The time between the death of Maximinus, or better from the beginning of the rule of Gordian Ill to the end of the rule of Gallienus is the darkest period in the history of the Roman Empire, darkest in two senses of the word, inasmuch as it was the time of greatest misery for the Roman Empire, and at the same time a period concerning which our information is meager, vague, and contradictory. The literary sources - Latin, Greek, and Oriental - consist mostly of late epitomes of historical works of earlier date. The dates of the events are mostly uncertain, and the narrative is fragmentary and often full of legendary details. To supplement the literary evidence we have some inscriptions and papyri. This documentary evidence, however, is extremely poor in comparison with similar evidence for the preceding period in the history of the Roman Empire. Finally the coins, though abundant, are difficult to date precisely and to assign to corresponding mints. No wonder that the reconstruction of this period by modern historians, based as it is on such evidence, varies greatly and is far from satisfactory.1

Extremely poor for the Roman Empire in general, our evidence is somewhat fuller for the Eastern part of the Empire, since here we are in possession, in addition to the Greek and Latin historical works dealing with the whole of the Roman Empire, of some fragments and reflections of literary productions of the East, partly incorporated in general surveys of ancient history, as for instance the chronicle of Malalas, partly preserved

1 . The sources for the history of the mid third century A.D. are listed in the bibliographies of CAH, XII, chs. IV and VI (A. Christensen, N. Ensslin and A. Alföldi). They are discussed in brief in the Appendix: Sources, pp. 710-720 by N. H. Baynes (literary sources) and A. Alföldi (coins). A good bibliography of the modern works which deal with this period in general will be found in the bibliographies to the chapters of CAH quoted above, cf. A. Alföldi, Berytus, IV, 1937, P. 54, n. 23. The evidence regarding the Orient in the mid third century which concerns us here has been subjected to careful analysis by several modern historians, the last contributions being the two substantial articles of A.     Alföldi: "Die Hauptereignisse der Jahre 253-261 n. Chr. im Orient im Spiegel der Münzprägung," Berytus, IV, 1937, pp. 41 ff. and "Die römische Münzprägung und die historischen Ereignisse im Osten zwischen 260 und 270 n. Chr.," ibid. V, 1938, pp. 47 ff. (cf. his, Christensen's and Ensslin's chapters in CAH, XII cited above). A new reconstruction of the history of the Orient in mid third century based on the Oracula Sibyllina, XIII and the Res Gestae. of Shapuhr will be found in A. T. Olmstead's substantial paper, "The mid-third Century of the Christian Era," Classical Philology, XXXVII, 1942, pp. 241 ff. and 398 ff.


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