Lucius Domitius Aurelianus
Roman emperor of humble origin who reunited the Empire and repelled the pressure of barbarian invasions and internal revolts.
Biography of Aurelian
- Aurelian was a brother.
- Active c. 214 – 275 in Dacia Ripensis.
Aurelian, who instituted the official cult of the Sol invictus, could have only sentiments of sympathy with the god that was regarded as identical with the one whom he caused his pontiffs to worship.
—Franz Cumont (1902) Mithra and the imperial power of Rome.
Aurelian strengthened the position of the Sun god Sol Invictus as the main divinity of the Roman pantheon. His intention was to give to all the peoples of the Empire a single god they could believe in without betraying their own gods. The centre of the cult was a new temple, built in 274 and dedicated on December 25 of that year in the Campus Agrippae in Rome, with great decorations financed by the spoils of the Palmyrene Empire.
During his short rule, Aurelian seemed to follow the principle of 'one faith, one empire', which would not be made official until the Edict of Thessalonica. He appears with the title deus et dominus natus ('God and born ruler') on some of his coins, a style also later adopted by Diocletian. Lactantius argued that Aurelian would have outlawed all the other gods if he had had enough time. He was recorded by Christian historians as having organized persecutions.