Europe 262: Odaenathus
The collapse of the Macriani was exploited by Odaenathus of Palmyra, who eliminated the remaining Macrianian emperor Quietus and rapidly consolidated his hold over the East, ostensibly on behalf of Gallienus. After defeating the last of the eastern rebels in early 262, Gallienus approved a Roman–Palmyrene campaign against Persia.
The rival Roman regime led by Postumus and his successors in Gaul (260–274) is often referred to as the Gallic Empire by modern historians. This term has no real historical basis; identity-wise, the Gallic emperors were simply Roman usurpers who successfully held out in Gaul for 14 years, but lacked the strength to take Rome.
261 End of the Macriani▲
After the defeat and death of Macrianus Major and his son Macrianus Minor, the legions and governors of the eastern provinces deserted to Odaenathus of Palmyra, who had officially remained loyal to Gallienus. Quietus, the young remaining son of Macrianus Major and still a would-be-emperor, fled to Emesa with the prefect Ballista, but was killed by the inhabitants of that city. Acknowledging Odaenathus’ position, Gallienus granted him the titles of Dux Romanorum and Ruler of the East.
261–262 Mussius Aemilianus▲
Following the collapse of the Macriani, their supporter, the Egyptian governor Lucius Mussius Aemilianus, proclaimed himself Emperor in Thebes in late 261. His reign proved to be brief, and by the end of March 262 he had been defeated by Gallienus’ general Aurelius Theodotus. Theodotus immediately took over the governorship of Egypt, sending the captive Aemilianus to Rome, where he was strangled in prison.
261?–262? Gothic Raid to Thermopylae▲
In a winter in the 250s or early 260s—253, 254, 259, and 261/262 have all been advocated for by historians—the Goths invaded the Roman Empire, crossed Macedonia, and attempted to storm Thessalonica. After several repulses, the invaders moved south towards Athens, but were defeated at Thermopylae by a well-organized Greek militia under the leadership of the Roman proconsul Marianus, the Athenian Philostratus, and the Boeotian Dexippus (who would later write of the battle in his histories). Discouraged, the Goths returned home with their plunder.
262 Great Ephesian Earthquake▲
In early 262 or possibly late 261 an earthquake or sequence of earthquakes struck the east-central Mediterranean. The damage was particularly severe in the Roman province of Asia, especially around Ephesus, but Rome and Libya were also shaken. Many cities were flooded by the sea, presumably due to a tsunami caused by the earthquake, and the disaster was made worse by a renewed outbreak of the plague.
262 Revolt of Byzantium▲
In 262 the key naval city of Byzantium revolted against the rule of Gallienus for reasons unknown. After ending his war with Postumus, Gallienus traveled east to deal with the Byzantines, who surrendered the day after his arrival. Allegedly Gallienus had the city’s entire garrison executed in retribution.
262 Gothic sack of Ephesus▲
In 262 a branch of Goths invaded the Roman province of Asia, where they sacked Ephesus and plundered and burned the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. They remained at large for much of the year, but were eventually routed by Roman forces and withdrew to their northern homelands.