Silver Antoninianus. 5.02g, 23.1mm
MINTED: Rome mint, AD 240
REF: RIC IV 37
OBVERSE: IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, radiate, draped, cuirassed bust right.
REVERSE: P M TR P II COS P P, Emperor veiled, togate, standing front, head left, sacrificing out of patera in right hand over altar and holding wand in left hand.
Very Fine. Toned. Worn reverse die.
Gordian III was 13 years old when the Roman Senate declared him emperor in AD 238, the Year of the Six Emperors. That year saw the Empire in great turmoil, with six men raised to the throne, including Gordian's grandfather and father (Gordians I and II). Of the six, only Gordian survived, becoming sole ruler of the Empire. Because of his youth, the running of the empire was left to the noble families and the Praetorian prefect, Timesitheus, who also became Gordian's father-in-law. In time, however, the young emperor made himself popular with the people as well as the soldiers of the legions.
In 242, the Sasanian Empire invaded the province of Mesopotamia. While leading a campaign against the Sasanians, Gordian was killed. He was nineteen years old. The circumstances of his death are uncertain, with some saying he was murdered by his new Praetorian prefect, Philip the Arab. On the other hand, the Sasanian King, Shapur I, claimed credit for Gordian's death. On an inscription discovered at Naqsh-e Rustam in modern day Iran, Shapur declares :
"When at first we had become established in the empire, Gordian Caesar raised in all of the Roman Empire a force from the Goth and German realms and marched on Babylonia against the Empire of Iran and against us. On the border of Babylonia at Misikhe, a great frontal battle occurred. Gordian Caesar was killed and the Roman force was destroyed. And the Romans made Philip Caesar. Then Philip Caesar came to us for terms, and to ransom their lives, gave us 500,000 denars, and became tributary to us."
GORDIAN III . AD 238-244 . Antoninianus . "Emperor sacrificing"
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