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to worship the pagan deities a storm of persecution broke out, more severe

and general than any that had preceded it. When the bloody business had

about run its course the Emperor appointed Publius Licinius Valerianus

censor of the city, and himself departed on a campaign in Maesia. After

three successful expeditions into the enemy's country Decius fell in

battle, being the first of the Roman Emperors to perish in the field.

The Senate at once appointed the experienced general Gallus as his

successor in the Empire. The nomination was accepted by the army; but when

the new Emperor proceeded to purchase peace of the barbarians

dissatisfaction took the place of content. AEmilianus, commander of the

army on the Danube, led his forces against Gallus, and in A. D. 253 the

Emperor was slain. Thereupon Valerian, who had been left behind as censor

of Rome, marched against AEmilianus; but the latter was assassinated by his

own troops, and Valerian assumed the purple. With him was associated in the

government his son Gallienus as the next successor to the Empire.

At this epoch the, northeastern frontier was many times assailed by the

Franks and the Goths. In the East the Sassanian Sapor, having overrun

Mesopotamia and Armenia, stood in a threatening attitude on the Euphrates.

Valerian, leaving the defense of the West to Gallienus, led a large army

through Asia Minor, and encountered the Persians at Edessa. The Romans were

disastrously routed. Valerian was taken prisoner, and was subjected by his

captor to every conceivable indignity. Sapor compelled him to prostrate

himself as a foot-stool from which to mount his horse. When the Emperor

died he was carefully flayed; the Imperial skin was tanned, dyed purple,

stuffed to its natural proportions, and hung up in a temple. The victory

and its results left the whole of Asia Minor at the mercy of the Persian;

but the half-barbarian king was satisfied with the spoils of Antioch and a

horde of slaves.

Nothing was to be expected of Gallienus in the way of restoring the honor

of the Roman arms. The only recovery was made by Odenatus of Syria, who

conducted a successful defense of Palmyra against the Persians. The Emperor

himself had small reputation for any thing but vice. He indulged his

appetites, wrote trivial verses, conversed with the insignificant

philosophers of the epoch. Meanwhile no fewer than nineteen different

aspirants were proclaimed in various parts of the Empire, only to be hewn

down by each other or by the generals who remained loyal to Gallienus. The

whole brood was exterminated except Odenatus, whom the Emperor had the good

sense to summon to Rome and associate with himself in the government. In A.

D. 268, Gallienus went forth to meet a certain Aureolus, who was in the

north of Italy, but was slain en route in his own camp. In his dying

moments he nominated as his successor Marcus Aurelius Claudius, a man of

remarkable abilities, especially in the field, who might but for the

degeneracy of his times have revived the waning energies of the Empire. As

it was, he could only maintain some of the pristine glories of Rome by

successful war. In the great battle of Naissus, fought in A. D. 269, he

overthrew the Goths, whose three hundred thousand soldiers were scattered

to the winds, leaving fifty thousand of their number dead on the field. For

this memorable victory he was rewarded with the surname Gothicus. Soon

afterwards he prepared for a great campaign against the Persians; but