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Ingenuus (260 A.D.)

William Leadbetter

Ingenuus was one of the many alternative claimants to the imperial purple with whom Gallienus had to deal in the course of his fifteen-year reign (253-268 A.D.). He was evidently appointed to a senior command in Pannonia by Gallienus himself .[[1]] That command may have included the supervising of Gallienus' young son, Valerian II. [[2]] If this was rge case, then his tutelage of the boy ceased when Valerian II died in 258. From that point on, his political position must have been more tenuous. If so, he certainly benefited from Gallienus' being distracted by other matters.

One source, and that the least reliable, dates Ingenuus' revolt against Gallienus to 258.[[3]]. This testimony runs counter to the information from the more mainstream literary sources, which note that Ingenuus' revolt was one of a number after Valerian was seized by the Persians in 260.[[4]]

A date of 260 for the revolt of Ingenuus has been argued with conviction by Drinkwater and followed, most recently, by David Potter.[[5]] They oppose an older, and widely accepted, position argued by Fitz that the revolt of Ingenuus took place in 258, soon after the death of Valerian II.[[6]] The strength of Fitz's argument was that it linked the death of Valerian II and a fear of a Marcomannic invasion to the usurpation by Ingenuus. Its weakness is that there was no evidence of a Marcomannic invasion in 258, and that Ingenuus issued no coins. This latter fact demonstrates that Ingenuus reigned for only a short time and only in a geographical area where no mint facilities were ready to hand.

These factors make a revolt in 260 more likely. Motives are not difficult to imagine. Ingenuus will have felt uncertain of his position since the death of Valerian II. The capture of the elder Valerian by the Persians provided him, as it did others, with encouragement to cement his position by the overthrow of the remnant of a failed dynasty.

As it turned out, it was Gallienus who proved victorious. A speedy march to Pannonia was followed by victory at Mursa in which the new cavalry arm distinguished itself and the valour of Aureolus commended itself to Gallienus.[[7]] Ingenuus himself died, either in the rout, or as a suicide, to evade capture.


John Bray (1997) Gallienus: a study in reformist and sexual politics, Adelaide.

Lukas de Blois (1976) The Policy of the Emperor Gallienus, Leiden.

E. Demougeot (1969) La formation de l'Europe. Les invasions barbares des origines germaniques à l'avènement de Dioclétien, Paris.

John Drinkwater (1987) The Gallic Empire: separatism and continuity in the north-western provinces of the Roman Empire A.D. 260 - 274, Historia Einzelschriften 52.

Jeno Fitz (1966) Ingenuus et Régalien, Coll Lat. 81.

________. (1976) La Pannonie sous Gallien, Coll. Lat. 148.

David S. Potter (1990), Prophecy and History in the Crisis of the Roman Empire, A Historical Commentary on the Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle, Oxford.


[[1]] That would seem to be the implication of a scrap of information recorded by the anonymous continuator of Dio (Müller, FHG, 4., 194); see also Bray (1997) 67.

[[2]] Fitz (1966) 27 f.; Drinkwater (1987) 22, 103.

[[3]] SHA, Trig. Tyr. 9.1 (Tusco et Basso consulibus...).

[[4]] Aur. Vict. de Caes. 33.2 (who misnames Ingenuus as "Ingebus"); Zonaras 12.24.

[[5]] Drinkwater (1987) 104 - 5; Potter (1990) 52.

[[6]]Fitz (1966) 35 - 42; see also de Blois (1976) 4; Demougeot (1969) 442.

[[7]]Eutr. 9.8; Zonaras 12.24.

Copyright (C) 1998, William Leadbetter. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: William Leadbetter.

Updated: 24 September 1998

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