Valerian (Publius Licinius Valerianus) vəlēr´ēən [key], d. after 260, Roman emperor (253–60). He held important posts, both civil and military, under the emperors Decius and Gallus . After the short reign of the former general Aemilianus, Valerian was proclaimed emperor. In 257 he organized a general persecution of the Christians. Although not an incapable man, he was nevertheless unsuited to rule in such a critical time, for N Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor were falling to the barbarians and to the Persians. Appointing his son, Gallienus , as coregent, Valerian undertook a campaign in the East against Shapur I of Persia, who destroyed the Roman army and took (260) the emperor prisoner. Valerian died in captivity and was succeeded by Gallienus.
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