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    Brilliant Gordian III Aureus

    Gordian III (AD 238-244). AV aureus (20mm, 4.83 gm, 6h).  Rome, AD 241-243. IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian right / LAETIT-IA AVG N, Laetitia standing facing, head left, holding wreath in right hand and resting left on grounded anchor. RIC 101. Cohen 119. Calic├│ 3202a. Boldly struck on a broad flan and possessing full, brilliant luster, with a particularly charming reverse. NGC (photo-certificate) Choice AU? 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Triton IV (5 December 2000), lot 646.

    Gordian III was the grandson of Gordian I and the nephew of Gordian II. The family was immensely wealthy and influential, and through its benefactions had become popular with the general public. In AD 238, Gordian I was proclaimed emperor along with Gordian II in revolt against the cruel Maximinus I Thrax, but both were killed less than a month later. The Senate next elected two of their number, Balbinus and Pupienus, to succeed them, but the Roman populace also forced them to name the 13-year-old Gordian III as Caesar. When Balbinus and Pupienus were murdered by the Praetorians in July, Gordian III was saluted as emperor. Due to his youth and inexperience, the new emperor was at first dominated by an advisory board of senators, who had to walk a tightrope to avoid the fate of the previous short-lived regimes. In AD 241, Gordian appointed as Praetorian Prefect the capable Timesitheus, whose daughter Tranquillina became his bride. Timesitheus became a beneficent mentor who kept Gordian's weak government on an even keel. But in the same year, the Sasanian Persians under Shapur I crossed Rome's desert  frontier and threatened Antioch, and the young Gordian was forced to take up arms. Gordian's army finally engaged Shapur at Rhesaena in Syria in won a signal victory early in AD 243. The Romans next marched toward the Persian capital of Ctesiphon, but the death of Timesitheus in the winter brought their progress to a grinding halt. Supplies dwindled, and the new Praetorian Prefect, Philip, blamed the shortage on Gordian's incompetence. The soldiers grew rebellious; Gordian offered to abdicate in Philip's favor, but Philip instead simply seized the throne and had Gordian quietly murdered early in AD 244. Sadly, his youth and gentle nature had proven unsuited to the demands of hard times. 

    This attractive gold aureus illustrates the monetary crisis about to engulf the Roman Empire. It's weight of 4.83 grams is only 2/3 the weight of aurei issued during the Severan era, and points to the shortage of precious metals caused by a worsening spiral of inflation and debasement. Portraiture and overall workmanship were still of a high standard, however, and the youth and innocence of Gordian are quite evident in his obverse image. 

    All Roman gold coins from the Dimitriadis Collection have been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. These may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. Please e-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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