Philip I. 244-249 AD. SYRIA, Commagene. Samosata.
Obverse: Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right,
seen from behind
Reverse: Tyche seated left on rocks, holding grain-ears
in her right hand,
eagle sitting on her right arm, left hand resting
on rock, Pegasus flying left below her
BMC Galatia etc. pg. 121, 44
Philip I Ant AD 244-249Antoninianus
Rome mint: AD 248 (9th Issue, 2nd Officina)
Obv: IMP PHILIPPVS AVG - Radiate bust right, draped
Rev: SAECVLARES AVGG - She-wolf standing left, suckling
the twins. exergue: II
RIC IViii, 15, page 70 - Cohen 178
Philip I AD 244-249 Silver Antoninianus
Obv: IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG - Radiate bust right,
draped and cuirassed
Rev: ROMAE AETERNAE - Roma sitting left, holding Victory
Rome mint: AD 247 (5th Issue - 6th Officina)
One of below, but without books; can't say exactly:
(RIC IViii, 44b, page 73, Cohen 169,
RSC 165, RSC 170 RSC 169, RIC 45 RIC 106a)
Marcus Julius Philippus (Latin: Marcus Iulius Philippus Augustus; c. 204
– 249), also known commonly by his nickname Philip the Arab (Latin: Philippus
Arabs), also known as Philip, was Roman Emperor from 244 to 249.
He was born in Arabia Petraea, the Roman province of Arabia, in a city
situated in modern-day Syria. He went on to become a major figure
in the Roman Empire. He achieved power after the death of Gordian
III, quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Empire. During his
reign, Rome celebrated its millennium.
Among early Christian writers, Philip had the reputation of being sympathetic
to the Christian faith. Probably for this reason it was even claimed
by some that he had converted to Christianity, which would have made him
the first Christian emperor. He supposedly tried to celebrate Easter
with Christians in Antioch, but the bishop Saint Babylas made him stand
with the penitents. Philip and his wife received letters from Origen.
Philip was overthrown and killed following a rebellion led by his successor
Little is known about Philip's early life and political career. He
was born in what is today Shahba, about 55 miles (89 km) southeast of Damascus,
in the Trachonitis district. At the time this was in the Roman province
of Arabia, earning Philip the nickname "the Arab". He was the son
of a local citizen, Julius Marinus, possibly of some importance.
While the name of Philip's mother is unknown, he did have a brother, Gaius
Julius Priscus, a member of the Praetorian Guard under Gordian III (238–244).
In 234, Philip married Marcia Otacilia Severa, daughter of a Roman Governor.
They had three children, a son named Marcus Julius Philippus Severus (Philippus
II), born in 238, a daughter called Julia Severa or Severina who is known
from numismatic evidence but is never mentioned by the ancient Roman sources
and a son named Quintus Philippus Severus, born in 247.
Accession to the throne
Philip's rise to prominence began through the intervention of his brother
Priscus, who was an important official under the emperor Gordian III.
His big break came in 243, during Gordian III's campaign against Shapur
I of Persia, when the Praetorian prefect Timesitheus died under unclear
circumstances. At the suggestion of his brother Priscus, Philip became
the new Praetorian prefect, with the intention that the two brothers would
control the young Emperor and rule the Roman world as unofficial regents.
Following a military defeat, Gordian III died in 244 under circumstances
that are still debated. While some claim that Philip conspired in
his murder, other accounts (including one coming from the Persian point
of view) state that Gordian died in battle. Whatever the case, Philip
assumed the purple robe following Gordian's death. According to Edward
His rise from so obscure a station
to the first dignities of the empire seems to prove that he was a bold
and able leader. But his boldness prompted him to aspire to the throne,
and his abilities were employed to supplant, not to serve, his indulgent
Philip was not willing to repeat the mistakes of previous claimants, and
was aware that he had to return to Rome in order to secure his position
with the senate. However, his first priority was to conclude a peace
treaty with Shapur I of Persia, and withdraw the army from a potentially
disastrous situation. Although Philip was accused of abandoning territory,
the actual terms of the peace were not as humiliating as they could have
been. Philip apparently retained Timesitheus’ reconquest of Osroene
and Mesopotamia, but he had to agree that Armenia lay within Persia’s sphere
of influence. He also had to pay an enormous indemnity to the Persians
of 500,000 gold denarii. Philip immediately issued coins proclaiming
that he had made peace with the Persians (pax fundata cum Persis).
Leading his army back up the Euphrates, south of Circesium Philip erected
a cenotaph in honor of Gordian III, but his ashes were sent ahead to Rome,
where he arranged for Gordian III’s deification. Whilst in Antioch,
he left his brother Priscus as extraordinary ruler of the Eastern provinces,
with the title of rector Orientis. Moving westward, he gave his brother-in-law
Severianus control of the provinces of Moesia and Macedonia. He eventually
arrived in Rome in the late summer of 244, where he was confirmed Augustus.
Before the end of the year, he nominated his young son Caesar and heir,
his wife, Otacilia Severa, was named Augusta, and he also deified his father
Marinus, even though the latter had never been emperor. While in
Rome, Philip also claimed an official victory over the Persians with the
titles of Parthicus Adiabenicus, Persicus Maximus and Parthicus Maximus.
In an attempt to shore up his regime, Philip put a great deal of effort
in maintaining good relations with the Senate, and from the beginning of
his reign, he reaffirmed the old Roman virtues and traditions. He
quickly ordered an enormous building program in his home town, renaming
it Philippopolis, and raising it to civic status, while he populated it
with statues of himself and his family. This creation of a new city,
piled on top of the massive tribute owed to the Persians, as well as the
necessary donative to the army to secure its acceptance of his accession,
meant Philip was desperately short of money. To pay for it, he ruthlessly
increased levels of taxation, while at the same time he ceased paying subsidies
to the tribes north of the Danube that were vital for keeping the peace
on the frontiers. Both decisions would have significant impacts upon
the empire and his reign.
At the Limes:
In 245, Philip was forced to leave Rome as the stability established by
Timesitheus was undone by a combination of his death, Gordian’s defeat
in the east and Philip’s decision to cease paying the subsidies.
The Carpi moved through Dacia, crossed the Danube and emerged in Moesia
where they threatened the Balkans. Establishing his headquarters
in Philippopolis in Thrace, he pushed the Carpi across the Danube and chased
them back into Dacia, so that by the summer of 246, he claimed victory
against them, along with the title "Carpicus Maximus". In the meantime,
the Arsacids of Armenia refused to acknowledge the authority of the Persian
king Shapur I, and war with Persia flared up again by 245.
Nevertheless, Philip was back in Rome by August 247, where he poured more
money into the most momentous event of his reign – the Ludi Saeculares,
which coincided with the one thousandth anniversary of the foundation of
Rome. So in April 248 AD (April 1000 A.U.C.), Philip had the honor
of leading the celebrations of the one thousandth birthday of Rome, which
according to tradition was founded on April 21, 753 BC by Romulus. Commemorative
coins, such as the one illustrated here, were issued in large numbers and,
according to contemporary accounts, the festivities were magnificent and
included spectacular games, ludi saeculares, and theatrical presentations
throughout the city. In the Colosseum, in what had been originally
prepared for Gordian III’s planned Roman triumph over the Persians, more
than 1,000 gladiators were killed along with hundreds of exotic animals
including hippos, leopards, lions, giraffes, and one rhinoceros.
The events were also celebrated in literature, with several publications,
including Asinius Quadratus's History of a Thousand Years, specially prepared
for the anniversary. At the same time, Philip elevated his son to
the rank of co-Augustus.
Despite the festive atmosphere, there were continued problems in the provinces.
In late 248, the legions of Pannonia and Moesia, dissatisfied with the
result of the war against the Carpi, rebelled and proclaimed Tiberius Claudius
Pacatianus emperor. The confusion that this entailed tempted the
Quadi and other Germanic tribes to cross the frontier and raid Pannonia.
At the same time, the Goths invaded Moesia and Thrace across the Danube
frontier, and laid siege to Marcianopolis, as the Carpi, encouraged by
the Gothic incursions, renewed their assaults in Dacia and Moesia.
Meanwhile, in the East, Marcus Jotapianus led another uprising in response
to the oppressive rule of Priscus and the excessive taxation of the Eastern
provinces. Two other usurpers, Marcus Silbannacus and Sponsianus,
are reported to have started rebellions without much success.
Overwhelmed by the number of invasions and usurpers, Philip offered to
resign, but the Senate decided to throw its support behind the emperor,
with a certain Gaius Messius Quintus Decius most vocal of all the senators.
Philip was so impressed by his support that he dispatched Decius to the
region with a special command encompassing all of the Pannonian and Moesian
provinces. This had a dual purpose of both quelling the rebellion
of Pacatianus as well as dealing with the barbarian incursions.
Although Decius managed to quell the revolt, discontent in the legions
was growing. Decius was proclaimed emperor by the Danubian armies
in the spring of 249 and immediately marched on Rome. Yet even before
he had left the region, the situation for Philip had turned even more sour.
Financial difficulties had forced him to debase the Antoninianus, as rioting
began to occur in Egypt, causing disruptions to Rome’s wheat supply and
further eroding Philip’s support in the capital.
Although Decius tried to come to terms with Philip, Philip's army met the
usurper near modern Verona that summer. Philip's army probably consisted
of 2-3 Italian legions and the Praetorian Guard, bringing the numbers up
to 20,000 men, while Decius' own forces consisted of 4-6 legions from the
Danube region, as well as several cohorts of auxiliaries and contingents
of cavalry, numbering a total of 30,000-40,000 soldiers. Decius easily
won the battle and Philip was killed sometime in September 249, either
in the fighting or assassinated by his own soldiers who were eager to please
the new ruler. Philip's eleven-year-old son and heir may have been
killed with his father and Priscus disappeared without a trace.
Some later traditions, first mentioned in the historian Eusebius in his
Ecclesiastical History, held that Philip was the first Christian Roman
Emperor. According to Eusebius (Ecc. Hist. VI.34), Philip was a Christian,
but was not allowed to enter Easter vigil services until he confessed his
sins and ordered to sit among the penitents, which he did willingly.
Later versions located this event in Antioch.
However, historians generally identify the later Emperor Constantine, baptized
on his deathbed, as the first Christian emperor, and generally describe
Philip's adherence to Christianity as dubious, because non-Christian writers
do not mention the fact, and because throughout his reign, Philip to all
appearances (coinage, etc.) continued to follow the state religion.
Critics ascribe Eusebius' claim as probably due to the tolerance Philip
showed towards Christians. Saint Quirinus of Rome was, according to a legendary
account, the son of Philip the Arab.
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