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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., Odessos, Moesia Inferior

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As first noticed by von Sallet in the Berlin Catalogue, the obverse die of this coin was also used to strike medallions for Marcianopolis and Tomis (see AMNG Marcianopolis 1098 note).
SH85459. Bronze medallion, hexassarion; Varbanov 4434 (R8, same dies), AMNG I/II 2315 (4 specimens), EF, nice dark green patina, well centered on a broad flan, marks and scratches, weight 25.655 g, maximum diameter 36.8 mm, die axis 180o, Odessos (Varna, Bulgaria) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AVT K M ANT ΓOP∆-IANOC AVΓ, radiate, draped, cuirassed bust left, almost half-length, seen from front, raising right hand in greeting, globe in left hand; reverse O∆HC-C-EITON, On the left, Hygeia standing right, holding phiale in her left hand from which she feeds snake held in her right; to right, Asklepios standing left, holding serpent-entwined staff in his right hand; ex Stack's NYINC auction (9 Jan 2015), lot 261; ex Heritage Long Beach Signature Sale (25 Sep 2013), lot 23297; ex Heritage-Gemini VIII (14 Apr 2011), lot 406; $900.00 (€765.00)
 


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

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Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus, an Aethiopian king, and Cassiopeia. When Cassiopeia's boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sent a sea monster (Cetus Aethiopicus) to ravage Aethiopia as divine punishment. Andromeda was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but she was saved by Perseus. Later Andromeda and Perseus were married.
SH63219. Brass AE 23, Draganov Deultum 1241a (O109/R592); Varbanov II 2758 (R6); BMC Thrace -; SNG Cop -, aF, weight 6.276 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 180o, Deultum (Debelt, Bulgaria) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse COL FL PAC DEVLT, Perseus (on right) standing left, helping Andromeda (on left) come down from a rock after saving her, Medusa's head and harpa in his left hand, his right foot on the sea monster, Cetus Aethiopicus, turned to stone; very rare; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


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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 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; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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

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Carrhae is the Haran of the Bible. Crassus was defeated and killed by the Parthians near Carrhae in 53 B.C. Emperor Galerius was defeated on the same site in 296 A.D.
RP84657. Bronze AE 23, SNG Hunterian 2501 - 2503 = Macdonald Hunter 22 - 24 corr. (laureate bust); BMC Mesopotamia p. 90, 63; SNG Cop -, F, uneven strike, slightly off center on a tight flan, weight 7.513 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CE, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse MHTP KOΛ KAPPHNΩN, two stars arranged vertically within and above crescent with horns upward; extremely rare; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


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 centration 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; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


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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), VF, nice 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; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


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Pietas in traditional Latin usage expressed a complex, highly valued Roman virtue; a man or woman with pietas respected his or her responsibilities to the gods, family, other people and entities (such as the state), and understood his or her place in society with respect to others.
RS77586. Silver RIC IV 129, RSC IV 186, SRCV III 8677, Hunter III -, Choice EF, very broad flan, some luster, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.904 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 241 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse PIETAS AVGVSTI (the piety of the Emperor), Pietas standing slightly left, veiled head left, raising both hands in prayer; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


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In Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume III, David Sear notes this type was issued for the wedding of Gordian and Tranquillina.

Under Gordian III the same coin types were often struck at both Rome and Antioch. One way to distinguish Gordian's coins struck at Antioch from those struck at Rome is the shape of the letter M. On coins from Antioch, M usually resembles a V in the middle of two I's, thus IVI. From the Rome mint, M normally resembles two lambdas, thus ΛΛ.
RS79932. Silver denarius, RIC IV 130 (R), RSC IV 340, Hunter III 65, SRCV III 8682, Choice gVF, well centered, nice metal, die wear, weight 2.879 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, issued for wedding to Tranquillina, 241 - 242 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse SECVRITAS PVBLICA (security of the public), Securitas seated left, at ease, scepter in right hand, propping head with left hand; $110.00 (€93.50)
 


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On 25 February 244, Gordian III was murdered by mutinous soldiers in Zaitha (Mesopotamia). Philip the Arab, who had been responsible for Gordian's "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 - Jul 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; $105.00 (€89.25)
 


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A.D. 238 was the year of six emperors. Maximinus Thrax was killed (along with his son Maximus Caesar) when his soldiers mutinied. Gordian II was killed in battle. Gordian I hanged himself. Pupienus was lynched by his bodyguard. Balbinus was beaten and dragged naked through the streets of Rome before being killed by the Praetorians. Gordian III lived to become sole emperor.
RS90445. Silver antoninianus, SRCV III 8655, RIC IV 4, RSC IV 302, Hunter III 9, VF, centered, frosted, weight 2.691 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 238 - 239 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse PROVIDENTIA AVG (the foresight of the Emperor), Providentia standing left, globe in right hand, transverse long scepter in left; $100.00 (€85.00)
 










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 frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 5: Gordian I to Valerian II. (Paris, 1885).
Mattingly, H.B., E.A. Sydenham & C.H.V. 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.A. & D.R. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume IV, Gordian III to Postumus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D.R. 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 Saturday, October 21, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Gordian III