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Tetricus: last emperor of the Gallic Empire (271-274).

Gold piece of Tetricus, found in Leuna (Saxony)
Gold piece of Tetricus, found in Leuna (Saxony)


Successor of: Victorinus


Main deeds:

Texts from the Historia Augusta

Tetricus the Elder

After Victorinus and his son were slain, his mother Victoria (or Vitruvia) urged Tetricus, a Roman senator then holding the governorship of Gaul, to take the imperial power, for the reason, many relate, that he was her kinsman; she then caused him to be entitled Augustus and bestowed on his son the name of Caesar.

But after Tetricus had done many deeds with success and had ruled for a long time he was defeated by Aurelian, and, being unable to bear the impudence and shamelessness of his soldiers, he surrendered of his own free will to this prince most harsh and severe. In fact, a quotation of his is cited, which he secretly sent in writing to Aurelian: "Save me, O hero unconquered, from these my misfortunes."

And so Aurelian, who did not readily plan aught that was guileless or merciful or peaceful, led this man, though he was a senator of the Roman people and a consular and had ruled the provinces of Gaul with a governor's powers, in his triumphal procession at the same time as Zenobia, the wife of Odaenathus, and the younger sons of Odaenathus, Herennianus and Timolaus. Aurelian, nevertheless, exceedingly stern though he was, overcome by a sense of shame, made Tetricus, whom he had led in triumph, supervisor over the whole of Italy, that is, over Campania, Samnium, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Etruria and Umbria, Picenum and the Flaminian district, and the entire grain-bearing region, and suffered him not only to retain his life but also to remain in the highest position, calling him frequently colleague, sometimes fellow-soldier, and sometimes even emperor.

Tetricus the Younger

Tetricus II
Tetricus II

He, when a little lad, received the name of caesar from Victoria when she herself had been entitled by the army Mother of the Camp. He was, furthermore, led in triumph along with his father, but later he enjoyed all the honors of a senator; nor was his inheritance diminished, and, indeed, he passed it on to his descendants, and was ever, as Arellius Fuscus reports, a man of distinction. My grandfather used to declare that he was a friend of his own, and that never was any one given preference over him either by Aurelian or by any of the later emperors.

The house of the Tetrici is still standing today, situated on the Caelian Hill between the two groves and facing the Temple of Isis built by Metellus; and a most beautiful one it is, and in it Aurelian is depicted bestowing on both the Tetrici the bordered toga and the rank of senator and receiving from them a scepter, a chaplet, and an embroidered robe. This picture is in mosaic, and it is said that the two Tetrici, when they dedicated it, invited Aurelian himself to a banquet.

This page was created in 2005; last modified on 10 August 2020.

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