Barbieri, 1952, pp. 403f., no. 13.
- T. Franke, s.v. Felicissimus, DNP 4, 1998, col. 463.
- R. Hanslik, s.v. Felicissimus, KlP 2, 1967, col. 531.
- A. H. M. Jones etc., s.v. Felicissimus no. 1, PLRE I, 1971, p. 331.
- Kienast, 1996, p. 238.
- A. Stein, s.v. Felicissimus, RE VI.2, 1909, col. 2162f.
- A. Stein, PIR III2, 1943, p. 123, Nr. 140.
- R. Turcan, "Le délit des monétaires rebellés contre Aurélien," Latomus 28, 1969, pp. 948-959.
- Barbieri, 1952, p. 404, no. 14.
- A. K. Bowman, "Papyri and Roman Imperial History, 1960-75," JRS 66, 1976, pp. 153-173, esp. p. 158.
- T. Franke, s.v. Firmus no. 2, DNP 4, 1998, col. 525.
- A. H. M. Jones etc., s.v. Firmus no. 1, PLRE I, 1971, p. 339.
- Kienast, 1996, p. 238.
- A. Lippold, s.v. Firmus no. 2, KlP 2, 1967, col. 555.
- A. Stein, s.v. Firmus no. 6, RE VI.2, 1909, col. 2382f.
- A. Stein, PIR III2, 1943, p. 127, Nr. 162.
- Barbieri, 1952, p. 409, no. 26.
- A. H. M. Jones etc., s.v. Septimius no. 1, PLRE I, 1971, p. 821.
- Kienast, 1996, pp. 237f.
- P. von Rohden / H. Dessau, PIR III, 1898, p. 202, Nr. 305.
- A. Stein, s.v. Septiminus no. 2, RE II.A.2, 1923, col. 1560.
- Barbieri, 1952, p. 410, no. 30.
- A. H. M. Jones etc., s.v. Urbanus no. 1, PLRE I, 1971, p. 982.
- Kienast, 1996, p. 237.
[] Birthdate: Chronograph 354, see CIL I2, pp. 255; 272; birthyear 214: Malalas (Bonn), 301; birthyear 215: Synopsis Sathas p. 39, line 16; born in Dacia ripensis: Eutr. 9,13,1; born in Sirmium or Dacia ripensis: SHA, Aurel. 3,1; origins of Moesia: SHA, Aurel. 3,2; born between Dacia and Macedonia: Epit. de Caes. 35,1.
[] Epit. de Caes. 35,1; humble origins: SHA, Aurel. 3,1. According to the Historia Augusta (Aurel. 4,2; 5,5), his mother was priestess of the Sun-god; but this probably is an invention, deriving from the fact that Aurelian later promoted the cult of Sol (see below chapter 1.8.): Groag, 1903, col. 1352.
[] Support for Claudius II.: Aur. Vict., Caes. 33,21; Zon. 12,25; supreme commander: SHA, Aurel. 18,1. Aurelius Victor (Caes. 33,21) claims that Aurelian was the inventor of the ruse that killed Gallienus; in the Historia Augusta (Aurel. 16,1), in Eutropius (9,11,1) and in Zosimus (1,40,1-3) on the other hand, Aurelianus is not mentioned in connection with the conspiracy against Gallienus. His career before A.D. 268, as given in SHA, Aurel. 5-15, is fictitious: Groag, 1903, col. 1352f.; Stein, 1943, p. 41; Jones etc., 1971, p. 130; cf. Watson, 1999, p. 1.
[] SHA, Aurel. 37,6; Zos. 1,47. Proclamation in May: Stein, 1943, p. 41; Hanslik, 1964, col. 762; proclamation in September: Kienast, 1996, p. 234; Birley, 1997, col. 317; Schumacher, 1997, p. 246. According to Eutropius (9,15) and the Epitome de Caesaribus (35,1), Aurelianus reigned five years and six months (for other indications in the sources see Groag, 1903, col. 1357f.; Stein, 1943, p. 42). Since he was killed in September or October A.D. 275, he would have been proclaimed in February or March 270 when Claudius II. was still reigning. But according to all sources, Aurelian revolted only after Claudius’ death; September 270 as date of his proclamation is therefore to be preferred.
[] Vandals: Zos. 1,48f. (Zosimus speaks of „Scythes" and „Alamannes", but see the commentary of Rebenich, in: Zosimus, 1990, p. 293, n. 95); Epit. de Caes. 35,2; Juthungi: Dexippos, FGrH IIA 460 F7; SHA, Aurel. 21,1-3; Sarmates: SHA, Aurel. 18,2. Dates for his military campaigns: Groag, 1903, col. 1359f.
[] Chron. 354, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. I, p. 148,8; Eutr. 9,15,1; Aur. Vict., Caes. 35,7; SHA, Aurel. 21,9; 39,2; Epit. de Caes. 35,6; Zos. 1,49,2; Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2291; Hieronymus is followed by Cassiodor, Chron. 990, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. II, p. 148; CIL XI 6308f. The Aurelian wall was finished only under Probus: Zos. 1,49,2.
[] SHA, Aurel. 22,5-24,9. According to the Historia Augusta, the famous philosopher Apollonius of Tyana who had lived at the end of the 1st century A.D., appeared in Aurelian’s dreams exhorting him to spare the city.
[] Immae: Fest. 24; SHA, Aurel. 25,1-3; Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2289. Emesa: SHA, Aurel. 25,1-3. According to Zosimus, there was a great battle at Antiochia (1,50,3f.), then one at Daphne, a suburb of Antiochia (1,52,1f.), then at Emesa (1,52,3-1,53,3).
[] All the events described here are to be found in Zosimus 1,60,1-1,61,1. Antiochus’ inscription: IGR III, 1029. It is not certain whether he really was or only pretended to be Zenobia’s son: see Rebenich, in: Zosimus, 1990, p. 295, n. 111; Zosimus (1,61,1) claims that Antiochus was of humble origins and that therefore Aurelian did not deem him worthy of punishment. Antiochus is also mentioned as usurper in Polemius Silvius, laterc. 49 (in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. I, p. 521); in the Historia Augusta (Aurel. 31,2), he is called Achilleus. Apsaeus may be identical with Septimios Apsaios, known from IGR III, 1049: see Rebenich, in: Zosimus, 1990, p. 295, n. 109.
[] Triumph: SHA, Aurel. 33f.; trig. tyr. 24,4; 30,3; 30,24-26; Eutr. 9,13,2; Fest. 24; Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2290; Hieronymus is followed by Cassiodorus, Chron. 988, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. II, p. 148. See also Zos. 1,61,1; Zon. 12,27.
[] Tetricus: Aur. Vict., Caes. 35,5 (here, Tetricus’ son is even elevated to senatorial rank); SHA, Aurel. 39,1 (in trig. tyr. 24,5, the author claims that Tetricus became governor of all of Italy, obviously an invention); Eutr. 9,13,2; Epit. de Caes. 35,7; Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2290. Zenobia: SHA, trig. tyr. 30,27; Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2290; cf. Eutr. 9,13,2. Zenobia is said to have married a Roman senator (Synkellos, I, 721, p. 740; Zon. 12,27); according to some sources which are lost now (see Zon. 12,27), Aurelian and other Romans married Zenobia’s daughters.
According to Zosimus (1,59; mentioned also by Zonaras 12,27), Zenobia died of a disease or starved herself to death while Aurelianus marched from the East to Rome; if that is true, then of course she cannot have been part of the triumph in Rome. But since Zosimus is the only source mentioning an early death of Zenobia and since he is writing rather late, the other version is probably to be preferred. According to Malalas (p. 300), a Byzantine chronist, Zenobia was beheaded after the triumph.
[] Sol invictus as supreme god of the Empire: CIL VIII 5143; Sotgiu, 1975, pp. 1047f.; Hartmann, 1982, p. 193; Schumacher, 1997, p. 250. Coins: RIC 5.1, p. 301, nos. 319-322. Priesthood: SHA, Aurel. 35,3. Temple: Eutr. 9,15,1; Aur. Vict., Caes. 35,7; SHA, Aur. 1,3; 25,6; 35,3; 39,2; SHA, quatt. tyr. 3,4; Zos. 1,61,2; CIL VI 1785 = 31931; Sotgiu, 1975, p. 1048. Date of the temple: Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2291; Hieronymus is followed by Cassiodor, Chron. 990, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. II, p. 148; Kienast, 1996, p. 234; Birley, 1997, col. 318; Schumacher, 1997, p. 250.
Location of the temple: Chron. 354, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. I, p. 148,8 (in campo Agrippae); Sotgiu, 1975, p. 1048; Rebenich, in: Zosimus, 1990, pp. 295f., n. 113; Calzini Gysens / Coarelli, 1999, pp. 331-333. Ludi on the 25th of December (attested still in A.D. 354): Inscr. Ital. XIII.2, p. 261. Agon Solis: Chron. 354, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. I, p. 148,11; Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2291; Sotgiu, 1975, p. 1048.
[] Aur. Vict., Caes. 35,8 and 36,2 (the murderer’s name is given as Mucapor, while the name of the secretary, cui secretorum officium crediderat (sc. Aurelianus), is not mentioned); Eutr. 9,15,2; Zos. 1,62; Zon. 12,27; Synopsis Sathas, p. 39, lines 12-16 (according to Zosimus, Zonaras and the Synopsis, the name of the secretary was Eros, and the place of the murder is Perinthus - Heraclaea); SHA, Aurel. 35,5-36 (here the secretary is called Mnesteus, while the murderer is Mucapor as in Aurelius Victor); SHA, Tac. 2,4; Epit. de Caes. 35,8 (without naming of the place); Chron. 354, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. I, p. 148,12 (without details); Hier., Chron. a. Abr. 2292 (without details); Hieronymus is followed by Cassiodor, Chron. 990, in: Mommsen, Chron. min., Vol. II, p. 148. The economic motives: Aur. Vict., Caes. 35,7f.; cf. SHA, Aurel. 39,3-5; Hartmann, 1982, p. 116, n. 5; p. 191.
[] Deification: Eutr. 9,15,2; SHA, Aurel. 37,1f. and 37,4. (The author of the Historia Augusta claims that there was even a temple erected for Aurelian: SHA, Aurel. 37,1; Tac. 9,5.) For the possibility of a short period of damnatio memoriae see Birley, 1997, col. 318.
[] See for example Eutr. 9,13,1, and 9,14; Aur. Vict., Caes. 35,12 and 14; Epit. de Caes. 35,9. While Aurelius Victor’s picture of Aurelian bears no negative traces, Eutropius and the author of the Epitome mention his cruelty. The description in the Historia Augusta (see for example Aurel. 1,5 and 37,1) is also ambivalent. Zosimus mentions that he could be mild, for example when he entered Antiochia (Zos. 1,51,2f.); when Zenobia tries to escape he reacts in rather an angry fashion(Zos. 1,55,2).
[] RIC 5.1, p. 299, no. 305-306. Groag, 1903, col. 1357; see also Sotgiu, 1975, p. 1043. The author of the Epitome de Caesaribus (35,5) writes that Aurelian was the first emperor to wear a diadem, a golden vestment and jewelry.
[] SHA, Gall. 2,6; trig. tyr. 12,13; 14; 13,3. For the identity see Groag, 1903, col. 1375; Stein, 1943, p. 27; Stein, 1903, col. 1311f.; Kienast, 1996, p. 237; Birley, 1997, col. 750. It has to be said that the existence of this general Domitianus, only known from the dubious Historia Augusta, is in doubt: see Birley, 1997, col. 750.
[] Kienast, 1996, p. 237; Birley, 1997, col. 750. Stein (1903, col. 1311f.; 1943, p. 27; followed by Hanslik, 1967, col. 125, Jones etc., 1971, p. 262, and Schumacher, 1997, p. 248; see also RIC 5.2, p. 578) took the coin which was found in Gallia (RIC 5.2, p. 590, Nr. 1) for genuine and therefore thought that Domitianus was one of the emperors of the Gallic Empire. For the debate concerning the authenticity of the coin see especially Okamura, 1992, pp. 103-109; Hartmann, 1982, p. 99, n. 3.
[] Forgery: See the detailed analysis of Turcan, 1969, pp. 953-957. Location: According to Peachin (in: C. Deroux, Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History, Vol. 3, Brussels 1983, pp. 325ff.), the revolt may have taken place not in Rome, but in Antiochia. He cites a passage from the not very reliable byzantine chronographer John Malalas (12, p. 301, 1f.); but John Malalas does not give a name for the rebel. See Kienast, 1996, p. 238.
[] Eutr. 9,14; SHA, Aurel. 21,5-8; 39,8; Zos. 1,49,2; Amm. 30,8,8. (In Zosimus and in the Historia Augusta, the executions are not connected with the rebellion of Felicissimus.) The coins bearing the legend Int. Urb. S. C. (RIC 5.1, p. 361, Nr. 1-3) are perhaps not connected with the interregnum between Aurelian and Tacitus (see above chapter 1.9.), but could indicate that the senate for some time exercised a stronger control over the mint of Rome: Turcan, 1969, pp. 957f., followed by Hartmann, 1982, p. 122.
[] SHA, Aurel. 32,2; the author corrects this later in his work, claiming that Firmus was proclaimed emperor (quatt. tyr. 2,1-3), but this second version is obviously fictitious; Stein, 1943, p. 127.
Copyright (C) 2001, Christian Körner. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.
Comments to: Christian Körner
Updated:20 July 2001
For more detailed geographical information, please use the DIR/ORBAntique and Medieval Atlas below. Click on the appropriate part of the map below to access large area maps.
Return to the Imperial Index