Gordianus II

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GORDIANUS II (Marcus Antoninus), son of Gordianus Africanus I. and of Fabia Oreatilla, was born under the reign of Commodus, A.D. 191. He was instructed in the highest and most elegant branches of literature by Serenus Sammonicus the younger, who left him his library composed of 62,000 volumes, and he profited from the instructions he had received from his friend and preceptor to render himself accomplished in the study of the law, and moreover gained a high reputation amongst the writers of his time, in publishing several works both in prose and verse, which reflected honour on his talents and attainments.  Capitolinus, in praising him for these high qualities, adverts to his handsome figure, courteous demeanour, and mildness of character; but at the same time remarks that he was too fond of women.  He was questor under Elagabalus; pretor and consul under Alexander Severus, by whom (A.D. 229) he was appointed the legatus of his father in Africa, and was acknowledged emperor with him at the end of eight years' residence in that province (A.D. 238). He was killed a few weeks afterwards, fighting valiantly at the head of the troops which his father and he had levied to oppose the advance from Mauretania of Capellianus, a ready instrument of Maximin's cruelty.  He was forty-six years old when he died; having occupied the rank of Augustus for only the short space of forty days.  The name of his wife is unknown.  His son was Gordianus III. called Pius.

The Gordiani, father and son, having adopted the same legend, it is difficult to distinguish, amongst the coins of those emperors, what belong to the one and what to the other. Eckhel (vii,31) has treated this question in a satisfactory manner.  He agrees with Vaillant that the pieces which bear the legend P.M.TR.P.COS.P.P are the ones which can with certainty be attributed to Gordian the father.  As to the other pieces, the iconographic indications are our only guide.  Frequently the leaness of the father, the good condition and more marked features of the son, lead to distinctions nearly indubitable.  In other respects, the uncertainty remains complete; and above all, one is indisposed to ask how an octogenarian in age, and a man of forty-six years could have been represented in a manner almost identical.  It is even possible that at Rome, where these coins were struck in great haste, the artists had at their disposal only the portraits of the elder Gordian, already old, and which remounted to the epoch of his maturity of manhood. - M. Lenormant, Iconographie Romaine, p.91.

If we apply these remarks to the denarii, we shall unquestionably recognize each Gordian as prefixed to the notices of their respective reigns.  The large brass are the more embarassing: and in general it is to be observed, that these monies, struck at Rome by authority of the Senate, are those of which the iconographic characters are less distinct.  Some of them would appear to belong to the son; from their appearance more assimilating with the meridian of life; others would be assigned to the father, to judge from the strongly indicated signs of old age, which they present.

The two Gordians proclaimed in Africa had neither time nor opportunity to arrive at Rome; a fact which shows that the Senate did not always wait for the actual entry of the new emperor into the capital, before they caused brass money to be minted bearing his image and superscription. The abbreviation on some reverses AVGG. for AVGVSTORVM, recalls to mind that there were then two Augusti.


On coins he is styled IMP. C. (or CAES.) M. ANT. GORDIANVS. ARF. AVG. - The following list of reverses in silver and large brass shows that like those of the father their rarity constitutes their greatest merit.

SILVER - CONCORDIA AVGG. Concord seated. (Valued by Minnet at 100fr.) - PROVIDENTIA AVGG. Providence stands leaning on a column a globe at her feet. (Bought 5 10s at the Devonshire; 4 1s at the Thomas; 5 at the Tovey sales.) - VICTORIA AVGG. (4 5s. Thomas). VIRTVS AVGG. A military figure. (6 10s. Devonshire; 3 15s Pembroke; 3 14s. Thomas; 4 Campana; 4 2s. Brumell).

LARGE BRASS - PROVIDENTIA AVGG. (Mt. 50fr.) - HOMAE AETERNAE. Rome seated (4 7s. Thomas; 4 18s Campana.) - VICTORIA AVGG. Victory walking. (Mt. 50fr,). VIRTVS AVGG. Military figure. S.C. in the field. 2 12s. Pembroke; 4 2s. Brumell; "4 10s Tovey) - Same legend. Mars carrying a trophy and a lance (Cat. d'Ennery; valued by Mionnet at 60fr.)


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