ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Melih Arslan

Keywords: Cilicia, Aigeai, Gordianus III, Unique Coin, Adana, Turkey


Originating from the city of Aigeai in Cilicia, this is a heretofore unknown bronze coin. It was minted sometime between April and July in the year A.D. 238 at the time Gordianus III held the title of caesar, prior to his becoming emperor. The description of this unique coin is as follows: Obverse: On the righthand side, a bust of M. Antoninus Gordianus the Third as a young man, wearing a laurel crown. Reverse: (i.e., 284=the year 238) Apollo, on foot, nude, full-front view, his head tilted to left, grasps in his right hand a laurel branch that rests on a pillar (cippus) and holds a lyre in his left hand. Inv. no. 79-2/2-97; 12.80 gr.; 28 mm; 6 h. (Axis) Legible on the obserse, the inscribed abbreviation here makes its initial appearance in a numismatic context. This term, short for ("Theophilektatos"), is an imperial epithet that denotes "the one most adored by God." The word is known from its occurrence in inscriptions as the epithet of a number of cities in Asia Minor. As an epithet for Gordianus, however, it appears in two inscriptions-one recovered from the village of Yaya in the former region of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor and the other from Porrus in Italy. Gordianus III received the title "Caesar" on 1 February or 1 March A.D. 238 and that of "Augustus" on 9 May or 7 June in the same year. Thus, we learn that this coin was minted in Aigeai in the name of Gordianus as caesar under the joint-emperors M. Caelius Balbinus and D. Clodius Pupienus Maximus within this brief interval of some four months. Undoubtedly, the most interesting feature of this previously unknown coin minted during the brief interval of four months prior to the assassination of emperors Pupienus and Balbinus is that it constitutes the first appearance on a coin of the epithet beside the name of an emperor.