whose full name was Decimus Clodius Ceionius Septimius Albinus, the son of Ceionius Postumius and Aurelia Messalina, was born at Adrumetum in Africa; but the year of his birth is not known.
According to his father's statement (Capitol. Clod. Albin.
4), he received the name of Albinus on account of the extraordinary whiteness of his body. Sewing great disposition for a military life, he entered the army at an early age and served with great distinction, especially during the rebellion of Avidius Cassius against the emperor Marcus Aurelius, in A. D. 175. His merits were acknowledged by the emperor in two letters (ib.
10) in which he calls Albinus an African, who resembled his countrymen but little, and who was praiseworthy for his military experience, and the gravity of his character.
The emperor likewise declared, that without Albinus the legions (in Bithynia) would have gone over to Avidius Cassius, and that he intended to have him chosen consul.
The emperor Commodus gave Albinus a command in Gaul and afterwards in Britain.
A false rumour having been spread that Commodus had died, Albinus harangued the army in Britain on the occasion, attacking Commodus as a tyrant, and maintaining that it would be useful to the Roman empire to restore to the senate its ancient dignity and power.
The senate was very pleased with these sentiments, but not so the emperor, who sent Junius Severus to supersede Albinus in his command.
At this time Albinus must have been a very distinguished man, which we may conclude from the fact, that some time before Commodus had offered him the title of Caesar, which he wisely declined. Notwithstanding the appointment of Junius Severus as his successor, Albinus kept his command till after the murder of Commodus and that of his successor Pertinax in A. D. 193.
It is doubtful if Albinus was the secret author of the murder of Pertinax, to which Capitolinus makes an allusion. (Ib.
After the death of Pertinax, Didius Julianus purchased the throne by bribing the praetorians; but immediately afterwards, C. Pescennius Niger was proclaimed emperor by the legions in Syria; L. Septimius Severus by the troops in Illyricum and Pannonia; and Albinus by the armies in Britain and Gaul. Julianus having been put to death by order of the senate, who dreaded the power of Septimius Severus, the latter turned his arms against Pescennius Niger.
With regard to Albinus, we must believe that Severus made a provisional arrangement with him, conferring upon him the title of Caesar, and holding with him the consulship in A. D. 194.
But after the defeat and death of Niger in A. D. 194, and the complete discomfiture of his adherents, especially after the fall of Byzantium in A. D. 196, Severus resolved to make himself the absolute master of the Roman empire. Albinus seeing the danger of his position, which he had increased by his indolence, prepared for resistance.
He narrowly escaped being assassinated by a messenger of Severus (ib.
7, 8), whereupon he put himself at the head of his army, which is said to have consisted of 150,000 men.
He met the equal forces of Severus at Lugdunum (Lyons), in Gaul, and there fought with him on the 19th of February, 197 (Spartian. Sever.
11), a bloody battle, in which he was at first victorious, but at last was entirely defeated, and lost his life either by suicide, or by order of Severus, after having been made a prisoner. His body was ill treated by Severus, who sent his head to Rome, and accompanied it with an insolent letter, in which he mocked the senate for their adherence to Albinus.
The town of Lugdunum was plundered and destroyed, and the adherents of Albinus were cruelly prosecuted by Severus.
Albinus was a man of great bodily beauty and strength; he was an experienced general; a skilful gladiator; a severe, and often cruel commander ; and he has been called the Catiline of his time.
He had one son, or perhaps two, who were put to death with their mother, by order of Severus.
It is said that he wrote a treatise on agriculture, and a collection of stories, called Milesian. (Capitolinus, Clodius Albinus : D. C. 70.4
; Herodian, 2.15, 3.5-7.)
There are several medals of Albinus.
In the one annexed he is called D. CLOD. SEPT. ALBIN. CAES.