The Identity Of The 'Christian' Traveler And Historian Sextus Julius Africanus
Updated: Apr 4
I have written a detailed article concerning the identity of the 'Church Father' known as 'Origen' ( approximately 185 – 253 C.E.), you can view that article here. That article moves through the 200s C.E. from 'Origen' toward Constantine. That article, showed 'Origen' to be a member of the Ulpian Family, that is, Gnaeus Domitius Annius Ulpianus.
The article in the link above shows Ulpian (Origen) is recorded as dying in 223 C.E. (or 228), and that the evidence points to him having the intention that his "venerable son" Gregory would take the role of leader of the 'Church'. However, it appears Ulpian's in-laws, the Gordians, would take over the writing of 'Christian history'.
The Gordians, as the Historia Augusta calls them, were jurists, just as Ulpian was. Regarding Gordianus I (approximately 158-238 C.E.) it has been suggested that the name ‘Gordianus’, a cognomen or extra personal name, indicates that the origins of his family are located in Anatolia, specifically, Galatia or Cappadocia. (Ref - Bernadette Peuch, "Orateurs et sophistes grecs dans les inscriptions d'époque impériale", page. 128.) The evidence in this article will show that 'Gordianus' was indeed not the actual name of this individual, his name was Julius Paulus. We read that Paulus was one of the most influential and distinguished 2nd and 3rd century C.E. Roman jurists, often referred to as Paul in English. Frustratingly, however, it appears that little is known of his life and family, but, because the evidence concerning this time period points to the same elite family circles writing, it is possible to uncover more data regarding this man. Julius Paulus and his son, who was called Herodian, would write the church history until they met their deaths in 238 C.E.
Much more of the Roman history written by Gordian's, or rather, Julius Paulus's son, Herodian, survives than that of Julius Paulus's. In his work, Herodian covered the period from 180 C.E., when Marcus Aurelius's reign ended, until 238 C.E. It has been suggested, without evidence to confirm it, that Herodian's name was Ti. Claudius Herodianus, senator and governor of Sicily, and that he was probably a descendant of Ti. Claudius Atticus Herodes, the wealthy philanthropist. (Ref - Herodian, Intro, Volume I, Page 35, Loeb Classical Library)
Herodes Atticus is recorded as the son of a man carrying the same name, Herodes (Atticus), another name for one of Arrius Pisos's sons, Proculus. Proculus's name as Herodes does not appear in Roman historical writings, it only appears in obscure correspondence in upper Egypt, it is likely the family had no idea that correspondence had survived. Proculus Piso (79 -approximately 162 C.E.) was born before Arrius, Queen Berenice and Proculus went to live in Greece, in about 100C.E., Proculus Piso's son, Herodes, is recorded in history as a great inventor, using the name Herodes Atticus. The reason for the name appears to be because he was born in Greece and Arrius Piso was a descendant of Herod the Great.
Proculus Piso's father, Arrius, had married Queen Berenice, the sister of Herod Agrippa II. Therefore, Proculus was a descendant of King Herod the Great through his father and mother, which explains the 'Herodes Atticus' name, 'Herod from Athens' or 'Herod belonging to Attica', the location of Athens. Here is what the man known as 'Philostratus' records:
'Although he died at Marathon and had directed his freedmen to bury him there, the Athenians snatched him away by the hands of the ephebes and carried him to the city, and people of all ages came forth to greet the bier with crying and applause, like children who have lost a good father. They buried him in the Panathenaic and inscribed over him this brief and noble epitaph: HERODES SON OF ATTICUS FROM THE DEME OF MARATHON, TO WHOM ALL THIS BELONGS, LIES IN THIS TOMB, RENOWNED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD'
'ἀποθανόντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῶι Μαραθῶνι καὶ ἐπισκήψαντος τοῖς ἀπελευθέροις ἐκεῖ θάπτειν Ἀθηναῖοι ταῖς τῶν ἐφήβων χερσὶν ἁρπάσαντες ἐς ἄστυ ἤνεγκαν προαπαντῶντες τῶι λέχει πᾶσα ἡλικία δακρύοις ἅµα καὶ ἀνευφηµοῦντες, ὅσα παῖδες χρηστοῦ πατρὸς χηρεύσαντες, καὶ ἔθαψαν ἐν τῶι Παναθηναικῶι ἐπιγράψαντες αὐτῶι βραχὺ καὶ πολὺ ἐπίγραµµα τόδε· Ἀττικοῦ Ἡρώδης Μαραθώνιος, οὗ τάδε πάντα, κεῖται τῶιδε τάφωι, πάντοθεν εὐδόκιµος'
Herodian's family was in fact the Gordian family as will be shown. (Ref - Herodian, Intro, Volume II, Page 381, Loeb Classical Library)
In the 'Vita' of Josephus, 426-428, it states "Josephus's" sons Justus and Simonides Agrippa were born of his marriage to a woman of Jewish ancestry who had "very distinguished parents, indeed the most notable in that country."· The woman who fits a distinguished pedigree of that time could only have been Queen Berenice, sister of King Herod Agrippa II, of whom no children are recorded.
"Josephus", or rather Arrius, being married to Queen Berenice (although never stating it outright, which appears to be the normal practice with these elites) would explain why it was Arrius's son Proculus who used the name "Herodes Attius." This allows us to understand why, in his 'Vita', Arrius (Josephus) states that his son, who was actually called Proculus, was not only named Simon(ides) - an allusion to his identity in the New Testament as 'Simon', the fictional Simon, becomes Silas in Acts 15.22, and appears in Pliny's letters as Sillius Proculus (III. 15); and his son as Caesennius Silvanus (III.8).- but also Agrippa; if we remember, Arrius states, as 'Josephus' that: My great-grandfather’s grandfather was named Simon surnamed ‘Psellus’ (which means ‘stutterer, as does ‘Balbii’, an ancestral name of Arrius Piso through his father Gaius. (Ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon of Ancient Rome, page 96) Agrippa was, of course, the name of Queen Berenice's brother and Proculus's uncle. Due to the distinguished Herodian pedigree of Proculus Piso, he must have felt justified enough to insert and praise the Herodian family in chapter 16 of Romans. (Further ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, pages 104-108)
A great revolt occurred in Egypt and Alexandria in 115 C.E., but before this revolt 'Herodes Attius', an architect, was building a home for Antoninus Pius (emperor of 138-161 C.E.) on his estate in the Hermoupolite district, in the Fayum in upper Egypt. Antoninus, who looks to be recorded under the name Apollonius (Ref - Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, Vol. II, No. 446, Pages 247-254) would be the strategos (governor) there, and so clearly anticipated a considerable stay; the stay would last two years. Arrius, Antoninus Pius's grandfather, is recorded as a fictional priest at Apollo in Delphi. (Ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, Page 173) We also read that a 'Eudaimonis', the mother of this 'Apollonius' (Antoninus Pius, whose mother was Claudia Phoebe/Pompeia Plotina) prays to "invincible Hermes" that the Judaeans will not "roast" her son. which reminds us of the parallels between the Jewish War, VI, 193, Mark 14:22-27 and Luke 2:35 (Further ref - Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, Vol. II, No. 437, pages 235-236).
Interestingly, the name 'Apollonius' contains, in sequence, the letters pius, part of Antoninus Pius's name. 'Eudaimonis' means 'being under the protection of a good daimôn or spirit'; In Revelation 14:13, the word “spirit” is mentioned, as well as being mentioned in many other places. This word points to the Pisos, because of Phonetics, the study and classification of speech sounds. The word “spirit” can be seen as the word ‘pneuma’ πνευμα (also spelled Numa or Nooma) which is an ancient Greek word for “breath”, but in a religious context, it is used for “spirit” or “soul” and is used in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. The word ‘spirit’/‘numa’ is another word that links to the ancestry of the Piso family, as Numa Pompilius is one of the main ancestors from which the Piso family claimed descent, through his third son Calpus.
Regarding 'Herodes Attius' building a home for Antoninus Pius, we can conjecture that another designer/contractor could have been sent to build the house for Antoninus, but as Proculus (Herodes) was the son of Arrius, they may have thought it logical for Proculus to be there to supervise the starting of the churches. During the reign of Emperor Trajan, beginning in 98 C.E., we can glimpse the creation of the first churches, in what is now Asiatic Turkey, through the travels of "Paul", who looks to be Pliny The Younger. The beginning of the creation of the 'churches' looks to be implied in the letters of Pliny The Younger. In Romans chapter 16 we are provided a better image of the church's creation.
Romans 16 presents the first gathering of the believers in the homes of the family. Arrius and his wife (as Aquila and Prisca) had started an early church in their home, apparently in Rome; Aquilla (eagle) was a prominent symbol used in Ancient Rome.
A short while later, I Corinthians looks to have been written and in 16:19 the church in their home is mentioned again, and at that time there are already churches in Asia. Then a few years later we read a 'Nympha' (most likely a pseudonym) also has a church in her home in Col. 4.16, apparently in Laodicea. This was a commercial city in Phrygia and an important province in western (now) Turkey. (Ref - Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume I, page 452) 'Apphia' and 'Archippus' have a "church in your house" in Philemon verse 2. Archippus looks to be another name for Arrius, as it meant 'chief horse' (ippos/Piso) and Apphia looks to be a disguised form of Arria, as a pseudonym for his wife; the Greek 'r' was written the same as the Latin 'p'. The churches seem to have grown quickly in Asia, because in Romans 16.5, an Epaenetus is mentioned as the first convert from Asia. Claudia Phoebe, Arrius's daughter, looks to have had a leading role in Greece, as Romans 16.1 states she is in Cenchrea, and is the first one honourably mentioned; it must be noted here that a 'Hermes' is also mentioned in Romans 16. In 115, Pliny (under an alias) would move south to western Persia as head of a legion to block the Persian's from advancing to help the Judaeans in Egypt, but he and his legion would be overwhelmed.
The most interesting individuals dispatched to provoke the second and third Judaean revolts were the brothers Antoninus and Arrian; Rutilius Lupus, Trajan's son; and Herodes Attius (Proculus). Arrian (as Apion) was entrusted with military command in Alexandria, and his brother in law, Trajan's son, was the governor of Egypt. The family being in this location at this time shows great awareness of the situation, in terms of their trying to promote Christianity. The Judaean population was great in number in Egypt, particularly in Alexandria. The Judaean population knew a fictional new religion (law) was trying to be spread by the Roman elite, the Pharisees, now Rabbis, were still active at this time and the Judaeans must have been informing the Greeks and Egyptian peasants in Alexandria, which was a major problem for the Pisos and their relations. Therefore, a plan to provoke the Judaeans to revolt was concocted in order for the justification to be made for the Roman legions to be sent in to eliminate them.
Herodian The Son Of Gordian I
Herodian also appears to be the jurist known as Herennius Modestinus (meaning 'humble'), or simply, Modestin, recorded as a student of Ulpian and flourishing around 250 C.E. He is recorded in Valentinian's Law of Citations, where, together with Papinian, Paulus, Gaius and Ulpian , he is considered one of the five jurists whose recorded views were considered crucial.
A rescript of Gordian III also mentions 'Modestinus', in the year 240 C.E. There, he is mentioned in connection with a responsum (written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them. In the modern era, the term is used to describe decisions and rulings made by scholars in historic religious law.)
The first point to note here is that the name Herod can be seen in the names Herennius and Modestinus. The second point to make is that 'Herennius', phonetically, can be 'Irenaeus', and Herodian, under the guise of a church writer, admired 'Irenaeus' 'The Bishop of Lyons' (Lugdunum) (given dates 130-202 C.E., as will be shown. Herennius can also become Her(od) Annius, the reason why will be explained later. Modestinus can become M(arcus) (Her)odes-tinus - Marcus from his ancestry from Marcus Aurelius (shown later in the article) and Herodes from his descent from Herodes Atticus Recorded under the name 'Modius Julius', Modius being a shorter form of the name 'Modestin', Herodian was a governor in Britain during the period of 216-219 C.E. (Ref - Anthony R. Birley, The Fasti of Roman Britain, page 187; Andrew Robert Burn, The Romans in Britain, pages 149-150)
The inscription for Modius Julius reads:
SVB MODIO IV
LIO LEG AUG PR
PR COH I AEL DC
CVI PRAEEST M
Translation: 'Under Modius Julius, His Majesty's Governor-General (this gateway was restored) by the 1st Hadrian's Own Dacian Cohort, commanded by Marcus Claudius Menander, Tribune.'
Like his family before him, Herodian, as Modestin, was one of the great jurists of the empire.
The 'Julius' part of Herodian's name as 'Modius Julius' must come from his father, Julius Paulus, known as the jurist. His father, as will be explained, wrote as the church father 'Julius Africanus'. It appears Herodian wrote his church writings under the name of 'St. Hippolytus', which, as appears to be the case for most saints, little was known about his community of origin. 'Hippolytus' is recorded as an admirer and 'disciple' of 'St. Irenaeus', who looks to have been Antoninus Pius (86-161 C.E.) who also wrote as 'Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (purported dates 69-122 C.E.); the 'Tranquil' word becomes 'Irenic', as they both mean the same thing. In 'Against Heresies', Book I, Chapter XV, Antoninus appears to have deliberately misspelled Christos as Chreistos. For this way it totalled 27 in Greek., which is the name Pliny. If we remember, Herodian's name as 'Herennius' is a variant of the name 'Irenaeus', the index to Pliny's letters give us a clue to that being the case. 'St. Hippolytus' is also said to have been a disciple of 'St. Polycarp', which evidence points to as being Proculus Piso; Proculus' name can be seen in the 'St. Polycarpus' name, whilst also honouring his father's name, like so – Proc(k)u(y)lus A(rrius) P(iso).
It is again interesting to note that the name 'Hippolytus' contains the letters that make up the Greek word 'Ippos', meaning horse, but in this word we can see 'Piso'. However, also visible in the Hippolytus name, when viewed in Greek, Ἱππόλυτος, is H(erodian)I(ulius)Paulus - the 'I' is seen as our modern 'J' of Julius, and the 'y' of the 'lytus' part is a 'u'. Also, we must remember that vowels were incredible flexible. In the 200's C.E., 'Hippolytus' was apparently the most learned and extensive writer of the church. (Ref - Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume II, pages 763-764) 'Hippolytus' (Herodian), like 'Irenaeus' (Antoninus Pius) before him, had the authority to write about the manner of death of all twelve disciples and the 70 apostles, just as 'Irenaeus' had created the names of the bishops of Rome up to his time, which future members of the family would use to further the "historical" timeline.
Herodian as Hippolytus also looks to have created the 'heretics' Justinus and Secundus; Justinus is a derivative of the name Justus, one of Arrius Piso's sons, known in history as 'Fabius Justus' and Secundus is the last name of Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus). (Ref - Hippolytus, Volume V, pages 69 ff., page 91 Ante-Nicene Fathers). There is no way Herodian as Hippolytus could have used the names Justinus and Secundus to create heretics if he lacked the authority to do so, as the emperors would not have permitted it. The emperors controlled the government scriptoria and libraries and directed what they wanted to be written or changed.
Herodian also looks to have produced writings in Latin under the name Commodianus, a name used possibly to mock the former Emperor Commodus who had killed leaders of the family to prevent them revolting. The writings under 'Commodianus' have been considered a poor job (Ref - Some Aspects of Commodian, Illinois Classical Studies, Volume 14, No. 1/2, 1989, pages 331-346), but in those writings, The Instructiones, poem 80, we have the name Commodianus Mendicus Christi. In the original Latin, when read backwards, taking the first letters of each line from the bottom, this name can be seen. (Ref - Commodianus, Vol IV, page 218, Ante-Nicene Fathers - LXXX.—The Name of the Man of Gaza.)
In the footnotes of the particular passage above, Dr. Philip Schaff stated:
This Nomen Gazæi may indicate his possession of the wealth of truth, etc. But, if we read the acrostical initials of the verses backwards, we find the name Commodianus Mendicus Christi, which betokens his poverty also, in the spirit of St. Paul (2 Cor. vi. 10; also, Rev. ii. 9), which our author would naturally make emphatic here.
NOMEN GAZÆI. I ncolæ cælorum, futuri cum Deo Christo, Tenente principium, vidente cuncta de cælo. S implicitas, bonitas, habitet in corpore vestro. I rasci nolite sine causa fratri devoto; Recipietis enim quicquid feceritis ab illo. Hoc placuit Christo, resurgere mortuos imo, Cum suis corporibus, et quos ignis ussit in ævo,
S ex millibus annis completis, mundo finito. Vertitur interea cælum, tenore mutato; Comburuntur enim impii tunc igne divino; I ta Dei summi ardet creatura gemendo. Digniores stemmate et generati præclaro, Nobilesque viri, sub Antichristo devicto, E x præcepto Dei, rursum viventes in ævo, Mille quidem annis, ut serviant Sanctis et Alto
Sub jugo servili, ut portent victualia collo: U t iterùm autem judicentur regno finito. Nullificantes Deum, completo millesimo anno, A b igne peribunt, cum montibus ipsi loquendo. I n bustis et tumulis omnis caro redditur acto, Demurguntur inferno, trahunt pænas in ævo, O stenduntur illis et legunt gesta de cælo, Memoria prisca debito et merita digno. Merces in perpetuo secundum facta Tyranno. Omnia non possum comprendere parvo libello: Curiositas docti inveniet nomen in isto. The writings of 'Commodianus' have been placed during 'St Cyprian's' time, of whom an article will be written. (Ref - Tixeront- Raemers, A Handbook of Patrology, page 123) However, Herodian looks to have died approximately 22 years before 'Cyprian's' death, so it is logical to conclude that that these writings of Herodian were done when 'Cyprian' produced his early writings.
But in regards to the hidden acrostic name above, when taking a closer look at the three words, using the information we already have, more appears to be hidden. 'Commodianus' contains 'odianus', in 'mendicus' we have the letter 'e', and in 'Christi' we have the letters 'h' and 'r', giving us 'her'. When 'odianus' is combined with 'her' we get the name Herodianus.
Herodianus also looks to have used another alias, 'Athenaeus', meaning 'a man from Athens', under which the Sophists at Dinner would be written (also known as The Deipnosophists or, in Greek, 'Deipnosophistae'). Herodians's ancestor used the name Herodes Atticus, which meant the 'Greek'. This looks to have been done to hide the Idumean/Judaean origins of the family. According to 'Philostratus' (most likely Ulpian and possibly Herodian), Gordian I was a descendant of Herodes Attius (Ref - Anthony Birley, The Fasti of Roman Britain, page 185). Herodian and his father are referred to as the 'Gordians'. An individual called Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus (158 – April 238 C.E.) is a Roman official in this period. (Ref - Anthony Birley, The Fasti of Roman Britain, page 182) This must have been Gordian I using this name to express his loyalty to Rome, as 'semper' meant 'always' and 'Romanus' meant 'Rome'.
When the Lives of the Sophists was finished by Herodian, after being started by Ulpian, Herodian, using the name 'Athenaeus', wrote the 'Sophists at Dinner', which looks to show that pagan stoic philosophers were the leading thinkers in Rome, and not Christian church fathers. However, the family of Herodian and Gordian I appear in this work, only under alias names. In the 'Lives of the Sophists' Ulpian had appeared as 'Aelian', the honey bee from Tyre. In the 'Sophists at Dinner', Herodian actually uses Ulpian's name, making him the toast master. (Ref - Athenaeus, The Learned Banqueters (Sophists at Dinner), Books I-III.106e, Harvard University Press, page XXIV)
The 'Sophists at Dinner' also contains the names of other family members, such as; Arrian the grammarian; Galen of Pergamum the physician (who looks to be the brother of Marcus Aurelius); Pontianus of Nicomedia, philosopher (who looks to be Pliny the Younger); and Plutarch of Alexandria, the Grammarian (which looks to be another alias for Arrius Piso). (Ref - The Sophists at Dinner, X.448b) - more will be written on Galen and Plutarch in the near future.
In the above work, Herodian (Athenaeus) inserts the statement that the waters near Mt. Pangaeum's mines weigh 96 drachmas to the 1/2 pint in winter, but 46 in summer. This is very interesting, as, using gematria, 96 represents Pliny and 46 presents the name Jesus Christ. (Ref - The Sophists at Dinner, II.42b); 96 totals the name ‘Alex’ in Greek, the name of Arrius’ first son. Pliny married Arrius's granddaughter, Calpurnia, and so became like a new son to him, that is, a replacement for Alex (Alexander). One of Pliny’s letters to Emperor Trajan concerning his recent alleged persecution of Christians is made to number 96 in the 10th volume of his letters.
In Herodian's History, in the Introduction, there is the statement that he was known to be related to the Gordians, so we investigate the Historia Augusta to find these relatives. The first detail to note is that Gordian I was also known as 'Africanus'. (Ref - The Three Gordians, III.2, note 1; IX.3-4) We can remember that Africanus was the name of the church writer active in the same period as Gordian I, and that church writers full name was Sextus Julius Africanus, (approximately 160 – 240 C.E.) but, as seems to constantly be the case, little appears to be known of the life of this Africanus and all dates are uncertain. However, remembering that in this period we also have the famous jurist, Julius Paulus, a contemporary of Ulpian/Origen, we can conjecture that Herodian the jurist is the son of Julius Paulus, or 'Paul', brother in law of Ulpian, who are referred to as Gordian I and II in historical documents.
Herodian could not have finished his history, as it recounts the deaths of Gordian II and Gordian I (Ref - Herodian, VII.9.7-9), he obviously could not have written this after his death. His history continues from the death of Gordian II into another concluding book that presents the three-months reign of the Gordian's successors, Maximus (Pupienus) and Balbinus. It presents their deaths and the accession of Gordian III, at the age of thirteen. Herodians work must have been completed by a family member who later shared the same goals as Gordian I and II.
In the Historia Augusta, we read that Gordian I was the son of Maecius Marullus and of Ulpia Gordiana, a descendant of Emperor Trajan. (Ref - Historia Augusta, the Three Gordians, II.2) The name Ulpia signifies that she must be part of Ulpian's family. As Ulpian and Gordian I were contemporaries, and Ulpia is recorded as the mother of Gordian I, Ulpia must have been Ulpian's aunt. In this article on Ulpian, I examine Ulpian's parentage, where the evidence points to a L. Ulpius Marcellus (Marcellus Lupus II) being the father of Domitius Ulpian, through his marriage to a lady called Julia Avidia Cassia (Julia Cassia), making Ulpian a fourth-generation descendant of Emperor Trajan. So, Ulpian's father and the mother of Gordian I must have been brother and sister, making Ulpian and Gordian I first cousins.
More evidence for the above can be viewed in this video at 31:16
Interestingly, and intriguingly, the conclusion of 'Origen's' letter to Africanus (Julius Paulus) contains the names Ambrosius and Marcella, and also Anicetus and Apollinarius. In 'Origen', A Letter from Origen to Africanus, paragraph 15, Volume IV, page 392, Ante-Nicene Fathers, it states:
"This, then, is my defence. I might, especially after all these accusations, speak in praise of this history of Susanna, dwelling on it word by word, and expounding the exquisite nature of the thoughts. Such an encomium, perhaps, some of the learned and able students of divine things may at some other time compose. This, however, is my answer to your strokes, as you call them. Would that I could instruct you! But I do not now arrogate that to myself. My lord and dear brother Ambrosius, who has written this at my dictation, and has, in looking over it, corrected as he pleased, salutes you. His faithful spouse, Marcella, and her children, also salute you. Also Anicetus. Do you salute our dear father Apollinarius, and all our friends."
The points of interest are:
"his dear brother Ambrosius salutes you, and also his faithful spouse, Marcella, and her children, also salute you." "Also Anicetus."
The letter also asks Africanus to salute
"our dear father Apollinarius and all our friends."
The first important detail in the above is the mention of his alleged sister in law and her two children. The name of the"brother", Ambrosius, does not seem a Traianic-type name, the name of the "sister in law", Marcella, does, and the children are referred to as her children. The noble line, therefore, looks to descend through the "sister in law" and not the husband, therefore, she looks to actually be Origen's sister, not sister in law. From what is presented in the Historia Augusta, this would appear to be the case, as there it states that Gordian II's mother came from nobility, but not her husband. For this to make sense, "his brother Ambrosius" who wrote the letter under the dictation of 'Origen', must actually be Africanus. Two points seem to indicate that as being the case 1) both names contain nine letters, and 2) the word 'Ambrosius' means 'divine/immortal', which is a fitting word to use for an emperor of Rome, as they were viewed as 'divine'; Gordian I was made a divus on his death.
So here it would appear that Julius Paulus (Gordian I) and Ulpian (Origen) were engaged in discourse and decided to record that discourse in the form of letters that would appear to be between each other. The works of 'Eusebius' mention Ambrosius three times, and those mentions present him as being very close to Origen. Ambrosius was even the one to provide seven shorthand takers and seven copyists to Origen, gifts that logically appear only possible if they were closely related. Other mentions of 'Ambrosius' in the work of 'Eusebius' also shows how close Origen and Ambrosius were. In the Ecclesiatical History, VI.XVIII, Ambrosius had been a heretic of the Valentinian heresy, that is until Origen convinced him to 'follow Christ'. Origen's "Exhortation to Martyrdom" or 'On Martyrdom' is even dedicated to Ambrosius, and Protoctetus. (Ref - Ecclesiastical History, VI.XXVIII)
Gordian I/Julius Paulus as 'Sextus Julius Africanus'
'Sextus Julius Africanus' was a contemporary of 'Origen', whose identity is detailed here, and 'Africanus' and 'Origen' exchanged letters. The existing writings of 'Sextus Julius Africanus', church father, are not extensive. They consist only of pages 123-139 in Volume VI of Eerdmans Ante-Nicene Library, plus mentions of his writings in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History.
Africanus supposedly wrote a work entitled kestoi, which incorporated cures and charms. This title is very interesting, as it had the same Greek origin as cestius, which was a part of one of Arrius's pseudonyms Cestius Gallus. Arrius records his actions as the military governor in Judaea under the name Cestius Gallus. Whilst governor, he had stirred trouble which eventually provoked the great revolt in 66 C.E. Kestoi, like cestius, was from the Greek kestos, which was Aphrodite's charmed girdle. (Further ref - Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, pages 107/112) The wife of Gordian I is recorded under another name, other than Marcella. That other name appears to be Fabia Orestilla, the grandaughter of Marcus Aurelius; (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Three Gordians, XVII.4); I must note here that the name 'Fabia Orestilla' can become F(l)avia Ar(i)a (Arrea) Tulla - B and V are interchangeable (Ref - Politzer, Robert L 1952:On b and v in Latin and Romance) and, again vowels were very flexible. Also Tulla is the feminine form of Tullus, from the ancestry of Emperor Trajan, see this article. The Ulpii had been male-line descendants of Emperor Trajan, through his marriage to Ulpia Marcella.
Gordian I's wife was most likely the daughter of Marcus Aurelius's daughter who married Septimius Severus; his father-in-law is recorded as Annius Severus. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, Volume II, The Three Gordians, page 391) The wife of Septimius Severus, the daughter of Marcus, is recorded as Fadilla, a slightly changed and longer form of Fabia. She also looks to have been recorded as Annia; Marcus Aurelius was also called Annius Verus; the name Annius also reminds us of Her(od) Annius (Herennius), as mentioned earlier. 'Annius' looks to be a disguised form of Arrius, with r's changed to n's. Sir Ronald Syme stated:
“C. Fannius (v, 5). Barrister who wrote biographies of Nero’s victims. Supposed a relative of Fannia, the daughter of the Patavine (P. [Publius] Clodius) Thrasea Paetus by his marriage with Arria, the daughter of A. [Aulus] Caecina Paetus (suff. 37) [T. Flavius Sabinus I].”
Sir Ronald Syme, who researched this information, even stated in his paper ‘People in Pliny’:
“Why she should be called 'Fannia', no clue.”
I agree with Sir Ronald, it would be safe to think that a daughter of an Arria would use the name of her mother, somewhere. A closer look at this name reveals the Arria name is there, as 'F. Arria/Annia' where the r's are replaced with n's. Information about a ‘C. Fannius’ (most likely Arrius Piso) as a barrister, who wrote the biographies of Nero’s victims, is given in the ‘Prosopographia Imperii Romani’ (Edmund Groag in PIR-2, F116)
Julius Paulus (Gordian I) and his son Herodian (Gordian II), therefore, had elite pedigree in the following ways:
1) Julius Paulus's (Gordian I's ) mother Ulpia Gordiana must have been Ulpian's aunt, making Julius Paulus Ulpian's cousin.
2) Ulpian's sister, Marcella, was married to Gordian I (Julius Paulus), making Ulpian and Julius Paulus also brothers in law.
3) Gordian I (Julius Paulus's) wife Marcella was also Fabia Orestilla, Marcus Aurelius's grandaughter.
The above means Julius Paulus (Gordian I) was related to Ulpian in two ways, his wife was also a descendant of Arrius Piso.
Gordian I was 80 when ruling north Africa as proconsul in 238 C.E. His son was serving as his legate when the two were apparently chosen by the locals to be emperors, Gordian I was given the name Africanus. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, the Three Gordians, IX.3-4) Of course, the name 'Africanus', as well as the time period, connects Gordian I with the name 'Sextus Julius Africanus'; the 'Sextus' portion of the name looks to be honouring Justus Calpurnius Piso, who appears to have written as 'St. Sixtus'. Justus was the grandfather of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a relation of the Gordians; 'Sixtus' becomes Justus in the following way: S(everus) I(u)stus - I = J and X becomes S.
When Herodian (Gordian II) was killed in battle at the age of 46, when revolting against the emperor with his father, Gordian I committed suicide. (Ref - The Historia Augusta, the Three Gordians, XVI.3) The father and son being creators of Christian writings makes the age of 46 as the age of Herodian's death interesting, as 46 is the total of the names 'Jesus' and 'Christ' (24 and 22), possibly a numeric clue that they died fighting for Christianity?
Christian history appears to present different accounts of the family members than what appears in Roman history. In Christian history, Gordian I as Julius Africanus went on a military campaign in 195 C.E. with Emperor Septimius Severus, took many journeys and then settled at Emmaus (Nicopolis) in Palestine and apparently died there between 240 and 250 C.E. (Ref - Tixerot-Raemers, A Handbook of Patrology, page 101) St. Hippolytus (Herodian) apparently began a church split, which results from different beliefs. In 235 C.E., Emperor Maximinus began persecuting the church leaders, (or certain 'Christian' members of the elite) and exiled the 'pope' at the time and St. Hippolytus, the anti-pope, to Sardinia, where they died. (Ref - Tixerot-Raemers, A Handbook of Patrology, pages 128-129)
A long and distinguished career is recorded for Gordian I. He was consul with Emperor Caracalla (212-217) and possibly with Emperor Severus Alexander (222-235) (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Three Gordians, IV.1) During the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus (191-211), he acted as assessor assistant to Papinian, along with his contemporary Ulpian. Both were also appointed as guard prefects. (Ref - Pescennius Niger, VII.4) Under the name Julius Paulus, Gordian I was famous in his juridical and governmental career. As 'Paul', Emperor Severus Alexander held him in "special honour", along with Ulpian, (Ref - Severus Alexander XXVI.5) and either Severus Alexander or his predecessor, Eliogabalus (218-222 C.E.) appointed them guard prefects. (Ref - Severus Alexander, XXVI.5-6)
Justinian's Digest mentions Paul as a member of the emperor's council. (Henry John Roby, An Introduction to the Study of Justinian's Digest, Cambridge University Press, page cci) Julius Paulus wrote at least 70 legal works during 37 years under different emperors: Septimius Severus and Caracalla; possibly under Eliogabalus; and under Severus Alexander, who reigned until 235 C.E. (Ref - Henry John Roby, An Introduction to the Study of Justinian's Digest, Cambridge University Press, page ccii)
Another historian who wrote until approximately 230 C.E. concerning the emperors of the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries was Junius Cordus, whose writings still existed at the time of the writing of the Historia Augusta, as he is mentioned in it several times. Again, examining this name closely, another name appears. Junius is a form of Julius, as ‘l’ and ‘n’ were interchangeable, in Biblical Hebrew, and the C in Cordus becomes a G, making Gordus. With the addition of 'ian' Gordus becomes Gordianus. Therefore, Julius Gordianus appears to be another name of Gordian I. Sir Ronald Syme states in his 'Historia Augusta Papers':
'Cordus'. This creature is mentioned no fewer than twenty-four times. He first appears (in the reeived order of the biographies) as 'Aelius Cordus' (Clod. Alb. 5. 10), he becomes 'Junius Cordus' (Macr. 1. 3), to revert for once to 'Aelius Cordus' (Maximin. 12. 7), after having been absent from the next three biographies. For the rest, 'Junius Cordus' (six times), 'Junius' (once), 'Cordus' (fourteen times). The citations of 'Cordus' are peculiar in more ways than one.First, the discrepancy about his gentilicum: often disposed of by styling him 'Aelius Junius Cordus' (as in PIR2 A 198). (Further ref - Sir Ronald Syme, Historia Augusta Papers , pages 103-105; Emperors and Biography, page 75)
Gordian I being referred to as 'Aelius Junius Cordus' is presenting us with good ancestral information. The name 'Aelius', a form of 'Aelian', was Emperor Hadrian's name, but 'Aelius' looks to have been Emperor Trajan's family name before Hadrian's use. As the Ulpian article shows, linked to above, Ulpian, brother in law of Gordian I, was a descendant of Trajan and Hadrian.
As with all data regarding this subject, when pre-conceptions are put to one side, the reality of Christian history, the situation and who was doing the writing all point to the elite creation of the Christian religion. I have stated this in previous articles, and in my book, but these writers do not seem to have created their alias names randomly, they were a combination of ancestral names joined together (nomenclature) and names/words relating to various gods and words that had different meanings related to what they viewed themselves as.
The Gordians, Julius Paulus and Herodian, and later Gordian III, appear to have been popular (Ref - The Historia Augusta, The Three Gordians, IX.1; XXII.2; XXXI.5-7) It is possible that the Gordians actively promoted Christianity publicly, if so, it is possible the faith was not as unpopular in Rome as it had been when Ulpian died fifteen years earlier. We can infer that because they were popular, Christianity, because of them, was gaining some popularity, even if not actual converts. However, it seems they struggled to convert the empire to Christianity and ultimately paid with their lives. This struggle does not seem to have been appreciated by the later church writers, as the author of the Historia Augusta seems to have hated them, in particular, Julius Paulus, as we see in there the created heretic, Paul. The reason may be because of their failed attempt to overthrow the emperors in 238 and 261 C.E., thus inhibiting the growth of Christianity.