Sapor makes Valerian his foot-stool. A.R. 1008.

WAG 7751


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. This composition was used for a headpiece in 'Le Souvenir, A Pocket Remembrancer', a memorandum book printed by J Cary for Godwin in 1807, on the page for 16th September. The widely accepted narrative about Emperor Valerian (reigned 253 - 260) is that, wanting to end the war with the Sassanians, he offered them money as an incentive. The Sassanian king, Shapur (Sapor) I, invited Valerian to appeal to him in person. This was a trick and Valerian was captured by the Sassanians, living out his days as their slave. One version of this story claims that Valerian was used as a human footstool by Shapur whenever he wanted to mount or dismount his horse. Here, Shapur steps down onto the curled up body of Valerian.