Marcus Sedatius Severianus

Marcus Sedatius Severianus (105–161 or 162)[1][2] was a Roman senator, suffect consul, and general during the 2nd century AD, originally from Gaul. Severianus was a provincial governor and later a provincial consul. The peak of his career was as suffect consul for the nundinium of July–September 153 as the colleague of Publius Septimius Aper.[3] He was governor of Cappadocia at the start of the Roman war with Parthia, during which he was convinced by the untrustworthy oracle to invade Armenia in 161.[4] Sedatius committed suicide while under siege in the Armenian city of Elegeia, on the upper Euphrates. The legion he led was wiped out shortly after. He was replaced as governor of Cappadocia by Marcus Statius Priscus.[5]

Marcus Sedatius Severianus
SPQR (laurier).svg
Consul of the Roman Empire
In office
July – September 153
Preceded bySextus Caecilius Maximus with Marcus Pontius Sabibus
Succeeded byGaius Cattius Marcellus with Quintus Petiedius Gallus
Personal details
Bornc. 105
Lemonum, Gaul
Elegeia, Armenia
Spouse(s)Julia Regina
ChildrenMarcus Sedatius Severus
OccupationPolitician, general
Military service
AllegianceRoman Military banner.svg Roman Empire
CommandsQuaestor of Sicily
Governor of Dacia
Governor of Cappadocia
Battles/warsRoman–Parthian War of 161–166
Siege of Elegeia


The Roman Empire at the time of Severianus. Armenia is shown as a Roman client state.

A Roman inscription found in modern Poitiers mentioning Severianus establishes this as his birthplace. The city was than known as Lemonum; it was in Roman Gaul, in an area inhabited by the Pictones.[I 1] His Gallic origins are also briefly mentioned by Lucian of Samosata.[4] Another inscription[I 2] mentions that Severianus is from the tribe Quirina, which indicates that his ancestors had become Roman under either Claudius or the Flavians. Nearly all of the inhabitants of Gaul had become Quirites during the 1st century.[6]


Severinus' full pedigree was: Marcus Sedatius C. f. [i.e. Gaii filius] Severianus Iulius Acer Metillius Nepos Rufinus Ti. Rutilianus Censor.[I 2] The transliteration of his name into Ancient Greek was: Μ. Σηδάτιος Σεουηριανὸς;[I 3]

The power of Severianus' wealthy family, the Sedatii, came from trade and commerce. The Sedatii depended on the Loire river, and were known to have had interests in Ostia, the port of Rome.[7] The social and political rise of the Sedatii illustrates the decline of the aristocratic Iulii who had been the leading class in Roman Gaul since the time of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the first dynasty of Roman emperors. The possible marriage of Severianus' father to Julia Rufina may have been a way of confirming the association between winemakers and land owners in Gaul.[8]

Severianus is known to have had at least one son, Marcus Sedatius Severus Julius Reginus Gallus. All that is known of his son's career is that he was the patron of a college in Ostia. The name Julius Reginus probably came to him from his mother, Severianus' wife. It has been suggested that Severianus was adopted by his father-in-law. If true, this would mean that Sevarianus inherited the name from his mother.[9]

Early careerEdit

Ruins of the forum from the Roman colony, Sarmizegetusa, which Severianus was the patron of.[I 2]

The first magisterial position which we know Severianus held was that of quaestor of Sicily; he would have supervised the provincial treasury and audited its accounts. Once having served as a quaestor, a man was admitted to the Senate.[10] The political authority of the Senate was negligible, as the Emperor held the true power of the state. Membership of the Senate was sought after by individuals seeking prestige and social standing, rather than executive authority. Severianus probably became a senator late in the reign of Hadrian (r. 117–138). He is first mentioned as a senator in inscriptions from Ostia in the 140s.[I 4] The traditional Republican magistracy of tribune of the plebs followed, another prestigious position which had lost its independence and most of its practical functions. He is also recorded as having been the patron of a city, probably Cadurci (now Cahors) in Gaul. Next he served as a praetor, commanding the Legio V Macedonica which was stationed in Troesmis in Moesia Inferior (which roughly corresponds to modern Serbia. He was then appointed curator, or overseer, of the Via Flaminia, the major road north from Rome over the Apennines.[11]

Severianus was governor of Roman Dacia and commander of Legio XIII Gemina, which was stationed there, from 151 to 152. This is attested by many inscriptions from Dacia.[12] Two inscriptions from Sarmizegetusa, the capital of Dacia, give his full name and states that he is the patron of the city.[I 5] The monuments that hold the inscriptions were erected after his consulship. Sarmizegetusa sent a message to Rome to congratulate Severianus and express its gratitude to him for his administration.[I 6]

In 153 Severianus was appointed consul for part of the year, from July to September, by Emperor Antoninus Pius. A consulship was the highest honour of the Roman state, and candidates were chosen carefully by the emperor.[13][14] He served alongside Publius Septimius Aper, great-uncle of the future emperor Septimius Severus.[I 7]


Severianus is best known as the governor of Cappadocia in the late 150s.[15] The position was important, for Cappadocia was a border province, which is why Severianus, with his military background and experience of frontier provinces, was assigned. Historian Marcel Le Glay suggests that his promotion was due to the support of Publius Mummius Sisenna Rutilianus,[16] the governor of Asia who is famous as a follower of the self-described prophet Alexander of Abonoteichus thanks to the works of Lucian.[17] In Cappadocia, Servianus' actions seem to have been popular: on an inscription from Zela[18] he is honored as the benefactor (Greek: evergetes) and founder (Greek: ktistes)[Note 1] of the city.[19] He also appears on an inscription in Sebastopolis.[I 8] As governor of Cappadocia Servianus was allocated two legions.

War with ParthiaEdit

In the summer of 161, the Parthian Vologases IV invaded Armenia, expelled the ruler Sohaemus placed there by the Romans, and installed his own relative Pacoras as king. Being governor of Cappadocia meant Severianus would be on the front line of any conflict involving Armenia,[20] Alexander of Abonutichus had enraptured Severianus, as he had the proconsul Rutilianus.[21][Note 2] Alexander convinced Severianus that he could defeat the Parthians easily, and win glory for himself.[22][23] Severianus led a legion (perhaps the IX Hispana[24]) into Armenia, but was trapped by the Parthian general Chosrhoes at Elegeia, a town just beyond the Cappadocian frontiers, near the headwaters of the Euphrates. Severianus made some attempt to fight Chosrhoes, but soon realized the futility of his campaign, and committed suicide. His legion was massacred. The campaign had only lasted three days.[25][23] He was replaced as governor of Cappadocia by Marcus Statius Priscus.[5]

Some historians believe that the defeat of Severianus at Elegeia explains the disappearance of the legions XXII Deiotariana and IX Hispana,[26] but no proof exists that could confirm this hypothesis; the fate of the two legions is still controversial.[Note 3]


The governor of Syria was also defeated by the Parthians.[5] Co-Emperor Lucius Verus (he ruled with his adoptive brother Marcus Aurelius) took command against the Parthians and brought in reinforcements on a large scale.[5] These included four whole legions and large detachments from many others. The war ended in a Roman victory five years later, with the capture and sack of the Parthian capital.[27][28]

Family treeEdit

Family tree of Sedatius[1]
M. Sedatius
born c. 45
Julius Rufinus
C. Sedatius Severus
born c. 75
Julia Rufina
M. Sedatius Severianus
born c. 105
M. Sedatius Severus Julius Reginus
born c. 130


  1. ^ The term is an honorific and should not be taken literally. As patron Severianus was incorporated into the city's founding myth and eulogised accordingly.
  2. ^ On Alexander, see: Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), 241–50.
  3. ^ The XXII Deiotariana is attested for the last time in Egypt in 119 : J. Schwartz, Où est passée la legio XXII Deiotariana ? Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 76 (1989), pp. 101–102; the IX Hispana in Nijmegen in 130: P.J. Sijpesteijn, Die legio nona hispania in Nimwegen Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 111 (1996), pp. 281–282.


  1. ^ a b Picard 1981, p. 889.
  2. ^ The Correspondence of Marcus Cornelius Fronto with Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Lucius Verus, Antoninus Pius, and various friends p.21, 342
  3. ^ Werner Eck, "Die Fasti consulares der Regungszeit des Antoninus Pius, eine Bestandsaufnahme seit Géza Alföldys Konsulat und Senatorenstand" in Studia epigraphica in memoriam Géza Alföldy, hg. W. Eck, B. Feher, and P. Kovács (Bonn, 2013),p. 76
  4. ^ a b Lucian Alexander 27
  5. ^ a b c d Birley 1993, p. 123.
  6. ^ Picard 1981, p. 888.
  7. ^ Picard 1981, pp. 893–915.
  8. ^ (in French) Bernard Rémy, Les carrières sénatoriales dans les provinces romaines d'Anatolieau Haut-Empire (31 av. J.-C. - 284 ap. J.-C.), (Istanbul: Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes-Georges Dumézil, 1989), p. 220.
  9. ^ (in French) André Chastagnol, Les modes d'accès du Sénat romain au début de l'empire, published by BSNAF, 1971, pp. 282–313.
  10. ^ Richard Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (Princeton: University Press, 1984), p. 16
  11. ^ Birley 2000, p. 37.
  12. ^ Ioan Piso, Fasti Provinciae Daciae I, 1993, p. 61–65.
  13. ^ Smallwood 2010, p. 12.
  14. ^ Mennen 2011, p. 129.
  15. ^ Bernard Rémy, Les carrières sénatoriales dans les provinces romaines d'Anatolie, Istanbul-Paris, 1989, pp. 219-222.
  16. ^ (in French) Marcel Le Glay, D'Abônouteichos à Sabratha, les déviations de la religion romaine au temps de Marc Aurèle, citing Attilio Mastino (dir.), L'Africa romana 6, Sassari, 1989, pp. 35–41.
  17. ^ Lucian, Alexander 30
  18. ^ Henri Grégoire, Franz Cumont, Studia Pontica, III, p. 244, no. 271.
  19. ^ Deniz Burcu Erciyas, Wealth, Aristocracy And Royal Propaganda Under the Hellenistic Kingdom of the Mithradatids in the Central Black Sea Region of Turkey, Brill Academic Publishers, 2005, p. 52.
  20. ^ A.R. Birley The Fasti of Roman Britain 1981 p. 121
  21. ^ Birley 1993, p. 121.
  22. ^ Lucian, Alexander 27
  23. ^ a b Birley 1993, pp. 121–22.
  24. ^ Birley 1993, p. 278n.
  25. ^ Dio 71.2.1; Lucian, Historia Quomodo Conscribenda 21, 24, 25
  26. ^ M. Mor, "Two Legions - The same fate ? (The disappearance of the legions IX Hispana and XXII Deiotariana)", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 62 (1986), p. 267
  27. ^ HA Verus 8.3–4
  28. ^ Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 163


  • Birley, Anthony R. (1993). Marcus Aurelius. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415171250.
  • Birley, Anthony R. (2000). Septimius Severus: The African Emperor. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415165914.
  • Prosopographia Imperii Romani, S 231
  • Mennen, Inge (2011). Power and Status in the Roman Empire, AD 193–284. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-20359-4.
  • Picard, Gilbert Charles (1981). "Ostie et la Gaule de l'Ouest". Mélanges de l'école française de Rome. MEFRA (in French). 93 (2): 883–915. doi:10.3406/mefr.1981.1301.
  • Smallwood, E. Mary (2010). Principates of Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian. Cambridge: Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-521-12894-0.


  1. ^ AE 1981, 640
  2. ^ a b c AE 1913, 55 = ILS 1981
  3. ^ Studia Pontica III, p.244 no.271
  4. ^ CIL XIV, 246, CIL XIV, 247, CIL XIV, 248, and CIL XIV, 250
  5. ^ (ILS 9487) ; IDR III/2, 97 and IDR III/2, 98. See also CIL III, 1575 ; IDR III/1, 70 in From Mehadia.
  6. ^ CIL III, 1562 (ILS, 3896).
  7. ^ Fasti Ostienses, fragment XXIX and CIL II, 2008 ; CIL II, 5
  8. ^ IGR III, 113
Political offices
Preceded by
Sextus Caecilius Maximus,
and Marcus Pontius Sabinus
Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
with Publius Septimius Aper
Succeeded by
Gaius Cattius Marcellus,
and Quintus Petiedius Gallus