Carinus was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 282 to 285. The elder son of emperor Carus
Carus , was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success. During his campaign against the Sassanid Empire he sacked their capital Ctesiphon, but died shortly thereafter...

, he was appointed Caesar and co-emperor of the western portion of the empire upon his father's accession. Official accounts of his character and career have been filtered through the propaganda of his successful opponent, Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....



He fought with success against the Germanic Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

 tribes, but soon left the defence of the Upper Rhine to his legates and returned to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where the surviving accounts, which demonize him, assert that he abandoned himself to all kinds of debauchery and excess. More certainly, he also celebrated the annual ludi Romani
Ludi Romani
The Ludi Romani were a religious festival in ancient Rome. They were held annually starting in 366 BC from September 12 to September 14, later extended to September 5 to September 19. In the last 1st century BC, an extra day was added in honor of the deified Julius Caesar on 4 September...

on a scale of unexampled magnificence.

After the death of Carus, the army in the East demanded to be led back to Europe, and Numerian
Numerian , was a Roman Emperor from 282 to 284 with his older brother Carinus. They were sons of Carus, a general raised to the office of praetorian prefect under Emperor Probus in 282.-Reign:...

, the younger son of Carus, was forced to comply. During a halt at Chalcedon
Chalcedon , sometimes transliterated as Chalkedon) was an ancient maritime town of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, almost directly opposite Byzantium, south of Scutari . It is now a district of the city of Istanbul named Kadıköy...

, Numerian was found dead, and Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

, commander of the body-guards, claimed that Numerian had been assassinated and was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers.

Carinus at once left Rome and set out for the East to meet Diocletian. On his way through Pannonia he put down the usurper Sabinus Iulianus
Sabinus Iulianus
Marcus Aurelius Sabinus Iulianus was a Roman usurper against Emperor Carinus or Maximian...

, and encountered the army of Diocletian in Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...


Carinus was successful in several engagements, and at the Battle of the Margus River
Battle of the Margus
The Battle of the Margus was fought in July 285 between the armies of Roman Emperors Diocletian and Carinus in the valley of the Margus River in Moesia ....

 (Morava), according to one account, the valour of his troops had gained the day, when he was assassinated by a tribune whose wife he had seduced. In another account, the battle is represented as having resulted in a complete victory for Diocletian, for Carinus' army deserted him: this second account is also confirmed by the fact that Diocletian kept Carinus' Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

 commander in service.

Carinus has the reputation of having been one of the worst of the emperors. This infamy was possibly supported by Diocletian himself. For example, Historia Augusta has Carinus marrying nine wives, while neglecting to mention his only real wife, Magnia Urbica
Magnia Urbica
Magnia Urbica, wife of emperor Carus. She was granted the honorifics Augusta, and Mater castrorum, senatus ac patriae, "Mother of the barracks , Senate and Fatherland".-External links:*...

, by whom he had an only son, Marcus Aurelius Nigrinianus.

After his death, Carinus' memory was condemned
Damnatio memoriae
Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning "condemnation of memory" in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate upon traitors or others who brought discredit to the Roman State...

 and his name, along with that of his wife, was erased from inscriptions.

Primary Sources

  • Anonymous, Epitome de Caesaribus
    Epitome de Caesaribus
    The Epitome de Caesaribus is the name for a Latin historical work, written at the end of the 4th century.It is a brief account of the reigns of the emperors from Augustus to Theodosius the Great. It is attributed to Aurelius Victor, but was written by an anonymous author who was very likely a pagan...

  • Aurelius Victor
    Aurelius Victor
    Sextus Aurelius Victor was a historian and politician of the Roman Empire.Aurelius Victor was the author of a History of Rome from Augustus to Julian , published ca. 361. Julian honoured him and appointed him prefect of Pannonia Secunda...

  • Eutropius, Breviarium ab urbe condita
  • Historia Augusta, Life of Carus, Carinus and Numerian
  • Joannes Zonaras
    Joannes Zonaras
    Ioannes Zonaras was a Byzantine chronicler and theologian, who lived at Constantinople.Under Emperor Alexios I Komnenos he held the offices of head justice and private secretary to the emperor, but after Alexios' death, he retired to the monastery of St Glykeria, where he spent the rest of his...

    , Compendium of History extract: Zonaras: Alexander Severus to Diocletian: 222–284

External links

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