Gordian Emperors Timeline

Gordian Emperors Timeline


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Gordian III

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Gordian III, Latin in full Marcus Antonius Gordianus, (born 225—died 244, Zaitha, Mesopotamia), Roman emperor from 238 to 244.

After the deaths of the joint emperors Gordian I and Gordian II in 238, the Roman Senate proclaimed two elderly senators, Pupienus and Balbinus, joint emperors. However, the people and the Praetorian Guard in Rome distrusted the Senate’s nominees and insisted on making the 13-year-old Gordian (grandson of Gordian I and nephew of Gordian II) caesar and heir to the throne. After his own troops murdered the deposed emperor Maximinus (reigned 235–238), the Praetorian Guard rioted, killed Pupienus and Balbinus, and in August 238 proclaimed the young Gordian sole emperor. The government was directed first by his mother and later by his father-in-law, the praetorian prefect Timesitheus. In 242 Gordian accompanied Timesitheus on a campaign against the Persians. After successes in battle, the prefect died of an illness in 243 and was replaced by Philip the Arabian. In the spring of 244 Gordian was murdered by the troops and succeeded by Philip.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


Contents

In 235, following the murder of Emperor Alexander Severus in Moguntiacum (modern Mainz), [4] the capital of the Roman province Germania Superior, Maximinus Thrax was acclaimed Emperor. [5] In the following years, there was a growing opposition against Maximinus in the Roman senate and amongst the majority of the population of Rome. In 238 a rebellion broke out in the Africa Province, where Gordian's grandfather and uncle, Gordian I and II, were proclaimed joint emperors. [6] This revolt was suppressed within a month by Cappellianus, governor of Numidia and a loyal supporter of Maximinus Thrax. [6]

The Senate, showing its hostility towards Maximinus by supporting the Gordiani, elected Pupienus and Balbinus as joint emperors. [7] These senators were not popular men, so the Senate decided to raise Marcus Antonius Gordianus to the rank of Caesar. [8] Maximinus, moving quickly to attack the senate's newly elected emperors, encountered difficulties marching his army through an Alpine winter. [8] Arriving at Aquileia and short on supplies, Maximinus besieged the city. [8] After four weeks, Maximinus' demoralized army mutinied and the Legio II Parthica murdered him. [9]

The situation for Pupienus and Balbinus, despite Maximinus' death, was doomed from the start with popular riots, military discontent and an enormous fire that consumed Rome in June 238. On July 29, Pupienus and Balbinus were killed by the Praetorian Guard and Gordian proclaimed sole emperor. [10]

Due to Gordian's age, the imperial government was surrendered to the aristocratic families, who controlled the affairs of Rome through the Senate. [11] In 240, Sabinianus revolted in the African province, but he was quickly defeated. [12] In 241, Gordian was married to Furia Sabinia Tranquillina, [13] daughter of the newly appointed praetorian prefect, Timesitheus. As chief of the Praetorian Guard and father in law of the Emperor, Timesitheus quickly became the de facto ruler of the Roman Empire. [14]

During Gordian's reign there were severe earthquakes, so severe that cities fell into the ground along with their inhabitants. [15] In response to these earthquakes Gordian consulted the Sibylline books. [15]

By the 3rd century, the Roman frontiers weakened against the Germanic tribes across the Rhine and Danube, and the Sassanid Empire across the Euphrates increased its own attacks. When the Sasanians under Shapur I invaded Mesopotamia, the young emperor opened the doors of the Temple of Janus for the last time in Roman history, and sent a large army to the East. The Sassanids were driven back over the Euphrates and defeated in the Battle of Resaena (243). [16] The campaign was a success and Gordian, who had joined the army, was planning an invasion of the enemy's territory, when his father-in-law died in unclear circumstances. Without Timesitheus, the campaign, and the Emperor's security, were at risk. Due to the campaign's success, Gordian celebrated with a triumph and boasted about his achievements to the Senate. [15]

Gaius Julius Priscus and, later on, his own brother Marcus Julius Philippus, also known as Philip the Arab, stepped in at this moment as the new Praetorian Prefects [17] Gordian would then start a second campaign. Around February 244, the Sasanians fought back fiercely to halt the Roman advance to Ctesiphon.

The eventual fate of Gordian after the battle is unclear. Sasanian sources claim that a battle occurred (Battle of Misiche) near modern Fallujah (Iraq) and resulted in a major Roman defeat and the death of Gordian III. [18] One view holds that Gordian died at Zaitha, murdered by his frustrated army, while the role of Philip is unknown. [19] Scholarly analyses suggest the Sasanian version "while defective is superior" to the Roman one. [20]

The deposition of Gordian's body is also a matter of controversy. According to David S. Potter, Philip transferred the body of the deceased emperor to Rome and arranged for his deification. [21] Edwell, Dodgeon, and Lieu state that Philip had Gordian buried at Zaitha after the campaign against the Sasanians had ended in failure. [22] [23]


Gordian I

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Gordian I, Latin in full Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus, (born c. 157—died April 238), Roman emperor for three weeks in March to April 238.

Gordian was an elderly senator with a taste for literature. The Greek writer Flavius Philostratus dedicated his Lives of the Sophists to him. Early in 238, when Gordian was proconsul in Africa, a group of wealthy young landowners resisted and killed the tax collectors who had been sent to Africa by the emperor Maximinus (reigned 235–238). The insurgents proclaimed Gordian emperor, and the Senate recognized him. Gordian killed himself upon learning of the death of his son and coruler, Gordian II, in a battle against the governor of Numidia, Capelianus. Gordian’s rule of only a few weeks had drawn the Senate to oppose Maximinus, and they continued the war against him with new emperors, Balbinus and Pupienus.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


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Gordian I (238 A.D.)

Michael L. Meckler
Ohio State University

Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus, the emperor known to history as Gordian I, was the focus of aspirations for a short-lived uprising in Africa against the emperor Maximinus Thrax early in the year 238. Little is reliably known about the life of Gordian I before he was proclaimed emperor. Although the uprising was crushed within a month and led to the more widespread revolt that caused the downfall of Maximinus later that year, the eventual success of the revolt and the ascendancy to the purple of his grandson Gordian III enabled Gordian I to be deified and reckoned among the legitimate emperors of Rome..

The future emperor Gordian I was born around the year 159 and he came from a well-to-do family,[[1]] though there is no reliable evidence that the family belonged to the highest levels of the senatorial elite.[[2]] By the end of his life, however, Gordian was said to be related to other prominent senators.[[3]] Gordian's praenomen and nomen (Marcus Antonius) suggest that the family received Roman citizenship in the late republic from Mark Antony. The unusual cognomen Gordianus suggests a family origin in Asia Minor, especially Galatia and Cappadocia. A woman named Sempronia Romana, the daughter of a one-time imperial secretary ab epistulis Graecis named Sempronius Aquila, erected an undated funerary inscription in Ankara to her husband (whose name is lost) who died as a praetor-designate (IGRR 3.188). The woman's names, mirrored in Gordian's cognomina, may indicate a connection to the future emperor's mother or grandmother.[[4]]

The future emperor may be the proconsul Antonius Gordianus who is the dedicatee of Philostratus' Lives of the Sophists. Philostratus writes that his dedicatee was a descendant of the prominent second-century sophist Herodes Atticus.[[5]] The date of Gordian's birth and what is known about the children of Herodes make the connection unlikely, but it has been argued that Philostratus' dedicatee is Gordian's son, Gordian II. This interpretation means that Gordian I was married to a granddaughter of Herodes.[[6]] Others, however, have argued that Philostratus was referring to an academic pedigree (teacher as "father") rather than biological descent, and the elder Gordian could well have studied with a student of Herodes Atticus.[[7]] Gordian was the father of at least two children: a son, Gordian II, who would be proclaimed emperor with his father and a daughter, whose own son would become the emperor Gordian III.[[8]]

The untrustworthy Historia Augusta claims that the young Gordian wrote an epic poem, titled the Antoniniad, that chronicled in thirty books the reigns of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.[[9]] Such a claim cannot be substantiated, but this notice, coupled with the dedication of Philostratus' Lives of the Sophists, have led some scholars to claim that Gordian was an intellectual figure whose career in Roman government, like those of others in the age of the Second Sophistic, may well have been aided by literary or rhetorical achievements.[[10]]

His political career was certainly late-blooming and characteristic of an individual not born into the senatorial elite. Inscriptions from Britain seem to indicate that Gordian served as praetorian governor of Lower Britain in 216, which would indicate that Gordian had not yet risen to the consulship even though he was already in his late 50s.[[11]] He did eventually serve as a suffect consul, probably under Elagabalus, while Gordian was in his early 60s.[[12]] Gordian may also have served as governor of Syria Coele or commander of the Legio IV Scythica stationed near Antioch, and as praetorian governor of Achaea.[[13]]

In the final year of Maximinus Thrax's reign, when Gordian was
nearly 80, he served as proconsul of Africa, one of the most prestigious
appointments for a senator and former consul, though the appointment fell
to him by lot. The expenses of maintaining a drawn-out war along the Danubian frontier compelled Maximinus to exact greater and greater revenue from the Roman aristocracy. Procurators felt this pressure to bring in more money, and some were quite willing to make false judgments to exact steep fines and confiscate property. One such unscrupulous procurator in the province of Africa provoked local landowners to form a conspiracy which led to the arming of their peasants and the assassination of the procurator in the city of Thysdrus (modern El Djem in Tunisia). The landowners then approached Gordian, who happened to be residing in Thysdrus, and proclaimed him emperor, adding to his names the cognomen Africanus.[[14]] The uprising began in late winter or early spring of 238.[[15]]

Within a few days, Gordian left Thysdrus and entered the major port city of Carthage, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by both the residents and the few troops stationed there. Arrangements were made for the assassination in Rome of Maximinus' praetorian prefect Vitalianus, after which the uprising was publicly announced in the capital and the senate quickly acknowledged Gordian as emperor.[[16]] The ease and speed with which the revolt was able to proceed have led some scholars to suspect extensive organization and planning by African senators, though officially Gordian presented himself as the reluctant choice of a spontaneous uprising.[[17]]

The governor of the neighboring province of Numidia, however, was a senator named Capelianus. Capelianus hated Gordian because of an earlier legal dispute, and Capelianus had a large number of troops at his disposal. Upon learning of Gordian's proclamation as emperor, Capelianus gathered his soldiers together, renewed their loyalty to Maximinus, and marched on Carthage.[[18]] Gordian's son, Gordian II, was made commander of the ragtag forces (including volunteers among the residents of Carthage) available to defend the city. If Gordian II had not initially been proclaimed emperor along with his father, he was by now.[[19]] The Carthaginians were no match, however, for the experienced troops under the command of Capelianus. Gordian II died in the ensuing battle Carthage was captured and the elder Gordian committed suicide, reportedly by hanging himself with his belt.[[20]] Gordian's reign lasted but three weeks.[[21]]

Gordian's death, however, did not end the senate's desire to rid themselves of Maximinus Thrax. The revolt continued in Rome, with the senators Pupienus and Balbinus proclaimed emperors, and Gordian's grandson Gordian III proclaimed Caesar. By the end of 238, Gordian III would be universally recognized as sole emperor of the Roman world.

Bibliography:

PRIMARY SOURCES

Herodian 7.4-9 (available in English translation in the Loeb Classical Library)

Historia Augusta, Life of the Three Gordians 1-16 (not trustworthy available in English translation in the Loeb Classical Library).

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists preface (available in English translation in the Loeb Classical Library)

SECONDARY SOURCES:

Graham Anderson, Philostratus (London: Croom Helm, 1986)

Timothy D. Barnes, "Philostratus and Gordian," Latomus 27 (1968), 581-597

Anthony R. Birley, "Origins of Gordian I" in Michael G. Jarrett and Brian Dobson, eds., Britain and Rome (Kendal: Wilson, 1966), 56-60..

________, The Fasti of Roman Britain (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981)

Glen W. Bowersock, Greek Sophists in the Roman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969)

André Chastagnol, Histoire Auguste (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1994), pp.691-743

Karlheinz Dietz, Senatus contra principem (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1980)

Paul M. M. Leunissen, Konsuln und Konsulare in der Zeit von Commodus bis Severus Alexander (180-235 n.Chr.) (Amsterdam: Gieben, 1989)

Xavier Loriot, "Les premières années de la grand crise du IIIe siècle: De l'avènement de Maximin de Thrace (235) à la mort de Gordien III (244)," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.2 (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1975), pp. 657-787

Vivian Nutton, "Herodes and Gordian," Latomus 29 (1970), 719-728

Michael Peachin, Roman Imperial Titulature and Chronology, A.D. 235-284 (Amsterdam: Gieben, 1990)

John R. Rea, "Gordian III or Gordian I?", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 76 (1989), 103-106

Ronald Syme, Ammianus and the Historia Augusta (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968)

________, Emperors and Biography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971)

Prescott W. Townsend, "The revolution of A.D. 238: the leaders and their aims," Yale Classical Studies 14 (1955), 49-105

NOTES

[[1]] Herodian 7.5.2.

[[2]] The untrustworthy Historia Augusta biography gives Gordian a Roman pedigree, claiming his parents were a senator named Maecius Marullus (descended from the family of the Gracchi) and his wife Ulpia Gordiana (related to the emperor Trajan), but both the names and the ancestry are obvious fantasies Syme, Ammianus and the Historia Augusta, pp.160-163. Gordian's family, however, may well have been connected to prominent families from the Greek East whose scions came to hold high political office in the course of the second century on these families, see Bowersock, pp.17-29. All of the primary evidence on Gordian I is assembled by Dietz, pp.56-73.

[[3]] Herodian 7.6.3, but Herodian may have exaggerated Gordian's nobility for greater contrast with Maximinus' low social origin.

[[4]] Birley, "Origins of Gordian I," pp.58

[[5]] Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, preface.

[[6]] Barnes, p.587.

[[7]] Nutton, pp.725-728 summary of scholarly views in Anderson, pp.297-298.

[[8]] The Historia Augusta, Gd 4.2, claims Gordian had another son, a claim that can neither be confirmed nor denied. The names provided for Gordian's wife (Fabia Orestilla, Gd 17.4) and daughter (Maecia Faustina, Gd 4.2) are clearly fictitious Syme, Emperors and Biography, pp.100-101.

[[9]] Historia Augusta, Gd 3.3.

[[10]] Cf. Bowersock, pp.43-58.

[[11]] One might compare the career of the sophist Aelius Antipater, who was adlected to consular rank in his early 50s by Septimius Severus and sent to govern Bithynia and Pontus, Leunissen, p.261 Barnes, pp.593-594, argued that Gordian's political career may have stalled under Septimius Severus because Gordian was on the wrong side of the civil wars that broke out after Pertinax's murder.

[[12]] The claim of the Historia Augusta, Gd 4.1, that Gordian held two consulships, one with Caracalla as colleague and the other as colleague to Severus Alexander, is false.

[[13]] Based on Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, preface see Leunissen, pp.264-265, 296.

[[14]] Herodian 7.4-5.

[[15]] Perhaps near the end of March: see Peachin, p.28.

[[16]] Herodian 7.6.

[[17]] Townsend, pp.58-65 cf. Dietz, pp.315-322.

[[18]] Herodian 7.9.2-3.

[[19]] Herodian 7.9.4-6 Herodian 7.7.2 indicates that the senate in Rome simultaneously proclaimed both Gordian I and Gordian II emperors Historia Augusta, Gd 9.6 indicates that Gordian II was proclaimed emperor in Carthage after Gordian I's acclamation in Thysdrus one fragmentary papryus may indicate that Gordian II's acclamation was not simultaneous with his father's, Rea, pp.105-106, but no firm evidence exists to dispute the simultaneous elevation to the purple of father and son.

[[20]] Herodian 7.9.7-11.

[[21]] Twenty days, according to the Chronographer of 354 twenty-two days according to Zonaras 12.17.

Copyright (C) 2001, Michael L. Meckler. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Michael L. Meckler.
Updated: 26 June 2001

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Early Life

Little is known on the early life and family background of Gordian. There is no reliable evidence on his family origins. His family were of Equestrian rank, who were modest and very wealthy. Gordian was said to be related to prominent senators. His praenomen and nomen Marcus Antonius suggest that his paternal ancestors received Roman citizenship under the Triumvir Mark Antony, or one of his daughters, during the late Roman Republic. Gordian’s cognomen ‘Gordianus’ suggests that his family origins were from Anatolia, especially Galatia and Cappadocia.

According to the Augustan History, his mother was a Roman woman called Ulpia Gordiana and his father Roman Senator Maecius Marullus. While modern historians have dismissed his father's name as false, there may be some truth behind the identity of his mother. Gordian's family history can be guessed through inscriptions. The name Sempronianus in his name may indicate a connection to his mother or grandmother. In Ankara Turkey, a funeral inscription has been found that names a Sempronia Romana, daughter of a named Sempronius Aquila (an imperial secretary). Romana erected this undated funeral inscription to her husband (whose name is lost) who died as a praetor-designate. Gordian might have been related to the gens Sempronia.

French historian Christian Settipani gives as his parents Marcus Antonius (b. ca 135), tr. pl., praet. des., and wife Sempronia Romana (b. ca 140), daughter of Titus Flavius Sempronius Aquila (b. ca 115), Secretarius ab epistulis Graecis, and wife Claudia (b. ca 120), daughter of an unknown father and wife Claudia Tisamenis (b. ca 100), sister of Herodes Atticus. It seems therefore that the person who was related to Herodes Atticus was Gordian I's mother or grandmother and not his wife.[8] Also according to the Augustan History, his wife was a Roman woman called Fabia Orestilla, born circa 165, whom the Augustan History claims was a descendant of Roman Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius through her father Fulvus Antoninus. Modern historians have dismissed this name and her information as false.


Maximinus Thrax kicks off the crisis

In 238 AD the office of emperor would be its most unstable in history. Known as the Year of the Six Emperors, it began during the short reign of Maximinus Thrax, who had ruled since 235. Thrax’s reign is considered by many scholars to be the start of the Crisis of the 3rd Century (235–84 AD), during which the Empire was beset by invasions, plague, civil wars and economic difficulties.

From low-born Thracian peasant stock, Maximinus was not a favourite of the Patrician Senate, which plotted against him from the start. The hatred was mutual, and the Emperor harshly punished any conspirators, largely supporters of his predecessor, Severus Alexander, who was killed by his own mutinous soldiers.


Early Life

Little is known on the early life and family background of Gordian. There is no reliable evidence on his family origins. His family were of Equestrian rank, who were modest and very wealthy. Gordian was said to be related to prominent senators. His praenomen and nomen Marcus Antonius suggest that his paternal ancestors received Roman citizenship under the Triumvir Mark Antony, or one of his daughters, during the late Roman Republic. Gordian’s cognomen ‘Gordianus’ suggests that his family origins were from Anatolia, especially Galatia and Cappadocia.

According to the Augustan History, his mother was a Roman woman called Ulpia Gordiana and his father Roman Senator Maecius Marullus. While modern historians have dismissed his father's name as false, there may be some truth behind the identity of his mother. Gordian's family history can be guessed through inscriptions. The name Sempronianus in his name may indicate a connection to his mother or grandmother. In Ankara Turkey, a funeral inscription has been found that names a Sempronia Romana, daughter of a named Sempronius Aquila (an imperial secretary). Romana erected this undated funeral inscription to her husband (whose name is lost) who died as a praetor-designate. Gordian might have been related to the gens Sempronia.

French historian Christian Settipani gives as his parents Marcus Antonius (b. ca 135), tr. pl., praet. des., and wife Sempronia Romana (b. ca 140), daughter of Titus Flavius Sempronius Aquila (b. ca 115), Secretarius ab epistulis Graecis, and wife Claudia (b. ca 120), daughter of an unknown father and wife Claudia Tisamenis (b. ca 100), sister of Herodes Atticus. It seems therefore that the person who was related to Herodes Atticus was Gordian I's mother or grandmother and not his wife.[8] Also according to the Augustan History, his wife was a Roman woman called Fabia Orestilla, born circa 165, whom the Augustan History claims was a descendant of Roman Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius through her father Fulvus Antoninus. Modern historians have dismissed this name and her information as false.


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Gordian II (238 A.D.)

Michael L. Meckler
Ohio State University

As a legate assisting his elderly father then serving as proconsul of Africa, Gordian II was proclaimed emperor in 238 along with his father,Gordian I, as a result of an uprising against Maximinus Thrax by the province's overtaxed landowners. Although warmly welcomed as emperor in Carthage, Gordian II found his reign to be nasty, brutish and short. Within three weeks of being proclaimed emperor, Gordian II lay dead on a battlefield outside Carthage in a failed attempt to defend the city against an army loyal to Maximinus.

As emperor, Gordian II shared the official names of his father, Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus. Gordian II seems to have been born around the year 192.[[1]] His father, whose family may have originated in Asia Minor, would eventually have a successful senatorial career.[[2]] The name of his mother is unknown.[[3]] If Gordian II is the dedicatee of Philostratus' Lives of the Sophists,, his mother might have been the granddaughter of the second-century sophist Herodes Atticus.[[4]] Little is reliably known about Gordian II's life and career before the uprising in Africa that elevated him to the purple.[[5]] The source providing the most information, the biography of the three Gordians in the Historia Augusta, cannot at all be trusted.[[6]]

The Historia Augusta claims Gordian II was a student of the homonymous son of the Severan-era author Serenus Sammonicus, but modern historians are extremely skeptical of not only the claim, but even the existence of the younger Serenus Sammonicus.[[7]] The extensive career provided by the Historia Augusta -- quaestor under Elagabalus, praetor and suffect consul under Severus Alexander -- is not entirely improbable but cannot be proved.[[8]] If he is the dedicatee of Philosotratus' Lives of the Sophists, Gordian II may also have served as commander of the Legio IV Scythica stationed near Antioch, and as praetorian governor of Achaea.[[9]] Gordian II was a suffect consul before joining his father's staff in Africa in 237, most likely at the very end of Alexander's reign or under the reign of Maximinus Thrax. Although it was unusual for a former consul to serve as a legate to another governor, sons regularly served in the provincial staffs of their fathers. In this particular situation, with a father who was nearly 80 years old, having his consular son assist him was probably a beneficial idea.[[10]]

It is not certain whether Gordian II was in Thysdrus (modern El Djem in Tunisia) on the late-winter or early-spring day in 238 when Maximinus' procurator was assassinated and Gordian I acclaimed emperor.[[11]] In the biography of Maximinus Thrax and his son in the Historia Augusta, Gordian II is said to have been publicly declared emperor along with his father in Thysdrus before the pair departed for Carthage.[[12]] In the biography of the three Gordians, however, the author of the Historia Augusta claims that Gordian II became emperor a few days later in Carthage.[[13]] One fragmentary papryus from Egypt may indicate that Gordian II's acclamation was not simultaneous with his father's, but the interpretation is highly speculative.[[14]] The contemporary author Herodian does not mention Gordian II in the description of events in Thysdrus at the onset of the revolt, but Herodian indicates that when the uprising was announced in Rome several days later, father and son were declared emperors together by the senate.[[15]] Connected to his elevation to the purple, Gordian II received (as did his father) the cognomen Africanus.[[16]]

Despite the enthusiastic support of the residents of Carthage and the success in Rome that greeted news of the revolt, Gordian II and his father faced an immediate danger. Capelianus, the governor of the neighboring province of Numidia, was a personal enemy of the elder Gordian, and Capelianus had a large number of troops at his disposal. Upon learning of Gordian's proclamation as emperor, Capelianus gathered his soldiers together, renewed their loyalty to Maximinus, and marched on Carthage.[[17]] Gordian II, was made commander of the ragtag forces (including volunteers among the residents of Carthage) available to defend the city.[[18]] The Carthaginians were no match, however, for the experienced troops under the command of Capelianus. In the ensuing battle, Gordian II was killed. His body was never recovered.[[19]] Carthage was captured by Capelianus, and the elder Gordian committed suicide, bringing to a close a reign of only three weeks.[[20]]

Gordian II would not be the last of his father's descendants to be hailed as emperor. The uprising against Maximinus Thrax continued in Rome, with the senators Pupienus and Balbinus proclaimed emperors, and Gordian II's sister's son Gordian III proclaimed Caesar. By the end of 238, Gordian III would be universally recognized as sole emperor of the Roman world. Gordian II would be deified by his nephew, gaining a legitimacy in death that he failed to achieve in life.

NOTES

[[1]] Historia Augusta, Gd 15.2 indicates he was 46 when the uprising began in 238.

[[2]] Birley, "Origins of Gordian I," pp.56-60.

[[3]] The name given in the Historia Augusta, Gd 17.3, Fabia Orestilla, is false Syme, pp.100-101.

[[4]] Barnes, p.587 such a view does not have wide acceptance, with more scholars believing that Philostratus' dedicatee was Gordian II's father, Gordian I see Anderson, pp.297-298.

[[5]] All of the primary evidence on Gordian II is assembled by Dietz, pp.74-77.

[[6]] The author of the Historia Augusta was far more interested in padding his biography with fictional accounts of Gordian II's pleasures and passions, such as Gd 19.3, which, coupled with Gd 18.2, provided the source for Edward Gibbon's famous aperçu concerning Gordian II: "Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested the variety of his inclinations, and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than ostentation" Gibbon, p.153.

[[7]] Syme, pp.10-11, 184 literary scholars seem not to be so troubled, and willingly continue to identify this younger Serenus with the Quintus Serenus named as the author of the late-antique medical textbook in verse titled the Liber medicinalis,
e.g., Conte, p.613.

[[8]] Historia Augusta, Gd 18.4-5.

[[9]] Based on Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, preface see Leunissen, pp.264-265, 296.

[[10]] Barnes, pp.591-592.

[[11]] Perhaps near the end of March, see Peachin, p.28.

[[12]] Historia Augusta, Max 14.3.

[[13]] Historia Augusta, Gd 9.6.

[[14]] Rea, pp.105-106.

[[15]] Herodian 7.7.2.

[[16]] Herodian 7.4-5.

[[17]] Herodian 7.9.2-3.

[[18]] Herodian 7.9.4-6.

[[19]] Herodian 7.9.7-11.

[[20]] Twenty days, according to the Chronographer of 354 twenty-two days according to Zonaras 12.17.

Bibliography:

PRIMARY SOURCES

Herodian 7.4-9 (available in English translation in the Loeb Classical Library)

Historia Augusta, Life of the Three Gordians 1-16 (not trustworthy available in English translation in the Loeb Classical Library)

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists preface (available in English translation in the Loeb Classical Library)

Secondary Sources:

Graham Anderson, Philostratus (London: Croom Helm, 1986)

Timothy D. Barnes, "Philostratus and Gordian," Latomus 27 (1968), 581-597

Anthony R. Birley, "Origins of Gordian I" in Michael G. Jarrett and Brian Dobson, eds., Britain and Rome (Kendal: Wilson, 1966), 56-60.

André Chastagnol, Histoire Auguste (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1994), pp.691-743

Gian Biagio Conte, Latin Literature: a History, tr. Joseph B. Solodow (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1994)

Karlheinz Dietz, Senatus contra principem (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1980)

Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1 (New York: Modern Library, n.d.)

Paul M. M. Leunissen, Konsuln und Konsulare in der Zeit von Commodus bis Severus Alexander (180-235 n.Chr.) (Amsterdam: Gieben, 1989)

Xavier Loriot, "Les premières années de la grand crise du IIIe siècle: De l'avènement de Maximin de Thrace (235) à la mort de Gordien III (244)," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.2 (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1975), pp. 657-787

Michael Peachin, Roman Imperial Titulature and Chronology, A.D. 235-284 (Amsterdam: Gieben, 1990)

John R. Rea, "Gordian III or Gordian I?", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 76 (1989), 103-106

Ronald Syme, Emperors and Biography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971)

Copyright (C) 2001, Michael L. Meckler. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Michael L. Meckler.
Updated: 26 June 2001

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