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    Description

    Brief Reign, Powerful Portrait

    Gordian I Africanus (AD 238). AR denarius (21mm, 3.02 gm, 6h).  Rome, March-April AD 238. IMP M ANT GORDIANVS AFR AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian I right / ROMAE AETERNAE, Roma seated left on shield, holding scepter in left hand and small statue of Victory in right. RIC 4. RSC 8. Rare. Struck on a broad flan and beautifully toned. Possessing a remarkable portrait of this brief-reigning ruler. Choice Extremely Fine.

    Gordian I and his son Gordian II share the dubious distinction of having the shortest reigns of any "legitimate" Roman emperors. Born in AD 159 during an era of peace and stability, Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus had a rather uneventful career as a Senator and did not reach the consulship until the advanced age of 64. He preferred the quiet life of a landed gentleman and amassed an enormous fortune during the Antonine and Severan eras. To his credit, he left retirement and returned to public duty as crises multiplied in the AD 230s. He was approaching his 80s when, in AD 237/8, the Emperor Maximinus I appointed him governor of North Africa, where he was expected to enforce the regime's draconian program of taxation against the landed gentry. In March of 238, a group of young African nobles revolted and murdered the emperor's tax agent. Having passed the point of no return, the rich rebels sent a delegation to Gordian begging him to accept the purple as a rival to the unpopular Maximinus. At first reluctant, Gordian accepted their acclamation as Augustus on March 19 and appointed his son, Gordian II, as co-emperor. The Senate, which hated the brutish Maximinus, eagerly approved their elevation and began striking coins in their names. But Maximinus reacted quickly, preparing his own army to march on Rome and ordering his loyal governor in Numidia, Capellianus, to attack Carthage and crush the revolt. Capellianus duly set out with a veteran force, against which the Gordians could only pull together an ill-trained rabble. Gordian II died in battle on April 12, AD 238 and his father hanged himself upon hearing of its outcome. They had together reigned a mere 22 days. Despite their brief production run, coins of Gordian I and II are notable for their excellent portraiture and careful quality control. On this rare silver denarius, the elder Gordian appears as a distinguished older gentleman with thin, hawkish features.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2013
    6th-7th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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