Gordian III was a fairly popular ruler when Philip, a Romanized
Arabian, was selected as Praetorian Prefect. This was a highly influential post
and one of Philip's duties under Gordian was the control of military supply
logistics. Because he was ambitious and longed to be emperor himself he
manipulated and purposefully mismanaged the soldiers' food supply in hopes of
pinning the blame on the emperor. This worked quite well and the hungry soldiers
mutinied and killed Gordian. Before the treasonous conspiracy could be
investigated, Philip finished the game plan by proclaiming himself emperor and
the Senate went along.
Philip turned out to be a successful leader on the battlefield. He negotiated
a peace treaty with the Persians and headed back to Rome. When new revolts
sprouted along the Danube, he sent off Trajan Decius to take care of them. This
was poor judgment on his part because Decius would wind up doing such a good job
that his soldiers arbitrarily promoted him to Augustus. Philip mustered an army
to take on Decius but was beaten and killed in the battle.
Billon Tetradrachm 244--249 A.D.
12 g., 28 mm.
Obv. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
Rev. Eagle standing facing on a palm branch, head left and bearing a wreath in its beak, S C
beneath palm branch
AE 27 244--249 A.D.
Moesia Superior, Viminacium ca. 246--247 A.D.
Obv. IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG: Laureate and draped bust right
Rev. P M S COL VIM: Moesia standing, facing left, with a bull on her left and a lion on