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Gordian I

Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus (AD 159-238), an extremely wealthy man, was descended from the Gracchi and Trajan, while his wife was the great-granddaughter of Antoninus Pius.

While he gained unbounded popularity by his magnificent games and shows, his prudent and retired life did not excite the suspicion of Caracalla, in whose honor he wrote a long epic called Antoninias. Alexander Severus called him to the dangerous honours of government in Africa, and during his proconsulship Maximinus Thrax overthrew Alexander Severus and assumed the throne.

The universal discontent roused by the oppressive rule of Maximinus culminated in a revolt in Africa in 238, and Gordian yielded to the popular clamour and assumed the purple. In respect to his advanced age, he insisted that his son, Marcus Antonius Gordianus (Gordian II) (192-238), be associated with him.

The senate confirmed their choice, and most of the provinces gladly sided with the new emperors; but, even while their cause was so successful abroad, Gordian II fell before the sudden inroad of Cappellianus[?], legatus of Numidia and a supporter of Maximinus Thrax. In response to the death of his son, the elder Gordianus took his own life. They had reigned only thirty-six days.

Both the Gordians had deserved by their amiable character their high reputation; they were men of great accomplishments, fond of literature, and voluminous authors; but they were rather intellectual voluptuaries than able statesmen or powerful rulers. Having embraced the cause of Gordian, the senate was obliged to continue the revolt against Maximinus, and appointed Pupienus and Balbinus, as joint emperors.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

Preceded by:
Maximinus Thrax (235 - 238)
Roman emperors
Followed by:
Pupienus and Balbinus (238)

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