Gallienus, Roman Emperor

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Emperor 253 to 268; b. Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus, c. 218; d. Milan, Aug.(?) 268. His mother was Gnatia Mariniana. In 253, when his father, P. Licinius Valerianus, became emperor, Gallienus was named Augustus and given the West to defend. In successful campaigns along the Rhine, he saved Gaul from the attacks of Germanic tribes, and in 258 at Milan checked an invasion of Italy by the Alamanni. On the death of his father valerian, in 259 or 260, the defense of the Empire, complicated by numerous rebellions among his generals, fell upon Gallienus. In 267 he gained a brilliant victory over the Heruli, who were ravaging Greece, and returned to Italy to check the revolt of Aureolus. He was murdered by his officers during the siege of Milan in July or August 268. Gallienus introduced a number of important political, military, and religious reforms; excluded senators from military commands; and created an independent cavalry corps with its base at Milan. In 260 he issued edicts that ended the persecution of the Christians, recognized their bishops and restored their churches and cemeteries (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 7.13). His tolerance followed a realization of the failure of his father's policy and reflected the influence of his wife, Salonina, who had a high esteem for Christians. This was the first Roman declaration of tolerance for Christians. Though later tradition made a tyrant of Gallienus, he was a man of high culture and boundless energy, keenly aware of the essential needs of his times. Many of his political reforms anticipated those of Diocletian.

Bibliography: u. wickert, Paulys Realencyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 13.1 (Stuttgart 1926) 350369. g. m. bersanetti, Enciclopedia Italiana di scienzi, littere ed arti. 36 v. (Rome 192939) 16:326327.

[m. j. costelloe]