Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Marcus Aurelius Probus

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 12
Marcus Aurelius Probus

by Karl Hoeber


Roman Emperor, 276-82, raised to the throne by the army in Syria to succeed Tacitus. Of humble origin, he was born at Sirmium in Illyria; by courage and ability he won the confidence of the soldiers, and during the reign of Marcus Aurelius [should read "Lucius Domitius Aurelianus" — Ed.] he subdued Palmyra and Egypt. As emperor, he ordained that the imperial edicts must be ratified by the senate, and he returned to the senate the right of appointing the governors of the former senatorial provinces. His reign was passed in wars with the Germans. He personally drove the Alamanni across the Rhine and forced them as far as the fortifications, extending from Ratisbon to Mainz. He made nine German kings tributary to Rome, and distributed sixteen thousand German warriors among the Roman legions. In 278 the emperor re-established peace in Rhaetia, Illyria, and Moesia by campaigns against the Burgundians and Vandals. In the meantime his generals had overcome the Franks on the lower Rhine. The next year the emperor went to Asia Minor where he punished the Isaurians and gained their fortified castle Cremna in Pisidia. His legions advanced as far as Syria and Egypt. Probus settled foreign colonists in all the boundary provinces. In this way, he brought about that the outlying provinces were peacefully settled by German tribes. During his long absence in Asia Minor rival emperors were proclaimed in various provinces; e.g. Saturninus at Alexandria, Proclus at Lyons, who controlled Gaul and Spain, and had a successor at Cologne named Bonosus. All these rivals were vanquished by the imperial troops. Probus celebrated triumphs at Rome over his enemies and even hoped to attain to an era of peace and plenty. In times of peace he employed the soldiers in constructing public works, building temples and bridges, regulation of rivers, digging canals to drain marshes, and planting vineyards, especially in Gaul, Pannonia, and Moesia. By forcing the soldiers, who no longer had any interest in the prosperity of the citizens, to do this work, Probus roused them to revolt; in Rhaetia the prefect of the guard, Marcus Aurelius Carus, was proclaimed emperor. The troops sent against him by Probus joined the rebels, and the emperor himself was killed near his birthplace.

MOMMSEN, Rom. Gesch., V (Berlin, 1885); SCHILLER, Gesch. der rom. Kaiserzeit, II (Gotha, 1887); VON DOMASZEWSKI, Gesch. der rom. Kaiser (2 vols., Leipzig, 1909).

KARL HOEBER