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(gôr`dēən), name of three Roman emperors. Gordian I (Marcus Antonius Gordianus Africanus), d. 238, was a Roman of great wealth and was colleague in the consulship with Caracalla and with Alexander Severus, who appointed him proconsul in Africa. After the usurpation of MaximinMaximin
(Caius Julius Verus Maximinus) , d. 238, Roman emperor (235–38). A rough Thracian soldier of great physical strength, he rose in the army, and when the soldiers revolted against Alexander Severus, they proclaimed Maximin emperor at Mainz.
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 (d. 238), a rebellion broke out in Africa over the unscrupulous behavior of one of Maximin's men, and Gordian at the age of 81 was made coemperor (238) with his son. They were recognized by the Roman senate. Soon afterward, however, Vitallianus, a partisan of Maximin, attacked them in Carthage. Gordian I committed suicide, ending a reign of only 22 days, after learning that his son and colleague, Gordian II, 192–238, had been killed in battle. The senate named two new emperors, Balbinus and Pupienus. Gordian II's son, Gordian III, c.223–244, was made caesar. Balbinus and Pupienus defeated and killed Maximin but were soon murdered by the Praetorian Guard, whereupon Gordian III became emperor (238–44). In 242, Gordian attacked the Persians in Mesopotamia. His forces inflicted several defeats on them, but his best general, his father-in-law Timesitheus, died. The troops became disorderly, and PhilipPhilip
or Philip the Arabian
(Marcus Julius Philippus), 204?–249, Roman emperor (244–49). He served under Gordian III against the Persians, instigated the assassination of the emperor, and concluded a peace with Persia.
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 (Philip the Arabian) had Gordian murdered.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient Rome:

Gordian I (Marcus Antonius Gordianus). Born A.D. 159; died 238, in Carthage. Emperor in 238. Descended from the family of the Gracchi. He was a praetor, consul (several times), and proconsul in several provinces of the Roman Empire. In 238, when he was proconsul of the province of Africa, at the time of the uprising of the local nobility against the Emperor Maximinus, Gordian was proclaimed emperor and confirmed by the Senate together with his son, Gordian II, as his co-regent. He reigned 36 days and hanged himself when hearing of his son’s death in battle.

Gordian II (Marcus Antonius Gordianus). Born 192; died 238. Emperor in 238, co-regent with his father. Gordian II was killed in the battle with Capellianus, the governor of Numidia.

Gordian III (Marcus Antonius Gordianus). Born 225; died 244. Emperor from 238; grandson of Gordian I. After the latter’s death the Senate proclaimed Gordian III emperor together with Pupienus and Balbinus. He was killed by the prefect of the praetorians, Philip the Arab, during a campaign against Persia. His biography was written by Julius Capitolinus (Russian translation, Vestnik Istorii, 1959, no. 1, pp. 227–39).


Lehmann. K. F. Kaiser Gordian III: 238–244 nach Christus. Berlin, 1911.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


knot inextricable difficulty; Alexander cut the original. [Gk. Hist.: Espy, 49]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
GORDIANUS is the Inspector Morse of ancient Rome - a man with a nose for sniffing out mysteries and uncovering villains.
The latest offering is a collection of short stories that fill in some of the gaps of Gordianus's career and see him tackling everything from the death of a cat to a ghost that seems intent on driving a couple to their deaths.
493 e sg., dove colgo un refuso (il libro di Giulio Capitolino viene detto Life of Giordano anziche Life of Gordianus) si leggono due passi attribuiti ad un "Joannes, Bishop of Rossano [Rossensis]", e la nota relativa del commento ci dice che questo "Iannis Rossensis episcopi" rimane non identificato, e si avanzano le ipotesi che possa essere un vescovo di Rossano in Calabria oppure il vescovo di Rossen in Scozia o di Rossen in Irlanda.