« Vitus Volusianus Xystus »

Volusianus

Volusianus (1), C. Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus, joint emperor with his father Gallus, a.d. 251–254. At the end of 251 Gallus was proclaimed emperor after the defeat and death of Decius, which he is said to have caused by his treachery. He associated Volusian with himself in the empire, and, after making peace with the Goths on the shameful terms of allowing them to keep their prisoners and paying them tribute, the emperors proceeded to Rome. Their short reign was marked by the dreadful pestilence which began in Ethiopia and spread over the whole Roman world, and in which Hostilianus, the son of Decius, who had been associated with the Galli in the empire, died. Their numerous medals, bearing representations of Apollo and Juno, the deities of the sun and the air (Eckhel, vii. 357), support the statement of St. Cyprian (Ep. 55 in Migne, Patr. Lat. iii. 805), that they issued an edict, ordering sacrifices to be offered everywhere to appease the wrath of the gods. By refusing to obey the Christians aroused the hatred of the populace. In Africa the cry of "Cyprianum ad leonem" was again raised, and the outbreak of a persecution worse than that of Decius was daily feared (Ep. 54 in ib. 855, 861). Fortunately these fears were not realized. The only overt acts of persecution we certainly know of were confined to Rome. The outbreak was sudden (Ep. 58 in ib. 274), and Cornelius, bp. of Rome, was specially singled out for attack. His flock rallied bravely round him, and some who had fallen away in the Decian persecution distinguished themselves by their firmness (Ep. 37 in ib. 832). He with some of them was banished to Centum Cellae, where he died, probably a natural death, June 253 (see Lipsius, Chron. der röm. Bisch. 207). His successor Lucius was apparently elected in exile but soon allowed to return, the persecution ceasing, probably owing to the outbreak of civil war. There is no clear proof of any severer punishment than exile in this persecution. This is the worst mentioned by the contemporary St. Cyprian and St. Dionysius of Alexandria (in Eus. H. E. vii. 1). In the summer of 253 Aemilianus was proclaimed emperor by his soldiers, and c. Feb. 254 Gallus and Volusianus were murdered by their troops at Torni (Zos. i. 23–28; Zon. xii. 21).

[F.D.]

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