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Aurelian

Aurelian

Aurelian was Roman emperor from 270 to 275 CE. He was one of the so-called Barracks Emperors, chosen by the Roman army during the turbulent period known as the Crisis of the Third Century (235-284 CE). Besides victories against various invading tribes, he successfully restored the Roman Empire by bringing the breakaway territories of the Gallic Empire and Palmyra back under Roman control, which earned him the title restitutor orbis ('Restorer of the World'). In order to defend Rome, he ordered the construction of the Aurelian Walls around the city, many parts of which are remarkably well-preserved thanks to their continued use as defensive structure well into the 19th century CE.

Rise to Power

Lucius Domitius Aurelianus was born 9 September 214/215 CE in either Serdica or Sirmium in the province of Moesia (later Dacia Ripensis). We know little of his early life, except that he was of modest origins, his father being a colonus to a senator named Aurelius. He had a successful career during the reign of Gallienus (r. 253-268 CE), but despite a flourishing career under that emperor, Aurelian nevertheless was part of the conspiracy that eventually assassinated him. With the accession of the usurper Claudius II immediately thereafter, Aurelian was made commander of the cavalry (dux equitium). Despite successes against the various barbarian invaders such as the Goths, Vandals, and Juthungi on the Danube frontier, Claudius' reign was cut short when he succumbed to plague which had broken out in 270 CE. Initially, Claudius' brother Quintillus succeeded as emperor, but he seems to have only reigned for a few months. Aurelian soon rose as a rival to Quintillus and when the former was hailed emperor by the troops, he disposed of his rival (September or November 270 CE).

Early Reign

Once emperor, Aurelian immediately seized control of the imperial mint at Sisica (in modern Croatia), striking gold coins there in order to distribute as donatives to his soldiers and thus guarantee their loyalty. He then turned his attention to the wars with the Juthungi and the Vandals which had not yet been finished by Claudius II. With respect to the Juthungi, this tribe had successfully invaded Italy and, having plundered the north of it, were heading home with their booty, the weight of it making their return to their lands much slower. According to the fragments of the 3rd-century CE historian Dexippus, after Aurelian caught up with them, they promised him the contribution of 40,000 of their horsemen as well as 80,000 soldiers to serve in the Roman army. The emperor next turned his attention to the Vandals in Pannonia. After locating their main army, rather than directly attack them, Aurelian initiated a scorched earth policy around them, thus denying them access to food. This tactic worked, and the Vandals soon sued for peace, promising Aurelian the service of 2,000 of their cavalrymen before receiving food from the Romans so that they would not starve on their return home.

Aurelian did his best to win the support of the people, cancelling debts to the treasury & making a public bonfire of the relevant records.

With these matters resolved and an ephemeral peace restored, Aurelian travelled to Rome. Upon arriving in the city, he had to address the immediate problem of a revolt in the city by the workers of the imperial mint. In the events leading up to this, it seems that the workers at the mint, in the emperor's absence, had developed an overconfident sense of independence that had crossed over the line to insubordination. Such behaviour led to corruption amongst the workers, who it seems were lining their pockets with imperial coin. What led to the revolt, however, is a subject of debate. It has been supposed that Aurelian's efforts to address the currency issue early in his reign may have made the mint workers uneasy; the prospect of an emperor known for instilling discipline and his possible curiosity at any illegal or corrupt activity may have moved the workers to revolt. Another possible cause for the revolt might have lain in the fact that its leader, the rationalis (chief fiscal officer) Felicissimus, may have been the tool of senatorial and equestrian interests who felt threatened by Aurelian's rule. In any case, the revolt lasted only a very short time before it was crushed by Aurelian, who then closed the Rome mint. Other domestic threats to Aurelian's rule included four separate attempts at usurpation by Septiminus (also called Septimius), Domitianus, Firmus (in Egypt during the Palmyrene war, although his existence is contested), and Urbanus, which were quickly found out and crushed.

While at Rome, Aurelian did his best to win the support of the people, cancelling debts to the treasury and making a public bonfire of the relevant records. This populist strain, according to the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, led him to descend on the rich 'like a torrent' and tax them punitively. The Senate was wary of the soldier-emperor but, realizing that little could be done to resist him, conferred its approval upon him.

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Defending the Empire

In 271 CE, Aurelian found himself having to defend the empire from renewed incursions from the Juthungi, Alamanni, and Marcomanni. Aurelian found what are thought to be Juthungi and Alemannic invaders making incursions into Italy. After thinking he made peace with the Juthungi when meeting them at Milan in 271 CE, that tribe soon went back on their word and surprise attacked the Romans, inflicting a major defeat upon imperial forces. He defeated the invaders in three different places: at Fanum Fortunae, Metaurus, and Ticinus (near modern Pavia). This did not resolve the matter completely, as the invaders would simply regroup and then continue their attacks in other places. The best Aurelian could do was to anticipate enemy movements, find and defeat them in battle, and run the remainder to ground. Aurelian managed to do this and returned to Rome, possibly knowing that his victories had only provided a brief respite.

Upon returning to Rome Aurelian proclaimed a German victory but knew that this did not allay the fears of the city's inhabitants of a renewed barbarian attack. Meeting with the Roman Senate, the emperor proposed the construction of a wall around the city for its defence. Civilian workers were mobilized to perform this task, and a wall was built to defend the city, 21 feet in height and just under 12 miles in length. He followed this action with a march to the Balkans with his army, defeating Gothic forces in the area and killing Cannabaudes, their leader. Despite this victory, Aurelian realized that the province of Dacia across the Danube was too hard and too expensive to defend, and organized the evacuation of the province's inhabitants back across the river, resettling them in the new province of Dacia Aureliana, partly carved out of the old Moesian province.

Restorer of the World

Aurelian's next move was against the breakaway empire of Palmyra that had wrested much of the empire's eastern possessions away from imperial control and into the hands of Palmyra's queen Zenobia and her underage son Vallabathus. Aurelian began his campaign against Palmyra in 272 CE, and marched through Asia Minor, reclaiming it for Rome and meeting with little resistance. When Aurelian offered mercy to resistant cities such as Tyana and took no reprisals against it once it was recaptured for Rome, word of this conciliatory policy spread to other cities, which opened their gates to Aurelian without any resistance whatsoever. Aurelian followed up these peaceful victories with military ones, defeating Zenobia's forces at the Battle of Immae and at Emesa. Within six months of the beginning of his campaign, Aurelian and his army stood at the gates of Palmyra, which surrendered. Zenobia tried to flee with her son to the Sassanian Persian Empire, but they were soon captured and made to walk the streets of Rome in the triumph that Aurelian eventually celebrated. Aurelian marched back westward, defeating the Carpi on the Danube. Palmyra tried to revolt shortly thereafter, which obliged Aurelian to return east and sack that city in 273 CE. Palmyra never regained the power or influence it previously enjoyed after this time.

After this, Aurelian turned his attention to the breakaway Gallic Empire in the West, which at this time controlled Gallic and British provinces. He defeated these rebels at the battle of Catalunian Fields (Châlons-sur-Marne), causing the Gallic emperor Tetricus to desert his own forces and sue for peace. Aurelian granted Tetricus mercy, and the erstwhile rebel marched with Zenobia in Aurelian's triumph which celebrated the reintegration of the Gallic and Palmyrene empires back into the Roman sphere of control. Aurelian proclaimed himself restitutor orbis ('Restorer of the World') to celebrate this occasion.

Aurelian is known for promoting the worship of Invictus Sol ('God of the Unconquered Sun'), creating an official priesthood as well as building a temple to that deity on the Campus Martius with this aim in mind. Although Aurelian did not aim to diminish the role of the traditional Roman state gods in enacting these measures, he hoped to use Invictus Sol as a way of making steps towards a degree of religious unity within the empire.

Death & Legacy

Aurelian has almost universally been described as a ruthless emperor with a predisposition to cruelty (his nickname, manu ad ferrum "hand on hilt" implies that he may have solved problems with a sword rather than words). This portrayal, however, comes into conflict with the fact that he offered mercy on a number of occasions (to the city of Tyana, to Zenobia, to Tetricus) and might imply a bias against him by the historians who wrote about him.

Aurelian's death did much to eliminate existing threats, but it did not end the uncertainty that the empire would experience until 284 CE with the accession of Diocletian.


Did the Romans Invent Christmas?

Did the first Christian Roman emperor appropriate the pagan festival of Saturnalia to celebrate the birth of Christ? Matt Salusbury weighs the evidence.

It was a public holiday celebrated around December 25th in the family home. A time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees. But it wasn’t Christmas. This was Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival. But was Christmas, Western Christianity’s most popular festival, derived from the pagan Saturnalia?

The first-century AD poet Gaius Valerius Catullus described Saturnalia as ‘the best of times’: dress codes were relaxed, small gifts such as dolls, candles and caged birds were exchanged.

Saturnalia saw the inversion of social roles. The wealthy were expected to pay the month’s rent for those who couldn’t afford it, masters and slaves to swap clothes. Family households threw dice to determine who would become the temporary Saturnalian monarch. The poet Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-180) has the god Cronos (Saturn) say in his poem, Saturnalia:

‘During my week the serious is barred: no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games of dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping … an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water – such are the functions over which I preside.’

Saturnalia originated as a farmer’s festival to mark the end of the autumn planting season in honour of Saturn (satus means sowing). Numerous archaeological sites from the Roman coastal province of Constantine, now in Algeria, demonstrate that the cult of Saturn survived there until the early third century AD.

Saturnalia grew in duration and moved to progressively later dates under the Roman period. During the reign of the Emperor Augustus (63 BC-AD 14), it was a two-day affair starting on December 17th. By the time Lucian described the festivities, it was a seven-day event. Changes to the Roman calendar moved the climax of Saturnalia to December 25th, around the time of the date of the winter solstice.

From as early as 217 BC there were public Saturnalia banquets. The Roman state cancelled executions and refrained from declaring war during the festival. Pagan Roman authorities tried to curtail Saturnalia Emperor Caligula (AD 12-41) sought to restrict it to five days, with little success.

Emperor Domitian (AD 51-96) may have changed Saturnalia’s date to December 25th in an attempt to assert his authority. He curbed Saturnalia’s subversive tendencies by marking it with public events under his control. The poet Statius (AD 45- 95), in his poem Silvae, describes the lavish banquet and entertainments Domitian presided over, including games which opened with sweets, fruit and nuts showered on the crowd and featuring flights of flamingos released over Rome. Shows with fighting dwarves and female gladiators were illuminated, for the first time, into the night.

The conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in AD 312 ended Roman persecution of Christians and began imperial patronage of the Christian churches. But Christianity did not become the Roman Empire’s official religion overnight. Dr David Gwynn, lecturer in ancient and late antique history at Royal Holloway, University of London, says that, alongside Christian and other pagan festivals, ‘the Saturnalia continued to be celebrated in the century afterward’.

The poet Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius wrote another Saturnalia, describing a banquet of pagan literary celebrities in Rome during the festival. Classicists date the work to between AD 383 and 430, so it describes a Saturnalia alive and well under Christian emperors. The Christian calendar of Polemius Silvus, written around AD 449, mentions Saturnalia, recording that ‘it used to honour the god Saturn’. This suggests it had by then become just another popular carnival.

Christmas apparently started – like Saturnalia – in Rome, and spread to the eastern Mediterranean. The earliest known reference to it commemorating the birth of Christ on December 25th is in the Roman Philocalian calendar of AD 354. Provincial schisms soon resulted in different Christian calendars. The Orthodox Church in the Eastern (Byzantine) half of the Roman Empire fixed the date of Christmas at January 6th, commemorating simultaneously Christ’s birth, baptism and first miracle.

Saturnalia has a rival contender as the forerunner of Christmas: the festival of dies natalis solis invicti, ‘birthday of the unconquered sun’. The Philocalian calendar also states that December 25th was a Roman civil holiday honouring the cult of sol invicta. With its origins in Syria and the monotheistic cult of Mithras, sol invicta certainly has similarities to the worship of Jesus. The cult was introduced into the empire in AD 274 by Emperor Aurelian (214-275), who effectively made it a state religion, putting its emblem on Roman coins.

Sol invicta succeeded because of its ability to assimilate aspects of Jupiter and other deities into its figure of the Sun King, reflecting the absolute power of ‘divine’emperors. But despite efforts by later pagan emperors to control Saturnalia and absorb the festival into the official cult, the sol invicta ended up looking very much like the old Saturnalia. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was brought up in the sol invicta cult, in what was by then already a predominantly monotheist empire: ‘It is therefore possible,’ says Dr Gwynn, ‘that Christmas was intended to replace this festival rather than Saturnalia.’

Gwynn concludes: ‘The majority of modern scholars would be reluctant to accept any close connection between the Saturnalia and the emergence of the Christian Christmas.’

Devout Christians will be reassured to learn that the date of Christmas may derive from concepts in Judaism that link the time of the deaths of prophets being linked to their conception or birth. From this, early ecclesiastical number-crunchers extrapolated that the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy following the Annunciation on March 25th would produce a December 25th date for the birth of Christ.


1 &ndash He Destroyed All of Rome&rsquos Immediate Threats within a Few Years

Above all else, Aurelian was an outstanding general and is best known for his numerous successes against a variety of tribes bent on Rome&rsquos destruction. Aurelian quickly rose through the ranks of the army and became known for his exploits as a soldier on the Danube frontier. In 268 AD, when Aureolas rebelled against Emperor Gallienus, Aurelian was in command of cavalry in northern Italy. He was involved in the Siege of Mediolanum and is said to have raised the alarm at night an act that caused Gallienus to leave his tent. The emperor was assassinated.

He was a main contender for the throne, but it was awarded to Claudius II Gothicus. The new emperor appointed Aurelian as Master of the Horse which effectively made him the second most powerful man in the empire as he had command of the military. Claudius died suddenly in 270 and his brother, Quintillus, became the new emperor. Aurelian believed the title was his and claimed it at Sirmium in August 270. Quintillus fled and, realizing he had no support he committed suicide in Aquileia.

Aurelian was the undisputed ruler of the Empire, but he had no time to rest on his laurels as there were multiple threats to deal with. His first order of business was to deal with the Juthungi who had invaded Northern Italy. The Roman army caught up with the enemy and defeated them before they could flee back beyond the Danube. Aurelian marched to Rome and was officially declared Emperor by the Senate.

Almost immediately, he had to return north to fight the Vandals and Sarmatians who had crossed the Danube. Aurelian&rsquos army arrived and crushed the enemy he even asked his men if the Vandals should be allowed to return home before granting them safe passage. He also took 2,000 cavalry from them. Even before the Vandals had withdrawn, a combination of the Juthungi, Marcomanni, and Alemanni descended on Northern Italy from the Alps. Aurelian then suffered a rare defeat at Placentia in 271. Back in Rome, riots began once the news filtered through although the violence may have started due to a combination of other factors.

The barbarians made the mistake of dividing their large army into numerous smaller forces so they could move faster and plunder more. Aurelian seized the opportunity by finding every one of the smaller armies and defeating them. There was no time to waste because he had to return to Rome to handle the riots. His men suppressed the riots, and thousands of people died including several senators who were executed on the orders of the emperor. Knowing that the riots were partly due to fear of invasion, the Emperor ordered the construction of the Aurelian Walls to keep barbarians at bay long enough for an army to return to save the day if necessary.

While there were a couple of pretenders to the throne, the real threat was the Gallic Empire in the West and the Palmyrene Empire in the East which had split from the Roman Empire. He knew that Palmyra, ruled by Queen Zenobia, was a greater threat, so he attacked it first. It controlled Egypt and Rome&rsquos grain supply, so it was essential to destroy the independent state. Aurelian marched east but defeated the Goths in several large battles en route in 272. Meanwhile, the emperor also decided to withdraw from Dacia and ordered the evacuation of Romans from the region.

Aurelian continued east and had few problems in Asia Minor as only the city of Tyana resisted. He captured it easily but forbade his men from sacking it. This was an excellent decision because it led to several cities in Greek and the whole of Egypt returning to the Empire without any kind of a fight. Later in 272, Aurelian defeated the Palmyrene army at Immae and Emesa. The enemy surrendered, and the Romans captured Queen Zenobia. As soon as he left, the Palmyrenes staged an uprising. He returned immediately and brutally suppressed it, allowing his men to rape, pillage and plunder.

Only the Gallic Empire stood between Aurelian and the completion of his mission. In 274 AD, he defeated the Gallic leader Tetricus at Chalons-sur-Marne and restored the Empire. He paraded the beaten enemy leaders in his triumph in Rome but spared both their lives. In the space of a few years, Aurelian had foiled multiple invasion attempts, re-established the Empire, oversaw a return to Roman control on the frontiers and ensured he was the undisputed leader after decades of uncertainty. He truly earned the name restitutor orbis, Restorer of the World.


Kinross to acquire Aurelian Resources in $1.2B friendly deal

Shares of Aurelian Resources Inc. jumped Thursday after the company announced a friendly takeover offer from Kinross Gold Corp.

Aurelian shares ended the trading day at $6.31, up $1.86. The stock had hit an intraday high of $7.50.

Earlier, the companies unveiled the all-stock deal valued at about $1.2 billion. Based on recent trading prices, the offer values Aurelian at $8.20 a share.

Each Aurelian share will be swapped for 0.317 of a Kinross common share, plus 0.1429 of a five-year warrant entitling the holder to acquire one Kinross common share at $32.

Kinross said it expects to issue approximately 47 million common shares under the deal, representing approximately eight per cent of Kinross's current outstanding common shares.

Kinross shares finished the day at $18.70, off $2.14.

Aurelian's main property is the Fruta del Norte discovery in south-eastern Ecuador. The company said in October 2007 that the property held an estimated 13.7 million ounces of contained gold and 22.4 million ounces of contained silver.

However, the situation for mining companies in Ecuador is unclear. Earlier this year, the country's government imposed a six-month moratorium on mineral exploration while it developed new mining rules.

The move prompted a sharp drop at the time in the share prices of companies involved in mining there, although they did recover some ground after the president of the South American nation tried to reassure investors that "responsible" mining would be permitted to go ahead.


Structures

Several large monuments and buildings are incorporated in the structure. These buildings include Castel Sant’Angelo, Amphitheater Castrense, the Pyramid of Cestius, and a section of the Aqua Claudia aqueduct.

A restoration of the wall by Arcadius and Honorius in 403 is attested by the inscriptions on the Portae Portuensis, Praenestina, and Tiburtina. Moreover, repairs by Theodoric and by Cassiodorus are attested by brick stamps.


The Aurelian Walls: A 1700-year-old Roman Wonder

The Aurelian Walls, or Mura aureliane by their Italian name, is a set of city walls in Rome, which were built under the rule of powerful emperors Aurelian and Probus.

Over time, Rome had expanded vastly and by the 3rd century it had grown beyond the original walls of the city: the Servian Walls, which can be traced all the way back to the 4th century BC.

Porta Clausa. Author: Fabio Piferi – CC BY-SA 2.5

As it spilled out past the old defensive walls, the city essentially became unfortified. However, it continued expanding unthreatened for many years as the fear of the strength of Rome was great no one would dare to attack it and meet the brutality of the Roman Army.

Aurelian Wall section perfectly preserved today. Author: daryl_mitchell – CC BY-SA 2.0

Things changed when tribes of barbarians came storming upon Rome in the 3rd century. In 270, the Germanic tribes Juthungi and Vandals came to attack the north of Italy.

As the Roman army was preoccupied repelling a Vandal invasion, the Juthungi ambushed the exhausted army and defeated the Emperor. The Romans suffered severe casualties but nonetheless managed to later defeat the Juthungi at the Battle of Fano. The Romans fell victim to more troubles one year later, when mint workers rose in rebellion within the city itself.

A passage that that stands close to Porta Metronia. Author: Joris – CC BY-SA 3.0

Thousands lay dead in the aftermath of the rebellion. Having witnessed the power of the barbarian tribes, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus decided in 270 to erect a wall that would keep these foreign invaders away from Rome.

The wall would also serve as a message that Aurelian trusted his citizens and had no doubt in their loyalty, and that he was determined to keep both his reign and power.

Part of the wall that stands close to Pyramid of Caius Cestius. Author: Wknight94 – CC BY-SA 3.0

The wall was, at the time, the biggest architectural project of the Roman Empire. Gregory S. Aldrete writes in his book Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii and Ostia, “These events prompted the emperor Aurelian to construct a new, larger circuit of walls in the 270s. These walls, known as Muri Aureliani, were 12 miles long and included the Campus Martius and a section of the Transtiberim.”

A restored section of the wall.

No legionaries were employed in the construction of the wall the army was already weakened from years of civil war and famine, as well as the Plague of Cyprian, and construction responsibilities were delegated to the citizens.

The wall was completed in just five years. According to Aldrete, “The Aurelian Walls show evidence of having been constructed in haste. For example, they make considerable use of existing structures, which are incorporated into the circuit of the walls.”

Part of the walls made of red brick. Author: Joris – CC BY-SA 3.0

Unfortunately, Aurelian never managed to see the wall in its complete form as he passed away before the project was finished. The wall was never built to withstand a siege.

Instead, it was created as an effective way to protect the city against barbarians, who had no means of imposing a prolonged siege due to limited resources. The wall functioned well against their hit-and-run attacks.

On top of the wall. Author: MichelleWalz – CC BY 2.0

Over the years the wall was improved. These improvements included the doubling of its height by Maxentius and, in 401, improvements of the gates, under the order of Honorius.

The wall served Rome well for many centuries, until 1870. On September 20th that year, the wall was breached close to Porta Pia, by the Bersaglieri.

One of the wall towers. Author: Joris – CC BY-SA 3.0

The wall remains today in perfect condition, preserved well as it remained in use until the late 19th century.

The museum Museo delle Mura offers information to anyone who wishes to learn more about this remarkable feat of Roman engineering. The wall is a favorite attraction for the many thousands of tourists that come to visit this famous and ancient city.


What if The Roman Emperor Aurelian lived longer?

Rome probably last longer if not indefinitely like China does(cycles of foreign barbarian conquest, war state periods, and followed by periods of growth then stagnation).

Also he likely wipes out Christians and other sects that conflict with state to much.

The Sol Invictus is nothing but Romans trying to formalize its ancient traditions, rituals, and religion into a more formal nature to challenge the growing social threat of Christianity and other eastern sects and cults.

Mithraism is just state trying to regulate and syncretize religion of Roman Empire while weaving out sects that are found disloyal or contradictory to Roman system and ideas.

This is when Christianity is becoming more of problem for empire because it is turning much of its underclass and outclass parts of population into various competing sects who just don’t conflict with Roman and traditional Hellenistic beliefs but also each other.

Romans also got pissed about Christian fanaticism and unwillingness to syncretism with state religion because Christianity by its nature is too dogmatic and contradictory for syncretism to work properly.

Pacifism pissed Romans off because military service is core of Roman citizenship and identity and what makes people Roman citizens and assimilate. Joining Legion.

Not doing rituals and paying respect to traditions was seen like an extreme version of burning US flag to them. It has to do with loyalty and identity of Rome.

Aurelian and many in Legion understand this. He did organize killings of Christians and their “persecution” because they were unloyal fanatics who undermine much of Roman society and divided families.

Sol Invictus along with Imperial cult is not dogmatic or even opposed to syncretism or people believing in other religions. It’s a pledge of loyalty and basically saying you put empire/republic before your own gods or biases.

The New Testament is heavily bias against Romans and inaccurate exaggerated or straight up propaganda lies about them.

They did not start breaking down on Christianity until this point because it started becoming a social and undermining influence in Rome


The History of Rome

116- Here Come the Illyrians

Claudius Gothicus became Emperor in 268 and promptly lead the legions to victory against the Goths and the Alamanni. Unfortunately he died before he was able to reunify the Empire.

Comments

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Nice episode as always Mike.

I can't wait for next week's episode on Aurelian, the most underrated emperor IMHO.

Brilliant buildup to Aurelian. Worth the wait.

It took me months to catch up with the episodes and now I'm caught between starting the series again and waiting to enjoy the next episode.

Mike, I discovered this podcast when you were on episode 6 and have been a fan ever since - also read a number of the books you've suggested over the years.

This has to be the most comprehensive podcast on roman history on the net!

Thanks for all your commitment

Hi Mike,
We are a family of four who are currently trundling around Argentina in a camper-van listening to the History of Rome podcasts.
We're only at #78 but we're catching up to current pretty quickly.
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much we're enjoying the podcasts - the kids (2 boys, 10 + 14) particularly.
Keep up the good work
Michelle (aka WanderMom)
p.s. Hi to Mrs-History-of-Rome too :)

this podcast is brilliant. Well done.

Absolutly brilliant. I found out about this podcast somewhere around Hadrian's wall and have spent a few months trying to catch up, (caught up two weeks ago) and i very much enjoyed this one!

this podcast is truly an epic and crazy thing mike. words alone cannot describe how great it has been to have THOR as part of my life for the past year.

@pb I have all the episodes in shuffle on my iPhone.

Another great episode as always, I'm really digging all of your crisis of the third century episodes. I all makes sense for the first time in my life.

Your podcasts on the 3rd century crisis is outstanding. I just have one question for you. After you mentioned the mobile calvary organized by Gallienus, I tried to dig up more about that on the web since a elite Roman calvary army is really some thing interesting. Yet I was unable to find much about. I would really appreciate it if you could talk more about it in the coming episodes or provide some reference on the topic.

Thanks for all the good work and I am really looking forward to the episode on Aurellian.

On a completely unrelated note, when the time comes to end the podcast, how about a show or to on the history of the history of Rome, i.e. how the Romans have been seen by people looking back. I really want to know what the medieval Christians thought of the empire, for example, or what Napoleon thought of it.

Yep, another great episode.
And I'm another who believe's Aurelian was one the the greater hero's of the Empire. We often hear how the 3rd century crisis was ended by the reforms of Diocletian. However, imo, Diocletian would have had nothing to reform if not for the super human efforts of Cludius, Aurelian and Probus.

Mister THoR, thank you so very muchly on your commitment and this superb production.

With a sincere wish that you shall continue (even if that means doing the US history you said you're a fan of) I bid you and all yours a pleasant day and very best of luck in the future.

All the best from DownUnder.

Mike,
Thank you for taking the time this Thanksgiving weekend to get us another episode. I was sure you would take this week off.
Hey have you thought about microbooking (à la Lars Brownworth)?

Nice job on the podcast Mike. I will post this then send a donation your way. Enjoy your holiday.

Hi Mike - great job on the History of Rome.

I'm one of those lucky enough to live in Rome, and also to work as a licensed Tour Guide here (I often recommend you to my clients) so the Colosseum is practically my second home.

I was looking at your tour itinerary for next year and just wanted to offer up some friendly comments for your information. I've sent a detailed email to Nathan August and asked him to forward it to you - if it somehow gets lost along the way please feel free to contact me directly.
Once again, great job - keep it up.
Stuart Harvey

just to let you know 'Cleopatra a Life' is not available on Audible from Australia (and I presume the UK and a fair chunk of the English speaking world). not your problem but I do respect your recommendations and kind of irritating that I can't get hold of it.


Aurelian

Roman Emperor, 270-275, born of humble parents, near Sirmium in Pannonia, 9 September, 214 died 275.

At the age of twenty he entered the military service, in which, because of exceptional ability and remarkable bodily strength his advancement was rapid. On the death of Claudius he was proclaimed Emperor by the army at Sirmium, and became sole master of the Roman dominions on the suicide of his rival Quintillus, the candidate of the Senate. When Aurelian assumed the reins government the Roman world was divided three sections: the Gallo-Roman Empire, established by Postumus, comprising Gaul and Britain the Kingdom of Palmyra, which held sway over the entire Orient, including Egypt and the greater part of Asia Minor, and the Roman Empire, restricted to Italy, Africa, the Danubian Provinces of Africa, convoked and presided at the Greece, and Bithynia. On the upper Danube, Rhaetia and Northern Italy were overrun by the Juthungi, while the Vandals were preparing to invade Pannonia. The internal affairs of Rome mere equally deplorable. The anarchy of the legions and the frequent revolutions in preceding reigns had shattered the imperial authority the treasury was empty and the monetary system ruined. With no support but that afforded by the army of the Danube, Aurelian undertook to restore the material and moral unity of the Empire and to introduce whatever reforms were necessary to give it stability. Enormous as this project was, in the face of so many obstacles, he succeeded in accomplishing it in less than five years. When he died, the frontiers were all restored and strongly defended, the unity of the Empire was established, the administration was reorganized, the finances of the Empire placed on a sound footing, and the monetary system thoroughly revised.


After the murder of Victorinus it was his mother, Victoria, who took it upon herself to announce a new ruler, despite the rise of Domitianus. Her choice fell on the governor of Aquitania, Tetricus.

This new emperor came from one of the leading families of Gaul and might well have been a relative of Victoria. But – more importantly in a time of crisis – he was popular.

Tetricus was hailed emperor at Burdigala (Bordeaux) in Aquitania in spring AD 271. How exactly Domitianus was overthrown is unknown. Before Tetricus even could reach the imperial capital Augusta Trevirorum (Trier) he needed to fend off a German invasion. In AD 272 again he was on the Rhine fighting off the Germans.

His victories established him beyond doubt as an able military commander. In AD 273 his son, also Tetricus, was elevated to the rank of Caesar (junior emperor), marking him out as the future heir to the throne.

Finally, in early AD 274 emperor Aurelian, having defeated the Palmyrene empire in the east, now sought to reunite all the empire and marched against the Gallic empire. In a close battle on the Campi Catalaunii (Châlons-sur-Marne) Aurelian gained victory and restored the territories back to his empire. Tetricus and his son surrendered.

The circumstances surrounding the end of the Gallic empire though are shrouded in mystery. The ruthless Aurelian did not have Tetricus executed but far more rewarded him with the post of governor of Lucania, where he shoudl peacefully live to a ripe old age. Also the young Tetricus, who had been Caesar and heir to the Gallic empire, was not killed but granted senatorial rank.

There are suggestions of agreements between Tetricus and Aurelian prior to the battle taking place. There are even rumours that Tetricus had invited Aurelian’s invasion, in order to save himself from falling victim to political intrigue at his own court.

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