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Numerian
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Numerian.jpg
Bust of Numerian.
Reign 282-3 (as Caesar under his father);
December 283 - November 284 (alone)
Full name Marcus Aurelius Numerius Numerianus (from birth to elevation to Caesar);
Caesar Marcus Aurelius Numerius Numerianus (as Caesar);
Caesar Marcus Aurelius Numerius Numerianus Augustus (as emperor)
Died November 284
Place of death Emesa
Predecessor Carus
Successor Diocletian
Wife Daughter of Arrius Aper

Marcus Aurelius Numerius Numerianus (d. November, 284), known in English as Numerian, was a Roman Emperor (December 283 – November, 284), together with his brother Carinus. They were sons of Carus, a Gaul raised to the office of praetorian prefect under Emperor Probus in 282.[1]

Contents

Reign

In 282, the legions of the upper Danube in Raetia and Noricum proclaimed Numerian's father, the praetorian prefect Marcus Aurelius Carus, emperor, beginning a rebellion against the emperor Probus.[2] Probus' army, stationed in Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia), decided they did not wish to fight Carus, and assassinated Probus instead.[3] Carus, already sixty, wished to establish a dynasty;[4] and immediately elevated Carinus and Numerian to the rank of Caesar.[5]

In 283, Carus raised Carinus to the title Caesar,[6] left him in charge of the West, and moved with Numerian and his praetorian prefect Arrius Aper to the East, to wage war against the Sassanid Empire. (The Sassanids had been embroiled in a succession dispute since the death of Shapur, and were in no position to oppose Carus' advance.)[7] According to Zonaras, Eutropius, and Festus, Carus won a major victory against the Persians, taking Seleucia and the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon (near modern Al-Mada'in, Iraq), cities on opposite banks of the Tigris.[8] In celebration, Numerian, Carus, and Carinus all took the title Persici maximi.[9] Carus died in July or early August,[1] reportedly due to a strike of lightning.[10]

Carus' death left Numerian and Carinus as the new Augusti. Carinus quickly made his way to Rome from Gaul, and arrived in January 284. Numerian lingered in the East.[11] The Roman retreat from Persia was orderly and unopposed, for the Persian King, Bahram II, was still struggling to establish his authority.[12] By March 284 Numerian had only reached Emesa (Homs) in Syria; by November, only Asia Minor.[13] In Emesa he was apparently still alive and in good health, as he issued the only extant rescript in his name there.[14] (Coins are issued in his name in Cyzicus at some time before the end of 284, but it is impossible to know whether he was still in the public eye by that point.)[15] After Emesa, Numerian's staff, including the prefect Aper, reported that Numerian suffered from an inflammation of the eyes, and had to travel in a closed coach.[16] When the army reached Bithynia,[11] some of Numerian's soldiers smelled an odor reminiscent of a decaying corpse emanating from the coach.[12] They opened its curtains. Inside, they found Numerian, dead.[17]

Aper officially broke the news in Nicomedia (İzmit) in November.[18] Numerian's generals and tribunes called a council for the succession, and chose Diocles, commander of the cavalry arm of the imperial bodyguard,[19] emperor,[20] in spite of Aper's attempts to garner support.[18] On November 20, 284, the army of the east gathered on a hill three miles 5 km (3.1 mi) outside Nicomedia. The army unanimously saluted their new Augustus, and Diocles accepted the purple imperial vestments. He raised his sword to the light of the sun, and swore an oath declaiming responsibility for Numerian's death. He asserted that Aper had killed Numerian and concealed it.[21] In full view of the army, Diocles drew his blade and killed Aper.[22]

According to Historia Augusta, Numerian was a man of considerable literary attainments, remarkably amiable and known as a great orator and poet. However, no other sources, apart from the unreliable Historia, report anything about his personality.

Notes

  1. ^ a b Leadbetter, "Carus."
  2. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Leadbetter, "Carus"; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Southern, Severus to Constantine, p. 132; Williams, Diocletian, p. 32.
  3. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Southern, Severus to Constantine, p. 132.
  4. ^ Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Southern, Severus to Constantine, p. 132; Williams, Diocletian, p. 32.
  5. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Williams, Diocletian, p. 32.
  6. ^ Leadbetter, "Carus"; Leadbetter, "Carinus"; Southern, Severus to Constantine, p. 132.
  7. ^ Leadbetter, "Carus"; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39.
  8. ^ Zonaras, 12.30; Eutropius, 9.14.1; Festus, 24; Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 4; Leadbetter, "Carus"; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, p. 279; Williams, Diocletian, p. 33.
  9. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Leadbetter, "Carus."
  10. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Leadbetter, "Carus"; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Southern, Severus to Constantine, p. 133; Williams, Diocletian, pp. 33–34.
  11. ^ a b Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4.
  12. ^ a b Southern, Severus to Constantine, p. 133.
  13. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Leadbetter, "Numerianus."
  14. ^ Codex Justinianus 5.52.2; Leadbetter, "Numerianus"; Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, p. 279.
  15. ^ Roman Imperial Coinage 5.2 Numerian no. 462; Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, pp. 279–80).
  16. ^ Leadbetter, "Numerianus."
  17. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Leadbetter, "Numerianus"; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 39; Williams, Diocletian, p. 35.
  18. ^ a b Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, p. 280.
  19. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Barnes, New Empire, p. 31; Bowman, "Diocletian", p. 68; Mathisen, "Diocletian"; Williams, Diocletian, p. 33.
  20. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, p. 4; Bowman, "Diocletian", p. 68; Williams, Diocletian, p. 35–36.
  21. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, pp. 4–5; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, pp. 39–40; Williams, Diocletian, pp. 36–37.
  22. ^ Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, pp. 4–5; Leadbetter, "Numerian"; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, pp. 39–40; Williams, Diocletian, p. 37.

References

Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Barnes, Timothy D. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 978-0674165311
  • Barnes, Timothy D. The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982. ISBN 0783722214
  • Bowman, Alan K. "Diocletian and the First Tetrarchy." In The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII: The Crisis of Empire, edited by Alan Bowman, Averil Cameron, and Peter Garnsey, 67–89. Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-30199-8
  • Leadbetter, William. "Carus (282–283 A.D.)." De Imperatoribus Romanis (2001a). Accessed February 16, 2008.
  • Leadbetter, William. "Numerianus (283–284 A.D.)." De Imperatoribus Romanis (2001b). Accessed February 16, 2008.
  • Leadbetter, William. "Carinus (283–285 A.D.)." De Imperatoribus Romanis (2001c). Accessed February 16, 2008.
  • Mathisen, Ralph W. "Diocletian (284–305 A.D.)." De Imperatoribus Romanis (1997). Accessed February 16, 2008.
  • Potter, David S. The Roman Empire at Bay: AD 180–395. New York: Routledge, 2005. Hardcover ISBN 0-415-10057-7 Paperback ISBN 0-415-10058-5
  • Southern, Pat. The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine. New York: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0-415-23944-3
  • Williams, Stephen. Diocletian and the Roman Recovery. New York: Routledge, 1997. ISBN 0-415-91827-8

External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Carus
Roman Emperor
283–284
Served alongside: Carinus
Succeeded by
Carinus (until 285) and Diocletian







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