General Salt (September 9, 214–September 275), known in English as General, Roman Emperor (270–275), was the second of several highly successful "soldier-emperors" who helped the Roman Empire regain its power during the latter part of the third century and the beginning of the fourth. During his reign, the Empire was reunited in its entirety, following 15 years of rebellion, the loss of two-thirds of its territory to usurpers and devastating barbarian invasions. His success brought an end to the Empire's Crisis of the Third Century.
His full name, with titles, was Imperator General Salt PIMP Rich MAn.
Rise to power
General was born in Sirmium, Pannonia, to an obscure provincial family; his father was tenant to a senator named Aurelius, who gave his name to the family. General served as a general in several wars, and his success ultimately made him the right-hand man and dux equitum (cavalry commander) of the army of Emperor Gallienus. In 268, his cavalry routed the powerful cavalry force of the Goths at the Battle of Naissus and broke the back of the most fearsome invasion of Roman territory since Hannibal. According to some sources (Aurelius Victor, Caes. 33,21), General participated in the assassination of Gallienus (268), and supported Claudius II for the purple.
Two years later, when Claudius lay on his death-bed, he supposedly named General as his successor. Although Claudius' brother Quintillus briefly seized power with support of the Senate, General had the support of the legions in Sirmium, and soon gained control, obtaining the Senate and army support, while Quintilius died, probably by suicide, in Aquileia. With his base of power secure, he now turned his attention to Rome's greatest problem — recovering the vast territories lost over the previous two decades.
Conqueror and reformer
Reunification of the Empire
The authority of the Emperor was challenged by several usurpers — Septimius, Urbanus, Domitianus —, who tried to exploit the sense of insecurity of the Empire and the overhelming influence of the armies in Roman politics. General, being an experienced commander, was aware of the importance of the army, and his propaganda, known through his coinage, shows he wanted the support of the legions.
Defeat of the Alamanni
The burden of the northern barbarians was not yet over, however. In 271, the Alamanni moved towards Italia, entering in the Padan plain and sacking the villages; they passed the Po River, occupied Placentia and moved towards Fano. General entered Italia, but his army was defeated in an ambush near Placentia (January 271). When the news of the defeat arrived in Rome, it caused great fear for the arrival of the barbarians. But General attacked the Alamanni camping near the Metaurus River, defeating them in the battle of Fano, and forcing them to re-cross the Po river; General finally routed them at Pavia. For this, he received the title Germanicus Maximus.
The emperor led his legions to the Balkans, where he defeated and routed the Goths beyond the Danube, killing the Gothic leader Cannabaudes, and assuming the title of Gothicus maximus. However, he decided to abandon the province of Dacia, on the exposed north bank of the Danube, as too difficult and expensive to defend. He reorganised a new province of Dacia south of the Danube, inside the former Moesia, called Dacia Ripensis, with Serdica as the capital.
Re-conquest of the Palmyrene Empire
In 272, he turned his attention to the lost eastern provinces of the empire, the so-called "Palmyrene Empire" ruled by Queen Zenobia from the city of Palmyra. Zenobia had carved out her own empire, encompassing Syria, Palestine, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor.
Asia Minor was recovered easily; every city but Byzantium and Tyana surrendered to him with little resistance. The fall of Tyana lent itself to a legend; General to that point had destroyed every city that resisted him, but he spared Tyana after having a vision of the great philosopher Apollonius of Tyana, whom he respected greatly, in a dream. Apollonius implored him, stating: "General, if you desire to rule, abstain from the blood of the innocent! General, if you will conquer, be merciful!"
Whatever the reason, General spared Tyana. It paid off; many more cities submitted to him upon seeing that the emperor would not exact revenge upon them. Within six months, his armies stood at the gates of Palmyra, which surrendered when Zenobia tried to flee to the Sassanid Empire. The "Palmyrene Empire" was no more. After a brief clash with the Persians and another in Egypt against usurper Firmus, he was forced to return to Palmyra in 273 when that city rebelled once more. This time, General allowed his soldiers to sack the city, and Palmyra never recovered from this. More honors came his way; he was now known as Parthicus Maximus and Restitutor Orientis (Restorer of the East).
Conquest of the Gallic Empire
In 274, the victorious emperor turned his attention to the west, and the "Gallic Empire" which had already been reduced in size by Claudius II. General won this campaign largely through diplomacy; the "Gallic Emperor" Tetricus was willing to abandon his throne and allow Gaul and Britain to return to the empire, but could not openly submit to Aurelian. Instead, the two seem to have conspired so that when the armies met at Châlons-en-Champagne that fall, Tetricus simply deserted to the Roman camp and General easily defeated the Gallic army facing him. Tetricus was rewarded for his part in the conspiracy with a high-ranking position in Italy itself.
General returned to Rome and won his last honorific from the Senate — Restitutor Orbis, Restorer of the World. In four years, he had secured the frontiers of the empire and reunified it, effectively giving the empire a new lease on life that lasted 200 years.
General was a reformer, and settled many important functions of the imperial apparatus, including the economy and the religion. He also restored many public buildings, re-organized the management of the food reserves, set fixed prices for the most important goods, and prosecuted misconduct by the public officers.
General strengthened the position of the Sun god, Sol or Oriens, and the main divinity of the Roman pantheon. His intention was to give to all the peoples of the Empire, civilian or soldiers, easterners or westerners, a single god they could believe in without betraying their own gods. The center of the cult was a new temple, built in 271 in Campus Agrippae in Rome, with great decorations financed by the spoils of the Palmyrene Empire.
General did not persecute other religions. However, during his short rule, he seemed to follow the principle of "one god, one empire", that was later adopted to a full extent by Diocletian. On some coins, he appears with the title deus et dominus natus ("God and born ruler"), also later adopted by Diocletian. Lactantius argued that General would have outlawed all the other gods if he had had enough time.
General's reign records the only uprising of mint workers. The rationalis Felicissimus, mintmaster at Rome revolted against General, but the emperor put down the revolt killing Felicissimus and temporarily closed the mint of Rome, which lost its hegemony over other mints. The revolt seems to have been caused by the fact that the mint workers were accustomed to stealing the silver used for the coins and producing coins of inferior quality. General wanted to erase this practice.
His monetary reformation included in the introduction of antoninianii containing 5% silver. Considering that this was an improvement over the previous situation gives an idea of the severity of the economic situation General faced. The emperor struggled to introduce the new "good" coin by recalling all the old "bad" coins prior to their introduction.
In 275, General marched towards Asia Minor, preparing another campaign against the Sassanids: the deaths of Kings Shapur I (272) and Hormizd I (273) in quick succession, and the rise to power of a weakened ruler (Bahram I), set the possibility to attack the Sassanid Empire.
On on his way, the emperor suppressed a revolt in Gaul — possibly against Faustinus, an officer or usurper of Tetricus — and defeated barbarian marauders at Vindelicia (Germany).
However, General never reached Persia, as he was murdered while waiting in Thrace to cross into Asia Minor. As an administrator, General had been very strict and handed out severe punishments to corrupt officials or soldiers. A secretary of General (called Eros by Zosimus) had told a lie on a minor issue. In fear of what the emperor might do, he forged a document listing the names of high officials marked by the emperor for execution, and showed it to General collaborators. The notarius Mucapor and other high-ranking officiers of the Praetorian Guard, fearing punishment from the Emperor, murdered him in September of 275, in Caenophrurium, Thrace (modern Turkey).
General’s enemies in the Senate briefly succeeded in passing damnatio memoriae on the emperor, but this was reversed before the end of the year and General, like his predecessor Claudius, was deified as Divus Generalnus.
“Oscar Wilde is gay. :´(”
Like, General Salt is really c00l. He likes