Philip I Arabs

Marcus Iulius Philippus Augustus – also commonly known by his nickname Philip the Arab – was Roman emperor from 244 CE to 249 CE. He was born in 204 CE in what is now Syria, as the son of a local citizen called Julius Marinus.


Philip had a brother, Gaius Julius Priscus, who was of equestrian rank and was a member of the Praetorian Guard during the reign of Gordian III. He helped Philip out, it is assumed, and Philip also joined the guard.

In 243 CE, Gordian III was campaigning against the Persians. His father in law, Timesitheus, died under unclear circumstances during the campaign, and at the suggestion of Priscus, Philip was made the new Praetorian prefect, commander of the body guard.

In February 244, Gordian III was killed in battle against the Persians, and Philip assumed the throne with the help of his brother. At this point in time they had been the de-facto regents for young Gordian III for several years and it seemed like a logical choice. He quickly struck a peace deal and proclaimed himself Persicus Maximus, although it was an expensive peace indeed costing 500.000 denarii.

Philip was determined not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors and put a great deal of effort into gaining the support of the Senate and the Roman people. He also started many building projects and paid off the army. All in all he was soon desperately short of money and had to increase taxes, and stopped paying tribute to the tribes north of the Danube. A few years later the tribes invaded, and although Philip and his generals pushed them back, tax rebellions broke out in Egypt and elsewhere. Philip offered to resign, but the Senate strongly supported him, especially a powerful senator called Gaius Messius Quintus Decius, who was soon dispatched to defeat the barbarians.

He was very successful, and the more and more discontent Legions decided to proclaim him emperor. He refused, but was told in no uncertain terms that it would mean death to refuse. He reluctantly accepted, and tried to strike a deal with Philip to allow him to resign, but Philip's troops would have none of it. There was a battle, and Philip was defeated and killed, either in battle or by his own troops.

One reluctant emperor replaced by another, such was the way of the 3rd century.

My coins

I have a lot of coins struck under Philip I, for no particular reason. I guess it's be because they are readily available in good grades without costing a fortune and have interesting reverses.

In addition, the Ludi Saeculares took place during his reign, a festival which took place every 100 years or so, and at this particular point in time coincided with the thousandth anniversary of the founding of Rome. Many commemorative coins celebrating this were struck, some of which are in my collection.

# Reference Obverse Reverse Notes
1 Sear 8916 Adventvs Avgg Link
2 Sear 8918 Aeqvitas Avgg
3 Sear 8918 Aeqvitas Avgg Link
4 Sear 8921 Aeternitas Avgg
5 Sear 8922 Annona Avgg
6 Sear 8933 Fortuna Redux
7 Sear 8935 Laetit Fvndat
8 Sear 8937 Liberalitas Avg II
9 Sear 8938 Nobilitas Avgg
10 Sear 8943 PM TRP II COS PP
11 Sear 8944 PM TRP III COS PP
12 Sear 8944 PM TRP III COS PP
13 Sear 8946 PM TRP IIII COS II PP
14 Sear 8946 PM TRP IIII COS II PP
15 Sear 8950 PM TRP VI COS PP
16 Sear 8952 Romae Aeternae
17 Sear 8952 Romae Aeternae
18 Sear 8956 Saecvlares Avgg Lion
19 Sear 8958 Saecvlares Avgg Stag
20 RIC 20 Saecvlares Avgg Stag left
21 Sear 8961 Saecvlares Avgg Cippus COS III
22 Sear 8963 Saecvlvm Novvm
23 Sear 8963 Saecvlvm Novvm
24 Sear 8966 Secvurit Orbis
25 Sear 8966 Secvurit Orbis
26 Sear 8967 Spes Felicitas Orbis
27 Sear 8969 Victoria Avg
28 Sear 8972 Victoria Avgg
29 Sear 8972 Victoria Avgg
30 Sear 8975 Virtus Avg
31 Sear 8976 Virtus Avgg

I also have a few coins of his dependents:

Otacilia Severa – his wife

# Reference Obverse Reverse Notes
1 Sear 9147 Concordia Avg

Philip II – his son and co-emperor from july/august 247-249

# Reference Obverse Reverse Notes
1 Sear 9240 Principi Ivvent
2 Sear 9240 Principi Ivvent