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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Crisis and Decline ▸ Gordian IIIView 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.


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

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From the birthplace of Santa Clause. Patara, sometimes renamed Arsinoe, was a flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey near the modern small town of Gelemis, in Antalya Province. Patara was said to have been founded by Patarus, a son of Apollo and was renowned for its temple and oracle of Apollo, second only to that of Delphi. Apollo is sometimes mentioned with the surname Patareus. Patara is the birthplace of St. Nicholas (b. c. 15 March 270 A.D.), who lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre).
RP87599. Bronze AE 29, SNGvA 4385; SNG Cop 117 118; BMC Lycia p. 77, 14; Von Aulock Lykien 197 , Choice F, nice green patina, well centered on a tight flan, weight 16.416 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Patara (near Gelemis, Turkey) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYT KAI M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse ΠATAPEWN, Apollo standing slightly left, head left, laurel branch in extended right hand, bow in left hand at side; before him, on left, eagle standing left on omphalos with it head turned back right; behind, on right, serpent-entwined tripod lebes; rare; $550.00 (467.50)


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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; $125.00 (106.25)


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In 240, the year this coin was struck, a rebellion lead by Sabinianus, the governor of Africa, was defeated in a battle near Carthage.
RB68909. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 293a, Cohen V 390, SRCV III 8745 var. (obv leg), Choice VF, excellent portrait, well centered, weight 14.938 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, c. 240 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Virtus standing left, helmeted, in military garb, branch in right hand, inverted spear in left, grounded shield on left against right leg, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $90.00 (76.50)


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 (76.50)


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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 (72.25)


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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; $80.00 (68.00)


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A rare and very unusual coin with the image of Liberty but the legend for Liberalitas. Apparently the mint officials in Antioch didn't know the difference between these two Roman personifications.
RS87920. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 187a (R), RSC IV 126, SRCV III 8618, Hunter III -, F, well centered and struck on a broad flan, grainy/porous surfaces, scrape in reverse center, some dark spots, weight 4.713 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 238 - 239 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse LIBERALITAS AVG (the generosity of the Emperor), Libertas standing slightly left, head left, pileus (freedom cap) in right hand, long transverse rod in left hand; ex Beast Coins; rare; $75.00 (63.75)


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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RS76202. Silver denarius, RIC IV 111, RSC IV 39, Choice VF, excellent portrait, well centered, toned, porous, light marks, weight 3.115 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 1 Jan 241 - Jul 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse AETERNITATI AVG, Sol standing slightly right, radiate head left, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand; $70.00 (59.50)


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In 242, Gordian III evacuated the Cimmerian cities in the Bosphorus (Crimea), as the territory was controlled by the Goths.
RB78075. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 307a, Cohen V 267, Hunter III 118, SRCV III -, F, well centered, green patina, scratches, tiny edge cracks, weight 16.657 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Gordian standing right, head bare, wearing military garb, transverse spear in right hand, globe in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $70.00 (59.50)


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Jupiter or Jove, Zeus to the Greeks, was the king of the gods and god of the sky and thunder, and of laws and social order. As the patron deity of ancient Rome, he was the chief god of the Capitoline Triad, with his sister and wife Juno. The father of Mars, he is, therefore, the grandfather of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.
RB76165. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 298a, Cohen V 111, Hunter III 134, SRCV III 8710, VF, nice green patina, excellent portrait, reverse double struck, flan cracks, incomplete cleaning, weight 20.980 g, maximum diameter 30.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 241 - 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse IOVI STATORI (to Jove who upholds), Jupiter standing facing, head right, naked, long scepter vertical in right hand, thunderbolt in left hand at side, S - C divided across field; $60.00 (51.00)




  



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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 frappes 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 Monday, March 25, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Gordian III