PHILIP II
son of Philip I  "The Arab"
Roman Emperor AD 244-249


  MARCVS IVLIVS PHILIPPVS was born in 237 to Marcia Otacilia Severa (see OTACILIA SEVERA) and the future Emperor Philip I, who was of Arabian blood. In 244 his father was serving as Praetorian Praefect under Gordian III (q.v.) in the Sasanian campaign when Gordian mysteriously died on February 25. Some sources contend that the elder Philip was implicated in his death and others maintain the contrary. In any event, Philip was acclaimed Augustus and concluded a hasty peace with the Sasanians.

  When Philip's elevation was confirmed by the Senate in Rome, Otacilia Severa was given the title Augusta and Philip II was made Caesar. The elder Philip and his family quickly returned to Rome, arriving there by July, 244. Philip I quickly ingratiated himself to the Senate by deference and to the populace of Rome by reforms and donatives. Disturbances along the Danube River compelled the elder Philip to leave for a Danubian campaign in late 245. He apparently was engaged in that campaign for all of 246, not returning to Rome until 247. It is not certain whether Philip II accompanied his father on that campaign, but he was proclaimed Consul for 247 (along with his father), and upon his father's return he was proclaimed Augustus, also receiving the title 'Pontifex Maximus'. The reception of that title signified a joint reign, rather than being junior in status to his father.

  In 248 the two Philips were again made Consuls, and they presided as co-Augusti over the festivities marking the 1,000th anniversary of Rome. The event was celebrated lavishly as the opening of a new age, hence the associated games were known as the 'Saecular Games' even though properly the next Saecular Games would not have been held until 314. Since by then the empire was being Christianized the games in 248 are the last 'Saecular Games' known to have been held. The festivities were spectacular, with a donative to the people of Rome, and thousands of men and beasts meeting their doom in gladiatorial contests.

  By late 248, however, the Danubian region was again destabilized by the rebellion of a Roman officer named Claudius Marinus Pacatianus, who was hailed by his legions as Augustus. Pacatian had the distinction of issuing one of the most unique coins of the Roman series, an antoninianus which proclaimed 'ROMAE AETER AN MILL ET PRIMO' - the "thousand and first year of eternal Rome". Pacatian was also eventually struck down by his own men. However, the ever-alert barbarians along the Danube took advantage of the events to launch more raids, and Philip I's confidence was shaken by the revolts (other minor ones also occurred at this time).

  Philip I offered to abdicate, but the Praefect of Rome, Gaius Messius Quintus Decius, wisely countered that rebellions such as these would quickly extinguish themselves. However, the situation along the Danube did demand action against the Germans, and Philip I convinced a hesitant Decius to take command.

  Decius went and within six months had the situation under control. Unfortunately his troops then forced the title of Augustus upon him. Decius sent word to Philip I that he would abdicate when he was safely back in Rome, but Philip believed that was merely a trick to allow Decius to approach Rome unmolested. Accordingly he set out to meet Decius, and the armies met at Verona in August, 249. Philip seems to have been killed by his own men in the battle, although he may have perished fighting. Some sources indicate that Philip II died with him, although the prevailing opinion is that Philip II had remained in Rome with his mother, who, fearing Decius, took refuge in the Praetorian camp upon hearing the news from Verona. Unfortunately the Praetorians decided for Decius and the twelve-year-old Emperor was slain in his mother's arms. Otacilia Severa survived to sink into obscurity.

Copyright 1999-2008, Numus. All rights reserved.

Thank you to Tom Schroer and his Moneta software for permission to reproduce the above write-up. For more information on his software, link to www.numus.com.

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