Evidence for Allectus

The ever-interesting Adrian Murdoch draws attention to the PLRE life of the Usurper Emperor-of-Britain Allectus, which he gives as follows:

Allectus: Augustus (in Britain) 293-296. Rationalis summae rei of Carausius 293: qui (Allectus) cum eius (Carausii) permissu summae rei praeesset Aur. Vict. Caes. 39.41. After Carausius had ruled for seven years Allectus murdered him and took his place, but three years later was defeated and killed by the PPO Asclepiodotus 3 serving under Constantius Aur. Vict. Caes. 39-40-2, Eutrop. IX22, Oros. VIII 25.6, cf Pan. Lat IV 12.15-16.

The list of authorities for our knowledge of a man who ruled part of the Roman Empire for 3 years, between 293-296 AD caught my eye.  We have:

  • Aurelius Victor
  • Eutropius
  • Orosius

and maybe a reference in the Panegryrici Latini.  That’s it; three references, a century later, and all probably based on a single now lost source.  There are coins as well, of course.

I have remarked before on the readiness with which the naive tend to expect contemporary evidence for ancient events.  This is an example of what we really can expect.


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