Roman Denarius – Gordian II, 238 A.D. NGC About Uncirculated, Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5. Fine Style. Rome Mint, struck circa March-April A.D. 238. NGC AU, Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5. Fine Style. “IMP M ANT GORDIANVS AFR AVG” Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian II facing right; Reverse: “VICTORIA AVGG” Victory advancing left holding wreath and palm. This premium quality example is sharply struck and nicely toned. It is an exceptional example of this RARE emperor who ruled only 22 days, from the 1st through the 22nd of April, 238 A.D.
“With the unprecedented rise of a peasant to the highest office in the state in 235, the senatorial elite found themselves in a vulnerable position as Rome entered a new phase of its history. In order to pay for the war he was prosecuting on the northern frontiers, Maximinus used public funds and targeted wealthy aristocrats for excessive taxation and the outright confiscation of their estates. Heavy taxation in North Africa had reached an unacceptable level early in 238, when a group of young noblemen mobilized their servants and tenant farmers and murdered the imperial procurator. Now in a desperate situation, they convinced the elderly proconsul Gordian to be their candidate for emperor. He accepted and was joined by his son as co-emperor, though the sources disagree whether they were proclaimed emperor at the same time, or if the younger Gordian joined the revolt a few days afterward. The Gordiani established themselves in Carthage and, upon learning of the approach of the Numidian governor Capellianus with the Legio III Augusta and its auxiliaries, the younger Gordian helped muster a rag-tag army to defend the capital. Herodian (7.9.3-10), perhaps our most vivid source on the rebellion, offers this shocking account: “…the governor marched toward Carthage at the head of a huge army of young, vigorous men equipped with every type of weapon and trained for battle by military experience gained in fighting the barbarians. …When the battle was joined, the Carthaginians were superior in numbers, but they were an undisciplined mob, without military training…To make it worse, they were without arms and proper equipment. Each man brought from home a dagger, an ax, or a hunting spear; those who found hides cut out circles of leather, arranged pieces of wood as a frame, and fashioned shields as best they could. The Numidians, by contrast, were excellent javelin men and superb horsemen. …They easily routed the huge Carthaginian mob; without waiting for the Numidians’ charge, the Carthaginians threw down their arms and fled. Crowding and trampling one another underfoot, more Carthaginians were killed in the crush than fell by enemy action. There the son of Gordian died, together with all his companions, and the number of dead was so great that it was impossible to gather them for burial. The body of the young Gordian was never found. A few of the many who rushed into Carthage and found a place to hide managed to save themselves… The rest of the mob crowded before the gates of the city, trying to force their way in; attacked by the cavalry and legionary troops, they were cut down to the last man. Loud wailing of women and children was heard everywhere in the city when they saw their loved ones slaughtered before their eyes. …When Capellianus entered Carthage, he put to death all the prominent men who survived the battle, plundered the temples, and seized the public and private funds.” – Numismatic Ars Classica, October 2016.