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The two Maximini

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1924

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Maximus and Balbinus

(Vol. II) Historia Augusta

p381 The Three Gordians

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It had been my plan, revered Augustus, following the example of many writers, to present each separate emperor to Your Clemency, each in a separate book. 2 For I have either seen for myself that many writers have done this, or I have so understood from my reading. 3 It did not seem proper, however, either to perplex Your Piety with a multitude of books or to expend my labour on many volumes. 4 For this reason in this book I have bound the three Gordians together, having a care both for my own labour and for your reading, lest you be compelled to unroll many volumes and yet read scarcely one story. 5 But let not me, who have always fled long books and many words, seem to run into the very thing I pretend cleverly to avoid; and so to my subject!

2 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] There were not, as certain uninformed writers maintain, two Gordians, but three.1 These writers might have learned this from Arrianus,2 the writer of Greek history, and likewise from Dexippus,3 the p383Greek writer, both of whom have investigated the whole question, briefly perhaps, but still conscientiously. 2 Of the three, Gordian the elder,4 that is the first, was the son of Maecius Marullus and Ulpia Gordiana. On his father's side he traced his descent from the house of the Gracchi, on his mother's from the Emperor Trajan. His own father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, his wife's father and grandfather, and likewise another of his wife's grandfathers and two of her great-grandfathers, were consuls. 3 He himself as consul was most rich and powerful; at Rome he owned the House of Pompey,5 and in the provinces more land than any other subject. 4 After his consulship, which he served with Alexander,6 he was sent out as proconsul to Africa by decree of the senate.

3 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But before I tell of his rule, I shall speak a little of his character. 2 When the Gordian of whom we are speaking was a young man, he wrote poetry, all of which has been preserved.7 As a matter of fact, all the subjects were those which Cicero also treated, that is, Marius, Aratus, Alcyonae, Uxorius and Nilus.8 And he wrote these in order that Cicero's poems might seem out of date. 3 Besides these, just as p385Vergil wrote an Aeneid, Statius an Achilleid, and many others Alexandriads, he wrote an Antoniniad — the lives, that is, of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Antoninus, most learnedly versified in thirty books, wherein he recounted their wars and other doings both public and private.9 4 And all this he did as a young boy. Later on, when he grew to manhood, he declaimed and disputed at the Athenaeum,10 at times in the presence of his emperors.

5 He served his quaestorship most splendidly. When he was aedile he gave the Roman people twelve exhibitions, that is one for each month, at his own expense; at times, indeed, he provided five hundred pairs of gladiators, and never less than a hundred and fifty. 6 He produced a hundred wild beasts of Libya11 at once, and likewise at one time a thousand bears. There exists also today a remarkable wild-beast hunt of his, pictured in Gnaeus Pompey's "House of the Beaks";12 this palace belonged to him and to his father and grandfather before him until your privy-purse took it over in the time of Philip.13 7 In this picture at the present day are contained two hundred stags with antlers shaped like the palm of a hand, together with stags of Britain, thirty wild horses, a hundred wild sheep, ten elks, a hundred Cyprian bulls, three hundred red Moorish ostriches, thirty wild asses, a hundred and fifty wild boars, two hundred chamois, and two hundred fallow deer. 8 And all these he handed over to the people to be killed on the day of the sixth exhibition that he gave.

4 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He served a famous praetorship. Then, after administering the law, he entered upon his first p387consulship with Antoninus Caracalla, his second with Alexander.14 2 ºHe had two children, one the son who attained consular rank and was named Augustus with himself15 and perished in the war in Africa near Carthage,16 the other a daughter, Maecia Faustina by name17 who was married to Junius Balbus, a man of consular rank. 3 His consulships were more brilliant than that of any other man of his time; even Antoninus envied him, admiring now his togas, now his broad stripe,18 and now his games, which surpassed the imperial games themselves. 4 He was the first Roman subject to possess for his own a tunic embroidered with palms19 and a gold-embroidered toga; for previously even the emperors had gotten theirs either from the Capitol or the Palace.20 5 With the emperors' permission he distributed a hundred Sicilian and a hundred Cappadocian horses among the factions.21 And he endeared himself greatly to the people, who are always touched by acts of this nature. 6 Cordus22 says that he gave stage-plays and Juvenalia23 in all the cities of Campania, Etruria, Umbria, Flaminia, and Picenum, for four days at his own expense. 7 He wrote prose eulogies also of all the p389Antonines who had preceded him. He admired the Antonines marvellously;24 many say that he himself assumed the name Antoninus or, as more declare, Antonius.25 8 And certainly there is no doubt that he embellished his son with the name Antoninus, when, after the Roman custom, he acknowledged him before the prefect of the Treasury and entered his name in the public records.26

5 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] After his consulship he was appointed proconsul of Africa27 through the efforts of all those who desired Alexander's reign to seem and to be brilliant in Africa through the splendour of its proconsul. 2 Indeed there still exists a letter of Alexander's in which he thanks the senate for electing Gordian proconsul for Africa. 3 It runs in this style: "You could have done nothing more pleasing or agreeable to me, Conscript Fathers, than to send Antoninus28 Gordian as proconsul to Africa, for he is well-born, high-minded, eloquent, just, moderate, virtuous," and so on. 4 It is clear from this how great a man Gordian was even at that time. 5 He was beloved by the Africans as no other proconsul had ever been before; some called him Scipio, others, Cato, and many, Mucius,29 Rutilius,30 and Laelius.31 6 An acclamation of theirs which Junius32 noted down has been preserved. 7 For when on one occasion he was p391reading an imperial act and began with the mention of the proconsuls Scipio, the people shouted, "The new Scipio, the true Scipio, the proconsul Gordian". He was often greeted with these and similar acclamations.

6 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] In height he was characteristically Roman. He was becomingly gray, with an impressive face, more ruddy than fair. His face was fairly broad, his eyes, his countenance, and his brow such as to command respect. His body was somewhat stocky. 2 In character he was temperate and restrained; there is nothing you can say that he ever did passionately, immoderately, or excessively. 3 His affection for his kin was remarkable, for his daughter and granddaughter most devoted. 4 He was as deferential to his father-in‑law Annius Severus33 as though he considered that he had passed over into his family as a son; he never washed himself in his company, he never sat in his presence until he became praetor. 5 And when he was consul either he always remained at the old man's house, or, if he stayed at the House of Pompey, he went either at morning or evening to see him. 6 He was sparing in the use of wine, very sparing in the use of food. His dress was elegant. He was fond of bathing; indeed, during the summer, he would bathe four or five times a day, in the winter twice. 7 His love of sleep was enormous; he would doze off even at table, if he were dining with friends, and without any embarrassment. This he seemed to do at nature's bidding and not because of intoxication or wantonness.

7 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But all his virtuous behaviour profited him nothing. For this old man, worthy of respect as such a life had made him, who passed his days with Plato p393and Aristotle, Cicero and Vergil, finally suffered an end other than that he deserved.

2 For, in the time of Maximinus, a grim and savage man, he was ruling Africa as proconsul,34 and his son was with him as his legate, having been so appointed by the senate from among the consuls. Now there was a certain agent of the privy-purse,35 who ran riot against a great number of Africans even more violently than Maximinus himself allowed. He outlawed a great many, he put many to death, he assumed all powers in excess even of a tax-gatherer's; and when he was finally restrained by the proconsul and legate he threatened those noble consular men with death. The Africans at length were unable to suffer these unwonted injuries any longer, and so, with the aid of a number of soldiers, they first killed him. 3 Then, after he was killed and while the whole world was blazing with hatred of Maximinus, his slayers began to take counsel how this conflict which had arisen between the agents of Maximinus and the peasants, or rather the Africans, might go unpunished. 4 Then a certain fellow, Mauritius36 by name, a municipal councillor,37 who had great influence with the Africans, held a sort of assembly on his farm near Thysdrus38 and made a most notable oration to the people of the town and the country, saying: 8[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] "Let us give thanks to the immortal gods, citizens, that they have given us a chance, and truly a needed one, of protecting ourselves against that madman Maximinus. 2 We have slain a tax-gatherer of his, one patterned after himself in character and conduct, and unless we make an emperor of our own we are lost. 3 Wherefore, since p395not far off there is a man of noble blood, a proconsul, and with him his son, a consular legate, both of whom that pest has threatened with death, we shall hail them emperors, if it please you, taking the purple from the standards, and giving them their proper trappings make them secure by Roman law." 4 Whereupon they shouted, "It is good, it is right. Gordian Augustus, may the gods keep you safe! Rule happily, rule with your son."

5 Upon this, they came hastily to the town of Thysdrus, and there they found the venerable old man returned from the law-courts and lying on a couch. They girt him straightway with the purple, but he would have none of it and cast himself on the ground; and they lifted him up still refusing. 6 But when he saw that he could do nothing else, for the sake of escaping from a danger which threatened him for certain at the hands of his supporters and only doubtfully from the Maximinians, the old man suffered himself to be acclaimed emperor. 9[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He was then eighty years of age,39 and, as we have said,40 had ruled many provinces before; and he had so commended himself to the Roman people by his conduct in these that they thought him worthy of ruling the whole empire. 2 With regard to the killing of the agent, Gordian had had no previous knowledge. But when he learned of the fact, being now near to death and fearing greatly for his son, he preferred to die honourably rather than be handed over to the chains and prison-cell of Maximinus.

3 However, having now acclaimed Gordian emperor, the young men who were the authors of the deed proceeded to cast down the statues of Maximinus, break his busts, and publicly erase his name. p397They also gave Gordian the name Africanus.41 4 Some add that he was granted this honorary name, not because he became emperor in Africa, but because he was descended from the family of the Scipios.42 5 In most books, moreover, I find that Gordian and his son were declared emperors with equal rank and both given the name Antoninus: certain other books, however, say that they were given the name Antonius.43

6 After this, with kingly pomp and laurelled fasces, they came to Carthage, and there his son — who, after the example of the Scipios,44 as Dexippus the writer of Greek history says, was his father's legate — was invested with equal power. 7 Upon this an embassy was despatched to Rome, bearing letters from the Gordians to announce all that had taken place in Africa, which was received by Valerian, the chief of the senate (who was afterwards emperor),45 with rejoicing. Letters were sent also to their noble friends, in order that powerful men might support their action and from friends might become still greater friends.

10 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But the senate received them so joyfully as emperors against Maximinus that not only did it ratify all that had been already done but further elected twenty men46 — including Maximus, known also as Pupienus,47 and Clodius Balbinus,48 both of whom were made emperors after the two Gordians were slain in p399Africa492 among whom the districts of Italy were portioned out to be guarded for the Gordians against Maximinus. 3 Embassies then came to Rome from Maximinus50 promising to redress the past. 4 For they promised all good things; they promised a huge bounty to the soldiers and fields and a largess to the people, and they were trusted. 5 In fact, so much more trust was placed in the Gordians than in the Maximini, that Vitalianus, the prefect of the guard, was put to death at the senate's command, a quaestor and some soldiers performing the deed with great daring. This Vitalianus had conducted himself with great cruelty before; and now they feared some greater piece of savagery pleasing and agreeable to one of Maximinus' character. 6 The following story is related about his death.51 A forged letter, purporting to come from Maximinus and sealed as if with his ring, was brought to Vitalianus by soldiers in charge of a quaestor, who added that there was further information, not in the letter, to be imparted in secret. 7 They retired, therefore, to a distant portico, where he inquired what it was that was to be told him secretly. 8 But first they urged him to look at the seal on the letter, which he did. And while he was regarding it, they cut him down, and then persuaded the soldiers that he had been slain by command of Maximinus. And when this affair had been settled, the letters and images of the Gordians were displayed in the Camp.

11[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I think it my duty to set down in writing the decree of the senate in which the Gordians were p401declared emperors and Maximinus a public enemy.52 2 On an extraordinary, not a regular, day for the meeting of the senate, the consul, having foregathered at his own home with the praetors, the aediles, and the tribunes of the people, came to the Senate-house. 3 The prefect of the city, who had somehow got wind of something and had not received the official notice, kept away from the meeting. But as it turned out, that was as well, for before the usual acclamations were made or anything was said favourable to Maximinus, the consul53 cried: 4 "Conscript Fathers, the two Gordians, father and son, both ex-consuls, the one your proconsul, the other now your legate, have been declared emperors by a great assembly in Africa. 5 Let us give thanks, then, to the young men of Thysdrus, and thanks also to the ever loyal people of Carthage; they have freed us from that savage monster, from that wild beast. 6 Why do you hear me with quaking? Why do you look around? Why do you delay? This is what you have always hoped for. 7 Maximinus is our enemy; the gods shall now bring it to pass that he may now cease to be, and that we with joyful hearts may enjoy the happy sagacity of the elder Gordian, the intrepid virtue of the younger." 8 After this he read the letters which the Gordians had sent to the senate and to himself. And then the senate cried aloud:54 "We thank you, O gods. We are freed from our enemies; so may we be wholly freed! 9 ºWe adjudge Maximinus an enemy. We consign Maximinus and his son to the gods below. 10 We call the Gordians Augusti. We recognize the Gordians as princes. May the gods keep safe the senate's p403emperors, may we see our noble emperors victorious, may Rome see our emperors! Whoever shall kill the public enemies shall get a reward."

12 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Junius Cordus says that this was a secret decree of the senate.55 Just what this is, and why it is so called, I shall briefly explain. 2 Today the equivalent of a secret decree of the senate is, in general, nothing more than the action of those inner councils of elders by which Your Clemency settles those affairs which are not to be published abroad. You are accustomed to take oath when discussing these matters, moreover, that no one shall hear or know anything of them until the business is completed. 3 But among the ancients the custom was introduced in the interests of the state, that, if by any chance violence threatened at the hands of their enemies, which forced them either to adopt ignoble counsels or resolve on things which should not be disclosed until they were ready to be put into effect, or if they were unwilling for certain measures to be divulged to friends, the senate passed a secret decree. At these sessions not even the clerks or public servants or officers of the Census56 were present; the senators took over and the senators performed the duties of all the clerks and officers of the Census, lest anything by any chance should be betrayed. 4 To prevent news of it reaching Maximinus, therefore, this decree of the senate was made secret.

13 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But as is the way with the minds of men — of such of them, at least, as blush if any knowledge of theirs does not become known and consider it abject not to betray a trust — Maximinus straightway learned everything. Indeed, he got a copy of the senate's secret p405decree — a thing that had never previously occurred. 2 There is a letter of his to the city-prefect which says: "I have read the senate's secret decree about those emperors of ours; perhaps you, being city-prefect, did not know it had been passed, for you were not present on that occasion. I have sent you a copy, however, hoping that you may learn how to rule the commonwealth of Rome." 3 The fury that shook Maximinus when he learned that Africa had revolted from him is impossible to describe.57 4 For when he finally comprehended the decree of the senate, he dashed himself against the walls, he rent his garments, he snatched his sword as though he could slay them in a body, he seemed, indeed, to go wholly mad.

5 The prefect of the city now got even more violent letters and made an address to the people and the soldiers, wherein he said that Maximinus had been slain.58 6 Upon this great rejoicing arose and the statues and portraits of the public enemy were immediately cast down. 7 The senate, moreover, employed the powers which belonged to it for impending war. Informers, false accusers, personal agents, in fact all the filth of the Maximinian despotism, it ordered to be put to death.59 8 But this, the senate's decision, was not enough; the people decided that after they were put to death they should be dragged about and cast into the sewer. 9 Then also Sabinus, the prefect of the city and a man of consular rank, was beaten with a club and slain; his corpse was left lying in the streets.

14 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When Maximinus learned of these last measures he at once assembled his troops and harangued them in the following manner:60 "Consecrated fellow-soldiers, or rather partakers of my consecration, p407who have, most of you, fought with me wars that were wars indeed, when we defended the majesty of Rome from Germany, when we redeemed Illyricum from the barbarians, the Africans have kept Punic faith.61 2 They have acclaimed the two Gordians emperors; one of whom is so broken with old age that he cannot rise, the other so wasted with debauchery that exhaustion serves him for old age. 3 And lest this be not enough, that glorious senate of ours has approved what the Africans have done. They for whose children we bear arms have set up twenty men against us, and passed all such decrees against us as are passed against a foe. 4 Up! then, as men should; we must hasten to the city. For against us twenty men, all of consular rank, have been chosen; they must be withstood, we bravely leading, you happily fighting." 5 But that this harangue left his soldiers with indifferent feelings, and not with quickened spirits, even Maximinus himself realized. 6 In fact, he at once wrote to his son, who was following at a distance behind, to hasten speedily, lest the soldiers devise some plot against him in his absence. 7 Junius Cordus gives the purport of the letter thus: "My attendant Tynchanius is coming to tell you my last advices on what has taken place in Africa and Rome, and also how the soldiers feel. 8 I beseech you, hasten as fast as you can, lest this mob of soldiers take further measures, as soldiers are wont to do. What I fear, you will learn from him whom I have sent you."

15 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But while all this was taking place, the Gordians were attacked in Africa by a certain Capelianus.62 He had always been hostile to Gordian even in private life, and now the Emperor himself dismissed him when, as an old soldier, he was governing the Moors p409by Maximinus' appointment. And so when Gordian dismissed him, he gathered the Moors together and with an irregular force of them came up to Carthage, the people of which, with typical Punic faith, came over to him. 2 None the less, Gordian desired to hazard the chances of war, and sent against them his son, now well advanced in years (he was then forty-six years old), and at that time his father's legate; we shall give a resumé of his character in its proper place.63 3 But in military affairs not only was Capelianus the bolder man, but the younger Gordian was less well trained, placed at a disadvantage, as he was, by the luxurious life of the nobility. When they joined battle, accordingly, he was beaten, and in the same campaign slain.

16 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Such a host of Gordian's party fell in this campaign, it is said, that the body of the younger Gordian, although it was long searched for, could not be found. 2 There was a great storm, moreover, — a rare thing in Africa — which scattered Gordian's army before the battle and also made the soldiers less fit for the fight, and on this account Capelianus' victory was the easier.64

3 And when the elder Gordian learned of this, seeing there was no aid in Africa, and being distressed with a great fear of Maximinus and by knowledge of Punic faith, also because Capelianus was assailing him very sharply, and because in the end the struggle had wearied him in mind and soul, he took a rope and hanged himself.

4 This was the end of two of the Gordians.65 Both of them were named Augusti by the senate and afterwards placed among the gods.66 p411

Gordian the Second.

17 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] This was the son of the old Gordian, the proconsul of Africa. He too was named Augustus by the Africans and the senate at the same time as his father, and he was illustrious in culture and character as well as in battle rank; the last, according to many writers, he derived from the Antonines, although most say from the Antonii.67 2 Others adduce the following facts as evidence to show the high quality of his family — that the elder Gordian was called Africanus, the honorary surname of the Scipios;68 that he possessed the House of Pompey in the city;69 that he was always given the surname of the Antonines; and that he himself expressed a desire in the senate that his son should be known as Antonius. Each of these, they believe, represents a family connection. 3 I, however, follow Junius Cordus, who says that the nobility of the Gordians was derived from all these families. 4 At any rate, he was the first offspring of his father, Gordian, and Fabia Orestilla, the great-granddaughter of Antoninus,70 through whom he seemed also to be lined with the family of the Caesars. 5 A few days after his birth he was given the name Antoninus; later, in the senate, he was publicly named Antonius; and the people finally began to call him Gordian.

18 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He took his studies very seriously. In person he was remarkably good looking; his memory was extraordinary. He was very kind of heart; indeed, when any of the boys was flogged at school, p413he could not restrain his tears. 2 Serenus Sammonicus,71 a great friend of his father's, was his tutor, and a very beloved and agreeable one he was; in fact, when he died, he left the young Gordian all the books that had belonged to his father, Serenus Sammonicus, and these were estimated at sixty-two thousand. 3 And this raised him to the seventh heaven, for being now possessed of a library of such magnitude and excellence, thanks to the power of letters he became famous among men.

4 He won his quaestorship upon the recommendation of Elagabalus; for the wildness of the young man, which was nevertheless neither extravagant nor depraved, had found him favour with that extravagant emperor. 5 He held the city-praetorship on the recommendation of Alexander, and did so well in this office, chiefly in administering the law, that he was immediately given the consulship,72 which his father had won late in life. 6 And in the time either of Maximinus or of this same Alexander, being sent to his father's proconsular command, he served as his legate, and then happened what has been related above.73

19 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He was somewhat fond of wine, but always, however, of wine in some way spiced, at one time with roses, again with mastic, again with wormwood and various other herbs — all of which are most pleasing to the palate. 2 He ate sparingly; indeed he finished his luncheon — if he lunched at all — or his dinner in an instant. 3 He was very fond of women; indeed, it is said that he had twenty-two concubines decreed him, from all of whom he left three or four children apiece. 4 He was nicknamed, in fact, the Priam74 of his age, but often the crowd jestingly called him not Priam but Priapus,75 as being nearer to his character. p4155 He lived in revelry — in gardens, in baths, and in most delightful groves. Nor did his father ever rebuke him, but on the contrary very often said that sometime soon he would die in the greatest eminence. 6 Yet in his manner of life he never was inferior to the good in bravery, and he was ever among the most distinguished of citizens and never failed the commonwealth with advice. 7 And the senate, finally, entitled him Augustus with the greatest joy and laid on him the hopes of the state. 8 He was very elegant in his dress, and beloved by his slaves and entire household. 9 Cordus says that he was never willing to have a wife, but Dexippus thinks that the third Gordian was his son76 — the boy, that is, who was afterwards made emperor with Balbinus and Pupienus (or Maximus).

20 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] At one time the elder Gordian consulted an astrologer about his son's nativity, and the astrologer, it is said, answered that the child would be both son and father of an emperor, and that he also would be emperor. 2 Gordian laughed; but then, they say, the astrologer pointed out the constellationa and read from ancient books until he proved that he had spoken the truth. 3 ºThis same astrologer, moreover, predicted truthfully the day and the manner of the deaths of both father and son, and the places where they would die, all with stubborn firmness. 4 In after days, it is said, the elder Gordian recounted all of this in Africa, at a time when he was emperor and had nothing to fear — indeed, he spoke of his own death and his son's and of the manner in which they would die. 5 Often, too, the old man recited these verses when he saw his son:77 p417

"Him the fates only displayed to the circle of lands, and no longer

Suffered to be. Too great, too great did Rome's generations

Seem to you else, O Gods, had this figure really been granted."

6 There are still in existence various things written by the younger Gordian in both prose and verse,78 which are often quoted by his kinsmen today. These are neither good nor yet very bad, but rather mediocre. They seem, in truth, the work of one who was really talented but gave himself over to pleasure and wasted his genius.

21 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He was extremely fond of fruit and greens; in fact, though very abstemious in his use of other kinds of food, he was continually eating fresh fruit. 2 He had a craving for cold drinks, and passed the summer with great difficulty unless he drank cold drinks and a great many of them. He was of huge size, as a matter of fact, and this somewhat stimulated his longing for cold drinks.

3 This is what we have discovered about the younger Gordian that is worthy of mention. For we do not think we need recount absurd and silly tales such as Junius Cordus has written concerning his domestic pleasures and petty matters of that sort. 4 If any desire to know these things, let them read Cordus; Cordus tells what slaves each and every emperor had and what friends, how many mantles and how many cloaks. Knowledge of this sort of thing does no one any good. It is the duty of historians, rather, to set down in their histories such things as are to be avoided or sought after.

p419 5 But truly I have decided that I must not omit this, which I read in Vulcatius Terentianus,79 who wrote a history of his time, because it seems a marvellous thing. So I write it down. The elder Gordian resembled the face of Augustus perfectly; he seemed, indeed, to have his very voice and mannerisms and stature; his son, in turn, seemed like to Pompey, although it is true that Pompey was not obese of person; his grandson, finally, whose portraits we can see today, bore the appearance of Scipio Asiaticus. This, because of its very strangeness, I have decided should not be passed over in silence.

Gordian the Third

22 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] On the death of the two Gordians, the senate, being now thoroughly agitated and in even more violent terror of Maximinus, chose Pupienus (or Maximus) and Clodius Balbinus, both ex-consuls, from the twenty men whom they had elected to protect the state, and declared them emperors.80 2 But on this the populace and soldiers demanded that the child Gordian should be made Caesar,81 he being then, so most authorities declare, eleven years old; some, however, say thirteen,82 and Junius Cordus says sixteen (for Cordus says that he was in his twenty-second year when he died). 3 At any rate, he was hurried to the senate and thence taken to an assembly, and there they clothed him in the imperial garments and hailed him as Caesar.83

p421 4 According to most authorities, he was the son of Gordian's daughter,84 but one or two (I have unable to discover more) say that he was the child of that son of Gordian who was killed in Africa. 5 However this may be, after he was made Caesar he was reared at his mother's house. But when Maximus and Balbinus had ruled for two years after the death of the Maximini85 they were slain in a mutiny of the soldiers, and the young Gordian, who had been Caesar until then, was declared Augustus86 — the soldiers, populace, senate, and all the peoples of the Empire uniting with great love, great eagerness, and great gratitude to do so. 6 For they loved him exceedingly because of his grandfather and uncle (or father), who had both taken up arms in behalf of the senate and Roman people against Maximinus and had both perished, the one by a soldier's death, the other through a soldier's despair.

7 After this87 a body of veterans came to the Senate-house to learn what had taken place. 8 And two of them, having gone up to the Capitol — for the senate was meeting there, — were slain by Gallicanus, a former consul, and Maecenas, a former general, before the very altar, 9 and a civil war sprang up, in which even the senators were armed; for the veterans were unaware that the young Gordian was holding the imperial power alone.88 23[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] (Dexippus says that p423Gordian the third was the child of Gordian's son). But shortly afterwards, when it was understood among the veterans that Gordian was ruling alone, a peace was confirmed between the populace and the soldiers and veterans, and an end of the civil strife was made when the boy was given the consulship.89 2 There was an omen, however, that Gordian was not to rule for long, which was this: there occurred an eclipse of the sun,90 so black that men thought it was night and business could not be transacted without the aid of lanterns. 3 None the less, after it the populace devoted itself to spectacles and revelry, to dull the memory of the hard things that had been done before.

4 In the consulship of Venustus and Sabinus91 a revolt broke out in Africa against Gordian the third under the leadership of Sabinianus.92 But the governor of Mauretania, who was first beset by the conspirators, crushed it for Gordian so severely that all of them came up to Carthage to surrender Sabinianus and confessed their wrong and sought pardon for it. 5 When, however, this trouble in Africa had been ended, a war broke out with the Persians93 — this being in the first consulship of Pompeianus and the second of Gordian. 6 But before setting out for this war the p425young Gordian took a wife, the daughter of Timestheus,94 a most erudite man, whom Gordian considered worthy of being his relation because of his powers of eloquence and immediately made his prefect. 7 After this his rule seemed not in the least that of a child or contemptible, since he was aided by the advice of this excellent father-in‑law, while he himself, on his own account, developed considerable sagacity and did not let his favours be sold by the eunuchs and attendants at court through his mother's ignorance or connivance.

24 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] There is still in existence a letter from Gordian to his father-in‑law and also one from his father-in‑law to him, in which we can see how faultlessly and zealously he and his father-in‑law strove to perfect their age. This is a copy of the letters:

2 "To my imperial son and Augustus, from Timestheus, his prefect and father-in‑law. One serious scandal of our age we have escaped; the scandal, I mean, that eunuchs and those who pretend to be your friends (though really they are your worst enemies) arrange all things for money. This is all the more agreeable, and it should make this improvement more pleasing to you too, because if there have been any failings, it seems assured, my revered son, that they have not been yours. 3 For no one could bear it when commissions in the army were given out on the nomination of eunuchs, when labours were denied their due reward, when men who should not have p427been slain or set free through caprice or bribery, when the treasury was drained, when conspiracies were fomented by those who moved cunningly about you every day, that you, too, might be finally ensnared, while all evil men settled beforehand among themselves what to advise you about the righteous, drove away the good, introduced the abominable, and, in the end, sold all your secrets for a price. 4 Let the gods be thanked, then, that this evil has been done away with, as you, too, desired! 5 Truly it delights me to be the father-in‑law of a worthy emperor; and of one, too, who inquires into everything and wishes to know everything, and has driven away the men who formerly sold him as though he were set up in open market."

25[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Likewise Gordian's letter to Timesitheus:

"From the Emperor Gordian Augustus to Timesitheus, his father-in‑law and prefect. Were it not that the mighty gods watch over the Roman Empire, even now we should be sold by bought eunuchs as though under the hammer. 2 Now at last I know that a Felicio95 should not have been put in command of the praetorian guard and that I should not have entrusted the Fourth Legion to a Serapammon; in fact, to give no further examples, that I should not have done much that I did do; but now, the gods be thanked, I have learned from suggestions by you, who are incorruptible, what I could not know by myself. 3 For what could I do? — since even our mother was betraying us, she who used to take counsel with Gaudianus, Reverendus, and Montanus and then praise men or traduce them accordingly, p429and by their testimony as though by the evidence of witnesses she would prove what she had said. 4 My father, I should like you to hear a true thing: wretched is an emperor before whom men do not speak out the truth, for since he himself cannot walk out among the people he can only hear things, and then believe either what he has heard or what the majority have corroborated."

5 From these letters one can see how the young man had been improved and bettered by his father-in‑law's counsel. 6 Some say that Timesitheus' letter was written in Greek but in any case to the above effect. 7 So great was the power, moreover, of his strength of character and righteousness, that he rose from great obscurity to make the Emperor Gordian illustrious not only for his noble birth but also for his deeds.

26 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] There was a severe earthquake in Gordian's reign — so severe that whole cities with all their inhabitants disappeared in the opening of the ground. Vast sacrifices were offered through the entire city and the entire world because of this. 2 And Cordus says that the Sibylline Books were consulted, and everything that seemed ordered therein done; whereupon this world-wide evil was stayed.

3 But after this earthquake was stayed, in the consulship of Praetextatus and Atticus, Gordian opened the twin gates of Janus,96 which was a sign that war had been declared, and set out against the Persians97 with so huge an army and so much gold as easily to conquer the Persians with either his regulars or his p431auxiliaries. 4 He marched into Moesia and there, even while making ready, he destroyed, put to flight, expelled, and drove away whatever forces of the enemy were in Thrace.98 5 From there99 he marched through Syria to Antioch, which was then in the possession of the Persians. There he fought and won repeated battles, and drove out Sapor, the Persians' king.100 6 After this he recovered Artaxanses,101 Antioch, Carrhae, and Nisibis, all of which had been included in the Persian empire. 27[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Indeed the king of the Persians became so fearful of the Emperor Gordian that, though he was provided with forces both from his own lands and from ours, he nevertheless evacuated the cities and restored them unharmed to their citizens; nor did he injure their possessions in any way. 2 All this, however, was accomplished by Timesitheus, Gordian's father-in‑law and prefect. 3 And in the end Gordian's campaign forced the Persians, who were then dreaded even in Italy, to return to their own kingdom, and the Roman power occupied the whole of the East.

4 There is still in existence an oration of Gordian's to the senate, wherein while writing of his deeds he gives boundless thanks to his prefect and father-in‑law Timesitheus. I have set down a part of it, that from this you may learn his actual words: 5 "After those deeds, Conscript Fathers, which were done p433while on our march and done everywhere in a manner worthy of as many separate triumphs, we (to compress much into little) removed from the necks of the people of Antioch, which were bent under the Persian yoke, the Persians, the kings of the Persians, and the Persians' law. 6 After this we restored Carrhae and other cities also to the Roman sway. We have penetrated as far as Nisibis, and if it be pleasing to the gods, we shall even get to Ctesiphon. 7 Only may our prefect and father-in‑law Timesitheus prosper, for it was by his leadership and his arrangements that we accomplished these things and shall in the future continue to accomplish them. 8 It is now for you to decree thanksgivings, to commend us to the gods, and to give thanks to Timesitheus."

9 After this was read to the senate, chariots drawn by four elephants were decreed for Gordian, in order that he might have a Persian triumph inasmuch as he had conquered the Persians, and for Timesitheus a six-horse chariot and a triumphal car and the following inscription: 10 "To His Excellency Timesitheus, Father of Emperors, Prefect of the Guard and of the entire City, Guardian of the State, the senate and the Roman people make grateful acknowledgment."

28 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But such felicity could not endure. For, as most say, through the plotting of Philip,102 who was made prefect of the guard after him, or, as others say, because of a disease, Timesitheus died, leaving the Roman state as his heir. Everything that had been his was added to the city's revenues. 2 So excellent was this man's management of public affairs that there p435was nowhere a border city of major size, such as could contain an army and emperor of the Roman people, that did not have supplies of cheap wine, grain, bacon, barley, and straw for a year; other smaller cities had supplies for thirty days, some for forty, and not a few for two months, while the very least had supplies for fifteen days. 3 When he was prefect, likewise, he constantly inspected his men's arms. He never let an old man serve and he never let a boy draw rations. He used to go over the camps and their entrenchments, and he even frequently visited the sentries during the night. 4 And because he so loved the emperor and the state, everyone loved him. The tribunes and generals both loved and feared him so much that they were unwilling to do wrong and, for that matter, in no way did wrong. 5 Philip, they say, was mightily in fear of him for many reasons and on this account plotted with the doctors against his life. He did it in this way: Timesitheus, as it happened, was suffering from diarrhoea and was told by the doctors to take a potion to check it. 6 And then, they say, they changed what had been prepared and gave him something which loosened him all the more; and thus he died.

29 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When he died, in the consulship of Arrianus and Papus, Philippus Arabs was made prefect of the guard in his place. This Philip was low-born103 but arrogant, and now could not contain himself in his sudden rise to office and immoderate good fortune, but immediately, through the soldiers, began to plot against Gordian, who had begun to treat him as a father. He did it in the following manner.104 2 As we have said, Timesitheus had stored up such a quantity of supplies everywhere, that the Roman administration could not break down. But now Philip intrigued p437first to have the grain-ships turned away, and then to have the troops moved to stations where they could not get provisions. 3 In this way he speedily got them exasperated against Gordian, for they did not know that the youth had been betrayed through Philip's intriguing. 4 In addition to this, Philip spread talk among the soldiers to the effect that Gordian was young and could not manage the Empire, and that it were better for someone to rule who could command the army and understood public affairs. 5 Besides this, he won over the leaders, and finally brought it about that they openly called him to the throne. 6 Gordian's friends at first opposed him vigorously, but when the soldiers were at last overcome with hunger Philip was entrusted with the sovereignty, and the soldiers commanded that he and Gordian should rule together with equal rank while Philip acted as a sort of guardian.

30 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now that he had gained the imperial power Philip began to bear himself very arrogantly towards Gordian; and he knowing himself to be an emperor, an emperor's son, and a scion of a most noble family, could not endure this low-born fellow's insolence. And so, mounting the platform, with his kinsman Maecius Gordianus105 standing by him as his prefect, he complained bitterly to the officers and soldiers in the hope that Philip's office could be taken from him. 2 But by this complaint — in which he accused Philip of being unmindful of past favours and too little grateful — he accomplished nothing. 3 Next he asked the soldiers to make their choice, after openly canvassing the officers, but as a result of Philip's intriguing he came off second in the general vote. 4 And finally, when he saw that everyone considered him worsted, p439he asked that their power might at least be equal, but he did not secure this either. 5 After this he asked to be given the position of Caesar, but he did not gain this. 6 He asked also to be Philip's prefect, and this, too, was denied him. 7 His last prayer was that Philip should make him a general and let him live. And to this Philip almost consented — not speaking himself, but acting through his friends, as he had done throughout, with nods and advice. 8 But when he reflected that the Roman people and senate, the whole of Africa and Syria, and indeed the whole Roman world, felt for Gordian, because he was nobly born and the son and grandson of emperors and had delivered the whole state from grievous wars, it was position, if the soldiers ever changed their minds, that the throne might be given back to Gordian if he asked for it again, and when he reflected also that the violence of the soldiers' anger against Gordian was due to hunger, he had him carried, shouting protests, out of their sight and then despoiled and slain.106 9 At first his orders were delayed, but afterwards it was done as he had bidden. And in this unholy and illegal manner Philip became emperor.

31 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Gordian reigned six years. And while the preceding events were taking place, Argunt,107 the king of the Scythians, was devastating the kingdoms of his neighbours, chiefly because he had learned that Timesitheus, by whose counsels the state had been guided, was now dead.

2 And now, that he might not seem to have obtained the imperial office by bloody means, Philip sent a p441letter to Rome saying that Gordian had died of a disease108 and that he, Philip, had been chosen emperor by all the soldiers. The senate was naturally deceived in these matters of which it knew nothing, 3 and so it entitled Philip emperor and gave him the name Augustus and then placed the young Gordian among the gods.109

4 He was a light-hearted lad, handsome, winning, agreeable to everyone, merry in his life, eminent in letters; in nothing, indeed, save in his age was he unqualified for empire. 5 Before Philip's conspiracy he was loved by the people, the senate, and the soldiers as no prince had ever been before. 6 Cordus says that all the soldiers spoke of him as their son, that he was called son by the entire senate, and that all the people said Gordian was their darling. 7 And indeed Philip, after he had killed him, did not remove his portraits or throw down his statues or erase his name, but always called him divine, even among the soldiers with whom he had made his conspiracy, and worshipped him with a mixture of a serious spirit and the shrewdness of an alien.

32 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The house of the Gordians110 is still in existence. This was embellished by this Gordian very beautifully. 2 There is also a villa of theirs on the Praenestine Way,111 with two hundred columns in the inner court, fifty of them of Carystian marble,112 fifty of Claudian,113 fifty of Phrygian,114 and fifty of Numidian115 — p443all of equal size. 3 In this same house there were three basilicas one hundred feet long and other things suitable to such a building, and there were baths that could be equalled nowhere in the world save in the city as it was at that time.

4 The senate passed a decree for the family of Gordian to the effect that his descendants116 need never serve as guardians or on embassies or in public duties unless they wished.

5 There are no public works of Gordian now in existence in Rome save a few fountains and baths. And these baths were built for commoners and were therefore correspondingly equipped. 6 He had projected, however, a portico on the Campus Martius, just under the hill,117 a thousand feet long, intending to erect another of equal length opposite to it with a space of five hundred feet stretching evenly between. In this space there were to be pleasure-parks on both sides, filled with laurel, myrtle, and box-trees, and down the middle a mosaic walk a thousand feet long with short columns and statuettes placed on either side. This was to be a promenade, and at the end there was to be a basilica five hundred feet long. 7 Besides this, he had planned with Timesitheus to erect summer-baths, named after himself, behind the basilica, and to put winter-baths at the entrance to the porticos, in order that the pleasure-parks and porticos might not be without some practical use. 8 But all this is now occupied by the estates and gardens and dwellings of private persons.

33 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] There were thirty-two elephants at Rome in the time of Gordian (of which he himself had sent twelve and Alexander ten), ten elk, ten tigers, sixty tame lions, thirty tame leopards, ten belbi or hyenas, p445a thousand pairs of imperial gladiators, six hippopotami, one rhinoceros, ten wild lions, ten giraffes, twenty wild asses, forty wild horses, and various other animals of this nature without number. All of these Philip presented or slew at the secular games. 2 All these animals, wild, tame, and savage, Gordian intended for a Persian triumph; but his official vow proved of no avail, 3 ºfor Philip presented all of them at the secular games, consisting of both gladiatorial spectacles and races in the Circus, that were celebrated on the thousandth anniversary of the founding of the City,118 when he and his son were consuls.

4 Cordus writes that the same thing that is related of Gaius Caesar119 happened to Gordian. 5 For after the two Philips were slain, all who had fallen upon Gordian with the sword (there were nine of them, it is said) are said to have slain themselves with their own hands and swords, and those the same swords with which they had stricken him.

34 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] This, then, was the life of the three Gordians, all of whom were named Augustus, two of whom perished in Africa, one within the confines of Persia. 2 The soldiers built Gordian a tomb near the camp at Circesium,120 which is in the territory of Persia, and added an inscription to the following effect in Greek, Latin, Persian, Hebrew, and Egyptian letters, so that all might read: 3 "To the deified Gordian, conqueror of the Persians, conqueror of the Goths, conqueror of p447the Sarmatians, queller of mutinies at Rome, conqueror of the Germans, but no conqueror of Philippi."121 4 This was added ostensibly because he had been beaten by the Alani in a disorderly battle on the plains of Philippi and forced to retreat; but at the same time it seemed to mean that he had been slain by the two Philips. 5 But Licinius,122 it is said, destroyed this inscription at the time when he seized the imperial power; for he desired to have it appear that he was descended from the two Philips. 6 All of this, great Constantine, I have investigated, in order that nothing might be lacking to your knowledge which seemed worth the knowing.


The Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. Gordian I, the proconsul of Africa, acclaimed emperor in 238, Gordian II, his son (see note to c. iv.2), and Gordian III, his grandson, emperor 238‑244, all of whom are treated in this biography. On the other hand, Victor (Caes. xxvii) and Eutropius (ix.2), and presumably also their common source, knew of only two Gordians, combining the second and the third into one person.

2 i.e. Herodian; see note to Maxim. i.4.

3 See note to Alex. xlix.3.

4 Called in his inscriptions M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus; see Dessau, Ins. Sel. 493. The last two cognomina were probably conferred on him on his accession to power (see c. ix.3‑4), that of Sempronianus is perhaps responsible for the claim that he was descended from the Gracchi. Nothing of his ancestry is known except what is related here.

5 The famous house built by Pompey on the Carinae, i.e. the western slope of the Esquiline Hill; see Suetonius, Tiberius, xv. After Pompey's death it became the property of Marcus Antonius, and, later, of the Emperor Tiberius. It (p383)was ornamented with the beaks of ships, presumably trophies of Pompey's war against the pirates, and hence it is called in c. iii.6 domus rostrata; see c. iii.6 and Cicero, Philippicae, ii.28, 68.

Thayer's Note: For full details and sources, see the article Domus Cn. Pompei in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

6 See c. iv.1 and note.

7 His poetry is unknown except for this reference.

8 Cicero's Epic on Marius is quoted by himself in de Legibus i.2 and de Divinatione, i.106. By Aratus is meant his translation of Aratus' famous poem, the Φαινόμενα. A fragment from the Alcyonae is preserved in Nonius Marcellus s.v. Praevius. The others are unknown.

9 See also c. iv.7.

10 See note to Pert. xi.3.

11 i.e. lions; see Ovid, Fastiii.209; v.178.

12 See note to c. ii.3.

13 i.e. Philippus (Arabs), emperor 244‑249.

14 According to his coins, he was consul only once; see Cohen, V2, p2, nos. 2‑3. If he held that office in the same year as Caracalla, it was in 213. The statement that he was consul with Alexander (also in c. ii.4) is accordingly incorrect. It may be the result of confusion with his son, who held the consulship during Alexander's reign; see c. xviii.5.

15 He had the same name as his father, M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus; see Dessau, Ins. Sel. 493. Though he had held the consulship, he was serving as his father's legatus in Africa, and with his father was acclaimed Augustus in the province and later by the senate in Rome; see c. ix.6; Maxim. xiv.3‑5. A "biography" of him is given in c. xvii‑xxi.

16 See c. xv‑xvi.

17 The mother of Gordian III; see c. xxii.4. Neither her name nor her husband's is found elsewhere.

18 See note to Com. iv.7.

19 Worn in the period of the republic by triumphant generals under the toga picta (on which see note to Cl. Alb. ii.5).

20 i.e. when made consul; see Alex. xl.8. The triumphal vestments were kept in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitolium and brought out when needed.

21 On the circus-factions see note to Ver. iv.8.

22 See Intro. to Vol. I, p. xviii.

23 Scenic games, first given by Nero to commemorate the shaving of his beard for the first time; see Dio, LXI.19; Tac. Ann. XIV.15. Juvenalia, including a wild-beast hunt, were also given by Domitian; see Dio, LXVII.14.3.

Thayer's Note: For further details and sources on this festival, see the article Juvenalia in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

24 See c. iii.3.

25 The statement is frequently made and again frequently contradicted that the Gordians bore the name Antoninus; see c. ix.5; xvii.1‑2; Macr. iii.5; Heliog. xviii.1; xxxiv.6‑7. It is, of course, wholly incorrect, for none of them ever had this name. The origin of the error is perhaps the easy confusion between Antonius and Antoninus, or again, the tendency to bestow the name Antoninus on all emperors.

26 See Marc. ix.7.

27 Under Alexander: see Maxim. xiv.2.

28 The presence of the name Antoninus as given to Gordian is sufficient proof that this letter is a forgery.

29 Q. Mucius Scaevola, consul 95 B.C. He distinguished himself by his administration of Asia in 98, and his name became proverbial as that of a righteous governor. He was also a famous jurist and a teacher of Cicero.

30 P. Rutilius Rufus, consul 105 B.C., a friend of Scaevola and his legate in Asia.

31 C. Laelius Sapiens, consul 140 B.C., the famous friend of Scipio Africanus the younger.

32 i.e. Cordus.

33 He had been consul, according to c. ii.2, but is otherwise unknown.

34 For parallel accounts of the bestowal of the imperial power on Gordian see Maxim. xiii.5‑xv.5 and Herodian, VII.4‑7. It took place in February or March, 238.

35 On rationalis see Alex. xiv.6.

36 Neither his name nor his speech is included in Herodian's narrative.

37 i.e. member of the curia, or local senate of a provincial town having the rights of a colony or a municipality.

38 See note to Maxim. xiv.3.

39 So also Herodian, VII.5.2; he was 79 according to Zonaras, XII.17.

40 See c. v.1.

41 See note to c. ii.2.

42 This explanation is, of course, wholly incorrect. According to c. ii.2 he claimed descent from the Gracchi.

43 See note to c. iv.7.

44 An allusion to the fact that Scipio Africanus the elder was (p397)the legate of his brother L. Scipio Asiaticus (Asiagenus) in the campaign against Antiochus III in 190 B.C.

45 253‑260. According to Zosimus, I.14, he was sent to Rome from Africa as the envoy of the Gordians. He is not mentioned by Herodian.

46 See Maxim. xx.1 and note.

47 See note to Maxim. xxxiii.3.

48 Clodius is an error; see note to Maxim. xx.i.

49 See Max.‑Balb. i‑ii.

50 There is no mention of this in Maxim. xvii‑xviii, or in Herodian.

51 So also Herodian, VII.6, 5‑9. His death is merely mentioned in Maxim. xiv.4.

52 A "senatus consultum" — consisting of a letter from the Gordians to the senate and the senate's acclamations — which purports to commemorate this same occasion is given in Maxim. xvi. The two "documents" differ entirely and both are, undoubtedly, forgeries.

53 His name was Junius Silanus according to Maxim. xvi.1.

54 For other acclamations see note to Alex. vi.1.

55 It is hard to know how much of all this learned discussion about the senatus consultum tacitum is true. No other instance of such a secret document is known.

56 The clerks attached to the bureau of the magister censuum, who was charged with the duty of assessing the property of the (p403)senators for the purpose of taxation. Certain minor police and clerical functions seem to have been added to their duties.

57 See Maxim. xvii.1‑3 and note.

58 According to the more credible account in Herodian, VII.6.9, this rumour was circulated by the assassins of Vitalianus.

59 See Maxim. xv.1; Herodian, VII.7.3‑4.

60 For other versions of this speech see note to Maxim. xviii.1.

61 See note to Maxim. xviii.1.

62 The governor of Numidia. For parallel accounts of the defeat and overthrow of the Gordians see Maxim. xix and Herodian, VII.9.

63 See c. xviii‑xix.

64 Herodian says nothing of this storm, but adds that Gordian's men were untrained and inadequately armed; see VII.9.5‑6.

65 They reigned 20‑22 days in February and March, 238.

66 See Max.‑Balb. iv.1‑2.

67 On the confusion of the names Antoninus and Antonius as borne by the Gordians see note to c. iv.7.

68 See c. ix.3‑4 and notes.

69 See c. ii.3.

70 She is not otherwise known; her father is called Annius Severus in c. vi.4. Her alleged descent from Marcus Aurelius is probably apocryphal and quite in keeping with the general tendency to connect the Gordians with the Antonines.

71 See Alex. xxx.2 and note.

72 See note to c. iv.1.

73 See c. vii f.

74 The father of 50 sons; see IliadXXVI.495.

75 The god of fertility.

76 See c. xxii.4 and note.

77 Vergil, Aeneid, vi.869‑871, where they describe Marcellus, (p415)Augustus' nephew and heir presumptive. They are also applied to Aelius Verus, adopted son of Hadrian, in Ael. iv.1‑2.

78 Nothing is known of these works.

79 Nothing is known of him. There is no reason for identifying him, as has sometimes been done, with the Vulcacius mentioned by Jerome (Apol. c. Rufinum, i.16) as a commentator to Cicero.

80 See Maxim. xx.1 and notes; Max.‑Balb. i‑ii.

81 As the result of a riot on the part of the city-mob (with whom Maximus was unpopular), instigated apparently by the partisans of the Gordians; see Herodian, VII.10.5‑9 and note to Maxim. xx.6. In Max.‑Balb. iii.2‑5 and viii.3 the acclamation of Gordian as Caesar is described as peaceful, (p419)while in ix.2‑4 the riot is described as happening on a later occasion.

82 This seems to be the correct figure; so also Max.‑Balb. iii.4; Herodian, VIII.8.8.

83 He is called Nobilissimus Caesar in the inscriptions of Maximus and Balbinus, e.g. Dessau, Ins. Sel. 496.

84 This is the correct version; so also Max.‑Balb. iii.4 and Herodian, VII.10.7. In his inscriptions he is called Divi Gordiani nepos et Divi Gordiani sororis filius; see e.g. Dessau, Ins. Sel. 498 and 500. In Victor (Caes. xxvii.1) and Eutropius (ix.2) he is confused with Gordian II; see note to c. i.1. For the names of his parents see c. iv.2.

85 For the length of their rule see note to Max.‑Balb. xv.7; for their deaths see ib. xiv.2‑7.

86 Probably in June 238, according to the evidence of papyri; see Pauly-Wissowa, Realencycl. i.2621 f.

87 The connection has become confused, probably by the (p421)insertion of the preceding paragraph; this narrative should follow immediately after §3. The riot here described (briefly alluded to in Maxim. xx.6) took place during the absence of Maximus in N. Italy and consequently before the death of Maximus and Balbinus; see Max.‑Balb. x.4‑8; Herodian, VII.11.

88 This is incorrect; he was only Caesar.

89 For 239.

90 Probably that of the 2nd April, 238.

91 The history of Herodian closes with the murder of Maximus and Balbinus. From this point on, therefore, (p423)the biographer is dependent on some other source. The exact statement of events and dates, as here and in §5, as well as c. xxvi.3 and c. xxix.1, suggests the use of an annalistic work, which is probably the Chronicle of Dexippus; see note to Alex. xlix.3. The material afforded by this work was then padded in the usual manner with anecdotes and spurious "documents."

92 Perhaps the governor of the province of Africa.

93 See c. xxvi.3 f.

94 The correct form of his name was C. Furius Sabinius Aquila Timesitheus, as it is preserved in an inscription, CIL XIII.1807 = Dessau, Ins. Sel. 1330. The origin of the incorrect form Misitheus is uncertain. His daughter's name was Furia Sabinia Tranquillina; see Dessau, Ins. Sel. 502‑504. Timesitheus was a member of the equestrian order and had held many important procuratorships previous to his appointment as prefect of the guard. All the evidence points to the belief that he was an able and conscientious official (p425)and a skilful general, and the biographer is doubtless correct in attributing to him the successes of the Persian campaign (c. xxvii.2) as well as in his general statement that he was the mainstay of this reign; see §7; c. xxiv.1; c. xxv.5‑7; c. xxviii.

95 This name and the others which immediately follow are wholly unknown, and, like the letter itself, are probably fictitious. For an attempt to prove that both letters were (p427)written by Timesitheus see K. F. W. Lehmann, Kaiser Gordian III (Berlin, 1911), pp19 f, 65 f.

96 The sanctuary of Janus, on the NE side of the Forum, near the Senate-house, consisting of two arches, facing E and W, connected by side-walls.

Thayer's Note: For comprehensive details and sources, see the article Aedes Jani Gemini in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

97 They had apparently advanced into northern Mesopotamia during the reign of Maximinus; see Max.‑Balb. xiii.5; Zonaras, XII.18. Now, under their new king Sapor I, son of Ardashīr, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty (see note to Alex. lv.1), they crossed the Euphrates and threatened Antioch — which, in spite of the statement in §§5‑6, does not seem to have been captured by them; see Mommsen, (p429)Provinces of the Rom. Emp., Eng. Trans., ii p98. Gordian's departure from Rome was commemorated by coins with the legend Profectio Aug(usti); see Cohen, V2, p54, no. 294.

98 These were probably the Carpi and the Goths; see Max.‑Balb. xvi.3 and notes. The Alani were probably associated with them; see c. xxxiv.4.

99 His passage of the Hellespont is commemorated by coins with the legend Traiectus Aug(usti), Cohen, V2, p58 f., no. 342 f.

100 A decisive victory was gained at Resaina (mod. Râs-el‑Ain) in northern Mesopotamia between Carrhae and Nisibis; see Ammianus Marcellinus, XXIII.5.17. From here he marched (p431)southward along the river Khabûr, apparently having Ctesiphon as his objective (Zonaras, XII.18), to its junction with the Euphrates, near which he was killed. His conquest of northern Mesopotamia is attested by the coins minted in his honour by Edessa (mod. Urfa), Carrhae, Nisibis, and other cities of that region; see Cohen, V2, p86 f.

101 Unknown; the text is probably corrupt.

102 M. Julius Philippus (Arabs), a native, probably, of Philippopolis (mod. Shehbā) in the Trachonitis in northern Arabia. He succeeded to the post of Timesitheus (c. xxix) and after the murder of Gordian was emperor 244‑249. The charge that he (p433)was responsible for the death of Timesitheus is repeated in §§5‑6. It is not substantiated by any evidence.

103 So also Victor, Epit. xxviii.4, where his father is characterized as nobilissimus latronum ductor.

104 A similar, though briefer, account is given in Zosimus, I.18.3‑19.1 and Zonaras, XII.18.

105 Otherwise unknown.

106 Near Circesium at the junction of the Khabûr and the Euphrates; see c. xxxiv.2.

107 Probably to be identified with Argaithus, a Gothic leader, who, according to Jordanes (de Reb. Goth. xvi), devastated the Dobrudja under Philip and laid siege to Marcianopolis. This was evidently a renewal of the barbarian invasion which had (p439)been temporarily checked by Gordian and Timesitheus on their way to the East; see note to c. xxvi.4.

108 So also Zosimus, I.19.1.

109 So also §7 and Eutropius, IX.2.3. He is called Divus in the fictitious inscription in c. xxxiv.3, but this title does not appear in any his inscriptions or on any coin.

110 See c. ii.3 and note.

111 Running E by S from Rome to Praeneste (mod. Palestrina).

112 From Carystos to Euboea. It is now known as cipollino — from cipolla, "onion," because of its wavy lines of white and green.

113 Probably red porphyry from Mons Claudianus on the east coast of Egypt.

114 From Synnada in Phrygia. It is now known as pavonazzetto ("peacock-marble"), because of its rich purple markings.

115 Now known as giallo antico. It is golden-yellow in colour, varying toward orange or pink.

116 None are known.

117 Probably the Quirinal is meant.

Thayer's Note: Platner much more plausibly identifies this hill as the Pincian (see his article). The Quirinal is a considerable distance from the Campus Martius, but the Pincian overlooks it and defines the space between it and the river.

118 Celebrated with great magnificence in April, 248.

119 i.e. Julius Caesar. Suetonius (Jul. lxxxix) relates that hardly any died a natural death and that some slew themselves.

120 Twenty miles from Circesium (see note to c. xxx.8), according to Eutropius, IX.2.3; between Zaitha and Dura (on the Euphrates below Circesium), according to Ammianus Marcellinus, XXIII.5.7. It seems to have been merely a cenotaph, for according to Eutropius, l.c., Philip took Gordian's ashes back to Rome.

121 The inscription as recorded here can hardly be authentic. The statement that it had been destroyed before the vita was written is in itself suspicious, and the pun of Philippi is more characteristic of the style of these biographers than of a funerary inscription. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Gordian fought with the Alani as far south as Philippi in Macedonia; see c. xxvi.4 and note.

122 See Heliog. xxxv.6.


Thayer's Note:

a constellation: A better translation of the Latin constellatio would be configuration of the stars.


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