. A Roman who succeeded to
the imperial throne conjointly with his elder brother Carinus, after the death of their father
Carus, at the beginning of A.D. 284. Numerianus was with the army in Mesopotamia at the death
of Probus; but, instead of following up the advantage which his father had gained over the
Persians, he was compelled by the army to abandon the conquests which had been already made,
and to retreat to Syria. During the retreat, a weakness of the eyes obliged him to confine
himself to a litter, which was guarded by the praetorians. The administration of all affairs,
civil as well as military, devolved on Arrius Aper, the praetorian prefect, his father-in-law.
The army was eight months on its march from the banks of the Tigris to the Thracian Bosporus,
and during all that time the imperial authority was exercised in the name of the emperor, who
never appeared to his soldiers. Reports at length spread among them that their emperor was no
longer living; and when they had reached the city of Chalcedon they could not be prevented
from breaking into the imperial tent, where they found only his corpse. Suspicion naturally
fell upon Arrius; and an assembly of the army was accordingly held, for the purpose of
avenging the death of Numerianus and electing a new emperor. Their choice fell upon
Diocletian, who, immediately after his election, put Arrius to death with his own hands,
without giving him an opportunity of justifying himself, which might, perhaps, have proved
dangerous to the new emperor. The virtues of Numerianus are mentioned by most of his
biographers. His manners were mild and affable; and he was celebrated among his contemporaries
for eloquence and poetic talent. The Senate voted him a statue, with the
inscription, “To Numerianus Caesar, the most powerful orator of his times”
Aurel. Vict. De Caes.
38; Eutrop. ix. 12).