A Journey Through History
[From Wikipedia] Roman Emperor Publius Licinius Valerianus, commonly
known in English as Valerian or Valerian the I, reigning from 253 to 260 AD. He was the
only Emperor ever to be imprisoned alive; tradition holds that he was kept as a slave by Shapur the I, and
used by him as a human mounting block. Unlike the majority of the pretenders during the Crisis of the Third
Century, Valerianus was of a noble and traditional senatorial family. Details of his early life are vague,
except for his marriage to Egnatia Mariniana, who gave him two sons: later emperor Publius Licinius Egnatius
Gallienus and Valerianusus Minor. He was Consul for the first time in 238. Also in 238 he was princeps
senatus, and Gordian the I negotiated through him for Senatorial acknowledgement for his claim as emperor.
When in 251 Decius revived the censorship, with legislative and executive powers so extensive that it
practically embraced the civil authority of the emperor, Valerianus was chosen censor by the Senate, however
he declined to accept the position.
Under Decius he was nominated administrator of the Rhine provinces of Noricum and Raetia and retained the
confidence of his successor. Valerianus headed south, but was too late: Gallus' own troops had killed him and
joined Aemilianus before his arrival. The Raetian soldiers then proclaimed Valerianus emperor and continued
their march towards Rome. At the time of his arrival in Autumn, Aemilianus' legions defected, killing him and
proclaiming Valerianus emperor. In Rome, the Senate quickly acknowledged him, not only for fear of reprisals,
but also because he was one of their own.
Valerianus' first act as emperor on 22 October 253 was to make his son Gallienus his Caesar and colleague. At
the beginning of his reign the affairs in Europe went from bad to worse and the whole West fell into disorder.
In the East, Antioch had fallen into the hands of a Sassanid vassal and Armenia was occupied by Shapur the I.
Valerianus and Gallienus split the problems of the empire between the two, with the son taking the West and the
father heading East to face the Persian threat.
A bas relief of Emperor Valerian standing at the background and held
captive by Shapur I found at Naghsh-e Rostam, Shiraz, Iran. The kneeling man is probably Philip the
In 254, 255 and 257 he became once again Consul Ordinarius. By 257, Valerianus had
already recovered Antioch and returned the province of Syria to Roman control but in the following year, the
Goths ravaged Asia Minor. Later in 259, he moved to Edessa, but an outbreak of plague killed a critical
number of legionaries, weakening the Roman position in Edessa which was then besieged by the
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