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Key information:


Birthdate: Circa 218 CE.

(Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 33)

Birthplace: Unknown, but most likely Falerii (modern-day Civita Castellana, Italy). 

(Dedication to Emperor Gallienus and his wife Salonina)      (RIC V Gallienus and Salonina 1)

Reign: Gallienus was named emperor in 253 CE on the orders of his father, Valerian, and the Roman Senate. Gallienus ruled jointly with his father for a period of seven years. When Valerian was captured by the Persian army in 260 CE and taken prisoner, Gallienus became sole emperor. 

(Zosimus, New History 1.30 & 1.36)


Cornelia Salonina

(Historia Augusta, The Two Gallieni, 21) (Dedication to Gallienus and Cornelia Salonina by Sabratha)


Valerian II (son by Cornelia Salonina)

Saloninus (son by Cornelia Salonina)

Marinianus (son by Cornelia Salonina)

(RIC V Valerian II 19)

(RIC V Saloninus 3)

(Historia Augusta, The Two Gallieni, 19)

(Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 33)


Gallienus was killed by a group of rebellious soldiers in 268 CE near Mediolanum (modern-day Milan, Italy). 

(Zosimus, New History 1.40-41)

Head of Gallienus, Palatine Museum, Rome, April 2019.
Bust of Gallienus, Musei Capitolini, Rome, November 2018.
Bust of Gallienus, Palazzo Altemps, Rome, December 2018.

Famous facts and dates

The Roman Empire was divided between Valerian and his son Gallienus. Valerian ruled the eastern half of the empire, and Gallienus ruled the west. In 260 CE, Valerian was captured by the Sasanian Persian Empire and was taken prisoner by King Shapur I. This made Gallienus sole emperor of Rome.
(Zosimus, New History, 1.30 & 1.36)
Upon becoming sole emperor, Gallienus ended the Chrisitian persecution being carried out by his father. Gallienus granted all Romans freedom of worship and he returned property that was confiscated from the Christian community.
(Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 7.13)
Gallienus spent the majority of his fifteen years as emperor fighting barbarian invasions. Under his rule, the Roman Empire was invaded by Sarmatians, Scythians, Goths, and various Germanic tribes.
(Zosimus, New History 1.30-31 & 1.37)
Gallienus had to contend with multiple internal revolts led by military commanders from across the empire. He put down revolts led by Ingenuus, Regalianus, Macrianus Major, and Aemilianus, but was unable to defeat Postumus. As a result, the provinces of Gaul, Britannia, and Germania broke away and joined Postumus’ Gallic Empire.
(Historia Augusta, Lives of the Thirty Pretenders, 9-10, 22) (Zosimus, New History 1.38 & 1.40)
Gallienus helped restructure the Roman military. He created elite cavalry units, known as the comitatenses, that could be quickly dispatched in response to border incursions or revolts. This is widely seen as one of the first steps towards the cavalry dominated armies that would come to define the Middle Ages.
(Cedrenus, A Concise History of the World, 1.454) (Zosimus, New History 1.40)

Related monuments in Rome

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Gallienus,” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 09/16/2023.


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