Gordian gôr´dēən [key], 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 Maximin (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 Philip (Philip the Arabian) had Gordian murdered.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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