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Sestertius Hostilian-s2771.jpg
A coin of Hostilian celebrating Securitas,
the security of the Roman Empire.
Joint 36th Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign 251 (with Trebonianus Gallus)
Predecessor Decius and Herennius Etruscus
Successor Trebonianus Gallus and Volusianus
Born c. 230
Sirmium, Illyricum
Died 251 (age 21)
Full name
Gaius Valens Hostilianus Messius Quintus Augustus
Father Decius
Mother Herennia Etruscilla

Hostilian (Latin: Gaius Valens Hostilianus Messius Quintus Augustus;[1] 230? – 251) was Roman emperor in 251. Hostilian was born in Sirmium (now Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia) in Illyricum[2][3] sometime after 230, as the son of the future emperor Decius by his wife Herennia Cupressenia Etruscilla. He was the younger brother of emperor Herennius Etruscus.

Following his father's accession to the throne, Hostilian received the treatment of an imperial prince, but was always kept in the shade of his brother Herennius, who enjoyed the privileges of being older and heir. In the beginning of 251, Decius elevated his son Herennius to co-emperor and Hostilian succeeded him in the title of princeps iuventutis (prince of youth). Decius and Herennius then set out on campaign against king Cniva of the Goths, to punish him for raids on the Danubian frontier. Hostilian remained in Rome due to his inexperience, and empress Herennia was named regent.

The campaign proved to be a disaster: both Herennius and Decius died in the Battle of Abrittus and became the first two emperors to be killed by a foreign army in battle. The armies in the Danube acclaimed Trebonianus Gallus emperor, but Rome acknowledged Hostilian's rights. Since Trebonianus was a respected general, there was fear of another civil war of succession, despite the fact that he chose to respect the will of Rome and adopted Hostilian. But later in 251, the Plague of Cyprian broke out in the Empire and Hostilian died in the epidemic. He was the first emperor in 40 years to die of natural causes, one of only 13. His death opened the way for the rule of Trebonianus with his natural son Volusianus.


  1. In Classical Latin, Hostilian's name would be inscribed as GAIVS VALENS HOSTILIANVS MESSIVS QVINTVS AVGVSTVS.
  2. Roman Colosseum, Hostilian
  3. "These men are usually called the Illyrian emperors since they all were born in that province (Illyricum) and were raised to power by legions stationed there" The Ancient World, Joseph Ward Swain

External links

Media related to Hostilian at Wikimedia Commons

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Decius and Herennius Etruscus
Roman Emperor
Served alongside: Trebonianus Gallus
Succeeded by
Trebonianus Gallus and Volusianus