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Probus


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Roman emperor, b. Sirmium ad 232, commanded the eastern army in 276. He challenged Florianus after the death of the emperor Tacitus and, as the better general, emerged as sole emperor (autumn).

He was an active warrior-emperor. In Gaul from 277 to 278, he expelled Alamannic and Frankish invaders and restored the Rhine frontier. Between 278 and 280 he defeated the Burgundians and Vandals in Raetia and campaigned on the middle Danube. In 280 he moved to Syrian Antioch, whence he directed the suppression of Isaurian banditry in SE Asia Minor and nomadic incursions into Upper Egypt. His main intention was probably to deal with the Persian question, but he soon had to leave Syria to subdue mutinies on the Rhine and in Britain. Another rebellion, by Saturninus, in his rear, also failed. In 281 he celebrated a triumph in Rome. In 282 he was at Sirmium when Carus claimed the purple in Raetia. Probus was killed by his own troops (autumn).

His problems with the army suggest growing military discontent. This is traditionally ascribed to Probus' disciplinarian tendencies and his use of soldiers as labourers on agricultural and civil-engineering schemes. However, possibly he also seemed to his troops and officers to be increasingly careless of the empire's real needs. Indeed, though in his military, civil, and religious policies he projected himself as the authentic successor of Aurelian, his end is reminiscent of that of Gallienus. His main historical significance is his acceleration of the settlement of barbarians on Roman territory.

John Frederick Drinkwater

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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