Aurelian

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Aurelian
Roman emperor
Santa Giulia 4.jpg
ReignSeptember, 270–September or October 275
PredecessorQuintillus
SuccessorTacitus
BornLucius Domitius Aurelianus
9 September 214
the lands later known as Dacia Ripensis, or possibly at Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia)
Died275 (aged 60)
Caenophrurium, Thracia
Wife
Posthumous name
Divus Aurelianus
Antoninianus coin of Aurelian

Aurelian (214–275 AD) was Roman emperor from 270 to 275.

Aurelian (Latin: Lucius Domitius Aurelianus) came from the Balkans, part of the Roman Empire. He was a soldier in the Roman army when the emperor Claudius Gothicus promoted him to high rank. When Claudius died, his army chose Aurelian as the next emperor. Aurelian overcame a number of rebellions. His armies overcame the armies of the Gallic Empire and the Palmyrene Empire (two Roman states that formed during the Crisis of the Third Century). Aurelian joined the Roman Empire into one state again, and this was the beginning of the end of the Crisis of the Third Century.

While he was emperor, Aurelian overcame the armies of several groups of barbarians – the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian increased the importance the god Sol Invictus in Roman religion and he built a temple for the god in the city of Rome. For the first time in many centuries, Rome needed a defensive wall to keep out enemies who might attack it. Aurelian's government started to build the Aurelian Walls around Rome. Aurelian's wife, Ulpia Severina, was his augusta (empress) after summer 274. Aurelian was murdered by some of his soldiers in autumn 275.

Early life[change | change source]

The Calendar of Philocalus and the Greek historian John Malalas say that Aurelian was born on the 9 September 214. Aurelian was probably not from the nobility.[1]

Aurelian was a soldier. He was dux equitum (a general officer with a high rank) when Claudius Gothicus was emperor.[1] Claudius Gothicus died in Sirmium (now Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia) in September 270 (or on 30 August).[2]

Emperor[change | change source]

270–272[change | change source]

Aurelian became emperor at Sirmium in September 270. Then Aurelian's army overcame Quintillus's army in a battle at Aquileia. (Quintillus was the emperor and the brother of Claudius Gothicus, the previous emperor.) Latin histories (the Epitome de Caesaribus and the work of Eutropius) say that Aurelian was emperor for five years and six months. This means that Aurelian may have started a rebellion against Claudius in February or March 270. However, this is not in the Roman histories. The Roman calendar had a festival for the anniversary of Aurelian's accession as emperor. It was on the day that Claudius Gothicus died.[1]

For the first winter (270–271) of his reign, Aurelian was in Rome. Felicissimus, a rationalis (an official in the mint) in Rome started a rebellion in the city, possibly in this first winter. Felicissimus did not have success. In 271 Aurelian was Roman consul for the first time. That year, he undertook military campaigns against the Vandals, Juthungi, and Sarmatians. Aurelian got the name Germanicus maximus because of his victories over Germanic peoples. He was again in Rome for his second winter (271–272) as emperor. It was at this time that the Romans began to build new defensive walls around the city: the Aurelian Walls.[1]

The Greek historian Zosimus wrote that at some time in 271 or 272, Aurelian overcame a rebellion by Domitianus. Zosimus also wrote that around the same time, Aurelian overcame another rebellion by Urbanus. Both Zosimus and the Epitome de Caesaribus write that Septimius started another rebellion in Dalmatia. Septimius's own soldiers killed him.[1]

272–273[change | change source]

In 272, Aurelian moved to the eastern Roman Empire. He fought against the Goths in the Balkans. Aurelian got the name Gothicus maximus because of his victories over the Goths. Aurelian ordered that Roman Dacia should be evacuated, and the Romans gave him the unofficial name of Dacicus maximus. Then he moved further east and overcame Zenobia in war. Aurelian took control of Palmyra in summer 272. Because of his victories in the east – against the Persians, in Arabia, and at Palmyra – Aurelian got the names Parthicus maximus (or Persicus maximus); Arabicus maximus; and Palmyrenicus maximus. From 272, Aurelian also had the title Imperator Orientis, 'the emperor of the East'. The writing of the Justinianic Code makes it possible that Aurelian was in Byzantium during winter 272–273.[1]

273–275[change | change source]

In 273 Aurelian fought a war against the Carpi. His victories meant that Aurelian got the name Carpicus maximus. That year, Aurelian also fought a second campaign against the armies of Palmyra. The Historia Augusta (a Latin history) says that during 273, Firmus, a rich man from Seleucia Pieria, started a rebellion against Aurelian. Firmus did not say that he was the emperor. His rebellion did not have success. The Greek historian Zosimus writes that Aurelian held a triumph in Rome to celebrate his victories.[1]

In 274, Aurelian was Roman consul for the second time. In the middle of 274, Aurelian overcame the armies of Tetricus. At this Tetricus's rebel Gallic Empire came to its end. The writings of Aurelius Victor say that in autumn that year Aurelian held another Roman triumph. The Romans called Aurelian restitutor orbis, 'the restorer of the world'. That year, probably on the 29 August 274, Aurelian's wife Ulpia Severina became augusta (empress). In the same year, Aurelian dedicated the new Temple of the Sun in Rome to the god Sol Invictus, possibly on 25 December, the winter solstice. Aurelian was Roman consul for the third time in 275. In 275, Aurelian set out through Gaul and passed Vindelicia on his way to the Roman lands around the Danube.[1]

Death[change | change source]

On his way east in September 275 (or possibly in October), soldiers in Aurelian's army killed Aurelian at Caenophrurium. Caenophrurium was a place between Perinthus and Byzantium in Roman Thracia. There may have been a damnatio memoriae on Aurelian: his name was removed from some inscriptions. However, the Romans later deified Aurelian (making him into a god). He got a new name in Latin: Divus Aurelianus, lit.'the Divine Aurelian'. Aurelian's wife, the augusta Ulpia Severina, may have been in control of the government until Marcus Claudius Tacitus became emperor.[1]

Family[change | change source]

Aurelian and Ulpia Severina married at an unknown date. She was the daughter of a man named Ulpius Crinitus. The Historia Augusta says that Aurelian and Ulpia Severina had a daughter together. After 29 August 274, Ulpia Severina became augusta (empress) and had the Latin title: mater castrorum et senatus et patriae, 'mother of the camp and of the Senate and of the fatherland'. When Ulpia Severina died is unknown.[1]

Aurelian had a sister. She is in the Latin histories (the Historia Augusta, Eutropius, and the Epitome de Caesaribus) but her name is unknown.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Kienast, Dietmar; Eck, Werner; Heil, Matthäus (2017) [1990]. "Aurelian (Sept. 270–Sept./Okt. 275)". Römische Kaisertabelle: Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie (in German) (6th ed.). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (WBG). pp. 225–229. ISBN 978-3-534-26724-8.
  2. Kienast, Dietmar; Eck, Werner; Heil, Matthäus (2017) [1990]. "Claudius II. Gothicus (Sept./Okt. 268–Sept. 270)". Römische Kaisertabelle: Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie (in German) (6th ed.). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (WBG). pp. 222–223. ISBN 978-3-534-26724-8.