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Key information:


Birthdate: September 9, 214 or 215 CE.

(Chronography of 354) (Malalas, Chronography, 12.301) (Skoutariotes, Synopsis Chronike, 39)

Birthplace: Disputed, but probably Sirmium (modern-day Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia) or the province of Dacia Ripensis. 

(Eutropius, Short History of the Roman Empire, 9.13) (Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 3) (Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 35)

Reign: Aurelian was declared emperor in 270 CE by legions in Sirmium following the death of Claudius Gothicus. However, the Roman Senate simultaneously named Quintillus, the brother of Claudius Gothicus, emperor. After Quintillus died under mysterious circumstances at Aquelia, Aurelian took control of the empire. 

(Zonaras, Extracts of History, 12.26) (Historia Augusta, Life of Claudius, 12) (Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 35)


Ulpia Severina

(RIC V Severina 2)


Unnamed daughter (by Ulpia Severina)

(Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 42)


Aurelian was killed by the Praetorian Guard in 275 CE in the town of Caenophrurium (near modern-day Sinekli, Turkey).

(Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 35) (Eutropius, Short History of the Roman Empire, 9.15) (Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 35)

Engraved Portrait of Aurelian, Getty Villa, California.
Aureus of Aurelian, Palazzo Massimo, Rome, December 2018.

Famous facts and dates

Aurelian was a gifted general. During his five years as emperor, he repelled invasions by the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, and Sarmatians.
(Zosimus, New History 1.48-49) (Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 18 & 21-22)
In 272 CE, Aurelian defeated the Palmyrene Empire, a breakaway state ruled by Queen Zenobia. This brought the provinces of Arabia, Asia Minor, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria back under Roman control.
(Zosimus, New History 1.50-56) (Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 25-28)
Aurelian also defeated the Gallic Empire, a breakaway state ruled by Tetricus. Following his victory at the Battle of Chalons in 274 CE, Aurelian brought the provinces of Britannia, Germania, and Gaul back into the Roman Empire.
(Zosimus, New History 1.61) (Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 32)
Due to his many conquests and successful reunification of the Roman Empire, Aurelian was given the title Restitutor Orbis (restorer of the world).
Aurelian worshiped the sun god Sol Invictus. In 274 CE, he built a temple to this god on the Campus Martius and installed Sol Invictus as the chief deity of the Roman pantheon.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 35) (Zosimus, New History 1.61) (RIC V Aurelian 322)
After his assassination in 275 CE, Aurelian was declared a god by the Roman Senate. Following his death, there seems to have been a brief interregnum during which his wife Ulpia Severina may have ruled the empire.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Aurelian, 37 & 40) (Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 35)


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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Aurelian,” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 10/21/2023.


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