Here I am republishing a work that I originally put online elsewhere detailing the period of the Barracks Emperors from the death of the emperor Elagabalus until the accession of the emperor Diocletian. I originally chose to work on this period and translate texts associated with the time of the Barracks Emperors because our primary sources for the period are so poor and fragmentary at times that we often have to look to later historians for the information that we might have culled from primary sources. The following extract comes from the long world history of the Byzantine historian John Zonaras who wrote in the twelfth century A.D. Zonaras writing at that time in history had access to more primary sources than we do now, so his history is of great use to us as it provides us with some of the information we have lost from other sources.
While his sources sometimes remain a mystery because Zonaras does not usually mention from whom he obtained the information, we can with some certainty say that he gained much of his information from historians that are known to us such as Dio Cassius, Herodian, Eusebius, and others, but also from others who are not as well known to us such as Dexippus and other fragmentary historians.
As far as I know, no one has really published or translated this section of Zonaras' history, so I hope that this is a useful contribution to students of the Barracks Emperor period which will supplement our Latin and Greek sources for the period. For those interested in reading more, the original Greek text with a Latin translation is available through Google Books, which is where I found the text translated below. You can find it here
With the false Antoninus slain, Alexander, the son of Mamaea, his nephew as the ancients called the cousins, succeeded to the throne. Immediately, he proclaimed his mother Mamaea Augusta, who then took over the administration of affairs and gathered about her son wise men to teach him ethics, as well as selecting the Senate’s best men to act as her counselors with whom she shared in all of the administration of the state. In addition, Domitius Ulpianus was entrusted with command of the Praetorian Guard and the administration of public affairs and he set right many of Sardanapalus’s deeds. He killed Flavian and Chrestus to succeed them, though not much later he was slain by the bodyguards when they attacked him in the night. Ulpianus was also still alive a short time before when a conflict broke out between the people and the Praetorian Guard where they fought each other for three days. The soldiers were defeated and set fire to the houses, so the people fearing for the city unwillingly reconciled themselves with them. Many other such rebellions happened that were stopped.
Alexander’s mother was a slave to money and gathered it up from all over. She also got her son a wife, who she did not permit to be proclaimed Augusta and after a short time separated from her son and sent off in exile to Libya, even though he loved her. He was not able to speak up to his mother, she ruled him.
In the meantime, the Persian Artaxerxes, who was [descended] from ignoble and disreputable men, converted the Parthian kingdom into a Persian one and made himself their king. It is said from him the family of Chosroes is descended. For after the death of Alexander of Macedon, his successors the Macedonians had ruled over the greater part of the Persians and the Parthians as well as other peoples, and then started fighting amongst themselves and so destroyed themselves. And so as they were weakened, Arsacides the first Parthian ruler revolted against them and took rule over the Parthians leaving it to his own descendants of whom the last was Artabanus. The said Artaxerxes defeated him in man three battles finally capturing and killing him. Then he marched on Armenia and was defeated by the Armenians and the Medians who attacked him with the sons of Artabanus. Recovering from the previous defeat, he then laid siege to Mesopotamia and Syria with a greater force threatening to recover all that had belonged to the Persians his ancestors. Then Artaxerxes overran Cappadocia with his Persians and laid siege to Nisibis. In the meantime, Alexander sent ambassadors to him asking for peace. However, the barbarian did not receive the embassy and instead sent four hundred of his greatest men clothing them with expensive robes, seating them upon the finest horses, and adorning them with superb arms to Alexander aiming to astonish him and the Romans. When they had arrived and come before Alexander, they said, “The Great King Artaxerxes commands the Romans leave Syria and all Asia adjacent to Europe and permit the Persians to rule until the sea.” Alexander arrested them, confiscated their arms and robes, took from them their horses, and spread them out over many villages and forced them to farm because he did not think it pious to kill them. He himself then gathered together his own troops and divided them into three parts and attacked the Persians. A great scourge broke out in the Persian camp and many Romans died not so much by the hand of the enemy but from the march home through the mountains of Armenia. It was freezing cold for the feet of the travelers, while some men were so unfortunate as to have their hands blacken and go frostbitten from the cold. For this misfortune the Romans held Alexander accountable. Accordingly, either from discouragement or a conjunction of the humors he fell very ill. When he had recovered, he made war on the Germans and did them grievous harm with javelin-men and archers. He also sent them ambassadors to reach an accord for sums of money. On this account, the soldiers were not too happy and rebelled. One Maximinus, a Thracian by birth, who had a child been a shepherd and later become a soldier, they took hold of and though he was unwilling named emperor. Taking command of his proclaimers, he then departed straightaway for where Alexander was staying. Informed of this, he called upon the soldiers around him to defend him and they responded. And when Maximinus was upon them, Alexander gathered together his army and ordered them to attack Maximinus’s men. However, they reviled his mother and abused her for her miserliness as well as mocking him as a coward, and then withdrew leaving him behind. Seeing himself deprived of any aid, he returned to his tent and got with his mother and wept. Maximinus then sent a decurion to them and so killed him, his mother, the people about them and took in hand the empire.
Mamaea, Alexander’s mother was repute for her virtue and reverent life. While she was staying in Antioch with her son on hearing about Origen she summoned him from Alexandria and made a profession of faith to him becoming very pious as Eusebius says and other writers. On this account, not only did he halt the persecution of Christians then, but also conferred honors on many Christians.
At that time, when Urban was bishop of Rome, Ippolutes, a most pious and wise man, flourished and became bishop of the portus in Rome and wrote many works discussing especially the Holy Bible. Asclepiades was at that time as well appointed over Antioch and directed the church of the faithful there, as well as Sardianus over Jerusalem.
With Alexander dead in the aforementioned way after a reign of ten years, Maximinus succeeded to the throne. Immediately, he instituted a persecution against Christians and ordered that the primates of the churches be slain as teachers and heralds of the mystery of Christ. He is said to have been driven by hatred of Alexander, who honored Christians. For he was filled with hatred for that emperor when appointed to the rank of commander by him, he marched off against the Persians and was disgracefully defeated so incurring imperial wrath. A second cause of the persecution was that there was many in Alexander’s household who recognized Christ Our God. At this time as well, Ambrosius, a learned man, who urged Origen on to write an explanation of the Holy Bible and amply supplied his expenses as well as supplying with seven shorthand writers who took turns writing down the work in order as well as no small number of scribes trained in calligraphy, who is said to have received the crown of martyrdom along with Protoctetus a presbyter.
Maximinus on learning this set out for Italy hurling many threats at the Senate. He, on learning that Maximus was advancing on him, while Albinus was staying behind to guard Rome, turned aside towards Aquileia with his Moors anxious to take possession of it beforehand. Aquileia is now said to be Venice. However, he was repelled from there since its defenders proved the better of him. Repelled from there he attacked Maximus’s forces and was defeated. He then retreated back to his own tent, while his soldiers and his bodyguard have risen up came before his tent with his own son as he had ordered them to. They then immediately came upon both of them and killed them. Maximinus was sixty five-years-old, of which he had reigned for six. The corpses were then beheaded and the heads received by the people of Aquileia first and then sent to Rome. The people of Rome fixed Maximinus’s head on a pole near the market so it should be visible to everybody.
Then Maximus returned to Rome where he was met by Albinus and the people and the Senate welcomed him with acclamations and applause. Both of them ruled together and ruled well. Yet the soldiers were not content because not they, but the Senate and the people had chosen their emperors. Then since the emperors had their differences with one another, this became the reason for their destruction. Since the soldiers had learned of their differences they came upon them and lead them both in chains through all the city not only abusing them like drunkards and mocking them, but also torturing them. Then informed that the Germans wanted to carry them off and save them, they killed lest this happen. Maximus was seventy four years-old, while Albinus was sixty. They reigned some thirty two days, with the others, not three whole months.
After them, they write that one Pompeianus took the throne and then very swiftly was deposed from it enjoying only a dream of authority before two months passed and he was deprived of it and slain. In others for some reason he is not found, but passed over in silence, while they have another one. After him, they go on instead to tell of Puplius Balbinus, they write out as having had only a taste of sole rule ruling for three months before he was killed, just when Gordian arrived from Libya , where as I have already said he was proclaimed emperor. On coming to Rome, Gordian fell ill, first because he was extremely old, having reached the age of seventy-nine, and secondly because he had been worn out by the long time he had spent in the boat, and died from this illness having been there only twenty two days. He was succeeded on the throne by his son called Gordian like his father.
Some tell that this was thus how things fell out, while others says that at the proclamation of the elder Gordian, some soldiers in Libya revolted, and after fighting a battle Gordian’s men were defeated and not only a great number of them were slain but also his own son. Suffering because of this, he hung himself and ended his life.
Others claim that his son the younger Gordian, after the elder Gordian died from disease, succeeded to the throne and also that he marched off against the Persians and met with them in battle and was pushing his horse on and urging his men on to battle, when his horse slipped and fell with him on it, his thigh being broken and him having to be carried back to Rome where he died from his injury after ruling six years.
Urban the archbishop of Rome was archbishop for eight years dieing during the reign of Maximinus being succeeded by Pontianus. The primate of the church of Antioch was Zebinus after Philetus. Under Gordian the younger the chief of the faithful in Rome, Pontianus, ended his life and was succeeded by Anteros who had devoted himself to the service of God for six years. Anteros was head of the church for the very shortest of times before passing on to the next life. After him, Flavian by divine selection became archbishop as Eusebius tells. It is said that when the faithful were gathered together to select who to elect to primacy Flavian was present having just come from the country and though there had been no mention of him for the primacy of the church, but others instead was busied with whether they would be preferred. In the middle of it, a dove flew in and landed on Flavian's head. Because of this, everyone assembled there had one voice in saying almost in agreement, "He is worthy," and elevated to the archbishop's throne having no qualms about it. At that time at as well, the primate of the church of the faithful at Antioch, Zebinus, died and was succeeded by Babylas. In addition, Origen was then staying at Caesaria in Palestine acquiring himself many students from all over including the great Gregory the Miracle-Worker and his brother Athenodorus. At that time as well Africanus [the African writer Julius Africanus] flourished.
After the younger Gordian died, yet another Gordian succeeded to the throne being in birth, as the saying goes, related to the departed Gordiani. He campaigned and made war on the Persians when Shapur the son of Artaxerxes was ruling that nation and defeated his opponents recovering Nisibis and Karas for the Romans, which had been seized by the Persians during Maximinus’s reign. Then as he was going towards Ctesiphon , he was slain by the treachery of Phillip, the prefect of his bodyguard. When Gordian first came to throne he made his father-in-law, called Timesocles, prefect of it. As long as he was there, his authority as emperor was fine and things went alright, but when Timescles died, he made Phillip its commander. He then wanting to make the soldiers revolt lessened their food supplies as though it had been commanded by the emperor. They say that he restricted the flow in of grain into the camp so as to lay low the soldiers with their want and so stir them to revolt. And so the soldiers revolted against the emperor rising up holding him responsible for their starvation and killed him after a reign of six years. Phillip then immediately seized his opportunity to take power. When the Senate was informed of the slaughter of Gordian, it decided to appoint another emperor. Immediately it proclaimed Marcus a philosopher emperor. However, he, before he could really do much, died suddenly in the palace. With his death Severus Hostilianus succeeded to the throne. However, he had barely taken up power before he payed his dues. For he fell ill and slit his wrist and died.
On returning to Rome, Phillip took hold of the Roman Empire. On the way home, he made his son Phillip his co-ruler. In addition, he made peace with Shapur the King of the Persians thereby ending the war with the Persians by conceding to them Mesopotamia and Armenia. Because he found the Romans displeased by the concession of these places to them, a short while later he set aside his accords and seized the places. Shapur was, as it is told, so massive such as no man had yet appeared.
On returning home, Phillip was well-disposed towards Christians, according to some he even converted to the Christian faith, so much so he even join in praying in churches with Christians and gladly confessed his sins. For the primate of the church refused to give him communion unless he confessed his sins and recounted his repentance, which he is said to have obeyed. Some say moreover that he was the father of martyr Eugenia, but here they make a mistake. For he is said to have become a prefect, but of Egypt and not the bodyguard, and for his faith in Christ he turned down the office and was arrested and martyred for it.
The emperor Phillip also waged war against the Scythians and the returned to Rome. In addition, one Marinus, a commander of a squadron in Mysia, was raised up by his soldiers to become emperor. For this reason, Phillip was confounded and discussed the rebellion with the Senate. While the others stood by in silence, Decius said to him that he should not be greatly concerned as Marinus would be killed by his own soldiers since he was unworthy of the throne. A short while later, his utterance came to pass. Phillip was consequently amazed with Decius and charge him to set out for Mysia and punish those responsible for the rebellion. Decius begged him not to send him saying that it was not in his own interests or the sender's to dispatch him. Yet Phillip was not to be put off. And so, Decius unwillingly departed and straightaway his soldiers proclaimed him emperor. He tried to reject it, but his soldiers drew their swords and forced him to accept it. He then wrote to Phillip telling him not to cause trouble because if he could get to Rome he would set aside the insignia of imperial rule. However, Phillip did not believe him and marched off against him joining battle with Decius's men being among the first to fall in the combat. Along with him, his son Phillip was slain. With them dead, everyone submitted to Decius. He had reigned some five years, while others say six by a couple of months. He came from Bostri where during his reign he built a city bearing his name naming it Phillipopolis.
Decius then with all of the troops in submittance to him, as it was said, returned to Rome and was invested with the imperial office. He was attentive to respect for his authority and the management of [public] affairs, so some say, appointing Valerian to manage them. Immediately, they commenced a battle of gods [or 'with God] instituting a vehement persecution of Christians. There are some who say that due to his hatred for Phillip, Decius attacked the Christians since he had held them in awe and so he was wrathful towards the faithful. At this time, Flavian, the chief of the church in Rome met the end of a martyr, while Babylas the chief of the church of the faithful in Antioch as well as Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, who did not suffer the ultimate fate for the Christian faith on the first day, but on the day after, as it has already been said, and died confined to a prison. In addition, Cyprianus the Great, bishop of Carthage, suffered the ultimate fate for Christian faith. With the said archpriests dead, Cornelius became bishop of Rome in place of Flavian, while Flavian in place of Babylas in Antich, Dionysius in Alexandria, Mazabanes in Jerusalem in place of Alexander. Many others suffered martyrdom at that time.
Then as well Origen came before the tyrannical bench as one of the faithful, but did not meet with martyrdom, I believe, because God did not think him worthy of this on account of the wretched man's distortion of the teachings of the true faith. And so he was reprieved from them after torture. He had, as it was already said, become very learned becoming arrogant and pretentious on account of this not following the dogma of the fathers before him but becoming the introducer of his own new dogma uttering blasphemy on the Holy Trinity and the divine incarnation from the painful treasure-house of his heart and became the head of this heresy. He taught that God's only born son was different in glory and substance than the father and placed the Holy Spirit beneath the honor of the father and that of the son saying that the Son was not able to his Father, nor the Spirit the Son as though neither the Spirit the angels nor the angels humans. These were Origen's blasphemies pertaining to the holy and one-substanced Triad. As for his blasphemies pertaining to the incarnation of the Son of God, he impiously maintained that Christ was not put into the flesh through the Holy Virgin. For he fancied that the only born son of God was united with the Mind before the creation of the world, which he formed anew from selections and unsettled turmoil [dust?], and along with this that he was incarnated at the furthest and took to the flesh to the flesh without a reckonable and perceivable spirit. He taught as well that the Lord set aside the flesh again and left for his kingdom. As for the spirits, he maintained that there would be punishment for a time, but not forever, only to purify the person of their sins so that once purified both all men and spirits returns to the Union. Concerning this Union, it requires talk at length to expose its nonsense, so it was passed over here along with his other blasphemies.
Such is what they say about Origen, who they used to call Adamantius. Then Nauatus became head of the Roman Church as the head of the heretics who called themselves the Cathars denying entry to those who had submitted during the persecution and sacrificed to the idols even if they had turned away from them and confessed or permit those who had fallen seeking a cure for their error from the depths of their heart. Under him, a synod was convened in Rome with Cornelius as its head. During it, it was decided that they must accept those who had fallen away during the time of the persecution who wished to return healing them with the drugs of conversion. When Nautus did not yield to the synod's decrees, those holy fathers of the Church were alienated from him and denounced him as a hater of his brothers.
Eusebius mentions the following story from the letter of Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria. He says Dionysius put this to writing, "There was one Sarapion, a faithful old man amongst us living blamelessly, who fell during the trial. He asked many a time, but no one would go near him, since he had sacrificed. Then he became ill and for three successive days he continued speechless and senseless, but on the fourth recovering somewhat, he called his daughter's son saying to him, 'Hurry, fetch me a priest', and then again fell mute. The boy ran to get a priest, but the priest was not able to come to him and he was sick, but as I had issued an injunction that those who were about to die if they needed it and had previously been begging to be released should receive remission and that they might depart in good hope, he gave the boy a small part of the Eucharist instructing him to soak it and let the drops fall into the old man's mouth. The boy returned carrying it. As he drew near before entering, rousing himself again Sarapion said, 'Have you come, my child? As the priest was not able to come, do quickly what was commanded and release me.' The boy soaked it and dropped it into the mouth of his elder, who a short while after he had swallowed it gave up the ghost. Is it not evident that he was preserved and his life continued until he was absolved and his sin having been blotted out, that he could be acknowledged for the many good deeds he had done?" Such what Dionysius relates.
Decius thus disposed towards the faithful did not last two whole years on the throne of the Romans before he was slain most shamefully. As barbarians were plundering the Bosporus, Decius went and fought killing many of them. As they were in hard pressed, they promised to leave behind all the plunder if they were permitted to depart, but Decius did not give into them and instead charged Gallus, one of the senators, to not permit them to make their crossing . Yet Gallus secretly, plotting against Decius, came to an agreement with them for them to form their lines next to a deep nearby marsh. When the barbarians thus arranged gave flight, Decius pursued and fell into the marsh along with his son and a number of Romans, where they were all lost, such that not even their bodies could be found, which were covered up by the mud of the marsh.
Thus Gallus took power, who some of the writers say was called Volusian, while others have written that Volusian was his son who ruled with him. So Gallus took over the dominion of the Romans and made peace with the barbarians on the conditions that the Romans would pay a yearly tribute and in return they would not ravage Roman possessions. Having made peace in this way, he returned to Rome and proclaimed his son, Volusian, Caesar. He also became severe towards Christians no less than Decius before him instituting a persecution of them in which he killed many of them. Under him, the Persians took action again and seized Armenia, since it king, Tiridates, had fled and his sons were loyal to loyal to the Persians. In addition, Scythians nearly beyond numbering invaded Italy and overran Macedonia, Thessaly, and Greece as well. It was said that a contingent of them passed by the Bosporus, marched beyond the Maeotian Lake and came upon the Black Sea ravaging many lands. Many other nations attacked the Roman Empire at that time. However, plague at that time also broke out starting from Ethiopia and encroached on all the land to the east and west emptying many cities of their inhabitants lasting for nearly fifteen years. Furthermore, when the Scythians, to whom an annual tribute specified by agreements with the Romans, came to take it, they said it was less than what had been promised to them and departed holding out threats. Aemilianus, a Libyan man, commander of the army in Mysia, was then sent along with his soldiers to give the Scythians all that they were due, rather to attack the barbarians. They came upon the Scythians unaware and apart from a few killed all of them and took the greater part of their plunder from them and overran their lands. For this reason, Aemilianus was puffed up with his success and persuaded the soldiers under him to proclaim him emperor of the Romans. He then immediately gathered together his forces and set out in haste to seize Italy. When knowledge of this reached Gallus he fitted out another force and aligned himself against Aemilianus. Both armies clashed and Gallus's men were defeated, so they attacked their emperor and killed him along with his son, after a reign of two years and eight months, and declared themselves for Aemilianus and chose him for rule.
Aemilianus was in this way proclaimed emperor and sent [messengers] to the Senate announcing that he was going to deliver Thrace from the barbarians, march off against the Persians, and doing everything and fight as their general leaving to the Senate rule. However, before he could do any of this, Valerian rose up against him, who as commander of the forces beyond the Alps on learning of Aemilianus, usurped the throne for himself. He hastened then [from there] and lead his forces on Rome. Aemilianus's men, deciding that they were not equal of Valerian's army, since they did not want to kill and be killed by Romans and fight their own people, and especially because they did not reckon Aemilianus worthy of the throne, inglorious and vile, believing that Valerian was more appropriate for power and certainly more fit to take over matters, they killed Aemilianus who had lead not more than four months aged forty years-old. They declared themselves to Valerian and delivered up to him the Roman Empire without a fight.
After Flavian had been martyred in Decius's reign, as it was said, Cornelius succeeded to the archbishopric of Rome and after an illustrious three years he ended his life and Lucius ascended the archbishopric throne, who after not quite eight years died in the bishopric of Rome. Then Stephan succeeded to the bishopric, who issued an order not to baptize Christians lapsing into heresy, but purify them with a prayer through the application of the hands. His letter about this is recorded by Cyprianus the holy martyr. When Stephan died two years later, Xystus succeeded to the archbishopric of Rome. Then also the heresy of Savellius was moved to Ptolomais in Pentapolis.
Such was that about the archbishops of Rome. Valerian then with his son Galienus took over the Roman Empire and persecuted Christians more violently. Many of them in diverse countries became martyrs suffering in many ways for their faith in Christ. In his reign, foreign nations rose in revolt and the Romans fared badly. For the Scyths crossed the Ister and again enslaved the land of Thrace besieging the illustrious city of Thessalonica, though they did not conquer it. Everyone was inspired with fear of them, such that the Athenians rebuilt their own city wall in ruins since the days of Sulla, while the Peloponnesians walled off the Isthmus from sea to sea. In addition, the Persians, when Shapur was king, overran Syria, ravaged Cappadocia, and besieged Edessa. Valerian hesitated to fight his enemies. However, on learning that soldiers in Edessa had sallied forth from the city and attacked the barbarians slaying many of them and taking a great number of spoils, he took heart and left with the army loyal to him and fought the Persians. They encircled the Romans all in their squares and the greater part fell, some fled, and Valerian along with the men about him was taken captive by his enemies and bore off to Shapur, who on taking hold of the emperor, supposed himself to rule over all. Cruel he was before, afterwards he became much worse.
Thus is how they have told the story of how Valerian was captured by the Persians. They are willing to say that Valerian submitted to the Persians because as he was fleeing to Edessa, starvation broke out among his soldiers, who because of this rebelled and sought to kill the emperor. Fearing the rebellion of his soldiers, he fled to the Shapur, so that he would not be killed by his own men, and surrendered himself up to his enemy as well as the Roman troops under him. However, the soldiers were not lost, but learning of this treachery fled, only a few being slain. Whether the emperor was taken in war by the Persians or he willingly handed himself over to them, he was treated dishonorably by Shapur.
The Persians then fearlessly attacked and seized the cities of Antioch by the Orontes, the most illustrious of the cities Tarsus, and Caesarea in Cappadocia. And as for the multitude of captives lead off, they did not give them food unless they were about to die, nor did they permit them their fill of water, but only once a day their captors drove them to water like sheep. Caesarea, which was well populated said to have 400,000 inhabitants and had not previously been conquered, nobly had its inhabitants resist them led by Demosthenes, a brave and wise man, before a doctor was taken captive, who unable to bear the tortures inflicted on him revealed a place from which the Persians entered and killed everyone. Their commander Demosthenes surrounded by many Persians ordered to take him alive, got on his horse with his sword out charged into the midst of the enemy. He cut down many of them before got out of the city and was able to flee.
Thus was how things came about with the Persians, as they scattered about the Roman land in the east and pillaged fearlessly. The Romans who took flight, as it was said, declared themselves to their commander one Callistus, who on seeing the Persians scatter about and attacking the lands thoughtlessly not supposing anyone would stand against them, he attacked a mob of them killing a great number of barbarians and conquered Shapur's brave young men along with much riches, who much pained for them returned home leading along Valerian, who died in Persia, a prisoner abused and mocked.
Not only did Callistus do fine work against the Persians then, but also a Palmyrene man called Odenathus, who allied with the Romans killed many Persians who he attacked as they were returning home near the land along the Euphrates. Galienus in exchange for this act of generalship made him commander of the east.
Amongst the fallen spoils of the Persian army are said to have been found women dressed and armed as men as well as some still living who were taken captive by the Romans. As he was coming home, Shapur came across a deep ditch, which his beasts of burden were unable to cross, so he ordered the captives to be slain and thrown and thrown down in the ditch so that its depth might be filled with their corpses and his beasts of burden able to cross. Thus is told how he crossed the ditch.
When all of this happened to Valerian, the Roman church was lead by Xystus, while Demetrianus succeeded Flavian to that of Antioch, Hymnaeus to that Jerusalem when Mazavanus died, while Dionysius was elevated to that of Alexandria.
After Valerian, his son Galienus, his son, took over the Roman Empire, who his father when he went off against the Persians let stay behind in the west and oppose the men who were dug into Italy and ravaging Thrace. Near Mediolanum [Milan] he met up with about 300,000 Alamans and defeated with myriads of them. Then he came upon and seized Aerulois [Aerulius?], a Scythian by birth and a Goth. He also made war on the Franks.
Auriolus was from the land of Getica later called Dacia descended from an insignificant family, having been a shepherd before, though Fortune wanted to set him on high, so he went on campaigns and became very experienced [such that] he was made in charge of the imperial cavalry. Since he was very good at this, he earned his master’s favor. When the soldiers in Mysia revolted and proclaimed Ingenuus emperor and Galienus went to resist him near Sirmium with the others bringing along Maurousii [Moors?], who were said to have been descended from the Medians, Auriolus bravely acted as commander of the cavalry fighting with his horsemen and killing many of Ingenuus’s supporters, while turning the rest to flight, such that Ingenuus himself decided to flee and was killed while he was fleeing by his bodyguards.
Again Postumus rose up against Galienus. Since the emperor had a child by the same name clever and fair of face who was his successor to the throne, he left him in the city of Agrippina to help the Gauls who were being ravaged by the Scyths. He entrusted him to one man called Albanus because of his son’s youth. Postumus was left in the fortress on the Rhine River to stop the barbarians living beyond it from crossing onto Roman land, though secretly some of them did cross the river and carry off a lot of plunder, so he attacked them on their way home slaying many of them and seizing all of their plunder, which he immediately distributed to his soldiers. On learning of this, Albanus sent [someone] to request and carry back to him and younger Galienus the plunder. Postumus then called his soldiers together to appropriate from them their shares of the plunder contriving to get them to revolt. This happened and so he attacked the city of Agrippina with them. The people of the city handed over the emperor’s [note: basileus] son and Albanus, whom he both killed.
When Galienus found this out, he departed against Postumus and after fighting with him he was defeated, and then seized the upper hand as Postumus turned to flight. He then sent Auriolus to pursue him. But he, although he was able to take hold of him, did not want to pursue him that far, but said on returning that he had not been able to take hold of him. Postumus thus having fled banded together his army again. And again Galienus marched on him and in a city in Gaul he locked in the besieged the usurper. During the siege the emperor was wounded with an arrow in the midriff and fell sick because of it, so he dissolved the siege.
In addition, further conflict came on Galienus from Macrinus, who with his two sons Macrianus and Quintus tried to seize power. And he, because his legs were maimed, could not cloth himself with the imperial raiment, so he stretched it around his sons. The people of Asia warmly received him, who after shortly spending time with the Persians got ready and marched off against Galienus putting Ballistas in charge of resisting the Persians, who he appointed commander of the cavalry and left behind with his son Quintus. Then the emperor sent Auriolus against his son and emperor with some other soldiers. Battling with them they surrounded them and killed some of them sparing them since they were their own people and hoping that they would declare themselves for the emperor. However, they did not give in. By some chance happening everyone declared to the emperor. As they were coming near the usurpers they held their standards up straight, but one of the standard bearers as they were going out got his feet caught in it and fell while his standard fell down when he fell. The remaining men who were carrying the standards, on seeing the fallen standard and not knowing how it had fallen, assumed that its bearer had lain it down to desert to the emperor. Immediately, they laid them all down, dashed them to the ground, and praised the emperor, while only the Paeonians remained of Macrinus's men. Then since they wanted to get rid of them, Macrinus and his son, who had not paid them what they were due, they killed them and thus submitted to the emperor. Having done this the Paeonians surrendered themselves.
As for Quintus, Macrinus's younger son, who was in the east with Ballistas, he had nearly subjugated all of it. Because of this, Galienus sent Odenathus, ruler of the Palmyreni. When news of the defeat of the Macrini in Paeonia was announced to Quintus and Ballistas, many of the cities under them deserted them. Then they went to Emesa. When Odenathus got there, he fought them and defeated them slaying Ballistas himself, while the people of the city killed Quintus. The emperor rewarded Odenathus for this brave deed by appointed him commander of all the east.
As for Odenathus, who was great, faithful to the Romans, and had acted finely in many ways against diverse nations and against the Persians, he was slain by his own nephew, the son of his brother. This man, when he was hunting with his uncle his uncle, when a wild beast leapt out he killed it with arrows before [Odenathus could do anything about it]. So Odenathus became indignant at and threatened his nephew. He would not cease, but both two times and then three times he did this. Odenathus became angry and took away his horse, since this is reckoned a great insult by barbarians. Accordingly the youth was furious and threatened his uncle, who because of this clapped him in irons. Then the elder of Odenathus’s sons asked him to release him from the bonds. And so he was freed and banqueted with Odenathus coming upon him with a sword killed him and his own son, by whom he had been freed. He himself was slain when some people attacked him.
Again another rebellion took place against Galienus, which Auriolus raised, archon of all the horses who was very powerful. He took the city of Mediolanum [Milan] and got ready to fight the emperor. He came forth with a great force and opposed the upstart slaying many of his supporters. At this time as well Auriolus was founded and shut up inside Mediolanum while being besieged by the emperor. When Galienus made raids [ἐπεκδρομὰς] against some of his enemy, the empress once fell into danger, since she had accompanied him there. While the emperor went on the raids with the greater part of the soldiers, a few of them were left behind near the palisade. The enemy on seeing this, came upon the emperor’s tent intending to seize the empress. One of the soldiers left behind was seated in front of the tent with his sandal of his foot stitching it. When he saw the approach of the enemy, he seized a shield and a dagger and angrily charged them. He dealt one a blow and a second one and drove off the others who took fright at his charge. Thus the greater part of the soldiers fled and the emperor’s wife was saved.
While the emperor was still besieging Mediolanum, Aurelian with some horsemen came to him with whom the great men [of the empire] had plotted to kill him, though they were holding off on it until Mediolanum had been taken. On learning that their scheme had been found out, they hastened their treacherous plot. They then sent some men announcing that the enemy was coming upon Galienus, who at once set out against them, since time was nigh though few of them joined in the attack with him. While he was marching off, he met with horsemen who did not keep far away from him, go away, or do anything else which is customarily done towards the emperor, so he asked the men present, “What do they want?” They replied, “To remove you from office.” He immediately reined his horse and turned to flight. He would have escaped the plotters by the swiftness of his horse, had not he gone in to a stream of water. His horse was afraid to pass over it and so his pursuers caught up with him and one threw his spear at him. Hit by it, he fell from his horse and after a little while died by bleeding to death, having reigned fifteen years including those with his father. He was lavish minded and wished to please everyone; there was no one who had anything to find fault with him for. He took no vengeance on his enemies or on upstarts.
Thus is how they tell that Galienus was slain, while some others say he was slaughtered by the governor Heracleianus. When Auriolus was commander of the Celts and rose up against him coming on Italy with his forces, Galienus went off against him. One night, Heracleianus came before him while he was sleeping in his tent sharing in the plot with Claudius a very good general announcing to him that Auriolus was already on him with a mighty force. He was befuddled by this sudden announcement and got up from his bed and half-naked asked for his arms. Heracleianus dealt him a fatal blow and killed him.
In those times, Xystus was in charge of the Roman Church dying after eleven years and being succeeded by Dionysius. Paul the Samosatian then took over the Church, who wrote treaties humbly about Christ that his nature was that of a normal man and not of God. The heads of the remaining churches sat together in synod against this during which Gregory the Miracle-Worker and his brother Athenodorus accused him of erring about Christ and condemned him. As he could not be persuaded to give up his position in the Church, Aurelian who was then ruling was delivered a petition concerning him by the Orthodox and so issued an order that the Church belonged to those who the bishops in Rome and Italy should appoint. For this reason, Paul was driven from the Church in dishonor and in his place was installed Domnus.
After Galienus's murder, Claudius was proclaimed Caesar. Auriolus then set down his arms and submitted to him, though he tried to usurp the throne again only to be slain by the soldiers. Claudius was a good man abounding in justness, so he forbid everyone to seek unlawful things from the emperor. For emperors before had been accustomed to be able to give unlawful things, so that due to this the laws still standing got their start from the state. There was a woman, whose village he had received as an imperial gift before he became emperor, who came before him and said, "Claudius the commander of the cavalry wronged me." He replied, "What Claudius took from you whilst a private citizen with no concern for the laws, he will now make amends as emperor."
In Rome, the Senate on learning of the murder of Galienus put to death his brother and his son. While Postumus was still usurping and the barbarians having crossed by the Maeotian Lake to Asia and Europe were ravaging them, a session of the Senate was held to decide on whom war must be undertaken during which Claudius said, “War with the usurper is for my good, but war with the barbarians is for that of the state and so that one for the state must be preferred.”
The barbarians overran many countries and laid siege to Thessalonica, which of old is said to have been called Emathia and later named Thessalonica after the daughter of Phillip, Casandrus's wife Thessalonica. However, they were repelled from this city so they marched on Athens capturing the city. They then gathered together all the books in the city planning to burn them. Yet one of their wise men stopped them from doing so, saying that through them the Greeks who had been unschooled in the essays of war had become in this way skilled. Cleodemus, an Athenian man, then was able to escape and gathered together an army and came upon then by boat from the sea killing many of them such that the remaining men took flight from there. Claudius then set out against them scattered about many countries and defeated them some times in sea battles and sometimes by land battles. The winters also took a toll on them and famine ensued devastating them. While staying in Sirmium, Claudius fell ill and called together the most erudite body of his troops discussing with them who the next emperor should be and saying that Aurelian was worthy of imperial rule. There are those who say that he immediately proclaimed him emperor. Others say that the Senate in Rome on learning of the death of Claudius elevated his brother Quintilian to imperial rule through its love for Claudius, while the body of soldiers proclaimed Aurelian. Quintilian, a plain man on whom administration had been thrust, on learning of the proclamation of Aurelian killed himself slitting the vein of his own hand and letting the blood flow from there having had but a dream of imperial rule for seventeen days. However, writers do not agree with each other as to the duration of Claudius's reign. Some tell that he reigned for one year, while others say two, among whom are Eusebius.
The son of the emperor Claudius's daughter was Constantius the Pale, the father of Constantine the Great.
And so Aurelian succeeded to the Roman Empire and asked those in power how he should rule. One of them said to him that, “If you want to rule well, you must protect yourself with gold and steel making use of steel against those who vex you and rewarding those who serve you with gold.” He first, it is said, rebuked this counsel, though not much later he made a trial of steel.
This emperor although he at first conducted himself moderately towards Christians, later as time went by under his sole rule changed and he himself planned to start a persecution of the faithful having already written the edicts. However, divine justice stopped him from going through with his malevolence against the Christians by ending his life.
However, before telling of his end we must first talk about his deeds during his reign. He was a superb general who won many wars. He defeated the Palmyrians by making war and subduing their queen Zenobia who had held Egypt and even captured Probus, the commander there at that time. Some say she was brought to Rome and married to one of their most eminent men, while others say she died en route grieved at her change of fortune though one of her daughters Aurelian took as his wife, while the rest were married to eminent Romans.
He also recovered for the Roman Empire the Gauls after they had been possessed by usurpers for many years and installed commanders in them before returning to Rome which he entered triumphantly upon a chariot drawn by four elephants. He also fought with the Gauls then rebelling. When he was on campaign on against the Scyths, he was slain coming to Thracian Heracleia. For there was a man called Eros who acted as a conveyor of external responses and, as some tell, a spy for the emperor reporting to him what was being said about him, who, when Aurelian got mad at him began plotting against him. In imitation of Aurelian's letters, he composed a letter containing the names of some powerful men and ordering them to be put to death, which he showed to them and so convinced them to murder the emperor. For they were afraid for their lives and so came upon Aurelian and murdered him after six years of rule short only a couple of months.
He was succeeded by Tacitus, an elderly man recorded to have been seventy-five years old when he was chosen for sole rule. The body of soldiers assembled proclaimed him and then departed since it was still then in Campania. There after making his choice, he came to Rome in a private citizen's clothing and was adorned with the imperial garb with the approval of the Senate and the people. The Scyths then crossed the Maeotian Lake and the Phasis River into the Pontus and Cappadocia marching until Galatia and Cilicia. There Tacitus and the governor Florianus fought them and killed many, while the rest effected their salvation through flight. In the meantime, Maximinus his kinsmen who he had entrusted with command of Syria had ruled badly and so was slain by his soldiers. His murders then fearing that the emperor would not grant them amnesty pursued and killed him too, such that he not yet reached the seventh month of his reign or, according to others, not two whole years.
With him dead, two men were proclaimed emperor: Probus in the East by his soldiers and Florianus in Rome by the Senate. They both ruled with Probus in Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine and Florianus from Cilicia until Italy and the Western Provinces. However, he did not last three months on the throne before he ended his life and reign slain by soldiers sent by Probus. With his death, it is said, Probus took full authority. He is told to have been very famous and won many victories over many nations even gathering together, pouring abuse on, and killing the soldiers who killed Aurelian and Tacitus.
When Saturninus the Moor, who was very dear to him, rose up in revolt he punished the man who informed him of it putting no faith in the report though Saturninus was slain by his soldiers. Another man also began plotting rebellion in Britain who the emperor had bestowed the office on, Victorinus the Moor, who was dear to him and blamed him for it. On learning of this, Probus blamed Victorinus for it. He was asked by him to be sent, so he left as though truly fleeing the emperor and was received warmly by the usurper. He killed him during the night and returned to Probus. Probus was loved by everyone for his gentleness, kindness, and generousness with gifts.
When the Germans attacked cities subject to the Romans, he met them in a war which lasted for a great period of time in duration with famine breaking out in his camp. A violent thunderstorm is said to have come upon his camp and caused it to rain lots of grain if one is to believe such things. With the army's trust restored in him in this way, he was able to escape the peril and rout his opponents.
Another rebellion also broke out against him. For Carus the commander of the region of Europe had troops under him desirous of proclaiming him emperor, so he notified Probus of this begging to be recalled. However, he did not want to remove him from the command. And so the soldiers under Carus forced him to accept the office of Roman emperor and set off with him at once for Italy. Probus on learning of this sent an army under a commander to resist him. Yet the soldiers dispatched on approaching Carus put their own commander in chains and handed him along with themselves over to Carus. Probus was then slain by his own bodyguard when they learned of the soldiers defection to Probus. The period of Probus's reign was not six whole years.
When Carus came to power, he crowned his sons Carinus and Numerianus with the imperial diadem. Then he set out at once on campaign against the Persians along with his son Numerianus and seized Ctesiphon and Seleucia. The Roman army was nearly imperiled during the course of it. For it set up camp in a valley, which the Persians on seeing moved along the river flowing beside it and came to the valley by a passage. Carus, fortunately, attacked the Persians and routed them returning to Rome leading a great number of captives and a good deal of plunder. Then when the nation of the Sarmati rose up, he fought and subdued that nation. He was by birth a Galatian and brave and shrewd in wars. The story of his end is not agreed upon by historians. Some say he was campaigning against the Huns and was slain there, while others say that while he was encamped by the Tigris River where his army had set up camp, his tent was hit by a thunderbolt and they tell that he died in it.
When he had died in either this way or that way, his son Numerianus was left behind as the only emperor in the camp. He immediately marched off against the Persians and battle broke out in which the Persians gained the upper hand and the Romans were turned to flight. Some tell that he was taken captive in the flight and had his skin pulled off his whole body and thus died, while some historians write that he fell ill with ophthalmia on his way back from Persia and was slain by his own father-in-law, eparch of the camp, who was greedily eying imperial rule though he did not get it. The army chose instead Diocletian as emperor since he was there and had proven his courage by many deeds in the Persian war.
Meanwhile, Carus's other son Carinus, who was staying in Rome, proved himself antagonistic to the Romans becoming brutal, cruel, and begrudging and so was slain when Diocletian reached Rome. The period of their rule was not a full three years.
In those days, Manes thrice-be-cursed came from Persia to our region of the world and spread his own disease here. On this account the Manicheans have not died out until now. He named himself the Intercessor and the Holy Sprit being clearly the spirit of knavery, even calling himself Christ. He was anointed by the demons to act in their service even assembling his own twelve disciples who was privy to and heralds of his nonsense which he came up with out of many godless doctrines of already extinguished heresies.
Dionysius was shepherd of the faithful in Rome for nine years before he accomplished his purpose and died with Felix ascending the priestly throne of Rome. He died after a period of fifteen years and was succeeded by Eutychianus on the episcopate of Rome. He had not been bishop for ten months before he died and was succeeded in the service of shepherd by Gaius. He after heading the Church for near fifteen years was succeeded by Marcellinus. Throughout these times there were persecutions. For the Church of Antioch, Timaeus became bishop after Domnus, then Timaeus was succeeded by Cyril, while Cyril was succeeded by Tyrannus, under whom the siege of the Church reached its climax and the tyranny became unbearable. For the Church of Jerusalem, Zabdas became its head after Hymenaeus, after whose death Hermon succeeded to the throne. In Alexandria, Maximus acted in the service of the Divine for eighteen years after Dionysius before with his debt paid Theonas became bishop. Peter succeeded him and met with martyrdom having his head chopped off.
Such were the successions of the chief priests. And so Diocletian took the throne, who was Dalmatian by birth of undistinguished parentage and some say an emancipated slave of the senator Anulinus becoming dux of Mysia from the rank of simple soldier. Still others say he became cometus of the domestics, some reckoning domestics as cavalrymen. Talking with the soldiers, he affirmed he had not been privy to the murder of Numerian and while saying this turned toward Aprus praefectus of the army and said, “Here is his murderer”, who they immediately put to the sword violently. On reaching Rome, he laid claim to and came into the management of the affairs of the empire.