Posted by: ken98 | October 31, 2009

Murder, Frankish Pirates, and Walls that weren’t there

Day 34 – Ken here
(writing, of course, on Day 51)
Sorry about the silence for so long, I’m a little behind to say the least. In my own defense I have realized something about blogging and reading every day – to wit:

  • You can never get sick
  • You can never be away from your house
  • The pace never lets up – 7 days a week
  • I’m not complaining, but I have been sick and away, and although I had my computer and Gibbon at my side, I didn’t get a heck of a lot done. So it’s catch-up time for me big time. I’m reading way ahead and writing to catch up with myself.

    Gibbon continues chapter 13:

  • Probus builds a (fictitious) set of walls between the Rhine and the Danube
  • Probus settles Franks and Gepidae on the banks of the Rhine and Danube
  • The Franks (remember living in the Ukraine) steal boats and as pirates ransack the Mediterranean, Atlantic, ending up in the Netherlands
  • Probus’ general Saturninus rebels in Alexandria. Suppressed. (279)
  • Bonosius and Proculus in Gaul rebel. Suppressed. (280)
  • Probus has a triumph (281) for his foreign victories
  • Probus known for his severity, killed by his own troops (282)
  • Carus (Probus’ Praetorian Prefect) elevated , with sons Carinus, Numerian as Caesars (Aug 282)
  • Carus defeats Sarmatians (very warlike tribe north of the Danube)
  • Carus invades Persia, takes Seleucia, Ctesiphon (283)
  • Carus dies suddenly (of disease, of lightning strike?) in Persia, stopping the conquest(Dec 25, 283)
  • Carinus and Numerianus succeed him (284)

    That’s a LOT to have happen in 6 years. It’s not called the 3rd century Time of Crisis for nothing.


    Probus Emperor.  Note the otherworldly, very 3rd century spiritual upward glance

    Probus Emperor. Note the otherworldly, very 3rd century spiritual upward glance

    This from Wiki:
    “A native of Sirmium (now Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia), in Pannonia, at an early age he entered the army, where he distinguished himself under the Emperors Valerian, Aurelian and Tacitus. He was appointed governor of the East by Tacitus, at whose death he was immediately proclaimed his successor by the soldiers (276).”
    On his last campaign (although he didn’t know this) “he left Rome in 282, moving first towards Sirmium, his birth city, when the news that Marcus Aurelius Carus, commander of the Praetorian Guard, had been proclaimed emperor reached him. Probus sent some troops against the new usurper, but when those troops changed sides and supported Carus, Probus’s soldiers then assassinated him (September/October 282).”

    The Fictitious Walls
    This from an appendix to another edition of Gibbon:

    From an online version of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall

    The statement of Gibbon that Probus “constructed a stone wall of a considerable height, and strengthened it by towers at convenient distances” is not warranted by the evidence, which consists entirely of two remarks in his Life in the Hist. Aug.: —

    (1) c. 13. contra urbes Romanas et castra in solo barbarico posuit atque illic milites collocavit.
    (2) c. 14. sed visum est id non posse fieri nisi si limes Romanus extenderetur et fieret Germania tota provincia. (id refers to the command of Probus, that the German dependent tribes should not fight themselves, but, when attacked, seek the aid of the Roman army.)

    It will be observed that the only statement of fact is in the first passage, from which we learn that Probus constructed and garrisoned some forts on soil which was then barbarian. The second passage states no fact, but ventilates a, perhaps wild, hypothesis.

    It is also to be noticed that the actual Wall, constructed long before the time of Probus, was not a regular wall of hewn stone, and that its length between the points that Gibbon roughly marks was more than 300 (not “near 200”) miles.

    It may be added that the limes (both the trans-Rhenane and the trans-Danubian) was probably due chiefly to Domitian and Hadrian.

    There is a considerable literature on the Imperial limes; but all previous works will be superseded by “Der Obergermanischraetische Limes des Römerreichs,” edited by O. von Sarwey and F. Hettner, and published under the auspices of the Reichs-Limes-Kommission. This work is appearing in parts.”

    Carus Emperor Augustus, revloted against Probus

    Carus Emperor Augustus, revloted against Probus

    Carinus Caesar, son of Carus - a handsome young man

    Carinus Caesar, son of Carus - a handsome young man

    Numerian Caesar, another son of Carus

    Numerian Caesar, another son of Carus



    1. […] effective road block to barbarian invasions by sea from the Black Sea (see French Pirates in this […]

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