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Gordian III ascended to the purple at the young age of 13 years old. He was grandson of Gordian I via his mother and the nephew of Gordian II, both of whom had died in Africa at the hands of forces loyal to the Emperor Maximinus Thrax. The news of the Gordian's death was received with dismay by the people and the senate back in Rome, who had sympathetically risen in rebellion in favour of the Gordians against Maximinus, and so the senators Pupienus and Balbinus were elected co-emperors in their stead to deal with the pressing problem of avoiding the consequences of Maximinus' wrath. As a gesture to the wishes of the people (who revered the memory of the elder Gordians), the younger Gordian was appointed Caesar. Following the defeat of Maximinus Thrax, the co-emperors Pupienus and Balbinus were soon after murdered by members of the Praetorian Guard, who viewed emperors appointed by the Senate, rather than themselves, with contempt. It is unlikely that the 13 year old Gordian had anything to do with this turn of events, but was simply viewed as a useful figurehead by others who sought to control the Empire through him.
Fortunately for the young Gordian, he had a trusted ally in Timesitheus, the Praetorian Prefect, whose daughter Gordian married. Thanks to Timesitheus' steady and wise hand, Gordian III reigned for six years, which for a minority emperor at a time of tremendous internal instability was a remarkable achievement in its own right. Sadly, Gordian's fate was more or less sealed when Timesitheus died, allegedly through poison administered by his rivals. The future Philip I 'the Arab' was appointed Pretorian Prefect in his father-in-law's place, at the instigation of Philip's brother Priscius, a senior member of the Praetorian Guard. Together, the two brothers conspired to murder Gordian and usurp his place in the aftermath of a losing battle against the Persians*. Phillip the Arab was thus declared Emperor, but his reign was compared very unfavourably by many contemporaries with that of Gordian III, whose reign was associated with stability and good governance in a century of turbulence within the Empire.
The coin featured is a bronze sestertius depicting the standard wreathed portrait of the emperor Gordian III, the reverse a depiction of the Emperor holding a globe and carrying a transverse spear.
*According to Persian sources, Gordian III was killed in this battle, rather than assassinated. However, it is not inconceivable that contemporary Roman historians hostile to Philip might have preferred to ascribe the death of the more popular Gordian III to Philip's perfidy, rather than to a victorious foreign army.
Price & Availability:-
|Description||Grade||Price £||Price $||Availability|
|Brass Sestertius of Gordian III||AVF/Good Fine||£25||$Ask||Yes|
Roman Historical Notes
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