Gordian I Africanus (March-April AD 238). AR denarius (21m...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionGordian I Africanus (March-April AD 238). AR denarius (21mm, 3.44 gm, 6h). NGC Choice XF 4/5 - 3/5. Rome. IMP M ANT GORDIANVS AFR AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian I right, seen from behind / P M T-R P COS P P, Gordian I standing facing, togate, head left, branch upward in right hand, transverse short scepter in left. RIC IV.II 1. RSC 2. BMCRE 1-3.
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 claimed a distant relation to the emperor Trajan on his mother's side and descent from those famous Republican reformers, the brothers Gracchi, on his father's. Despite these illustrious genes, he had a rather uneventful career as a Senator and did not reach the Consulship until the advanced age of 64. 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. In March of 238, a group of young African nobles rebelled and murdered the emperor's tax agent. Realizing they'd 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, who was preoccupied campaigning on the Rhine frontier. At first reluctant, Gordian accepted their acclamation on March 19 and appointed his son, Gordian II, as co-emperor. The Gordians both assumed the title Africanus and dispatched a messenger to Rome proclaiming their program of reform. The Senate, which hated the brutish Maximinus, eagerly approved their elevation and began striking coins in their names. But Maximinus ordered 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.
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