AR Antoninianus. 3.77g, 23.7mm
MINTED: Rome mint, AD 241-243
REF: RIC IV 88
OBVERSE: IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate, draped, cuirassed bust right.
REVERSE: P M TR P IIII COS II P P, Apollo, nude to waist, seated left, holding branch in extended right hand and resting left elbow on lyre.
Good Very Fine/Very Fine. Colourful rainbow toning.
Apollo was worshipped by both the Greeks and Romans. He was the god of the sun, prophecy, music, light, and healing. One of the most ancient temples in Rome, said to have been built in 431 BC after a plague, was dedicated to Apollo Medicus, or Apollo the Physician. A second temple to Apollo, located on the Palatine hill, was built by Emperor Augustus in 28 BC, and was connected directly to his palace.
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 . AR Antoninianus . Apollo, God of Light and Healing
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