The Ancient Library

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assumed the designation in question during the brief period of his sway.

2. M. antonius gordianus, eldest son of the foregoing and of Fabia Orestilia, was born in A. d. 192, was appointed legatus to his father in Africa, was associated with him in the purple, and fell in the battle against Capellianus, as recorded above, in the forty-sixth year of his


Less simple in his habits, and less strict in his

morality than his parent, he was nevertheless respected and beloved both in public and private life, and never disgraced himself by acts of osten­tatious profligacy, although he left upwards of sixty children by various mistresses, and enjoyed the somewhat questionable distinction of being selected by the favour of Elagabalus to fill the office of quaestor. He became praetor under the more pure auspices of Alexander, and acquitted himself with so much credit as a judge, that he was forthwith, at a very early age, promoted to the consulship. Several light pieces in prose and verse attested his love of literature, which he im­bibed in boyhood from his preceptor, Serenus Sam-monicus, whose father had accumulated a library of sixty thousand volumes, which the son inherited, and, on his death bequeathed to his pupil.

No period in the annals of "Rome is more em­barrassed by chronological difficulties than the epoch of the two Gordians, in consequence of the obscurity, confusion, and inconsistency which cha­racterise the narratives of the ancient historians, in­somuch that we shall find six weeks, a hundred days, six months, one year, two years, and even six years, assigned by conflicting authorities as the limits of their reign, while in like manner Balbi-nus, with Pupienus, are variously stated to have occupied the throne for twenty-two days,—for three months,—for one year,—or for two years. Without attempting to point out the folly of most of these assertions, it will be sufficient to state that Eckhel has proved in the most satisfactory manner that the revolt in Africa against Maximinus must have taken place in a. d. 238, probably about the beginning of March, and that the death of the two Gordians happened in the middle of April, after a reign of six weeks, while the assassination of Balbinus and Pupienus, with the accession of the third Gordian, could not have been later than the end of the following July. Our limits do not permit us to enter into a minute investigation of these, but it may be useful to indicate the nature of the arguments which seem to establish the above con­clusions : —-

1. The accession of Maximinus is known to have taken place in the middle of the year a. d. 235, and copper coins are still extant issued by the senate with the usual stamp (s.c.), struck when he was tribune for the fourth time, which therefore cannot belong to an earlier date than the beginning of A. d. 238.

2. Upon receiving intelligence of the proceed­ings in Africa, the senate at once acknowledged the Gordians, threw down the statues of Maximi­nus, and declared him a public enemy. Hence it is manifest that they would issue no money bearing his effigy after these events, which must therefore belong to .some period later than the beginning .of A. d. 238.

3. It is known that the third Gordian was killed abput the month of March, a. d, 244, and



numerous coins are extant, struck in Egypt, com­memorating the seventh year of his reign. But since the Egyptians calculated the commencement of their civil year, and consequently the years of a sovereign's reign, from the 29th of August, they must have reckoned some period prior to the 29th of August, a. d. 238, as the first year of the third Gordian's reign.

Hence the elevation of the first two Gordians, their death, the death of Maximinus, the accession and death of Balbinus with Pupienus, and the ac­cession of the third Gordian, must all have, fallen between the 1st of January and the 29th of August, a. d. 238.


3. M. antonius gordianus, according to most of the authorities consulted by Capitolinus, was the son of a daughter of the elder Gordianus, al­though some maintained that he was the son of the younger Gordianus. Having been elevated to the rank of Caesar, under circumstances narrated in the life of Balbinus [balbinus], after the murder of Balbinus and Pupienus by the praetorians a few weeks afterwards, in July A. d. 238, he was pro­claimed Augustus, with the full approbation of the troops and the senate, although at this time a mere boy, probably not more than fifteen years old. The annals of his reign are singularly meagre. In the consulship of Venustus and Sabinus (a. d. 240), a rebellion broke out in Africa, but was promptly suppressed. In 241, which marks his second con­sulship, the young prince determined to proceed in person to the Persian war, which had assumed a most formidable aspect, but before setting out mar­ried Sabinia Tranquillina, the daughter of Misitheus [misitheus], a man distinguished for learning, eloquence, and virtue, who was straightway ap­pointed praefect of the praetorium, and became the trusty counsellor of his son-in-law in all matters of importance. By their joint exertions, the power of the eunuchs, whose baneful influence in the palace had first acquired strength under Elagabalus and been tolerated by his successor, was at once sup­pressed.

In 242 Gordianus, having thrown open the temple of Janus with all the ancient formalities, quitted Rome for the East. Passing through Moesia, he routed and destroyed some barbarous tribes upon the confines of Thrace, who sought to arrest his progress; crossing over from thence to Syria, he defeated Sapor in a succession of engage-; ments, and compelled him to evacuate Mesopotamia, the chief merit of these achievements being pro­bably due to Misitheus, to whom they were, with fitting modesty, ascribed in the despatches to the senate. But this prosperity did not long endure: Misitheus perished by disease, or, as many histo­rians have asserted, by the treachery of Philip, an Arabian, who, in an evil hour, was chosen by the prince to supply the place of the trusty friend whom he had lost. Philip, from the moment of his elevation, appears to have exerted every art to

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