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The middle decades of the third century A.D. represented a period of intense upheaval for the Roman empire, with more than thirty emperors claiming the throne in the fifty year period between the murder of Severus Alexander in A.D. 235 and the accession of Diocletian in A.D. 284. This is usually referred to as the 'age of the soldier emperor', since many rulers during this period rose from the ranks of the army to claim the throne. These included Maximinus, a Thracian shepherd who allegedly killed his wife, and Aurelian, a battle-hardened soldier with a reputation for severity. Yet this traditional view ignores the fact that several emperors during the mid-third century, including Trajan Decius, Trebonianus Gallus, Valerian, and Gallienus, actually came from a senatorial background. In this lecture, I will examine how senatorial and soldier emperors crafted their public image through statues, inscriptions, and coins. These artistic and documentary media can help us to understand the pivotal role played by soldier emperors in the transformation of imperial ideology in the late Roman world.