as Caesar under Balbinus and Pupienus AD 238
as Augustus AD 238 - 244
Marcus Antoninus Gordianus (ca 225 - 244 AD):
Grandson of Gordian I;
Nephew of Gordian II;
Addopted successor of Balbinus and Pupienus;
Husband of Tranquillina.
AD 238 - Caesar under Balninus and Pupienus
AD 238 - 244 - sole reign
With the failure of the titular emperors Gordian I and Gordian II to assert themselves in Africa, the Roman Senate decided to stick to its decision to legitimate the late sovereigns. A committee of twenty had been appointed as their representatives in defense of Italy. With the emperors dead, the Senate proclaimed two of the twenty, Balbinus and Pupienus, as joint emperors. The two were quite unpopular in Rome, however, and to make up, shortly thereafter the Senate appointed a third emperor, a teenager grandson of Gordian I, as Gordian III with the rank of Caesar. The praetorians, possibly stimulated by distribution of family wealth by members of Gordian III entourage, then turned against the two co-emperors and murdered them, elevating Gordian as sole emperor. Until 241 Gordian III was under the tutelage of the Senate, which handled the affairs of the empire. In 241, however, Gordian III married the daughter of a capable administrator and brilliant military strategist, Gaius Timesitheus, and appointed him praetorian prefect. The choice proved fortunate, for it coincided with a resurgence of Persian ambitions. Under Timesitheus, an expedition was carefully prepared and dispatched to Mesopotamia. The Roman army then proceeded to recover the ground lost to the Persians and then overtake and decisively defeat the Persians at Rhesaena in 243. At this point Timesitheus fell ill and soon died, thwarting Gordian III's plan to advance on the Persian capital Ctesiphon. His place was immediately taken by Philip the Arab, who might have been privy to Timesitheus's death. Unfortunately for Gordian III, Philip was not content with the prefect's title and stirred the soldiers to revolt. The desperate youth offered to become Philip's Caesar or take any lower rank. Philip left the decision to his soldiers and they decided that a mature leader is better than a child and Gordian III could not be trusted to stay low. Accordingly, they murdered him on February 25, 244 and Philip the Arab became sole emperor.
Mints: Antioch, Rome.
List all Gordian III coins in the Catalog.