Gallic Consuls

The title of Consul was ordinarily awarded to two Roman citizens on an annual basis. Quite frequently one of the Consuls would be the ruling emperor or a member of his family (notoriously Caius Caesar, Caligula, took this to the extreme by declaring that he would make his horse, Incitatus, Consul). On occasion the Consulship and the benefits the title has attached to it can be awarded to extra citizens within the year and these are referred to as Suffect Consuls and may cause difficulty when trying to establish chronologies and career paths.

The title Consul was one of the highest conferred magistracies of the Roman world and is frequently encountered on official inscriptions and coins, abbreviated to COS, the number following enumerating the number of times that the post was held. Such was the importance of the title that when the Gallic Empire was created following the revolt of Postumus during 260 AD a separate line of Consulships was conferred and it is these that I want to set down here.

It is probably best to deal with the Gallic Emperors first of all. Postumus enumerates Consulships II, III, IIII and V on his coinage. His coins which are either COS I or plainly COS cannot be confirmed as official pieces. Similarly Victorinus is represented as COS II on his coins and Tetricus Senior COS I, II and III. Laelianus and Marius do not show consular titles on any of their recorded coins, although with any archaeological evidence one should not take "absence of evidence as evidence of absence".

This leaves some obvious gaps given that it is an annual title and the Gallic Empire lasted for approximately fourteen years. Thankfully there are a number of stone inscriptions and from these some of the spaces can be filled and add some names of officials that are unrepresented elsewhere.

Postumus and Honoratianus Cos

The first inscription for discussion was only published for the first time in the 1990's and that is the Augsburg altar. This monument, reused during the Gallic Empire but bearing an older inscription from the reign of Severus Alexander, bears the names of Postumus and Honoratianus as Consul, partially erased (damnato memoriae?), on the bottom line. There is no enumerator suggesting, but not conclusive proof, that this was the Gallic emperor's first Consulship. It also records a victory over the barbaric peoples, the Juthungi, and a date equating to September 11th. Was this a suffect Consulship under Valerian and Gallienus or, given that there is a second name, a record of the first truly Gallic Consuls? I prefer the latter hypothesis, especially as Postumus is named as Augustus. Postumus' COS II coins, although early, don't begin straight away and there is no plausible COS I type amongst the known coins. Furthermore the annual title would move to COS II at the beginning of the next calendar year even though only the remaining part of the first year after the accession had been served as COS I.

We may tabulate Postumus' Consulships as follows:

260 Postumus I Honoratianus
261 Postumus II  
262 Postumus III  
267 Postumus IIII Victorinus
268 Postumus V  

The Victorinus who shared the Consulship in 267 was the future Gallic Emperor and the event is recorded on an inscription from San Miguel de Confińo in northern Spain (CIL II 5736, König 58).

There are a number of obvious gaps and it is from the inscriptions that a number of pairs under Postumus can be supplied. Pairs of known Consuls include:

Censor and Lepidus - each Consul for the second time, although the first time was not necessarily as "Gallic" Consuls

Dialis and Bassus

Apr. and Ruf. - the names recorded only in abbreviated form

Censor & Lepidus Cos II

Censor and Lepidus are known from a number of inscriptions including the magnificent one from the bath house at Lancaster, erected by Octavius Sabinus and Flavius Ammausius of the Sebossian cavalry auxiliary, "the Postumian". This piece is made more interesting by the erasure of the unit's epithet recalling the name of Postumus and the beginning of the inscription (CIL VII 287, RIB 605).

Censor and Lepidus Cos II

Another inscription naming Consor and Lepidus as Consul again (iterum), this time there is no mention of the Gallic regime, however, knowing that such a pair did exist then it is fairly same to assume that these are the same individuals. The find spot of this inscription, Mainz, supports this hypothesis (CIL XIII 6779).

Apr and Ruf Cos

Apr(inius) and Ruf(inus) on an inscription from Britain set up by and naming the 20th (Valeria Victrix) legion, the badge of which, the boar, is displayed on the bottom panel (CIL VII 802, RIB 1956).

One other "non imperial" Consul is known at present from the time of the Gallic Empire. A certain Sanctus shared the honour with the Emperor Victorinus some time in the period mid 269 to early 271. This pairing is recorded on an inscription from Germany currently in the Bonn museum (CIL XIII 11976).

There are still a number of spaces still to be filled, in particular pairings with Tetricus I (only one of his three Consulships was shared with his son, also called Tetricus) as well as confirming pairings with Postumus and, as with the Augsburg inscription, new discoveries can still come to light.

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©2003 RJB