(c. 215—268)

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Zenobia (241—274)




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Roman emperor (Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus), son of Valerian, appointed Augustus with him in ad 253. While his father lived, he commanded in the west and fought a series of successful campaigns on the Danube and Rhine. After the capture of Valerian by the Sasanid Persians (260), he faced serious invasions and internal revolts. He dealt with the most threatening of these (the rebellion of Ingenuus, the Alamannic invasion of Italy, and the advance on Rome of Macrianus senior) with dispatch, making excellent use of the generals he had promoted through the ranks. He then adopted a policy of studied inaction, in effect accepting a tripartite division of the empire. In the east, Septimius Odenaethus of Palmyra (see ZENOBIA) first disposed of Gallienus' remaining opponents (Ballista, Quietus) then, as dux and corrector totius Orientis, was allowed to supervise and defend the region in the emperor's name. In the west, Gallienus left the usurper Postumus in peace until the abortive campaign of 265, and did not trouble him thereafter. Gallienus thus gave himself the opportunity to consolidate his hold over his ‘central’ empire (Italy, North Africa, Egypt, the Danubian provinces, and Greece), and pursue significant military, political, cultural, and religious activities. In 268, however, he had to undertake a major campaign in the Balkans, where renewed Gothic invasions over the Black Sea and the Danube had, in 267, resulted in the sacking of Athens and other major Greek cities. He won an important victory on the Nestus, but was unable to exploit it because he had to return to northern Italy to deal with the mutiny of Aureolus. Though he quickly contained the insurrection, he was murdered by his staff officers as he besieged Aureolus in Milan.

The Latin literary tradition is uniformly hostile to Gallienus, probably because he excluded senators from military commands. Modern scholarship tended to rehabilitate his reputation, stressing his recognition of the need for change (e.g. in professionalizing the army, and making greater use of cavalry) and his prudent husbanding of scarce resources. Yet the disenchantment of his senior marshals—who owed their own careers to his patronage—indicates the need for caution; and recent studies have been more qualified in their assessment of him.

Brian Herbert Warmington; John Frederick Drinkwater

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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