Hostilian was the younger son of the emperor Trajan Decius. While his father and brother Herennius Etruscus were fighting the Goths on the Danube, he stayed in Rome to take care of the civil government of the empire. When they were informed of the death of Trajan Decius and Herennius Etruscus, the Senate proclaimed Hostilian Augustus. The Danubian legions, however, chose Trebonianus Gallus as their new emperor. Considering that this was the middle of the violent Third Century, when soldiers murdered emperors almost as readily as they changed clothes, it would be expected that Hostilian's fate would be sealed. Surprisingly, the Senate, Hostilian, Gallus, and the soldiers all came to an agreement whereby Gallus would reign as emperor and Hostilian would be adopted as Caesar. We will never know how well the arrangement would have worked out. Though some have accused Gallus of poisoning the young caesar, it is fairly certain that Hostilian died of the plague in November, A. D. 251.
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