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Gordiānus


1.

Marcus Antonīnus Africānus. A Roman, born during the reign of the first Antonine, of one of the most illustrious and wealthy families of Rome, and who made himself very popular during his quaestorship by his munificence, and the large sums which he spent in providing games and other amusements for the people. He also cultivated literature, and wrote several poems, among others one in which he celebrated the virtues of the two Antonines. Being intrusted with the government of several provinces, he conducted himself in such a manner as to

The Elder Gordianus. (Capitoline Museum.)

gain universal approbation. He was proconsul of Africa in A.D. 237. When an insurrection broke out in that province against Maximinus, on account of his exactions, and the insurgents saluted Gordianus as emperor, he prayed earnestly to be excused, on account of his age, being then past eighty, and to be allowed to die in peace; but, the insurgents threatening to kill him if he refused, he accepted the perilous dignity, naming his son Gordianus as his colleague, and both made their solemn entry into Carthage amid universal applause. The Senate cheerfully confirmed the election, proclaiming the two Gordiani as emperors, and declaring Maximinus and his son to be the enemies of their country. Meantime, however, Capellianus, governor of Mauritania, collected troops in favour of Maximinus, and marched against Carthage. The younger Gordianus came out to oppose him, but was defeated and killed, and his aged father, on learning the sad tidings, strangled himself. Their reign had not lasted two months altogether, yet they were greatly regretted, on account of their personal qualities.


2.

M. Antonius Africanus, son of Gordianus, was instructed by Serenus Samonicus, who left him his library, which consisted of 62,000 volumes. He was well informed, and wrote several works, but was rather too fond of pleasure, which latter circumstance seems to have recommended him to the favour of the emperor Elagabalus. Alexander Severus advanced him subsequently to the consulship. He afterwards passed into Africa as lieutenant to his father, and, when the latter was elevated to the throne, shared that dignity with him. But, after a reign of not quite two months, he fell in battle, at the age of forty-six, against Capellianus, a partisan of Maximinus. (See Gordianus, 1.)


3.

Marcus Antonīnus Pius, grandson, on the mother's side, of the elder Gordianus, and nephew of Gordianus the younger, was twelve years of age when he was proclaimed Caesar by general acclamation of the people of Rome, after the news had arrived of the death of the two Gordiani in Africa. The Senate named him colleague of the two new emperors Maximus and Balbinus, but in the following year (A.D. 238) a mutiny of the Praetorians took place at Rome, Balbinus and Maximus were murdered, and the boy Gordianus was proclaimed emperor. His disposition was kind and amiable, but at the beginning of his reign he trusted to the insinuations of a certain Maurus and other freedmen of the palace, who abused his confidence, and committed many acts of injustice. In the second year of his reign a revolt broke out in Africa, where a certain Sabinianus was proclaimed emperor, but the insurrection was soon put down by the governor of Mauritania. In the following year Gordianus, being consul with Claudius Pompeianus, married Furia Sabina Tranquillina, daughter of Misitheus, a man of the greatest personal merit. Misitheus disclosed to Gordianus the disgraceful conduct of Maurus and his friends, who were immediately deprived of their offices and driven away from court. From that moment Gordianus placed implicit trust in his father-in-law, on whom the Senate conferred the title of “Guardian of the Republic.” In the next year, news came to Rome that the Persians under Sapor had invaded Mesopotamia, had occupied Nisibis and Carrhae, entered Syria, and, according to Capitolinus, had taken Gordianus opened the temple of Ianus, according to an ancient custom which had been long disused, and, setting out from Rome at the head of a fine army, marched through Illyricum and Moesia, where he defeated the Goths and Sarmatians, and drove them beyond the Danube. Gordianus presently crossed the Hellespont, and proceeded into Syria, delivered Antioch, defeated the Persians in several battles, retook Nisibis and Carrhae, and drove Sapor back to his own dominions. The Senate voted him a triumph. In the year after, A.D. 244, Gordianus advanced into Persian territory, and defeated Sapor on the banks of the Chaboras; but while he was preparing to pursue him, Philippus, an officer in the Guards, who had contrived to spread discontent among the soldiers by attributing their privations to the inexperience of a boyish emperor, was proclaimed by the army his colleague in the Empire. Gordianus consented, but soon after was murdered by Philippus. Gordianus was about twenty years old when he died. His body, according to Eutropius, was carried to Rome, and he was numbered among the gods (Herodian, vii. 10 foll.; viii. 6 foll.; Eutrop. ix. 2).

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