1. Gallus and the other rulers, having held the government less than two years, were overthrown, and Valerian, with his son Gallienus, received the empire. The circumstances which Dionysius relates of him we may learn from his epistle to Hermammon, in which he gives the following account:
2. |And in like manner it is revealed to John; For there was given to him,' he says, a mouth speaking great things and blasphemy; and there was given unto him authority and forty and two months.'
3. It is wonderful that both of these things occurred under Valerian; and it is the more remarkable in this case when we consider his previous conduct, for he had been mild and friendly toward the men of God, for none of the emperors before him had treated them so kindly and favorably; and not even those who were said openly to be Christians received them with such manifest hospitality and friendliness as he did at the beginning of his reign. For his entire house was filled with pious persons and was a church of God.
4. But the teacher and ruler of the synagogue of the Magi from Egypt persuaded him to change his course, urging him to slay and persecute pure and holy men because they opposed and hindered the corrupt and abominable incantations. For there are and there were men who, being present and being seen, though they only breathed and spoke, were able to scatter the counsels of the sinful demons. And he induced him to practice initiations and abominable sorceries and to offer unacceptable sacrifices; to slay innumerable children and to sacrifice the offspring of unhappy fathers; to divide the bowels of new-born babes and to mutilate and cut to pieces the creatures of God, as if by such practices they could attain happiness.|
5. He adds to this the following: |Splendid indeed were the thank-offerings which Macrianus brought them for the empire which was the object of his hopes. He is said to have been formerly the emperor's general finance minister ; yet he did nothing praiseworthy or of general benefit, but fell under the prophetic saying,
6. Woe unto those who prophesy from their own heart and do not consider the general good.' For he did not perceive the general Providence, nor did he look for the judgment of Him who is before all, and through all, and over all. Wherefore he became an enemy of his Catholic Church, and alienated and estranged himself from the compassion of God, and fled as far as possible from his salvation. In this he showed the truth of his own name.|
7. And again, farther on he says: |For Valerian, being instigated to such acts by this man, was given over to insults and reproaches, according to what was said by Isaiah: They have chosen their own ways and their abominations in which their soul delighted; I also will choose their delusions and will render unto them their sins.'
8. But this man madly desired the kingdom though unworthy of it, and being unable to put the royal garment on his crippled body, set forward his two sons to bear their father's sins. For concerning them the declaration which God spoke was plain, Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.'
9. For heaping on the heads of his sons his own evil desires, in which he had met with success, he wiped off upon them his own wickedness and hatred toward God.|
Dionysius relates these things concerning Valerian.