Skip to main content

Dexippus and the Gothic Invasions: Interpreting the New Vienna Fragment (Codex Vindobonensis Hist. gr. 73, ff. 192v–193r)*

  • Christopher Mallan (a1) and Caillan Davenport (a2)

This article presents an English translation and analysis of a new historical fragment, probably from Dexippus’ Scythica, published by Gunther Martin and Jana Grusková in 2014. The fragment, preserved in a palimpsest in the Austrian National Library, describes a Gothic attack on Thessalonica and the subsequent preparations of the Greeks to repel the barbarian force as it moved south into Achaia. The new text provides several important details of historical, prosopographical and historiographical significance, which challenge both our existing understanding of the events in Greece during the reign of Gallienus and the reading of the main literary sources for this period. In this article we look to secure the Dexippan authorship of the fragment, identify the individuals named in the text, and date the events described in the text to the early 260s a.d.

Corresponding author
Hide All

We would like to thank Professor Chris Pelling, Mr Nigel Wilson, Mr James Morwood, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments on this article and/or on the text. Any mistakes are, of course, our own responsibility. We are grateful to Dr Gunther Martin for drawing our attention to this new fragment and encouraging us to engage in this debate. It should be noted that Professor C. P. Jones has made available a translation and brief commentary of the fragment under discussion here on his website entitled ‘The New Dexippos’, in which he reaches some of the same conclusions as we do in this paper. We thank Dr Christina Kuhn for drawing this to our attention. All dates are a.d. unless otherwise indicated. The translations are our own, except where noted.

Hide All
Adler, A. 1928–38: Sudiae Lexicon, Leipzig
Adler, W., and Tuffin, P. 2002: The Chronography of George Synkellos: A Byzantine Chronicle of Universal History from the Creation, Oxford
Alföldi, A. 1939: ‘The sources for the Gothic invasions of the years 260–270’, in Cambridge Ancient History XII, 721–3, Cambridge
Alföldi, A. 1967: Studien zur Geschichte der Weltkrise des 3 Jahrh. nach Christus, Darmstadt
Anderson, G. 1986: Philostratus: Biography and Belles Lettres in the Third Century A.D., London
Anderson, G. 2005: The Second Sophistic: A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire, London
Ando, C. 2012: Imperial Rome AD 193 to 284: The Critical Century, Edinburgh
Armstrong, D. 1987: ‘Gallienus in Athens, 264’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 70, 235–58
Banchich, T. M. 2011: ‘Ephoros the Younger (212)’, in Worthington, I. (ed.), Brill's New Jacoby, Brill Online
Banchich, T. M., and Lane, E. N. 2009: The History of Zonaras: From Alexander Severus to the Death of Theodosius the Great, London and New York
Barnes, T. D. 1970: ‘The lost Kaisergeschichte and the Latin historical tradition’, in Bonner Historia Augusta Colloquium 1968/9, Bonn, 1343
Barnes, T. D. 1972: ‘Some persons in the Historia Augusta’, Phoenix 26.2, 140–82
Barnes, T. D. 1978: The Sources of the Historia Augusta, Brussels
Bernand, A. 1989: De Thèbes à Syène, Paris
Bleckmann, B. 1992: Die Reichskrise des III. Jahrhunderts in der spätantiken und byzantinischen Geschictsschreibung: Untersuchungen zu den nachdionischen Quellen der Chronik des Johannes Zonaras, Munich
Bleckmann, B. 1995: ‘Zu den Quellen der Vita Gallieni duo’, in Bonamente, G. and Paci, G. (eds), Historiae Augustae Colloquium Maceratense, Bari, 75105
Blockley, R. C. 1972: ‘Dexippus and Priscus and the Thucydidean account of the siege of Plataea’, Phoenix 26.1, 1827
Blockley, R. C. 1980: ‘Was the first book of Zosimus’ New History based on more than two sources?’, Byzantion 50.2, 393402
Blockley, R. C. (ed., trans. and comm.) 1985: The History of Menander the Guardsman, Liverpool
Boatwright, M. T. 2000: Hadrian and the Cities of the Roman Empire, Princeton
Boissevain, U. P. (ed.) 1906: Excerpta de sententiis, Berlin
Bowersock, G. W. 1969: Greek Sophists in the Roman Empire, Oxford
Bowie, E. 2004: ‘The geography of the Second Sophistic: cultural variations’, in Borg, B. E. (ed.), Paideia: The World of the Second Sophistic, Berlin, 6583
Bowie, E. 2006: ‘Philostratus [8]’, in Cancik, H. and Schneider, H. (eds), Brill's New Pauly Online, Brill Online
Bowie, E. 2009: ‘Philostratus: The life of a sophist’, in Bowie, E. and Elsner, J. (eds), Philostratus, Oxford, 1932
Brandt, H. 1996: Kommentar zur Vita Maximi et Balbini der Historia Augusta, Bonn
Brandt, H. 1999: ‘Dexipp und die Geschichtsschreibung des 3. Jh. n.Chr.’, in Zimmermann, M. (ed.), Geschichtsschreibung und politischer Wandel im 3. Jh. n. Chr.: Kolloquium zu ehren von Karl-Ernst Petzold (Juni 1998) Anlässlich seines 80. Geburtstags, Stuttgart, 169–82
Bray, J. J. 1997: Gallienus: A Study in Reformist and Sexual Politics, Kent Town
Brown, A. R. 2008: The City of Corinth and Urbanism in Late Antique Greece, unpub. PhD dissertation, Berkeley
Brown, A. R. 2011: ‘Banditry or catastrophe?: History, archaeology, and the barbarian raids on Roman Greece’, in Mathisen, R. W. and Shanzer, D. (eds), Romans, Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World, Farnham, 7996
Brunt, P. A. 1980: ‘On historical fragments and epitomes’, Classical Quarterly 30.2, 477–94
Burgess, R. W. 1993: The Chronicle of Hydatius, and the Consularia Constantinopolitana, Oxford
Burgess, R. W. 1995: ‘Jerome and the Kaisergeschichte’, Historia 44.3, 349–69
Burgess, R. W. 2002: ‘Jerome explained: an introduction to his Chronicle and a guide to its use’, Ancient History Bulletin 15, 129
Burgess, R. W. 2011: Chronicles, Consuls, and Coins: Historiography and History in the Later Roman Empire, Farnham
Burton, G. P. 1979: ‘The curator rei publicae: towards a reappraisal’, Chiron 9, 465–87
Byrne, S. G. 2003: Roman Citizens of Athens, Leuven
Cameron, A. 1970: Agathias, Oxford
Cameron, A. 2011: The Last Pagans of Rome, Oxford and New York
Camia, F. 2007: ‘I curatores rei publicae nella provincia d'Acaia’, Mélanges de l'École Française de Rome: Antiquité 119, 409–19
Cataudella, M. R. 2003: ‘Historiography in the east’, in Marasco, E. (ed.), Greek and Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity: Fourth to Sixth Century A.D., Leiden and Boston, 391447
Cherf, W. J. 1987: ‘The Roman borders between Achaia and Macedonia’, Chiron 17, 135–42
Cherf, W. J. 1993: ‘The Thermopylae garrison of Vita Claudii 16’, Classical Philology 88, 230–6
Christol, M. 1977: ‘La carrière de Traianus Mucianus et l'origine des protectores’, Chiron 7, 393408
Christol, M. 1986: Essai sur l’évolution des carrières sénatoriales dans la seconde moitié du IIIe siècle ap. J.C., Paris
Christol, M. 2006: ‘Remarques sur la carrière de L(ucius) Mummius Faustianus, consul ordinaire en 262’, L'Africa Romana 16, 1839–70
Davenport, C. 2013: ‘The governors of Achaia under Diocletian and Constantine’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 184, 225–34
Davenport, C., and Mallan, C. 2013: ‘Dexippus’ letter of Decius: context and interpretation’, Museum Helveticum 70, 5773
De Blois, L. 1976: The Policy of the Emperor Gallienus, Leiden
De Blois, L. 1998: ‘Emperor and empire in the works of Greek-speaking authors of the third century A.D.’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.34.4, 3391–443
De Boor, C. 1892: ‘Römische Kaisergeschichte in byzantinischer Fassung’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 1.1, 1333
De Boor, C. 1903: Excerpta de legationibus, pars II. Excerpta de legationibus gentium ad romanos, Berlin
De Lannoy, L. 1997: ‘Le problème des Philostrate (état de la question)’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.34.3, 2362–449
De Ste Croix, G. E. M. 1981: The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World, London
Desbordes, O., and Ratti, S. 2000: Histoire Auguste, Tome IV 2ème partie: Vies des deux Valériens et des deux Galliens, Paris
Dindorf, L. 1868–71: Ioannis Zonarae Epitome historiarum, Leipzig
Dindorf, L. 1870: Historici Graeci Minores, Vol. 1, Leipzig
Drinkwater, J. 2005: ‘Maximinus to Diocletian and the “crisis”’, in Cambridge Ancient History XII2, Cambridge, 2866
Eck, W. 1985: Die Statthalter der germanischen Provinzen vom 1.–3. Jahrhundert, Cologne
Esmonde Cleary, A. S. 2013: The Roman West AD 200–500: An Archaeological Study, Cambridge
Favuzzi, A. 2011: ‘Eusebios (101)’, in Worthington, I. (ed.), Brill's New Jacoby, Brill Online
Flinterman, J.-J. 1995: Power, Paideia and Pythagoreanism: Greek Identity, Conceptions of the Relationship between Philosophers and Monarchs, and Political Ideas in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius, Amsterdam
Follet, S. 1976: Athènes au IIe et au IIIe siècle. Études chronologiques et prosopographiques, Paris
Fossey, J. M. 1979: ‘The cities of the Kopaïs in the Roman period’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.7.1, 549–91
Fossey, J. M. 1986: ‘Some imperial statue bases from the South West Kopais’, in von Kalcyk, H., Gullath, B. and Graber, A. (eds), Studien zur alten Geschichte. Siegfried Lauffer zum 70. Geburtstag, Rome, 245–60
Fowden, G. 1988: ‘City and mountain in late Roman Attica’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 108, 4859
Frakes, R. M. 2011: ‘Philostratos of Athens (99)’, in Worthington, I. (ed.), Brill's New Jacoby, Brill Online
Frantz, A. 1988: Late Antiquity: A.D. 267–700. Volume XXIV, Princeton
Gerhardt, T., and Hartmann, U. 2008: ‘Fasti’, in Johne et al. 2008a, 1055–198
Gerov, B. 1965: ‘La carriera militare di Marciano generale di Gallieno’, Athenaeum 43, 333–54
Goltz, A., and Hartmann, U. 2008: ‘Valerianus und Gallienus’, in Johne et al. 2008a, 223–95
Groag, E. 1939: Die römischen Reichsbeamten von Achaia bis auf Diokletian, Vienna and Leipzig
Grusková, J. 2010: Untersuchungen zu den griechischen Palimpsesten der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna
Grusková, J., and Martin, G. 2014: ‘Ein neues Textstück aus den “Scythica Vindobonensia” zu den Ereignissen nach der Eroberung von Philippopolis’, Tyche 29, 2943
Harter-Uibopuu, K. 2003: ‘Kaiserkult und Kaiserverehrung in den Koina des grieschischen Mutterlandes’, in Cancik, H. and Hitzl, K. (eds), Die Praxis der Herrscherverehrung in Rom und seinen Provinzen, Tübingen, 209–31
Hartmann, U. 2008: ‘Die literarischen Quellen’, in Johne et al. 2008a, 19–44
Heil, M. 1997: ‘Panathenius, Statthalter von Griechenland’, Klio 79, 468–78
Henry, R. (ed. and trans.) 1959: Photius. Bibliothèque, Paris
Hohl, E. (ed.) 1971: Scriptores Historiae Augustae (3rd edn), Leipzig
Janiszewski, P. 2006: The Missing Link: Greek Pagan Historiography in the Second Half of the Third Century and in the Fourth Century A.D. (trans. Dzierzbicka, D.), Warsaw
Janiszewski, P., Stebnicka, K., and Szabat, E. (eds) 2015: Prosopography of Greek Rhetors and Sophists of the Roman Empire (trans. Dzierzbicka, D.), Oxford
Jeffreys, E. 1990: ‘Malalas’ sources’, in Jeffreys, E., Croke, B. and Scott, R. (eds), Studies in John Malalas, Byzantina Australiensia 6, Sydney, 167216
Johne, K.-P., Hartmann, U., and Gerhardt, T. (eds) 2008a: Die Zeit der Soldatenkaiser: Krise und Transformation des römischen Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (235–284), Berlin
Johne, K.-P., and Hartmann, U. 2008b: ‘Krise und Transformation des Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert’, in Johne et al. 2008a, 1025–53
Jones, C. P. 1996: ‘The Panhellenion’, Chiron 26, 2956
Jones, C. P. 2011: ‘The historian Philostratus of Athens’, Classical Quarterly 61, 320–2
Kajanto, I. 1965: The Latin Cognomina, Helsinki
Kaldellis, A. 2012: ‘The Byzantine role in the making of the corpus of Classical Greek historiography: a preliminary investigation’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 132, 7185
Kelly, G. 2008: Ammianus Marcellinus: The Allusive Historian, Cambridge
Kemezis, A. M. 2014: Greek Narratives of the Roman Empire under the Severans: Cassius Dio, Philostratus, and Herodian, Cambridge
Kettenhofen, E. 1992: ‘Die Einfälle der Heruler ins Römische Reich im 3. Jh. n. Chr.’, Klio 74, 291313
Kienast, D. 2004: Römische Kaisertabelle, Darmstadt
Liebeschuetz, W. 2007: ‘Was there a crisis of the third century?’, in Hekster, O., de Kleijn, G. and Slootjes, D. (eds), Crises and the Roman Empire. Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Nijmegen, June 20–24, 2006), Impact of Empire, Vol. 7, Leiden, 11–20
Lo Cascio, E. 2005: ‘The government and administration of the empire in the central decades of the third century’, in Cambridge Ancient History XII2, Cambridge, 156–69
Marshall, P. K. 1983: ‘Scriptores Historiae Augustae’, in Reynolds, L. D. (ed.), Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford, 354–6
Martin, G. 2006: Dexipp von Athen. Edition, Übersetzung und begleitende Studien, Tübingen
Martin, G., and Grusková, J. 2014a: ‘“Dexippus Vindobonensis”? Ein neues Handschriftenfragment zum sog. Herulereinfall der Jahre 267/8’, Wiener Studien 127, 101–20
Martin, G., and Grusková, J. 2014b: ‘“Scythica Vindobonensia” by Dexippus(?): new fragments on Decius’ Gothic wars’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 54.4, 728–54
Mason, H. J. 1970: ‘The Roman government in Greek sources: the effect of literary theory on the translation of official titles’, Phoenix 24.2, 150–9
Mason, H. J. 1974: Greek Terms for Roman Institutions: A Lexicon and Analysis, Toronto
McInerney, J. 2011: ‘Dexippos (100)’, in Worthington, I. (ed.), Brill's New Jacoby, Brill Online
Mennen, I. 2011: Power and Status in the Roman Empire, A.D. 193–284, Leiden
Meritt, B. D., and Traill, J. S. 1974: The Athenian Councillors. The Athenian Agora XV, Princeton
Millar, F. G. B. 1969: ‘P. Herennius Dexippus: the Greek world and the third-century invasions’, Journal of Roman Studies 59, 1229
Millar, F. G. B. 2004: Rome, The Greek World, and the East. Volume 2: Government, Society, and Culture in the Roman Empire (eds Cotton, H. M. and Rogers, G. M.), Chapel Hill
Mommsen, T. 1890: ‘Die Scriptores Historiae Augustae’, Hermes 25.2, 228–92
Mommsen, T. 1909: The Provinces of the Roman Empire (trans. Dickenson, W. P.), London
Müller, C. 1851: Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, Vol. IV, Paris
Niebuhr, B. G. 1829: Dexippi, Eunapii, Petri Patricii, Prisci, Malchi, Menandri, Historiarum quae supersunt, Bonn
Norden, E. 1958: Die antike Kunstprosa: vom VI. Jahrhundert v. Chr. bis in die Zeit der Renaissance 5, Darmstadt
Oberhummer, E. 1936: ‘Thessalonike’, RE 6 A1, 143–63
Oliver, J. H. 1970: Marcus Aurelius: Aspects of Civic and Cultural Policy in the East, Hesperia Supplement 13, Princeton
Oliver, J. H. 1978: ‘Panachaeans and Panhellenes’, Hesperia 47, 185–91
Paschoud, F. 1991: ‘L‘Histoire Auguste et Dexippe’, in Bonamente, G. and Duval, N. (eds), Historiae Augustae Colloquium Parisinum, Macerata, 217–69
Paschoud, F. 1994: ‘Nicomaque Flavien et la connexion Byzantine (Pierre le patrice et Zonaras): à propos du livre récent de Bruno Bleckmann’, Antiquité Tardive 2, 7182
Paschoud, F. 2000: Zosime: Histoire nouvelle, Tome I (2nd edn), Paris
Paschoud, F. 2011: Histoire Auguste: Tome IV 3e partie: Vies des Trente Tyrans et de Claude, Paris
Peachin, M. 1990: Roman Imperial Titulature and Chronology, A.D. 235–284, Amsterdam
Potter, D. S. 1990: Prophecy and History in the Crisis of the Roman Empire: A Historical Commentary on the Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle, Oxford
Potter, D. S. 2011: ‘The Greek historians of imperial Rome’, in Feldherr, A. and Hardy, G. (eds), The Oxford History of Historical Writing, Oxford, 316–45
Ridley, R. T. 1972: ‘Zosimus the historian’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 65.2, 277302
Roberto, U. 2009: ‘Byzantine collections of late antique authors: some remarks on the Excerpta historica Constantiniana’, in Wallraff, M. and Mecella, L. (eds), Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur: Die Kestoi des Julius Africanus und ihre Überlieferung, Berlin, 7184
Schoell, M. S. F. 1824: Histoire de la littérature grecque profane, depuis son origine jusqu'à la prise de Constantinople par les Turcs, Paris
Sherk, R. K. 1957: ‘Roman imperial troops in Macedonia and Achaea’, American Journal of Philology 78, 5262
Sivan, H. 1992: ‘The historian Eusebius (of Nantes)’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 112, 158–63
Smith, R. E. 1979: ‘Dux, Praepositus’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 36, 263–78
Spawforth, A. J. 1999: ‘The Panhellenion again’, Chiron 29, 339–52
Spawforth, A. J., and Walker, S. 1985: ‘The world of the Panhellenion I: Athens and Eleusis’, Journal of Roman Studies 75, 78104
Spawforth, A. J., and Walker, S. 1986: ‘The world of the Panhellenion II: three Dorian cities’, Journal of Roman Studies 76, 88105
Speidel, M. P. 2008: ‘Das Heer’, in Johne et al. 2008a, 673–90
Stein, F. J. 1957: Dexippus et Herodianus rerum scriptores quatenus Thucydidem secuti sint, Bonn
Straub, J. 1952: Studien zur Historia Augusta, Bern
Syme, R. 1971: Emperors and Biography, Oxford
Talbert, R. J. A. 1984: The Senate of Imperial Rome, Princeton
Theocharaki, A. M. 2011: ‘The ancient circuit wall of Athens: its changing course and the phases of construction’, Hesperia 81.1, 71156
Thurn, J. (ed.) 2000: Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, Berlin
Traill, J. S. 1971: ‘Greek inscriptions honoring prytaneis’, Hesperia 40, 308–29
Traill, J. S. 1982: ‘Prytany and ephebic inscriptions from the Athenian agora’, Hesperia 51, 197235
Treadgold, W. 2007: The Early Byzantine Historians, Basingstoke
Treadgold, W. 2013: The Middle Byzantine Historians, Basingstoke
Wahlgren, S. (ed.) 2006: Symeonis Magistri et Logothetae Chronicon, Berlin
Wilkes, J. J. 1989: ‘Civil defence in third-century Achaia’, in Walker, S. and Cameron, A. (eds), The Greek Renaissance in the Roman Empire, BICS Supplement 55, London, 187–92
Wilkes, J. J. 2005: ‘Provinces and frontiers’, Cambridge Ancient History XII2, Cambridge, 212–68
Wilson, N. G. 1983: Scholars of Byzantium, London
Witschel, C. 1999: Krise – Rezession – Stagnation? Der western des römischen Reiches im 3. Jh. n. Chr., Frankfurt
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Roman Studies
  • ISSN: 0075-4358
  • EISSN: 1753-528X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-roman-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 23
Total number of PDF views: 189 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 873 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.