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Gordian III and Tranquillina / rider god
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Gordian III / Hygieia - Roman provincial coin from Istros - reverse Gordian III / Hygieia - Roman provincial coin from Istros - obverse
26-28 mm diameter, 11-13? grams, AE
Reverse: bearded god, wearing kalathos (hat), riding to the right, at left pole with a bird atop - maybe an eagle, at right altar, in field 5 (Greek letter Ε, standing for face value 5 assaria), outer pearl circle, inscription IC [TPI] HNΩN, Istrienon
Obverse: Gordian III to the right, cuirassed and draped bust, Tranquillina to the left, draped bust (the two busts are confronted), legend [AVTKMANT]ΓOPΔIANOCCAB TPANKVΛINA VΓO, outer pearl circle

The ancient coin pictures above are present on Romanian coins through the kind permission of Mr. GLV. The coin belongs to the category of provincial Roman coins, sometimes called Greek imperial. The coin corresponds to the description at number 198 in the Moushmov catalog and is described in AMNG I at position 525 (AMNG = Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, B. Pick, 1898).

About the rider represented on the coin reverse

Several interpretations were proposed for the rider on the coin's reverse. The rider can be Serapis, Mithras, or Thracian horseman Heron. Against the identification of the rider with the god Serapis the argument exists that Serapis was never represented on horseback. And god Mithras was always represented wearing Phrygian cap and not kalathos. Very little is known about the Thracian horseman. Moushmov identifies the rider as Serapis. Pick, more prudent, described him as god with beard, wearing kalathos, on horseback.

About the legend on the obverse

The legend accompanying the busts of emperor Gordian III and of his wife Tranquillina is AVT K M ANT ΓOPΔIANOC CAB TPANKVΛIN AVΓO, standing for the Greek translation of Latin IMP[ERATOR] C[AESAR] M[ARCUS] ANT[ONIUS] GORDIANUS and SAB[INIA] TRANQUILLIN[A] AUGU[STA]. The word imperator was translated by autocrator (autokrates in Greek meaning governing by one's self), IMP being replaced by AVT. Letter K following AVT is most probably short for Kaisar, Caesar. It can be observed that the Latin word augusta is a calque and was not translated sevaste, as on many other provincial coins.

About emperor Gordian III

Gordianus III - Marcus Antonius Gordianus (225 - 244) was emperor between 238 and 244.

The uprising in 238 against Maximinus Thrax brought Gordian I and his son Gordian II as emperors. The governor of Numidia, Capellianus, with Legion III Augusta, terminated the two Gordiani, Pupienus and Balbinus becoming emperors and being proclaimed Augusti, and Gordian III, grandson of Gordian I, becoming Caesar. In July 238 Gordianus III is proclaimed Augustus, as result of the assassination of the other two Augusti.

He got married to Furia Sabina Tranquillina, also herself appearing on Pontic coins.

In 244 Gordian III was killed by the praetor's prefect, Philip the Arabian, the later taking his place as emperor.

About empress Tranquillina

Furia Sabinia Tranquillina was the wife of emperor Gordian III from 241 over to his death in 244. Tranquillina was the daughter of Timesitheus, prefect of the Praetorian Guard between 241 and 243 and the real power behind the throne in that period.


The History of Histria and More The Ancient Pontic World
and Its Connection to Romanians (with Map)


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