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    22-day reign

    Gordian II Africanus (AD 238). AE sestertius (17.94 gm). Rome, March-April AD 238. IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AFR AVG, laureate, draped bust of Gordian II right / ROMA AETERNAE, Roma seated left on shield, holding Victory and spear, SC in exergue. RIC 5. RCV 8470. Rare. Attractive medium brown patina. Good very fine.

    Born around AD 192, Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus the Younger belonged to an immensely wealthy family that emerged unscathed from the tyranny of Commodus and the bloody civil wars of AD 193-197. According to the Historia Augusta, Gordian II followed his father into the Roman Senate during the reign of Elagabalus (AD 218-222). He attained the consulship in the reign of Severus Alexander (AD 222-235) and served as legate of Legio IV Scythica near Antioch, as well as governor of Achaea. In AD 237, he was appointed as a legate (or general) to Africa, a province then governed by his father. While a son serving under a father was hardly unusual, Africa at this time had no legionary force of its own, meaning Gordian II had command only over a small band of palace guards and auxiliary troops. Nevertheless, the two Gordians were expected to enforce the harsh program of taxation levied by the unpopular emperor Maximinus I Thrax, who hated the upper classes. In March of AD 238, a cadre of North African nobles in the town of Thysdrus murdered Maximinus' tax agent and forced the elder Gordian to accept the purple. Aged nearly 80, Gordian I realized he could not carry the burden alone and proclaimed his son Gordian II as co-emperor. The pair made a triumphal entry into Carthage and sent a courier to Rome proclaiming their program of reform. Upon learning of the African revolt, the Senate immediately affirmed the Gordians as co-Augusti, giving them both the agnomen Africanus. Maximinus, then campaigning on the Danube frontier, was declared a public enemy. In the meantime, however, events in Africa took a disastrous turn. Capelianus, governor of neighboring Numidia, remained loyal to Maximinus and marched on Carthage with the veteran Legio III Cyrenaica. Gordian II gathered a ragtag force and marched out to meet him, but the defenders had more heart than skill and fell in droves before the swords of Capelianus' legionaries. Gordian II died in battle and his body was never recovered. Upon hearing of the outcome, the elder Gordian hung himself. But the 22-day reign of the Gordians proved the aristocracy of Rome was not yet a spent force, and the revolt they began eventually succeeded in toppling Maximinus.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    2nd-3rd Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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