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Trajan
Trajan
Decius
Decius
(/ˈdiːʃəs, ˈdɛʃəs/; Latin: Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius
Decius
Augustus;[1] c. 201 – June 251) was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus
Herennius Etruscus
until they were both killed in the Battle of Abritus.

Contents

1 Early life and rise to power 2 Political and monumental initiatives

2.1 Reviving the censorship 2.2 The Baths of Decius

3 Persecution of Christians 4 Fighting the Goths
Goths
and death

4.1 The Goths
Goths
enter the Balkans 4.2 Battle of Abritus

5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Early life and rise to power[edit]

Antoninianus
Antoninianus
of Trajan
Trajan
Decius

Decius, who was born at Budalia,[2][3] near Sirmium
Sirmium
in Pannonia Inferior (now Martinci
Martinci
and Sremska Mitrovica
Sremska Mitrovica
in Serbia), was one of the first among a long succession of future Roman Emperors to originate from the Danube provinces, often simply called Illyricum.[4] Unlike some of his immediate imperial predecessors such as Philip the Arab or Maximinus who did not have extensive administrative experience before assuming the throne, Decius
Decius
was a distinguished senator who had served as suffect consul in 232, had been governor of Moesia
Moesia
and Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior
soon afterwards, served as governor of Hispania Tarraconensis between 235–238, and was urban prefect of Rome during the early reign of Emperor Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
(Marcus Iulius Phillippus).[5] Around 245, Philip entrusted Decius
Decius
with an important command on the Danube.[6] By the end of 248 or 249, Decius
Decius
was sent to quell the revolt of Pacatianus
Pacatianus
and his troops in Moesia
Moesia
and Pannonia; some modern historians see this rebellion as a reflection of emerging Balkan separatism.[7] After the collapse of the revolt, Decius
Decius
let the troops proclaim him Emperor. Philip advanced against him and was killed at Verona, Italy, in September 249.[8] The Senate then recognized Decius
Decius
as Emperor, giving him the attribute Traianus in reference to the emperor Trajan. According to the Byzantine historian Zosimus, Decius
Decius
was clothed in purple and forced to undertake the [burdens of] government, despite his reluctance and unwillingness.[9] Political and monumental initiatives[edit] Decius' political program was focused on the restoration of the strength of the State, both militarily opposing the external threats, and restoring the public piety with a program of renovation of the State religion. Reviving the censorship[edit] Either as a concession to the Senate, or perhaps with the idea of improving public morality, Decius
Decius
endeavoured to revive the separate office and authority of the censor. The choice was left to the Senate, who unanimously selected Valerian (the future emperor). But Valerian, well aware of the dangers and difficulties attached to the office at such a time, declined the responsibility. The invasion of the Goths and Decius' death put an end to the abortive attempt.[10] The Baths of Decius[edit] During his reign, he proceeded with several building projects in Rome, "including the Thermae Decianae or Baths of Decius
Baths of Decius
on the Aventine", which was completed in 252 and survived through to the 16th century; Decius
Decius
also repaired the Colosseum, which had been damaged by lightning strikes.[5] Persecution of Christians[edit] Main article: Decian persecution Further information: Persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians
in the Roman Empire § Under Decius

A Byzantine fresco of Saint Mercurius
Saint Mercurius
(a Christian victim of the Decian persecution), dated 1295, from Ohrid, Macedonia

In January 250, Decius
Decius
is said to have issued one of the most remarkable Roman imperial edicts. From the numerous surviving texts from Egypt, recording the act of sacrifice, it appears that the edict itself was fairly clear:[11]

All the inhabitants of the empire were required to sacrifice before the magistrates of their community 'for the safety of the empire' by a certain day (the date would vary from place to place and the order may have been that the sacrifice had to be completed within a specified period after a community received the edict). When they sacrificed they would obtain a certificate (libellus) recording the fact that they had complied with the order.[2] That is, the certificate would testify the sacrificant's loyalty to the ancestral gods and to the consumption of sacrificial food and drink as well as the names of the officials who were overseeing the sacrifice.[11]

According to D. S. Potter, Decius
Decius
did not try to impose the superiority of the Roman pantheon over any other gods. It is very probable that the edict was an attempt to legitimize his position and to respond to a general unease provoked by the passing of the Roman millennium.[12] While Decius
Decius
himself may have intended the edict as a way to reaffirm his conservative vision of the Pax Romana and to reassure Rome's citizens that the empire was still secure, it nevertheless sparked a "terrible crisis of authority as various Christian bishops and their flocks reacted to it in different ways."[2] Measures were first taken demanding that the bishops and officers of the church make a sacrifice for the Emperor. The sacrifice was "on behalf of" (Latin pro) the Emperor, not to the Emperor, since a living Emperor was not considered divine. Certificates were issued to those who satisfied the commissioners during the persecution of Christians under Decius. Forty-six such certificates have been published, all dating from 250, four of them from Oxyrhynchus.[13] Anyone, including Christian followers, who refused to offer a sacrifice for the Emperor and the Empire's well-being by a specified date risked torture and execution.[14] A number of prominent Christians did, in fact, refuse to make a sacrifice and were killed in the process, including Pope Fabian
Pope Fabian
himself in 250, and "anti-Christian feeling[s] led to pogroms at Carthage
Carthage
and Alexandria."[14] In reality, however, towards the end of the second year of Decius' reign, "the ferocity of the [anti-Christian] persecution had eased off, and the earlier tradition of tolerance had begun to reassert itself."[14] The Christian church, despite no indication in the surviving texts that the edict targeted any specific group, never forgot the reign of Decius
Decius
whom they labelled as that "fierce tyrant".[14] At this time, there was a second outbreak of the Antonine Plague, which at its height from 251 to 266, took the lives of 5,000 daily in Rome. This outbreak is referred to as the "Plague of Cyprian" (the bishop of Carthage, where both the plague and the persecution of Christians were especially severe). Cyprian's biographer Pontius gave a vivid picture of the demoralizing effects of the plague[citation needed] and Cyprian
Cyprian
moralized the event in his essay De mortalitate. In Carthage, the "Decian persecution", unleashed at the onset of the plague, sought out Christian scapegoats. Decius' edicts were renewed under Valerian in 253 and repealed under his son, Gallienus, in 260-1. Fighting the Goths
Goths
and death[edit] The Goths
Goths
enter the Balkans[edit] The barbarian incursions into the Empire were becoming more and more daring and frequent whereas the Empire was facing a serious economic crisis in Decius' time. During his brief reign, Decius
Decius
engaged in important operations against the Goths, who crossed the Danube to raid districts of Moesia
Moesia
and Thrace.[10] This is the first considerable occasion the Goths
Goths
— who would later come to play such an important role — appear in the historical record. The Goths
Goths
under King Cniva were surprised by the emperor while besieging Nicopolis on the Danube; the Goths
Goths
fled through the difficult terrain of the Balkans, but then doubled back and surprised the Romans near Beroë (modern Stara Zagora), sacking their camp and dispersing the Roman troops. The Goths then moved to attack Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv), which fell into their hands.[6] The governor of Thrace, Titus
Titus
Julius Priscus, declared himself Emperor under Gothic protection in opposition to Decius
Decius
but Priscus's challenge was rendered moot when he was killed soon afterwards.[5] Then the invaders began returning to their homeland, laden with booty and captives, among them many of senatorial rank.[15]

The Gothic Invasions of 250-251 AD

Battle of Abritus[edit] Main article: Battle of Abritus In the meantime, Decius
Decius
had returned with his re-organized army, accompanied by his son Herennius Etruscus
Herennius Etruscus
and the general Trebonianus Gallus, intending to defeat the invaders and recover the booty. The final engagement, the battle of Abrittus, in which the Goths
Goths
fought with the courage of despair, under the command of Cniva, took place during the second week of June 251 on swampy ground in the Ludogorie (region in northeastern Bulgaria
Bulgaria
which merges with Dobruja plateau and the Danube Plain to the north) near the small settlement of Abrittus[3] or Forum Terebronii (modern Razgrad).[6] Jordanes
Jordanes
records that Decius' son Herennius Etruscus
Herennius Etruscus
was killed by an arrow early in the battle, and to cheer his men Decius
Decius
exclaimed, "Let no one mourn; the death of one soldier is not a great loss to the republic." Nevertheless, Decius' army was entangled in the swamp and annihilated in this battle, while he himself was killed on the field of battle.[2] As the historian Aurelius Victor relates:

The Decii (ie. Decius
Decius
and his son), while pursuing the barbarians across the Danube, died through treachery at Abrittus after reigning two years. ... Very many report that the son had fallen in battle while pressing an attack too boldly; that the father however, has strenuously asserted that the loss of one soldier seemed to him too little to matter. And so he resumed the war and died in a similar manner while fighting vigorously[16]

One literary tradition claims that Decius
Decius
was betrayed by his successor Trebonianus Gallus, who was involved in a secret alliance with the Goths
Goths
but this cannot be substantiated and was most likely a later invention since Gallus felt compelled to adopt Decius' younger son, Gaius Valens
Valens
Hostilianus, as joint emperor even though the latter was too young to rule in his own right.[17][18] It is also unlikely that the shattered Roman legions would proclaim as emperor a traitor who was responsible for the loss of so many soldiers from their ranks.[19] Decius
Decius
was the first Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
to die in battle against a foreign enemy.[14] Notes[edit]

^ In Classical Latin, Decius' name would be inscribed as CAESAR GAIVS MESSIVS QVINTVS TRAIANVS DECIVS AVGVSTVS. ^ a b c d Decius: 249 – 251 AD University of Michigan. Retrieved March 30, 2011 ^ a b Handbook to life in ancient Rome, By Lesley Adkins, Roy A. Adkins, 2004, p. 28 ^ "These men are usually called the Illyrian emperors since they all were born in that province (Illyricum) and were raised to power by legions stationed there". Joseph Ward Swain, The Ancient World ^ a b c Scarre 1995, p.169 ^ a b c Chisholm 1911. ^ Potter 2004, pp.634-5 (note 106) ^ Potter 2004, pp.240-241 ^ Zosimus, New History I.22 ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Decius, Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 913.  ^ a b Potter 2004, p.241 ^ Potter 2004, p.243 ^ Ancient History Sourcebook ^ a b c d e Scarre 1995, p.170 ^ Wolfram 1988, p.46 ^ Aurelius Victor, Book of the Caesars 29 ^ Scarre 1995, pp.168–169 ^ Southern 2001, p.308 ^ Potter 2004, p.247

References[edit]

Potter, David S. The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
at Bay AD 180–395, Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-10058-5 Scarre, Chris, Chronicle of the Roman Emperors: the reign-by-reign record of the rulers of Imperial Rome, Thames & Hudson, 1995. ISBN 0-500-05077-5 Southern, Pat. The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
from Severus to Constantine, Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0-415-23943-5 Wolfram, Herwig. History of the Goths
Goths
(transl. by Thomas J. Dunlap), University of California Press, 1988, ISBN 0-520-06983-8

External links[edit]

Media related to Decius
Decius
at Wikimedia Commons Nathan, Geoffry, and Robin McMahon, " Trajan
Trajan
Decius
Decius
(249–251 A.D.) and Usurpers During His Reign", DIR

Regnal titles

Preceded by Philip the Arab Roman Emperor 249–251 Served alongside: Herennius Etruscus
Herennius Etruscus
(251) Succeeded by Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
and Hostilian

Political offices

Preceded by Lucius Fulvius Gavius Numisius Aemilianus Lucius Naevius Aquilinus Consul of the Roman Empire 250–251 with Vettius Gratus, Herennius Etruscus Succeeded by Trebonianus Gallus, Volusianus

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 10649322 LCCN: n97082538 ISNI: 0000 0001 0598 0835 GND: 119144948 SUDO

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