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Roman Emperor - Valerian

Updated on January 7, 2010

Valerian, full name Publius Licinius Valerianus. Born about 193 A.D. Emperor of Rome from 253 A.D. to 260 A.D. Descended from a noble Roman family, he rose to the highest offices in the state.

When Emperor Decius determined in 251 to revive the censorship, Valerian was chosen by him to occupy the post, but the death of Emperor Decius in 253 interrupted the plan. Valerian led his troops from Gaul to Rome to support Gallus as successor to Decius, but arrived after Gallus had been murdered and was himself chosen by his soldiers as emperor.

Valerian was chosen emperor at a time when the Roman Empire was threatened by barbarians in Gaul and on the Danube frontiers and by the rising might of the Persians in the East. A good general and administrator, he left his son Gallienus in charge of the West as co-ruler and led his own forces against the Goths. In 257, having defeated them, he attempted to halt the Persian conquest of Syria and Armenia.

He campaigned successfully for a timeand recovered Antioch and pursued the Persian king Shapur I to the Euphrates, but was surprised near Edessa (now Urfa, Turkey) and taken prisoner in 259. Valerian was seized and taken to Persia, where he was held captive from 260 A.D. until his death in about 269 A.D.

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