Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire

By Clifford Ando | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
Images of Emperor and Empire

DECIUS AND THE DIVI

The strands of argument and systems of belief interwoven in this chapter find their nexus in the reign of Claudius Messius Quintus Decius Valerianus. Decius came to power in an era of instability. He himself seized the throne by killing his predecessor and patron, Philip the Arab, in a battle during the autumn of 249.1 Decius then proceeded to Rome, where, at the urging of the Senate but through his own prompting, he added the name Trajan to his own.2 Philip had celebrated the millennial anniversary of the city of Rome in 248, and there is some reason to believe that his action had aroused eschatological fears around the empire.3 The honor of inaugurating a new saeculum, which Philip had desired for himself, fell to his challengers and therefore also to Decius.4 Decius sought to reassure his subjects

____________________
1
For data on Decius and the chronology of his reign see H. Mattingly and Salisbury 1924b; Potter 1990, 40–45 and 258–283; and Peachin 1990, 30–32, 66 –69, and 239–264.
2
See Alföldi at CAH XII 166 n. 1, and Syme 1971, 220. The common measure of the esteem in which Trajan's name was held is the acclamation reported by Eutropius, felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (8.5.3); and cf. Ammianus on Julian at 16.1.4. On the cheapening of the name Antoninus, see SHA Elag. 3.1, 34.6, and Alex. Sev. 9, and see Hartke 1951, 133–142, and Syme 1971, 79–80.
3
Potter 1990, 39, 258.
4
RIC IV.3, Philip I nos. 12–24 from Rome (rev.), saeculares augg.; cf., also from Rome, no. 25 (rev.), saeculum novum; cf., from Antioch, no. 86 (rev.), saeculum novum; etc. Cf. the coin of Pacatianus, RIC IV.3, Pacatianus no. 6 (rev.), romae aeter. an mill. et primo, and those of Herennia Etruscilla, the wife of Decius, RIC IV.3, Decius no. 67, from Milan, saeculum novum, and of Hostilianus, Decius's younger son, Decius no. 199, from Antioch, saeculum novum (also no. 205).

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