People - Ancient Rome: Gordian III
Born Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius, he was Roman Emperor ruling from 238 to 244.
Gordian III in Harpers Dictionary
Marcus Antonīnus Pius, grandson, on the mother's side, of
the elder Gordianus, and nephew of Gordianus the younger,
was twelve years of age when he was proclaimed Caesar by
general acclamation of the people of Rome, after the news
had arrived of the death of the two Gordiani in Africa. The
Senate named him colleague of the two new emperors Maximus
and Balbinus, but in the following year (A.D. 238) a mutiny
of the Praetorians took place at Rome, Balbinus and Maximus
were murdered, and the boy Gordianus was proclaimed emperor.
His disposition was kind and amiable, but at the beginning
of his reign he trusted to the insinuations of a certain
Maurus and other freedmen of the palace, who abused his
confidence, and committed many acts of injustice. In the
second year of his reign a revolt broke out in Africa, where
a certain Sabinianus was proclaimed emperor, but the
insurrection was soon put down by the governor of
Mauritania. In the following year Gordianus, being consul
with Claudius Pompeianus, married Furia Sabina Tranquillina,
daughter of Misitheus, a man of the greatest personal merit.
Misitheus disclosed to Gordianus the disgraceful conduct of
Maurus and his friends, who were immediately deprived of
their offices and driven away from court. From that moment
Gordianus placed implicit trust in his father-in-law, on
whom the Senate conferred the title of “Guardian of the
Republic.” In the next year, news came to Rome that the
Persians under Sapor had invaded Mesopotamia, had occupied
Nisibis and Carrhae, entered Syria, and, according to
Capitolinus, had taken Gordianus opened the temple of Ianus,
according to an ancient custom which had been long disused,
and, setting out from Rome at the head of a fine army,
marched through Illyricum and Moesia, where he defeated the
Goths and Sarmatians, and drove them beyond the Danube.
Gordianus presently crossed the Hellespont, and proceeded
into Syria, delivered Antioch, defeated the Persians in
several battles, retook Nisibis and Carrhae, and drove Sapor
back to his own dominions. The Senate voted him a triumph.
In the year after, A.D. 244, Gordianus advanced into Persian
territory, and defeated Sapor on the banks of the Chaboras;
but while he was preparing to pursue him, Philippus, an
officer in the Guards, who had contrived to spread
discontent among the soldiers by attributing their
privations to the inexperience of a boyish emperor, was
proclaimed by the army his colleague in the Empire.
Gordianus consented, but soon after was murdered by
Philippus. Gordianus was about twenty years old when he
died. His body, according to Eutropius, was carried to Rome,
and he was numbered among the gods (Herodian, vii. 10 foll.;
viii. 6 foll.; Eutrop. ix. 2).
Gordian III in Roman Biography
Gordian, [Lat. Gordianus, (Marcus Antonius
Pius,)] grandson of the elder Gordian, was born about
225, and was proclaimed Caesar by the Roman people
when news arrived of the death of the two Gordians in
Africa. He was made colleague of the new emperors
Maximus and Balbinus, and after their death became
emperor, in July, 238 a.d. Gordian, accompanied by
his father-in-law, Misitheus, repelled an invasion of
Sapor, King of Persia, in 242. He afterwards attacked
the Persians, and defeated their army on the banks of
the Chaboras. Meanwhile, Philippus, an officer in the
Roman army, availing himself of his popularity, caused
himself to be proclaimed a colleague of the emperor,
and soon after had Gordian put to death, in 244 a.d.
" Histoire des Empereurs;" Montesquieu,
"Grandeur et Decadence des Romains;" Gisbert Cuper,
trium Gordianorum," 1697; Capitolinus, "Gordiani tres."
Gordian III in Wikipedia
Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius (20 January 225 – 11 February 244), commonly known as Gordian III, was Roman Emperor from 238 to 244.
Gordian was the son of Antonia Gordiana and an unnamed Roman Senator who died before 238. Antonia Gordiana was the daughter of emperor
Gordian I and younger sister of emperor Gordian II. Very little is known on his early life before his acclamation. Gordian had assumed
the name of his maternal grandfather in 238.
Rise to power -
Following the murder of emperor Alexander Severus in Moguntiacum (modern Mainz), the capital of the Roman province Germania Inferior,
Maximinus Thrax was acclaimed emperor, despite strong opposition of the Roman senate and the majority of the population. In response to
what was considered in Rome as a rebellion, Gordian's grandfather and uncle, Gordian I and II, were proclaimed joint emperors in the
Africa Province. Their revolt was suppressed within a month by Cappellianus, governor of Numidia and a loyal supporter of Maximinus
Thrax. The elder Gordians died, but public opinion cherished their memory as peace loving and literate men, victims of Maximinus'
Meanwhile, Maximinus was on the verge of marching on Rome and the Senate elected Pupienus and Balbinus as joint emperors. These
senators were not popular men and the population of Rome was still shocked by the elder Gordian's fate, so that the Senate decided to
take the teenager Gordian, rename him Marcus Antonius Gordianus as his grandfather, and raise him to the rank of Caesar and imperial
heir. Pupienus and Balbinus defeated Maximinus, mainly due to the defection of several legions, namely the II Parthica who assassinated
Maximinus. But their joint reign was doomed from the start with popular riots, military discontent and even 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.
Due to Gordian's age, the imperial government was surrendered to the aristocratic families, who controlled the affairs of Rome through
the senate. In 240, Sabinianus revolted in the African province, but the situation was dealt quickly. In 241, Gordian was married to
Furia Sabinia Tranquillina, 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.
In the 3rd century, the Roman frontiers weakened against the Germanic tribes across the Rhine and Danube, and the Sassanid kingdom
across the Euphrates increased its own attacks. When the Persians 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). 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.
Marcus Julius Philippus, also known as Philip the Arab, stepped in at this moment as the new Praetorian Prefect and the campaign
proceeded. In the beginning of 244, the Persians counter-attacked. Persian sources claim that a battle was fought (Battle of Misiche)
near modern Fallujah (Iraq) and resulted in a major Roman defeat and the death of Gordian III. Roman sources do not mention this
battle and suggest that Gordian died far away, upstream of the Euphrates. Although ancient sources often described Philip, who
succeeded Gordian as emperor, as having murdered Gordian at Zaitha (Qalat es Salihiyah), the cause of Gordian's death is unknown.
Gordian's youth and good nature, along with the deaths of his grandfather and uncle and his own tragic fate at the hands of another
usurper, granted him the everlasting esteem of the Romans. Despite the opposition of the new emperor, Gordian was deified by the Senate
after his death, in order to appease the population and avoid riots.
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