Chapter XXIII.—The Reign of Gallienus.
1. But there is nothing like hearing his own words, which are as follows:
“Then he, 2326 having betrayed one of the emperors that preceded him, and made war on the other, 2327 perished with his whole family speedily and utterly. But Gallienus was proclaimed and universally acknowledged at once an old emperor and a new, being before them and continuing after them.
2. For according to the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah, Behold the things from the beginning have come to pass, and new things shall now arise. 2328 For as a cloud passing over the suns rays and obscuring them for a little time hides it and appears in its place; but when the cloud has passed by or is dissipated, the sun which had risen before appears again; so Macrianus who put himself forward and approached the existing empire of Gallienus, is not, since he never was. But the other is just as he was.
3. And his kingdom, as if it had cast aside old age, and had been purified from the former wickedness, now blossoms out more vigorously, and is seen and heard farther, and extends in all directions.” 2329
4. He then indicates the time at which he wrote this in the following words:
“It occurs to me again to review the days of the imperial years. For I perceive that those most impious men, though they have been famous, yet in a short time have become nameless. But the holier and more godly prince, 2330 having p. 308 passed the seventh year, is now completing the ninth, 2331 in which we shall keep the feast.”
i.e. Macrianus; see above, chap. 10, note 5.307:2327
He is supposed to have betrayed Valerian into the hands of the Persians, or at least, by his treachery, to have brought about the result which took place, and after Valerians capture he made war upon Gallienus, the latters son and successor. See the note referred to just above.307:2328
Isa. xlii. 9.307:2329
Dionysius is evidently somewhat dazzled and blinded by the favor shown by Gallienus to the Christians. For we know from the profane historians of this period that the reign of Gallienus was one of the darkest in all the history of the Roman Empire, on account of the numerous disasters which came upon the empire, and the internal disturbances and calamities it was called upon to endure.307:2330
Gallienus is known to us as one of the most abandoned and profligate of emperors, though he was not without ability and courage which he displayed occasionally. Dionysius words at this point are not surprising, for the public benefits conferred by Gallienus upon the Christians would far outweigh his private vices in the minds of those who had suffered from the persecutions of his predecessors.308:2331
The peculiar form of reckoning employed here (the mention of the seventh and then the ninth year) has caused considerable perplexity. Stroth thinks that “Dionysius speaks here of the time when Gallienus actually ruled in Egypt. For Macrianus had ruled there for a year, and during that time the authority of Gallienus in that country had been interrupted.” The view of Pearson, however, seems to me better. He remarks: “Whoever expressed himself thus, that one after his seven years was passing his ninth year? This septennium (ἑπταετηρίς) must designate something peculiar and different from the time following. It is therefore the septennium of imperial power which he had held along with his father. In the eighth year of that empire [the father, Valerian being in captivity in Persia], Macrianus possessed himself of the imperial honor especially in Egypt. After his assumption of the purple, however, Gallienus had still much authority in Egypt. At length in the ninth year of Gallienus, i.e. in 261, Macrianus, the father and the two sons being slain, the sovereignty of Gallienus was recognized also among the Egyptians.” “The ninth year of Gallienus, moreover, began about midsummer of this year; and the time at which this letter was written by Dionysius, as Eusebius observes, may be gathered from that, and falls consequently before the Paschal season of 262 a.d.” See also chap. 1, note 3, above.