By John F. White

The Roman emperor Aurelian 270-275

Revised and updated edition published by Pen & Sword Ltd (UK) in November 2015.
ISBN 978-1-47384-569-6. 256 pages. 24 black&white photographs. Hardback. £19.99.

The ancient Sibylline prophecies had foretold that the Roman empire would last for 1,000 years. As the time for the dissolution approached in the middle of the 3rd Century AD, the empire was lapsing into chaos with seemingly interminable civil wars over the imperial succession. Barbarians took advantage of the anarchy to kill and plunder all over the provinces; the western empire had seceded under a rebel emperor and the eastern empire was controlled by another usurper. Yet within the space of just five years, the general/emperor Aurelian (270-275 AD) had expelled all the barbarians from within the Roman frontiers; he had re-united the entire empire; and he had inaugurated major reforms of the currency, pagan religion and civil administration.

His accomplishments have been hailed by classical scholars as those of a ‘superman’, yet Aurelian himself is scarcely known to a wider audience. His achievements enabled the Roman empire to survive for another two centuries, ensuring a lasting legacy of Roman civilisation for the successor European states. Without Aurelian, the ‘Dark Ages’ would probably have lasted centuries longer.

“The Roman Emperor Aurelian - Restorer of the World” describes these extraordinary times (the title ‘Restorer of the World’ was awarded to Aurelian by the Roman Senate). The book provides all the necessary background for a lay or casual reader and also examines the consequences of Aurelian‘s achievements and what happened afterwards. There is additionally a substantial section describing the 3rd-Century Roman army.

Updated 6 October 2015.