chapter  3
53 Pages

Schism and reunification: 260–84

After the capture of Valerian, Gallienus was sole Emperor. Although he could have elevated other members of his family to share power, he chose not to take a colleague, and indeed kept his surviving relatives out of the limelight. He pursued a somewhat single-minded ruthless course from now onwards, largely dictated by necessity. He did not attempt to rescue his father or to ransom him. A military expedition to the east was out of the question unless he wanted to sacrifice the rest of the Empire to usurpers and the tribes from the north. Money was at a premium too, not to be squandered on paying huge sums to the Persians for the return of one man. Responsible Emperors could not afford to put personal considerations before those of the state, so Gallienus sacrificed his father and let his captors go unpunished. His detractors could accuse him of a lack of filial devotion, especially since he ignored or reversed much of what Valerian had attempted to do. Gallienus put an end to his father’s persecution of the Christians, partly out of humanitarian reasons, perhaps, but also because he had nothing to gain from persecution of one particular sect, except to alienate yet another group of people. He had quite enough dissidents to deal with in the political and military arenas without creating more in the religious sphere as well. It has been said that Valerian’s motives in persecuting the Christians were predominantly financial in that he sequestered fortunes of the condemned, but this is a standard sideline of the persecution or proscription of any group in the Roman Empire. Gallienus may have had to adjust his financial policy slightly to accommodate the shortfall from Christian sources, but it is unlikely that he noticed the lack in the chaos that reigned in that sphere.1