Gal-li-e'nus, [Fr. Gallien, gfle-aN',] (Publius Li-
Cinius Valerius,) a Roman emperor, born about 233
A.D., was a son of the emperor Valerian, who admitted
him to a share in the empire in 253. Valerian having
been defeated and taken prisoner by the Persians in 260
A.D., Gallienus succeeded to the throne. He made no
effort to liberate his father from captivity, and disgraced
himself by his cruelty and profligacy. His frontiers were
invaded by barbarian armies, while Ingenuus, Aureolus,
and other Roman generals revolted in different parts
of the empire. After he had defeated Aureolus in
battle, a conspiracy was formed against Gallienus by
his own officers. During the siege of Milan, 26S a.d.,
"he received a mortal dart from an uncertain hand,"
says Gibbon, who thus describes him: "He was master
of several curious but useless sciences, a ready orator,
an elegant poet, a skilful gardener, an excellent cook,
and a most contemptible prince." He was succeeded
by Claudius II.
See Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ;"
Histoire des Empereurs;" Eckhel, "Doctrina Nnmmorum."
Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (c. 218 – 268), commonly known as Gallienus, was Roman Emperor with his father
Valerian from 253 to 260, and alone from 260 to 268. He took control of the empire at a time when it was undergoing
great crisis. His record in dealing with those crises is mixed, as he won a number of military victories but was
unable to keep much of his realm from seceding.
Rise to power
Based on the testimony of John Malalas and the Epitome de Caesaribus that Gallienus was about 50 years old at the
time of his death, it is generally considered he was born around 218, son of Valerian and Mariniana, a woman possibly
of senatorial rank and possibly a daughter of Egnatius Victor Marinianus, and brother of Valerianus Minor.
Inscriptions on coins connect him with Falerii in Etruria and this may well have been his birthplace; it has yielded
many inscriptions relating to his mother's family, the Egnatii.
He married to Cornelia Salonina about ten years before his accession to the throne. She was the mother of three
princes, Valerian II (who died in 258), Saloninus (who, after becoming co-emperor, died in 260 by the hand of his
general Postumus), and Marinianus (killed in 268, shortly after his father was assassinated).
When his father Valerian was proclaimed emperor on 22 October 253, he asked the Senate to ratify Gallienus' elevation
to Caesar and Augustus, in order to share the power between two persons. He was also designated Consul Ordinarius for
As Marcus Aurelius and his adopted brother Lucius Verus had done a hundred years before them, Gallienus and his
father divided the Empire; Valerian struck for the East to stem the Persian threat and Gallienus remained in Italy to
repel the Germanic tribes on the Rhine and Danube. This policy made sense not simply because the unhappy fates of
several Emperors previous to this duo had made it clear that one man simply could not rule a state this size;
equally, a 'barbarian' enemy suing for peace in this time tended to demand that they be allowed to apply to the
'chief' or 'king' of the victorious side. Therefore, an Emperor had to be available to negotiate if such a situation
Galliēnus, Publius Licinius Valeriānus Egnatius
A son of the emperor Valerian, made Caesar and colleague to his father in A.D. 253. He defeated, in a great
battle near Mediolanum (Milan), the Alemanni and other northern tribes which had made an irruption into Upper
Italy, and gave evidence on that occasion of his personal bravery and abilities. He was also well-informed in
literature, and was both an orator and a poet, winning some distinction by an epithalamium. When Valerian was
taken prisoner by the Persians, A.D. 260, Gallienus took the reins of government, and was acknowledged as
Augustus. He appears to have then given himself up to debauchery and the company of profligate persons,
neglecting the interests of the Empire, and taking no pains to effect the release of his father from the hard
captivity in which he died. The barbarians attacked the Empire on every side, revolts broke out in various
provinces, where several commanders assumed the title of emperor, while Gallienus was loitering at Rome with his
favourites. Yet now and then he seemed to awaken from his torpor at the news of the advance of the invaders;
and, putting himself at the head of the legions, he defeated Ingenuus, who had usurped the imperial title in
Illyricum. Gallienus disgraced his victory by horrible cruelties. Mean
time Probus, Aurelianus, and other able commanders were strenuously supporting the honour of the Roman arms in
the East, where Odenatus of Palmyra acted as a useful ally to the Romans against the Persians. Usurpers arose in
Egypt, in the Gauls, in Thrace, in almost every province of the Empire, from which circumstance this period has
been styled the Reign of the Thirty Tyrants. At last Aureolus, a man of obscure birth, some say a Dacian
shepherd originally, but a brave soldier, was proclaimed emperor by the troops in Illyricum, entered Italy, took
possession of Mediolanum, and even marched against Rome while Gallienus was absent. Gallienus returned quickly,
repulsed Aureolus, and defeated him in a great battle, near the Addua, after which the usurper shut himself up
in Mediolanum. Here he was besieged by Gallienus; but, during the siege (A.D. 268), the emperor was murdered by
conspirators (Aurel. Vict. 33; Eutrop. ix. 8; Trebell. Poll. Gallien., Zonaras, xii. 24 foll.). The reign of
Gallienus is memorable for the plague that swept over the Empire. During its height, it is said that there were
5000 deaths daily in the city of Rome; while the population of Alexandria was diminished nearly two thirds. The
plague was followed by a general famine.