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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |Crisis and Decline| ▸ |Gordian III||View Options:  |  |  |   

Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

Gordian III was the grandson of Gordian I and nephew of Gordian II. He was proclaimed Caesar shortly before the murder of Balbinus and Pupienus, and he succeeded them. Little is known about his reign. In 242 A.D. he embarked on a campaign against the Persian Kingdom which was so successful the Persians had to evacuate Mesopotamia. However, Gordian III died shortly after, through illness or the machinations of his Praetorian prefect and successor, Philip I.


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Virtus was a specific virtue in ancient Rome. It carried connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors. Virtus was not a term commonly used to describe children. Since virtus was primarily attributed to a full grown man who had served in the military, children were not particularly suited to obtain this particular virtue.
RS89042. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 39, RSC III 383, Hunter III 28 var. (obv. leg.), SRCV III 8669 var. (same), EF, excellent portrait, well centered on a large flan, flow lines, small edge cracks, weight 4.697 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 238 - 239 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Mars standing half left, head left, helmeted and in military dress, branch in right hand, spear in left, shield behind rests against right side; ex Forum (2010); $125.00 SALE |PRICE| $113.00


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In 243, Timesitheus, Gordian's father-in-law and praetorian prefect became ill and died under suspicious circumstances. Gordian III appointed Philip the Arab as his new praetorian prefect.
RB76166. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 303a, Hunter III 117, Cohen V 262, SRCV III 8732, Choice VF, attractive green patina with red earthen fill, nice portrait, well centered, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 17.522 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 4th issue, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Apollo enthroned left, laurel-branch in right hand, left forearm resting on lyre on back of his seat, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $110.00 SALE |PRICE| $99.00


Kingdom of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Abgar X with Gordian III, 242 - 243 A.D.

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Abgar X Frahad bar Manu was raised to the throne when Gordian III recovered Mesopotamia from the Persians. His rule and the Kingdom of Edessa both ended with Gordian's assassination and a Sassanid takeover in 244 A.D.
GB88990. Bronze AE 24, BMC Arabia p. 115, 148; Babelon Edessa 97; cf. SNG Cop 225 (draped and cuirassed), SNG Hunterian 2579 (same), aVF, dark patina with red earthen highlighting, tight flan, porous, weight 9.952 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, Mesopotamia, Edessa (Urfa, Sanliurfa, Turkey) mint, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate bust of Gordian III right, slight drapery on left shoulder, star lower right; reverse ABΓAPOC BACIΛEYC, draped bust of Abgar right, bearded, wearing a diademed Parthian-style tiara, star behind; ex Dmitry Markov Coins & Medals; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00


Gordian III and Tranquillina, May 241 - 25 February 244 A.D., Singara, Mesopotamia

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In the winter of 114, Trajan's eastern campaign captured Singara, located at the northern extremity of Mesopotamia, without a fight. Rome withdrew from all Mesopotamia in 117, but Septimius Severus took city again in his the Parthian campaign of 197. He made it a strongly fortified Roman colony and the home of Legio I Parthica. Extremely arid surroundings aided its defense. During the reign of Constantius II, despite a gallant defense by the townspeople and two legions, in 360 it was captured and sacked by the Sassanids.
RP91455. Bronze AE 31, SNG Cop 256; SNG Righetti 2646; BMC Arabia p. 135, 8; Lindgren-Kovacs 2627, VF, well centered, brown patina, a couple corrosion pits at 6:00 on obverse, weight 21.738 g, maximum diameter 30.8 mm, die axis 180o, Singara (Sinjar, Iraq) mint, 242 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AVTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANON CAB TPANKVΛΛINA CEB, confronted busts of Gordian on left, laureate, draped, and cuirassed, and Tranquillina on right, draped and wearing stephane; reverse AVP CEΠ KOΛ CINΓAPA (Aurelia Septimia Colonia Singara), Tyche seated left on rock, wearing turreted crown, veil, mantle, and chiton, branch in right hand, left hand on rocks behind, half-length figure of river-god Mygdonius swimming left at her feet, Centaur Sagittarius shooting arrow left above; big 31mm bronze!, from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Thessalonica, Macedonia

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The god Kabeiros is similar in appearance to Dionysos and the rites of his cult were likely similar to those of the Dionysian mysteries. The attributes of Kabeiros are a rhyton and hammer.
RP83493. Bronze AE 26, Touratsoglou p. 262, 25 (V2/R20), Varbanov III 4545 (R3), SNG Hunterian 714, SNG Cop 426, SNG Evelpidis 1348, BMC Macedonia p. 124, 116, aVF, excellent portrait, green patina, large central dimple on obverse, bumps and marks, some light corrosion, weight 9.207 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AV K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ΘECCAΛONIKEΩN, Nike advancing left, Kabeiros holding hammer in her right hand, palm frond in her left hand; $90.00 SALE |PRICE| $81.00


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Oriens is Latin for "east." Literally, it means "rising" from orior, "rise." The use of the word for "rising" to refer to the east (where the sun rises) has analogs from many languages: compare the terms "Levant" (French levant "rising"), "Anatolia" (Greek anatole), "mizrahi" in Hebrew (from "zriha" meaning sunrise), "sharq" in Arabic, and others. The Chinese pictograph for east is based on the sun rising behind a tree and "The Land of the Rising Sun" to refers to Japan. Also, many ancient temples, including the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances facing the East. To situate them in such a manner was to "orient" them in the proper direction. When something is facing the correct direction, it is said to have the proper "orientation."
RS87916. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 213, RSC IV 167, Hunter III 167, SRCV III 8626, Choice VF, well centered on a broad flan, light marks, some die wear, small edge cracks, weight 4.077 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 30o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 242 - 244 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ORIENS AVG (the rising sun of the Emperor), Sol standing slightly left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left; ex Beast Coins; $85.00 SALE |PRICE| $76.50


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Securitas stands perfectly at her ease, with legs crossed, leaning on a column, clearly relaxed, having nothing to fear. Perhaps she should have shown a bit more concern. On 25 February 244, Gordian III was murdered by mutinous soldiers in Zaitha (Mesopotamia). Philip the Arab, Gordian's bodyguard, responsible for his "perpetual security," declared himself emperor.
RB73637. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 335a, Cohen V 329, Hunter III 152, SRCV III 8740, VF, excellent portrait, well centered and struck, attractive brown surfaces, light marks and corrosion, small edge cracks, weight 17.188 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 5th issue, c. 243 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse SECVRITAS PERPET (everlasting security), Securitas standing facing, head left, right leg crossed in front of left leg, vertical scepter in right hand, leaning with left arm on column, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $70.00 SALE |PRICE| $63.00


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The empire is history but Rome is still today, the Eternal City.

Rome's influence on Western Civilization can hardly be overestimated. In sum, Rome has perhaps had greater influence than any other city on earth, making important contributions to politics, literature, culture, the arts, architecture, music, religion, education, fashion, cinema and cuisine.
RS88424. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 70, RSC IV 314, SRCV III 8658, Hunter III - (p. lxxxiii), aVF/F, slightly off center, light marks, flow lines, reverse die wear, weight 4.963 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 240 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ROMAE AETERNAE (to eternal Rome), Roma seated left on shield, Victory in right hand, spear in left hand; $70.00 SALE |PRICE| $63.00


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Hadrianopolis, Thrace

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The kithara (cithara) was an ancient stringed musical instrument resembling the lyre. The lyre was a simpler folk-instrument with two strings and tortoise shell body. The kithara had seven strings and a flat back. The kithara is a symbol of Apollo and he is credited with inventing it. Its true origins were likely Asiatic.. The kithara was primarily used by professional musicians, called kitharodes. In modern Greek, the word kithara has come to mean "guitar."
RP89874. Bronze AE 26, Jurukova Hadrianopolis 547, Varbanov 3715 (R4), SNG Cop 588, Moushmov 2680, F, nice portrait, glossy dark patina, obverse slightly off center, reverse a little rough, central depressions, weight 10.328 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 180o, Hadrianopolis (Edirne, Turkey) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYT K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC AV, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse A∆PIANOΠOΛEIT,ΩN (last two letters in exergue), Apollo seated left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, laurel branch downward in right hand, kithara (lyre) resting on seat behind in left hand; $70.00 SALE |PRICE| $63.00


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

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After Apollo insulted him, Eros (cupid) shot Apollo with an arrow that caused him to fall in hopeless love with Daphne, a mortal woman. Eros shot Daphne with an arrow which made her incapable of loving Apollo. Nevertheless Apollo pursued her, and out of desperation Daphne escaped by having herself turned into a laurel. Ever after, winners of the games to honor Apollo wore wreaths of laurel in honor of Apollo's Daphne.
RS91600. Fouree silver plated antoninianus, cf. RIC IV 89, RSC IV 261, Hunter III 37, SRCV III 8648 (official prototype, silver, Rome mint), VF, nice portrait, excellent centering, minor lamination flaking on edges revealing baser core, reverse center not fully struck, weight 3.462 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial counterfeiter's mint, 242 - Jul 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Apollo seated left on throne, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, laurel branch in right, resting left arm on lyre; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00




  



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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

IMPCMANTGORDIANVSAVG
IMPCAESGORDIANVSPIVSAVG
IMPCAESMANTGORDIANVSAVG
IMPCAESMANTGORDIANVSPIVSAVG
IMPGORDIANVSPIVSFELAVG
IMPGORDIANVSPIVSFELIXAVG
MANTGORDIANVSCAES


REFERENCES|

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappťes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 5: Gordian I to Valerian II. (Paris, 1885).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol IV: From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III: Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume IV, Gordian III to Postumus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values III, The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - AD 285. (London, 2005).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Sunday, August 25, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Gordian III