Macrianus the Elder was Emperor Valerian's quartermaster general. After Valerian's capture by King Shapur I of Persia in A. D. 260, the elder Macrianus and another officer Callistus, known as "Ballista" organized what was left of the Roman army and struck back at the Persians. Ballista, whose nickname means a type of siege catapult, lived up to his name. Seeing that the Persians were occupied in collecting booty from a Roman army they thought was totally annihilated, Macrinus and Ballista attacked the bands of Persian foragers piecemeal and recovered much of what was lost. The Roman troops were loaded into ships, which sailed down the coast of Cilicia. They disembarked and attacked the Persians when they least expected it. They managed to capture both the Persian army’s baggage train and King Shapur's harem, thus adding grave insult to injury.
The army was overjoyed by these dramatic victories, and decided to elevate these two generals to the throne. Instead, Macrianus and Ballista arranged to have Macrianus' two sons, Macrianus the Younger and Quietus made co-emperors.
In the Spring of 261, Macrianus the Elder and Macrianus the Younger (the Emperor Macrianus) led a large Roman army Northwest to depose Gallienus, who was the rightful Roman emperor and Valerian's son. The Macrianni were defeated in battle near Pannonia by Gallienus' strategic mobile cavalry force. Both Macrianus the Elder and Macrianus the Younger were killed. Quietus remained in the East. Gallienus instructed Odenathus, the Roman client king of Palmyra, to capture Quietus. Quietus had holed up in the Syrian city of Emesa. The citizens executed Quietus and surrendered after a short siege.
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