Northern Africa 266: Odaenathus

Political map of Northern Africa on 24 Nov 266 (Africa and Rome in Crisis: Odaenathus), showing the following events: Postumus in Britain and Spain; End of the Macriani; Mussius Aemilianus; Great Ephesian Earthquake; Gothic sack of Ephesus; Odaenathus’ First Persian Campaign; Memor; Odaenathus’ Second Persian Campaign.

Despite the disasters of 260, Odaenathus of Palmyra remained loyal to Rome and in 261 he helped finish off the Macriani family of usurpers. Now dominant in Syria, Odaenathus led two Roman retaliatory expeditions against Persia in 262–3 and 266–7. Meanwhile, Egypt—which had supported the Macriani—remained restive.

Main Events

260–261 Postumus in Britain and Spain

Soon after Postumus seized power, Gallienus marched against him, but was wounded by an arrow and forced to withdraw. This secured Postumus’ position and, in the winter of 260/261, he may have traveled to Britain, an event possibly depicted in some of his coins. At any case, by 261 both Britain and Spain had joined his cause, along with Gallia wikipedia

261 End of the Macriani

After the defeat and death of Macrianus Major and his son Macrianus Minor in Thrace, 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 wikipedia

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 wikipedia

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 wikipedia

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 wikipedia

262–263 Odaenathus’ First Persian Campaign

In spring 262, with the backing of Gallienus, Odaenathus of Palmyra attacked the Persian garrisons still in occupation of Edessa, Carrhae, and Nisibis and drove them from the Roman Empire. The Palmyrene–Roman forces then crossed into Persia, sacked Nehardea, and, in late 262/early 263 besieged the Persian capital Ctesiphon. However, Odaenathus was unable to capture the city in the face of Persian reinforcements and eventually withdrew with many prisoners and much booty. The Roman border fortress of Dura-Europus, destroyed by the Persians the previous decade, was left wikipedia

262 Memor

Shortly after Aurelius Theodotus arrived in Egypt and brought an end to Mussius Aemilianus’ usurpation, a second rebellion broke out under Memor. Memor was of Moorish origin and in charge of the vital Egyptian corn supply, but was swiftly killed by Theodotus, even before he could be proclaimed Emperor. With Egypt now pacified, Gallienus made Theodotus wikipedia

266–267 Odaenathus’ Second Persian Campaign

In 266, with the likely backing of Gallienus, Odaenathus launched a second invasion of the Persian Empire. He reached as far as Ctesiphon, and according to some sources captured it. However, news of the Gothic and Heruli invasions in the Aegean persuaded him to end the campaign and march for wikipedia