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Barbarians in the north. Persians in the east. Catholics within. With enemies everywhere, it was no surprise to find a paranoid emperor.
Valens, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire from 364—378, was far from the specimen of nobility you would expect. When you think of a Roman emperor, you might picture a man with arms upheld in victory, leading a procession of soldiers and slaves through the city of Rome. Or perhaps you picture Commodus from “Gladiator,” a naïve youth whose desire to help the commoners is clouded by his fascination with his sister. But you do not picture a man with a squint—squints are for Popeye. Or a man with bowed legs—those are for cowboys. Yet, Valens (CAESAR·FLAVIVS·IVLIVS·VALENS·AVGVSTVS) was just that. Not even his paranoia could save him.