Reign of Sulla:
933 (180)-981 (228)
Marcian & Aurelian:
981 (228)-1031 (278)
Reign of Heracleitus:
1031 (278)-1067 (314)

As news spread of the death of Sulla, the empire grieved. Sulla had reigned with the same care as his father and had not faced the nearly insurmountable challenges that had plagued Marcus Aurelius. With this stability, he had brought forward better systems of medicine and banking while adding to the holdings of Rome in Persia and Britannia. When his time neared an end, Sulla could die knowing that his co-emperor Septimius Marcianus would maintain a firm hold over the Senate and People of Rome.

Publius Septimius Marcianus

Youngest son of Septimius Severus, who had himself been an influential general under Sulla, Marcianus ruled jointly with Sulla for 11 years before his adoptive father died. For this reason, there was no succession to acknowledge a transfer of powers with little political pomp to mark the transition from dual emperors to a sole ruler beyond naming Marcian as pontifex maximus and holding a funeral for Sulla. The non-event that was this succession, especially after earlier reforms of the guard, sidestepped the usual donativum that a new emperor would hand out to the Praetoriani or armies on the frontier.

Nevertheless, Marcian does seem to have taken steps to affirm his ability to govern without the assistance of the elderly Sulla. In particular, he revalued the silver denarius from a silver purity of ~83% to ~88%, up to about 96 to the pound, and pronounced an edicta sanctioning different legal treatment of the honestiores (honorable orders) and the humiliores (peasants), exempting the former from harsher punishments and allowing the former to more easily appeal to the emperor. Also, he began diverting a higher proportion of revenues toward social and construction projects in Rome. These plans seem to have been in the works while Sulla was alive but it's possible Marcian refrained from starting them to avoid losing the credit to his father or to assert himself once he governed alone. Regardless of his reasons, his plans were extensive and for them the name of Marcian will be long remembered in Rome.

Urban development

Since growing beyond the extent of the cloaca maxima (greatest sewer), the streets of Rome had become ridden with filth that left not only an unpleasant smell but also, according to Galen, a miasma (polluted air) that could induce disease in people with weakened constitutions. Although the sight of someone throwing refuse out a window rarely happened outside of comedies, residents did regularly empty their latrines, little more than cesspits, directly into the street. Ultimately, Septimius sought to put an end to this habit but the steps he needed to take to reach that goal were manifold.

Sanitation systems

First, a collegium purgaminum (rubbish collecting guild) was formed from existing services for maintaining the public sewers by expanding them with over a thousand slaves and by reorganizing them under officials from the order equester. This unified civil institution of urban sanitation was placed under the supervision of the two annual aediles curules, restoring more of their responsibilities.

Slaves owned by the guild were assigned throughout the year to their sanitation duties. These indentured cleaners: unclogged drains; cleaned the insides of the cloacae; removed trash from gardens, roads, and the river; cleaned the aedes (public monuments and buildings); and even washed the streets of refuse. Easily their most exalted duty was to collect human waste from the public urinals, for selling the stale urine as a chemical cleaner and whitener. These pots were separate from the public latrines (foricae) and from private toilets such as chamber pots or household cesspits, often located somewhere in the city streets although out of the way of foot traffic (either in an alley or just off to the side of the road).

Marcian reformed this system wholesale, seeking to make the forica the heart of human waste disposal in the capital. The centerpiece of this change was a redesign of the public latrines into two types of facilities. The public latrine that emptied into a sewer line was still called a forica but now followed Galenic ideas of sanitation, replacing sponge-sticks washed by water with a bidet (following Galen's recommendation). A latrine now had fewer seats but each hole was connected to an overhead basin of water, whose hydrostatic energy allowed for a spray of relatively high pressure (based on the "high"-pressure fountain designed by Hero of Alexandria), decreasing as the basin emptied. Seats could still accommodate sponge-sticks - since wealthy clients liked to bring their own - but cleansing with water had become the intended practice.

A second type of facility known as a urinaria combined the role of public urinal and basin for disposing of household chamber pots. Completely unconnected to sewers or aqueducts (except in wealthy areas where they might have a fountain), urinacae were regularly emptied by slaves of the collegium purgaminum, to sell their waste at nearly a monopoly. Toward the end of Marcian's reign, this source of income exceeded even the vectigal urinae (urine tax) of Vespasianus and, combined with outlawing waste disposal in the street, improved the smell in Rome enough to draw the commentary of several writers.

Significantly for the foricae, connections to the sewers were designed to stop vermin from infiltrating into the toilets, where they might bite clients. Improved lighting conditions combined with shallower channels under the seats also helped combat superstitions about demons emerging from the dark sewers

Construction of these latrines took a great deal of time and money but the whole system of more than 200 foricae and over 300 urinacae was completed before the end of Marcian's reign. Once built, the latrines generated far more money than they consumed in maintenance and even saved on purchasing sponges. The added strain on the water supply, combined with another construction project of this emperor, did however require the construction of a twelfth aqueduct for Rome and the extension of the sewers beneath Rome by about 8 km, focusing on broader rather than denser coverage.

Antonine Baths

Floorplan for the second floor of the Thermae Antoninae

With the greater sewer coverage in the city, Septimius could conceive of another magnificent building project, the Thermae Antoninae (Antonine Baths), that he was building to the south of the Servian Wall. These public thermae were larger than the Baths of Trajan, being 308 m long, 170 m wide, and 54 m tall. They were expected to hold up to 2,400 bathers on the main floor alone and had an enormous second floor gym for athletics, calisthenics, wrestling, and boxing. Entry into the new baths was free for any citizen, getting revenue from shops situated throughout the complex. A total of two foricae were located on the main floor, drawing on waste bathwater for its cleansing spouts and for flushing away waste.

Tens of thousands of Romans could use the new baths over the course of a single day. Already a century before, visits to public baths were part of the daily routine for many Romans but the emphasis by Galenic doctors on hygiene for avoiding disease - alongside the classic regimens of diet and exercise - only encouraged this practice. By the same token, the influence of the medical community on Roman culture encouraged more hygienic use of latrines, as a basic idea of the miasmatic theory of infection became more or less common knowledge.

Although Marcian's name became closely associated with the new latrines, his name was similarly attached to the new baths so the net effect on his reputation can be seen as positive.

Transportation systems

While sanitation was a long-term project for Marcian, his reign marks a period of more general public works than baths and latrines. In 232, the bridges to the Tiber Island were rebuilt under his name and in his fifth year, he began to finance an expansion of ports along the Amalfi coast. To sustain Rome's ever increasing population, the harbors of Portus and Ostia leading to the city needed ever greater capacities for ships, allowing the faster movement of a greater volume of goods into Italia.

Another five years later, Publius renovated the entire length of the Via Appia, destroying the old highway piece by piece for recycling as concrete in the new road. The New Appian Way (Nova Via Apia) stretched from Rome to Brundisium, connecting the cities of Neapolis, Formiae, and Metapontum (among others) along its path. Comfortably wide enough for two-way traffic, the road was secured on either side by a meter high concrete barrier and drainage ditch. Along this short wall, markers were placed ever 7.4 km to give any travelers the distance to the nearest taverns, to upcoming cities, and to Rome. A senatus consultum early in his reign required all highway markers throughout the empire to post the distance to Rome, as a form of propaganda (sort of the reverse of the golden milestone) likely causing more confusion than anything else.

On the last 14.8 km stretch of the Via Appia near Rome, the road slowly stretched by 4 more meters and the concrete barrier changed to ornate marble. Visiting the Eternal City was said by one historian, writing a century later, to be "as a god returning home to Olympus", such was the beauty of the reconstructed Appian Way. Sections of the highway nearest to the city gates were liberally decorated with statues while the gate connecting to this road - specifically the Porta Capena - was adorned with golden friezes. Construction on the New Appian Way was completed around 257 CE, a few years after less ostentatious renovations were completed on other highways throughout Italy.

Outside Italy, Marcian continued the efforts of Sulla to better connect territories gained since the Bellum Germanicum et Sarmaticum with the rest of the empire. Roads allowed greater mobility for the legions so the conquest of Sarmatian tribes in Dacia had been followed by the extension of the highway system beyond the Fluvius Danuvius (Danube) around 190 CE. With the Iazyges and Roxolani now building settlements under Roman rule, these highways were further extended to connect these towns to nearby forts which had long had access to Roman roads. A similar process had been underway in Mesopotamia since 210, though most of the costs there had been imposed as munera (civic obligations) on the local elite.

Tribal alliances

Although Sulla had ushered in peace, his efforts in fragmenting the Alemannic Confederation, vassalizing the Marcomanni, and pacifying the Carpi only served as temporary solutions. In Magna Germania, Rome remained a common enemy for thousands of independent tribes and the personal allegiances that had been sustaining the Alemanni were not entirely broken by their defeat.

A confederation of tribes had reformed under this name by ~225 but occupied itself mostly with tribal warfare in asserting its local position of dominance. Many people from the original confederation had been settled by Sulla south of the wall along the Fluvius Moenus (Main River) and, by this time, were slowly assimilating to Roman culture; those tribes that formed this new confederation were the few who were denied settlements and their low numbers were what demanded a lengthy period of consolidation. In a poor decision for Rome, the Alemannic War of 213 to 216 had been unprovoked - merely a response to the growing power of the first confederation - breeding speculation that Romans could attack again without provocation. Even decades later, the prevalence of this belief fueled a desire to be the first aggressor in the next war.

2nd Alemannic War

Not until 243 did a new generation of Alemanni, bereft of the memory of the painful prior loss to Rome, have the gall to invade the empire. Backing this spirit were tens of thousands of warriors seeking to force Rome to concede them land around their brethren living south of the Moenus. Marcian had failed to seek updates on the tribes of Germany as his father had done, allowing this second confederation to grow unchecked. When its armies broke through the limes Germanicus then took the town of Aquileia (in Raetia), thousands of men who had settled nearby, around the cities of Sumolecenna and Arae Flaviae joined the invaders. As this force grew, it threatened to wreak havoc on both Germania Superior and Raetia, leaving the legions of Rome ill-prepared to predict their invaders' next move.

As a result, the four Rhine legions were split, diverting the majority north in the hopes of reinforcements from the Danube, and the Alemanni won a series of victories after they moved north into Germania Superior. The difficulties faced by the Rhine legions here gave many of their officers opportunity to distinguish themselves in tactics. Among these surviving officers, a centurio named Gnaeus Domitius Aurelianus is most worthy of mention, if only for the part he would play in the coming decades. For the moment, this officer is reported to have caught an ambush by the Alemanni in a village near Lopodunum, allowing his unit to plan for and to defeat the much larger force. Whether or not this achievement happened is unclear but his quick rise in rank following the war suggests that something notable occurred.

For now, once the enemy path was known, four legions were brought from the east, cornering the Alemanni against the limes Germanicus near Mogontiacum (Mainz). A Roman invasion into Alemannic territory in 246 would spell the end of the confederation. On the order of the emperor, local tribes east of the Rhine across a region the size of Belgica were mercilessly wiped out in a yearlong hunt. As a consequence, the name of the Alemanni became renowned both within and without the empire, for the trouble they gave Rome - killing nearly 10,000 legionaries - and for the magnitude of the reprisal of Rome - forcing tens of thousands of German settlers out of Germania Superior and indiscriminately massacring thousands more in the nearby mountains. Despite delegating command to his legati, Marcian was praised as Germanicus Maximus as the Senate celebrated his resolve to punish the Germans for their invasion.

External pressure

Forced to defend Dacia and Moesia Inferior, the Carpi were in constant contact with the Gothic tribes in the process of conquering the Pontic Steppes. Gothic armies were halted at the Bosporan Kingdom in 231, a victory that earned Publius Septimius Geta (brother of the emperor by blood) praise as a general, but they were only temporarily repelled and no negotiations took place. Marcian earned the title Gothicus for his former brother's victory.

Sometime before 250, the Goths were united by the chieftain Cniva, who focused once more on the Alani and the Bosporans rather than confronting the Carpi and invading the Roman Empire. His conquest of many Bosporan cities allowed his people to create an enormous fleet with which to engage in piracy throughout the Black Sea. As raids spilled over into the Aegean in 256, Rome was forced to respond.

As foederati of Rome, the Carpian kings were asked to accompany a Roman army to deal with the Goths but the kings collectively refused, the older among them citing that they had only agreed to defend the lands given to them. Forced to divert more Roman troops, Marcian sent five legions with auxiliaries to fight the Goths, leaving Dacia less properly defended. A Carpian king, Stirpes, seems to have realized this situation of weakness as in 257 he organized an invasion of Dacia across the Fluvius Pyretus (Prut River) that coincided with the war to liberate the Cimmerian Bosporus.

When the Goths were pushed out of the Bosporus later that year, they regrouped to the west and joined the Carpi by invading Moesia Inferior. As legate of Moesia Inferior and the commanding officer for the conflict in the Bosporus, Domitius Aurelianus was recalled to protect the frontier. Unfortunately, at this time, another alliance of Germanic tribes was forming under the Franci and had just invaded Raetia. When news reached Marcian in 258 that the Persian Shahanshah Shapur I was trying to retake Mesopotamia, the elderly ruler was at a loss, having just ordered two legions from Syria to help push the Goths away from Thracia.

Under these combined pressures and unwilling to send his co-Augustus, Titus Flavius Aurelius Sulpicius, a man of no military experience, Marcian granted Aurelian to authority to decide how to allocate legions. As a sign of his imperium over other legates, Aurelian was designated legatus augustus generalissimus (literally legate over other legates). Working from Sirmium, Aurelian collected vexillationes (detachments) from several legions, sending them to Raetia to harass the Franci without direct engagement, and sent both legions from Syria back east to defend against the Persians, replacing the legatus augustus pro praetore of Syria with a more proven general from his own circle (such was the authority given to him by Marcian).

Organizing the Dacian legions into a single army, Aurelian pursued the Goths into Thrace, defeating King Cniva in late-259 then negotiating the provision of several Bosporan cities to the Goths, to bring them into Mediterranean trade, in return for peace. With one threat gone, driving out the Carpi took only a year.

Another group of tribes conquered by Rome in the last century was a Dacian people known as the Carpiani, whose numbers had grown under a mostly prosperous Roman rule. By the time of their first riots in 248 CE, they numbered over 680,000 people spread across more than a thousand villages. The Carpiani were pushed to take up arms when a famine hit their homeland and their pleas to the governor of Dacia to provide aid or even offer concessions on taxes were ignored. This refusal came after years of the Carpiani being allies of Rome - a reward for their decades of support for the empire against other tribes was overdue.

One legion led by Aurelianus and another led by the legate Gaius Trebonianus Gallus were forced to disperse more than 4,000 rioters that year. This pacified the region for a short time. Another rebellion followed a decade later, then a third and fourth over the course of the next decade. Each series of riots was put down harder than the last but there were no signs that the unrest would subside. What was unknown to the military and political leadership of Rome was that the Carpianni were rallying around a prominent Carpian citizen of the empire, the wealthy Hostus Stirpes. Secret gatherings where he spoke of the growing arrogance of Rome and the moral incontinence of its leaders, drew the attention of many of his people. Through his urgings, the Carpiani maintained greater discretion in the growth of their forces, culminating in open rebellion against Rome in 275 CE.

Hostus led an army of 100,000 angry peasants to capture the city of Napoca in spring. His goal was to take the provincial and cultural capital of Dacia, the city of Apulum. This was a settlement of over 90,000 people, most of whom were cives (citizens), but defended only by one legion, under the command of legate Manius Acilius Aureolus. News of the fall of Napoca had arrived at Apulum only a day before Hostus' army was cresting a hill toward Apulum.

Most of the Battle of Apulum was a lengthy siege, with no hope of reinforcements before the end of the week. After a day of watching the enemy pound the gates, Legio Gemina XIII left the safety of the walls to meet the Carpiani on the field. Although his legion was annihilated, Aureolus ensured a pyrrhic victory for Hostus, who lost a third of his own army. After the battle, the city was easily taken and Hostus entered as though he were a liberator. Romans were found in their houses to be killed on the streets and defenses were rebuilt to hold the city against the inevitable retaliation of Rome. Once the city was taken, Hostus planned to consolidate his forces before taking the easiest military entry point into Dacia - the massive Pontum Traiani (Trajan's Bridge).

Three weeks after Apulum fell, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus - nearing a break in his campaigning years - approached the city with three legions from Greece. Since his arrival had given the rebels little time to regroup and the defenses of Apulum had only seen rudimentary reconstruction since the capture of the city, the legions tore down the gates in minutes with concentrated use of ballistae and onagers. Apulum was retaken and Hostus was captured for trial, as a Roman citizen, back in the city of Rome. Despite a passionate speech against tyranny, hurting his case more than helping him, Hostus was found guilty of treason and unceremoniously thrown off the Tarpeian Rock - a proper fate for traitors to Rome.

Any Carpiani who could be identified in Dacia and who were not citizens were rounded up by the legion for execution, their children being taken to be raised as slaves. About 700,000 suspected Carpiani were massacred in what was one of the worst genocides in human history, seeing the virtual elimination of an entire nation and the depopulation of almost a whole province.

Financial crisis (241-250)

Before the Alemannic War, Rome suffered a financial crisis at its heart, of which the magnitude had not been seen before in the history of Western civilization. At the core of the issue was the inability of argentarii (bankers) to deal with widespread debt among their clientele and the ignorance of commoners on the management of their own debt. Most tuta bancae (safe benches) - the secure financial institutions that were the size of temples - followed earlier procedures for dealing with debt but the increase in the scale of operations compared with a market bench was difficult to handle. As a result, people were paying old debts by taking on new loans, sometimes from another bank when the bank to which they were in debt refused, and for many, debt spiraled out of control while the available funds in banks across Italia dwindled close to the point of bankruptcy.

In 241, one of the chartered banks in Rome, situated on the Insula Tiberina (Tiber Island), petitioned the Senate for assistance in the face of a total lack of financial capital. Millions of denarii were owed to the Tiber Bank but only a fraction of its clients were repaying their debts. The bank had reached a point where it refused to offer more loans under any circumstances, after there was less than a thousand denarii remaining in its vaults. When the Senate refused to permit debt slavery, the bank demanded compensation from the treasury, on the grounds that its funds came from the people. Again, the Senate refused.

By the end of the year, all of the banks in Rome had reached an understanding of the general situation - all of them were suffering from the inability of clients to pay loans. Forming the societas argentarii romani (society of Roman bankers), the banks went as a collective force to the Senate, making the more moderate demand that debtors be forced to repay loans by any means necessary. Under certain regulations, the Senate accepted this demand and backed the demands of the banks with the Praetorian Guard.

Thousands of citizens lost their homes, belongings, and slaves to the banks from March to August of 242. By August, the common people had begun to band together against this financial oppression. Gangs formed in the streets of Rome and threatened the peace. At the same time, the Senate was making concessions to banks in other cities, allowing them to reclaim loans in the same manner as banks in Rome. By the time senators realized what they had done, the process was already underway.

For the next few months, the Anarchia - a later term for the period when the Senate lost control of Italy - reigned as cities throughout Italy were racked with violence as hundreds of bankers were killed and their banks looted. Since many banks had paid guards, the result was outright war in the streets of Roma, NeapolisMediolanum, and a dozen other cities. In April of 243, Publius settled on a risky solution: the vast coffers of Rome would be devoted to bailing out debtors throughout Italy. The crisis had reached the point where nearly 54 million denarii was required to cover all citizens in Italy who could not repay their debt. Numerous slaves who could not repay their debts were given to banks while their owners were compensated by the Senate.

Senators agreed that measures had to be taken to prevent a recurrence of the debt crisis. Italian banks and the banks that had started to appear in coloniae (provincial colonies) were required to record all transactions going back a minimum of 5 years, to be able to verify the financial history of people taking loans. A credit profile of sorts had to be kept by a bank on every client that either stored his money or took out loans at that building. Loans had to be issued on the basis of this profile, with refusals to loan money encouraged for seemingly risky clients. A loan could no longer be taken without a contract agreeing on a repayment timeline and an acceptable collateral in case the client could not follow through with his payments. This system went further than earlier requirements for guarantors in the cases of large loans, especially since it applied to loans of any size. On the whole, the new procedures were only different in degree from earlier practices of Roman money lenders.

Furthermore, this lex obaeratum (debt law) capped the allowable obaeratus (debt) for citizens and non-citizens based on their order in society. For example, a pleb could not exceed a debt of 100 denarii, unless he received certain permits from the local government verifying his ability to sustain that level of debt. This had the additional effect of stagnating people's rise through the ranks of society, preventing the lower classes from borrowing money for major investment. This particular restriction would be lifted about two centuries later, when credit ranking was a more reliable practice and the process of preventing citizens from falling severely into debt was more effective. On the whole, these laws were only enforced in Italy and the coloniae (colonial towns), as Roman law had not yet become a major force in the provinces.

Moral decline

As a moral reaction to the crisis, Septimius reinstated the republican office of Censor. Not only were these eight magistrates to perform the regular census of the people of the city of Rome but they were to be directly elected by the people. Speeches were given by Septimius to the Senate and to the public on the Forum Traiani, lamenting the loss of these protectors of public morals. He said that the financial crisis reflected a decline in Roman morality and clear thinking, and that new guidance was needed. Censores were to provide such guidance and would have their original sanctus magistratus (sanctified magistracy) for this role. As senior members of the Senate, the Censores quickly came to hold tremendous auctoritas in Rome, alongside their substantial political power over citizenship and senatorial rank, and fostered a more conservative spirit for the legislator and judiciary.

By re-instituting the censorship, Publius also moved toward a revival of the public census. Initially, only citizens living within the city of Rome were polled and allowed to vote for the censors but by 267, the franchise was extended to many of the nearby cities. Since elections were solely to name the protectors of public morals, the responsibility carried by this early revival of the public vote system was heavier than during the Republic. As a brief note, elections for a censor operated on the principle of acceptance or rejection, with each candidate receiving a certain percentage of votes in his favor and the converse percentage against him. In the case that more candidates received majority approval than there were open positions, the offices were allocated based on the order of each candidate in terms of approval rating. In this way, no candidate could become a censor without majority approval and only the most widely approved candidates received the position. As a minor de facto reintroduction of direct democracy in Rome, after nearly two centuries of neglecting this facet of the republican constitution, the elections for censors were an important step in the political history of the empire, foreshadowing a de facto return to more republican forms of government.

After all these reforms, the Senate issued a tax on loans from banks to the amount of 2%. This sum was paid half by the borrower and half by the lender, with the intent of refilling the empire's coffers after their depletion following the bailout. All of these measures were put into place over the years 243-245, in time for the grand millennial celebrations.

Anniversary of Rome

Despite the hard times faced by Rome during this century, there was a source of hope and pride for its citizens. The city of Rome had been founded on April 21753 BCE, meaning the year 247 CE marked the 1000 year anniversary of its founding (Romans obviously did not used the anno domini calendar and for them, the year was in fact the year 1000 ad urbe condita). An event such as this millennial anniversary was cause for great celebration for Romans, proud to be flourishing after a millennium of precarious expansion. Although the country was on the heels of a market crash, the celebrations were a time for the emperor to remind the people of what made Rome great, washing away their worries about starvation and poverty.

However, the crash took its toll on the celebrations. Publius had spent nearly a decade planning the Magni Ludi Saeculares (Great Saecular Games) but his depletion of the public treasury forced him to scale back his vision. Even so, there were celebrations every day in the Eternal City from April 21, 247 to April 21, 248 - a year long display of Roman magnificence.

In preparation for the Games, the Flavian Amphitheater was renovated, returning the famous stadium to how it appeared when first constructed. The view from around its base was described by people at the time as a marvelous experience. This renovation came at a great cost and took nearly a decade to complete. As the centerpiece of the Games, the Amphitheater of Rome had to be in its finest condition, to impress the public with the wealth of the empire. Banners were hung from the sides of the amphitheater throughout the anniversary, changing to reflect ongoing events or weekly themes.

One week was dedicated entirely to the travels of Aeneas and the Trojan War, featuring a reenactment of the battle between Hector and Achilles by two gladiators as well as an open battle between "Trojans" and "Greeks". Other weeks held combat between animals from throughout the empire, with a wrestling match between a brute of a man and a declawed lion receiving special attention for its shocking outcome. Events of this sort persisted throughout the year.

During the Spring and Summer, there were 200 straight days of gladiatorial matches and weekly parades through the streets. On April 21, 248, the city was host to the grande finale of the celebrations. This was an opportunity to combine numerous events into a single day: champions from the earlier gladiatorial matches fought in a bloody winner-takes-all free-for-all and two real legions each pitted its best century against the other in a competition for rewards and dignitas. Not a personal fan of gladiatorial combat, Princeps Marcian spent that day touring Rome under a light guard, meeting and dining with the common people. At the end, there was a parade through the streets featuring artifacts from past victories then the announcement by the emperor of a congiarium of 200 denarii to every adult male resident of the city. While this was the breaking point for the imperial treasury, it left the people of Rome in a state of unbridled euphoria, for which Marcian would long be remembered.

A closing ceremony was held near midnight on the Forum Romanum where Marcian revealed a monument that he commissioned for the event - the Colossus of Sulla, a 34 m statue of his adoptive father, painted in living color. With the involvement of the emperor, the statue was raised to a position that overlooked the Curia Julia (Senate House).

Threats to Rome (251-260)

Roman culture after the millennial anniversary of the city was heavily directed inwards, shining a spotlight on the invincibility of the people of Rome and the magnificence of their society. A History of a Thousand Years was published in anticipation of the events, detailing the history of Rome in a manner that emphasized its history of continuously rising in strength and wealth. In general, the anniversary marks the beginning of a period of decadence in Rome that would not reverse itself until the conquests of an emperor in the early 4th century revived the military spirit of the Senate and public.

Outside Italy, non-citizens were continuing to enjoy the benefits of the Pax Romana, the safety from living within the borders of Roman civilization. The Hispanians had settled down after a painful reminder of their history with Rome incited unrest and the Egyptians were flourishing from their increasing integration into the Roman economy. Meanwhile, citizens throughout the empire were experiencing the benefits of the medical services instituted over the last century by Galen. Although the present emperor had no skill for military affairs, his legions were no less loyal than under more militaristic emperors, in no small part from their high, stable wages. Furthermore, the Praetorian Guard had been castrated as a political influence, for the first time since Augustus and the authority of magistrates and the emperor in Rome was largely beyond question. All these factors were coinciding to produce an unmatched stability for the Imperium Romanum.

Despite its internal stability, Rome continued to face external foes seeking a share of Roman wealth by violent means. Beyond the limites of the empire, Germanic tribes were in a constant struggle against the legions of Rome, who had gone on massive raids in Magna Germania four times since the end of the Marcomannic Wars. Sulla and Marcian had persisted in the policy of the great Marcus Aurelius to not admit new Germans into the empire, whenever refusal was a feasible option. Even when legionaries were not actively attacking Germans in their villages, the Roman legions would be fighting them at the frontiers. Many came in peace but these Germans or Sarmatians were usually treated no differently than the more violent squatters.

Some tribes took to more drastically belligerent methods when peaceful avenues were exhausted. An alliance of Franci and Salii who had settled outside the limes germanicus, near Belgica, around 240 crossed the border in 250 CE. The line was broken at Germania Inferior but the auxiliary garrisons were able to repel the invaders within the year. Such events were not too unusual for border patrols but this breach caught the attention of some senators for one reason or another. Over the course of the following year, a motion went through the Senate to improve fortifications on the Rhine frontier.

Recent trends in military engineering had brought forward a new type of wall, one that was becoming popular for cities in Moesia and Dalmatia. The design involved the slanting of the outer surface of the wall, both distributing the impact of projectiles over a larger area and allowing the weight of the wall to push more heavily on the stones composing the wall. Otherwise, there were no differences in chosen materials for the new design. These designs were driven largely by the surprising use of siege weapons by the Goths near the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the fear this incited in the local cities. Most mobile onagers of the time were entirely ineffective against such walls and siege towers had more difficulty approaching them than straight vertical walls.

This design went into the construction of the Vallum Germanicum which stretched from the shores of the Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea) to the crossing of the Fluvius Rhenus (Rhine) into the province of Germania Superior (Upper Germany). The Rhine hugged the outer edge of the wall along its entire length - a total distance of 643 km. When fluvial erosion began to undermine the foundations of the wall decades later, concrete river banks were added to the base to protect the soil (unchecked erosion could collapse an entire section of the wall - a serious danger when building heavy structures alongside a river). However, using the river as a moat made approaching on foot or by tower virtually impossible, effectively rendering the border impenetrable from the east.

Unfortunately, the Alemanni crossed the Rhine in 256, several years before the completion of the fortifications. The sudden resurgence of the Alemanni after being crushed two decades earlier forced Domitius Aurelianus, who was tasked with defending the Germanic provinces until construction finished, into numerous battles to hold the raiders back from workers. During the brief respite between the repulsion of the Alemanni and the Alemanni-Frank invasion of 257, Marcian called Aurelian back to Rome. There he was granted the unique office of Dux Generalissimus, most general commander of legions, a rank invented to signify his total authority over the imperial armies.

Given free reign to solve the current threat posed by Germanic tribes, Domitius returned to Germany in time to repel the Franks and Alemanni, mere days after they had crossed the limes. Unfortunately for Rome, this was only part of a larger problem that would plague the empire during this time. Although Publius could find no explanation for the rising aggression of tribes outside the borders of the empire, the reality was that earlier excursions had destabilized existing balances of power among the tribes while simultaneously feeding flames of hatred toward Rome.

Harassment of villages in Dacia and Moesia by Gothic tribes had gotten progressively worse since the battles that Sulla started alongside the Alani and the Bosporan Kingdom (Regnum Bospori). For his part, Publius had no interest in preserving the land of the Bosporans and allowed the Goths to crush their urban centers and reduce the land to a loose collection of fishing villages and lumber towns. Unfortunately, the next target of the Gothi was Moesia. In response, Aurelian brought four legions to the Balkans, chasing the Goths back to the remaining villages of Bosporans. Fighting in the more mountainous terrain of Taurica was more difficult for the legionaries, due to their heavier armor, but naval support along the coast made supplying the troops less of a challenge. Together with the discipline and high morale of the legionaries, the legions humiliated the Gothic forces.

Although Domitius was victorious over the Goths, leaving the Balkans in 263, there was no time for his men to rest. Vandals had amassed near Noricum and Roman scouts believed they would soon cross the Fluvius Danuvius. Indeed, they crossed in Spring of 264, a mere week before Domitius arrived with four battle hardened legions. The Vandals' defeat left them logistically suppressed for several decades and unable to foster the morale to challenge Rome again for many decades more.

Once again the empire could not rest, as Heruli tribes had gathered together to invade Dacia while Domitius was occupied with the Vandals near Germany. Whether or not there was coordination between the Heruli and the Vandals remains unknown to this day but their invasion is likely another result of the increased resentment of the Germanic and Dacian people. Another general, Marcus Claudius Tacitus, was tasked with expelling the Heruli. Although Apulum was captured (for the first time under the rule of Marcian), the war did not last long once the three legions of Tacitus arrived. Since the Heruli had gone deep into the empire, escape was impossible. The Herulian armies were massacred and any survivors were sold into slavery.

After completing the Vallum Germanicum in 261, Rome ceased to be concerned with the invasions of northern Germanic tribes. Auxiliary forces could hold the wall itself, allowing generals to concentrate their legions in Germania Superior and Raetia. During the reign of Sulla, the land from Lauriacum to Aquincum had been fortified with a heavy stone wall and the legions stationed along that stretch of land had been relocated to Pannonia Inferior. From this point in history until the arrival of the Huns, any invasions would consistently fail to go any distance into the Roman Empire (with one exception). Whether stopped dead by impenetrable masonry or repelled by indomitable soldiers, outsiders of this period could not gain ground in Western Europe.

This security marked a turning point in the history of Rome. Since the city was sacked in 387 BCE, tribes outside Italy had posed a constant threat to the people of Rome. Julius Caesar had pacified the Gauls and Sulla had subdued the Picts but Germans were a seemingly inexhaustible foe, defeating even the military might of Octavius Caesar. Their tribes lived far from bases of Roman power and they were spread over hundreds of thousands of kilometers of dense forest, with no distinct strongholds or leadership. Firm walls along the Rhine and Danube were almost the only truly effective measure to protect Rome from future invasions and the series of construction projects under Sulla and Publius would ensure a sufficient level of defense on this frontier.

African foes

However, there were other threats to Rome and her empire. In the south, Berber tribes had become emboldened enough by 251 to raid cities in the province Africa Proconsularis. Although these raids were moderate, their regularity over several years prompted a response by the Senate, who sent Tacitus with two legions in 259 CE. The Berbers were pursued almost 80 km into the desert, past the limes tripolitanus, to ensure that none would return for some time.

During this era, another African culture was grabbing the attention of the Senate. The Kingdom of Aksum near Ægyptus had begun to register as a possible threat to Rome - on a scale similar to the threat of Persia (i.e. capable of wasting a great deal of resources in the possible event of war).

Reports from Roman merchants and spies indicated that the Aksumites (Æthiopiani) had begun minting their own currency and were building warships to protect a massive merchant fleet. From what information could be gained, Aksum had nearly tripled in wealth since 200 CE as a result of a growth in trade between Rome and India. Unbeknownst to the Senate, most Roman merchants preferred to trade with Indians through Aksumite merchants, saving the trouble of crossing the great ocean that lay beyond the Mare Rubrum. This led to increasing trade between Aksum and the various Indian states, as well as between Rome and Aksum independently of oriental commerce. By 270 CE, Aksum had established itself as one of the great powers of the known world but for the time being, Rome would do nothing to incite this sleeping giant.

In 271, the Senate sent letters to King Endubis of Aksum, inviting emissaries to Alexandria and Petra. The next emperor of Rome would continue this correspondence with future kings. The purpose of these invitations was to astonish the Aksumites with the grandeur of the Imperium, in the hopes that this would disincline their kings to war against Rome. The result was to motivate greater ambition in Aksumite Kings, as they failed to be intimidated by what they saw of the Roman Empire.


Unfortunately for Rome, there were other more pressing problems than foreign tribes and kingdoms. In the 250's, a plague of smallpox struck Egypt, nearly reaching grain shipments bound for Italy and Greece. If the disease had reached ships going to the heartland, then the empire would have been crippled for years. Perhaps the emperor would have died and certainly many senators would have succumbed to the plague. Some luck and the good thinking of doctors in isolating victims at galenariae prevented such a dangerous escalation. Despite these efforts, over a million people died across Arabia, Africa, and Egypt before the epidemic subsided around 273. This is nothing compared to the tens of millions of deaths that would have occurred had the plague spread to Italy and Greece. The event is remembered as the Plague of Carthage, after the 60,000 who died in that city.

Remembering his father's reasons for locating the Academia Galena in Aelia Capitolina, Septimius thought that perhaps another medical academy was needed, this time in Africa. The Academia Medica Alexandria was completed in 258, a school that would replace the role of the local galenaria in training medici for Africa and Hispania, where doctors were in short supply by comparison with Europe. Another school was founded in Greece, with the intention of focusing on the training of chirurgii (surgeons). Surgeons trained at the Corinthian Academy became famous for their high success rate and their stellar records for safely removing limbs. With a greater number of surgeons available, the Legion could create more positions for field surgeons in its armies, improving the survival rate for legionaries after a battle.

Although the Corinthian Academy remained the only surgical school until the founding of a surgical academy in Germania, there were four more medical schools founded over the course of this century. In 271, the Academia Medica Parisiaca was founded by the Senate in the city of Lutetia, often known as Parisium, for training medical professionals for Gallia (France). Six years later, a medical academy was founded in the city of Genua and another at the same time in the city of Aquileia. Lastly, the Academia Medica Atheniena came into existence in 295, providing doctors for the entirety of Greece. The majority of physicians continued to be trained in informal schools as part of hospitals rather than in academies but academy-trained physicians were of a higher status and were more highly respected on doctrinal disputes within the medical community.

As a result of the Plague of Carthage, the Senate passed laws that forced any ships coming from Africa and Arabia to fly a flag if disease seemed to be spreading among its crew during the voyage. This flag was vertically half black and half red so as to be noticeable from the shore. Upon arrival, a ship flying the morbitum vexillum would be quarantined by local doctors until the threat could be better assessed and handled. Nearly every merchant vessel operating within the empire had this flag and many possible outbreaks were prevented by its use. After a few decades, this practice was a natural part of seafaring.


One last development of this decade that bears mentioning is the improvement in validation of official documents by passage of the lex indicium senatorum in the year 253. Before the new law, letters and decrees coming directly from the emperor were legitimized by his literal stamp of approval, the imperial seal stamped on a ring carried by an emperor and his wife, the empress. This law created the official seal of the Senate - an image of a she-wolf and wreath - and required that any senatus consultum or senatorial document be stamped with its image, including the following:

  • authorizations for new construction projects for roadsaqueducts, or colonies
  • licences for being a chartered bank with the Roman Senate
  • medical licences for both doctors and surgeons
  • promotion papers for any military rank above centurion (e.g. duxlegatus)
  • senatus consulta brought before the emperor or posted to the public
  • contracts for publicani entering into any sort of deal with the government (e.g. tax farming)
  • official letters that require proof of validation by a magistrate

Rings with the seal of the Senate were issued to city decurions, praetores, senatores, consulares, quaestores, aediles, and duces, without exception. Losing a ring would result in punishments ranging from a hefty fine to termination of employment. Misuse of these seals could have serious implications. Different variations on the seal were specific to certain offices. A senator or consul had an extremely distinct seal, required for a number of important validations, whereas an aedile had a special seal that was exclusively necessary for authorizing construction projects. Often, a senator or consul would send his ring with the seal as a way of extending his authority to an underling, since magistrates of their rank only faced a fine for its loss, punishment which could be extended to the person trusted with such authority. Duplication of the rings was difficult though obviously not impossible for anyone who could hold onto one long enough to smelt a new one from the required 6.8 ounces of gold. A forgery could be identified either by bearing the wrong image or by failing a test for pure gold. Of course, a fake marking was more difficult to distinguish.

While your average Gaius or Gaia couldn't identify an illegitimate stamp, there were many censores, publicani, or apparitores (civil servants) tasked with verifying hospitals, banks, etc. for legitimate seals. Checking these places did not stop all fraudulent medical practice or corruption but it made such practices riskier, since there was a guarantee of being discovered should the right people happen to check (unless they could be bribed). Since people occasionally impersonated tax collectors and unlicensed medical practice was not uncommon, this authentification process was a serious step forward for the efficiency of the Senate.

Diophantus of Alexandria

Where geometry had flourished in the last century, the 2nd century was the era for algebraic mathematics. At the time, Romans had no concept or notation for a general number and unknown quantities were expressed by writing that the size of some figure was unknown (algebraic problems were usually understood as problems of finding the volumearea or length of some sections of geometric figures). This was the nascent form of algebra possessed by Western mathematics.

Perhaps the greatest mathematician of the classical era worked during the reign of Publius. Diophantus was a Greek living in Alexandria, studying mathematics as part of the prominent schools of that city. Although some discoveries were shared in conversation with his peers, the work of Diophantus reached a wider audience when he published the Arithmetica in Greek. As his contemporaries were wont to do, Diophantus wrote about mathematics using drawings of geometric shapes and written descriptions of equations. Shorthand notation, even as simple as x = 4yz², had yet to be invented.

For example, problem I.28 in the Arithmetica is expressed: "Find two numbers whose sum and the sum of whose squares are given numbers" under the condition that "twice the sum of the squares minus the square of the sum of the two numbers has to be a square." This is characteristic of style and types of problem throughout his book.

One convention that Diophantus introduced to Greek mathematics was a new notion of number. Before Diophantus, the word number was understood as one of the counting numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, ... . Today, these are known as the positive integers. Diophantus was the first to use the word number per se as meaning a positive rational number. In other words, he was the first mathematician to regard fractions as numbers, changing his language accordingly. For this reason, the numbers that were the solutions for a great many of his problems in the Arithmetica were fractional, as would be the case for the given numbers in the above example. This new conception of numbers was a tremendous development in mathematics. However, along with his contemporaries, Diophantus regarded the notions of irrational square roots and negative numbers as absurd or useless. As such, all of his problems ignored solutions which were not positive rational numbers (i.e. not positive fractions or integers).

Another practice begun by Diophantus was a shorthand for expressing a single unknown as a single symbol, rather than writing out the word unknown every time. Strangely, this was solely when an equation contained a single unknown, otherwise he would write as others "first unknown", "second unknown", etc. Moreover, Diophantus was still limited by the lack of the concept of a general number, meaning equations were only written where the unknowns had a specific value. Absence of shorthand notation and of general variables were the primary obstacles between Diophantine arithmetic and proper algebra.

Nevertheless, many of the new polynomials that Diophantus introduced have remained relevant for modern mathematicians under the name of Diophantine equations. These are studied as algebraic equations, with variables in place of the unknowns, although Diophantus could not have regarded these polynomials as such.

Some of the indeterminate problems treated by Diophantus - those which did not have a unique positive rational number as a solution - were analyzed by him through a method of finding specific conditions under which a solution existed. This particular treatment of what could have been considered general problems was repeated throughout the Arithmetica. Indeed, the text is notable for providing almost no direct treatment of mathematical theorems, instead hinting at broader mathematical truths through its methods for solving particular problems and for classifying such problems by certain species of equations. This progress in mathematics was an important step toward more sophisticated applications of mathematical concepts and procedures.

Valerian Coup

In the year 260 CE, the general of the Raetian legions, Marcus Aemilius Aemilianus, conspired with the Consul of Germany, venerable patrician, Publius Licinius Valerianus, to take advantage of the distraction provided by the invading Dacian tribes. At the suggestion of Valerian, Aemilius would lead troops into Italy to ransom the emperor and Senate, for Valerian to be named princeps in place of Marcian. The emperor had clearly shown his senators his incompetence in the realm of military affairs and some legion officers were offended by the prospect of not receiving their dues - i.e. a donativum - upon the death of the emperor. Since the defenses around Italy were known to be weak, Aemilius gladly joined the treasonous plot of Valerian, surreptitiously planning to place himself in power once the opportunity presented itself.

Aemilianus secured the loyalty of his three legions, convincing them that a rebellion would pressure the Senate into doubling their wages and giving them the donativum that Marcian owed the Legion. Aemilianus would have known that most of his legionaries would be opposed to outright deposing the emperor but he likely knew that turning back was impossible once the rebellion was underway and that supporting his coup d'état would be rewarding enough to motivate them. Neither of the main conspirators considered the ramifications of deposing the hugely popular and successful Antonine dynasty.

Valerian's rebellion was underway by spring of 261, bursting to life through a skirmish between 12,600 legionaries under Aemilian and 2,760 loyal legionaries. With advantages of surprisenumbers, and leadership, the rebels under Aemilian prevailed with little loss of momentum. In an almost unprecedented event, there then stood a powerful army within 490 km of the Rubicon Valley. Were the rebels to cross the river, stopping their advance would acquire deathly urgency.

Lady Fortuna smiled on Rome that day as General Tacitus was cleaning up after the war with Heruli tribes when news spread of the insurrection. Mustering his forces, Tacitus met Aemilian north of Ravenna in the dramatic Battle for Italy. While Aemilian was killed in battle, Valerian was caught fleeing back to Raetia and brought before Tacitus. The general reportedly spat in the consul's face before allowing his soldiers (mere Plebs!) to kick Valerian to a bleeding pulp on the forest ground.

A sorely beaten Valerian was brought before Emperor Marcian in September of 261, for a parade through Rome where crowds would jeer and throw rotten vegetables at him. After a customary trial, Valerian was found guilty of the highest treason against the state - plotting to overthrow the emperor and sack Rome. For his crime, Valerian - as the Senate and emperor agreed - was to sentenced to be crucified on the Porta Esquilina. As the only citizen of the Patrician order ever to be crucified in sight of Rome, Valerian is remembered by posterity as the quintessential traitor to Rome. His familial clan, the Liciniae, publicly struck him from all family records. Random citizens from the city visited him on the cross to leer at him and shame him further.

The crucifixion of the traitor Valerian has gone down in history as one of the most famous executions, going down in Roman history as one of the most famous executions by the state, surpassed in infamy only once the empire adopted Christianity. The former consul was made into an icon of rebellion by acts of the Senate, turning him into a personification of treason and enemies of the state. Future propaganda would make great use of the image of Valerian, as the Senate would face other internal threats.


With the defeat of another enemy, the empire was showing no sign of slowing its growth in power. However, behind all the celebrations and military victories, was a harsher reality; not one that could throw Rome off course but a problem nonetheless. After the financial crisis and anniversary celebrations, the treasury and imperial purse were nearly empty. The Senate maintained a steady 1-2 million denarii over the next decade but construction of the Vallum Germanicum took its toll. In 258, the Senate had to request a loan from the Banca Romae. Such debts would not be repaid until 269, long after Publius had heavily curtailed all public spending, except on necessities such as the military, grain ration, hospitals, and child subsidies.

The emperor fell into a depression around 259 CE, believing himself to have ruined the empire his father had left him. Only the most profitable endeavors were pursued by the government over the remainder of his reign. One such project was the opening of mines across Mauretania. After the loss of life during the smallpox epidemic of the last decade, the influx of miners and other prospectors into the province was a welcome change for Carthage, keeping its population from declining further.

In his depression, Publius did not consider himself worthy of joining his ancestors in the imperial mausoleum. He planned to have a modest mausoleum, one that might befit a merchant, built for himself outside Rome. Only a few workers were employed in its construction. When the site was being prepared on August 14 of 262, some things were not going as planned and Publius was frustrated from standing out in the heat at his age. Yelling at one worker for incompetence, Publius was suddenly taken by the onset of heat stroke and, ironically, passed away on the spot where he would never be buried.

Caesar Aurelian (262-278)

Marcian had little choice in naming the popular Domitius Aurelianus as his successor, after his blunder of granting him military authority nearly equal to his own and, in following the dangerous precedent set by Sulla, offering him a triumph for his victories over the Alemanni confederation. Duty to the princeps, piety for the body of the genius populi Romani, and the support of the Senate for Septimius might have kept Aurelian restrained but the safest decision was to ensure him a future as emperor to remove any motives for taking power by force.

When Aurelian came into the highest office, he spent most of reign on the frontier fighting the Germanic foes of Rome. Since the finances in Rome were poor, the Senate was at this time restricted in its actions. The people of the capital continued to enjoy their bread and circuses but there were no major infrastructure projects between the construction of the German Wall and the programs of Caesar Heracleitus, for defense of the East and improvement of communication within the empire.

Saxon invasion

Of course, not all enemies of Rome were internal during this period. The power vacuum left in Magna Germania by the military campaigns of Domitius was eventually filled by the Saxones, who came from the southern section of Cimbria (Denmark). Their rise to dominance in the lands along the Rhine was directly related to the Roman annihilation of other local tribes and the refusal to accept Germans inside the limites (frontiers).

However, other details of the Saxon unification during the 3rd century are a mystery to Roman historians. All that is known is that the Saxon tribes had united behind a single militaristic leader around 250 CE, forming a relatively sophisticated society based on control of the coastline and a common hatred for Roman legionaries. This dynasty of Saxon kings lasted for several decades until the Roman Legion crushed the last remnants of local order. Until that time, the Saxons posed the only serious threat to the rule of Rome in Europe until the arrival of eastern steppe peoples.

When reports of Saxon raiders reached the Senate, the people and senators of Rome were largely indifferent. There had been no threats to their safety since the Marcommanic Wars and the decadent, lethargic culture that peace had bred in Italy left them uninterested in pursuing possible dangerous foreigners. Roman governors along the borders opened trade with the Saxons and the situation seemed to have resolved itself until a Saxon king decided to invade in 276 CE.

Through a regionwide recruitment of artisans and farmers, the Saxons had mustered an impressive force of ~80,000 soldiers. Unable to penetrate the Germanic Wall, the king led his army into Upper Germany, taking the town of Nida. They achieved a decisive victory against Legio Minerva II, stealing its legionary standards and capturing its dux (general). News of the captured standards enraged Domitius Aurelianus and he immediately began a token campaign in the Senate to devote resources against the Saxons. Within a month, his efforts had brought the Roman people and the Senate firmly in favor of mustering a full response, starting a quick gathering of the European legions to fight the Saxons.

Combining his forces with a legion from Gaius Annius Florianus in Britannia, a move that was not authorized by the Senate and was met with tremendous opposition, Aurelian brought an impressive 30,720 legionaries (6 legions), 13,440 auxilaries, and the accompanying 6,000 sagittarii (archers) to intercept the Saxons before they took Treverorum. Already, they had besieged and stormed the city of Mogontiacum (Mainz) and were heading west, sustaining their troops on Roman supplies of food.

After several months of fighting and pursuing, the legions finally forced the Saxons back toward the east. Unfortunately, they took this opportunity to turn south toward the famous lands of Italy. When the king learned about the Alps, he had to reconsider his goals of invading Italy, turning east toward Vindelicorum. By 278, Domitius had overtaken the Saxons and managed to initiate a field battle on his terms. In this situation, his Roman legionaries excelled and earned him a swift victory. The following two years were spent cleaning up the mess of soldiers left behind by the disintegration of the Saxon armies but, since Aurelian had died in the wake of his victory in 278, these efforts were left to his lesser commanders as power transferred in Rome to his successor.

Meanwhile, the new king of the Saxons was more surreptitiously leading raids along the frontier, forming bands of raiders with the other local tribes. At the same time, Saxon ships were pirating the Oceanus Britannicus (English Channel) and thousands of them were embarking on its shores, settling the land for themselves. The Saxon migration into Britannia and the northern shore of Gallia would persist for the next two centuries, mixing them thoroughly with the native Celtic and Roman populations. However, the time for a Saxon kingdom was short. The legatus augustus (military governor) of Belgica worked with the governor of Upper Germany to devastate Saxon lands, ending the royal line in 286 and dispersing the core Saxon society.

The tribes that splintered from the former Saxon Kingdom continued to raid Roman land south of the wall and along the coasts of the channel. Against this threat, the Senate expanded the classes (fleets) in the region and built coastal defenses to watch the sea for invading Saxons. Although these efforts slowed Saxon settlement of Britain, it could not halt the process entirely. The slow migration and integration of Saxons into Roman Britain was effectively impossible to track or to stop.

Statistics for the Roman Empire of 278 AD

Almost a century after the Point of Divergence, a great deal has changed in Rome:

Population: 77 million people (28.5% of humans), including ~6.5 million slaves

Area: 5,840,000 km²

GDP: 5.5 billion denarii (~$55 billion US)

Treasury: 12 million denarii (~$120 million US)

Government revenue: 303 million denarii (~$3 billion US), 5.5% of GDP

Military spending: 164 million denarii (54.1% of revenue or 2.98% of GDP)

Military size: 156,000 legionaries (30 legions), 236,150 auxiliaries, and 10,000 praetorian guards

Reign of Sulla:
933 (180)-981 (228)
Marcian & Aurelian:
981 (228)-1031 (278)
Reign of Heracleitus:
1031 (278)-1067 (314)
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