Gordian II


May 22, 2022

Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus, better known in Roman historiography as Gordian II, was a Roman emperor who ruled in 238. A native of Asia Minor provinces, Gordian made his usual senatorial career. Being in the position of legate under his aged father, the proconsul of Africa, Gordian was proclaimed emperor together with him at the beginning of 238 as a result of an uprising of the local population against Maximin I the Thracian. Although Gordian II and his father found support in many African cities and were recognized by the Roman Senate, their joint rule did not last long. Three weeks after the proclamation as emperor, Gordian Jr. died in a battle near the outskirts of Carthage during an unsuccessful attempt to defend the city from the governor of Numidia, Capelian, who remained loyal to Maximinus.


The primary source for studying the life and reign of Gordian II is his biography from the collection of imperial biographies "History of the Augusti", written, presumably, by Julius Kapitolin. The information given in the Augustan History goes back mainly to three earlier historical works written by Dexippus, Cordus and Herodianus. Of these, the work of the last “History of Imperial Power after Mark” has survived to our time, in the seventh book of which contains information about the Gordian uprising. In addition, some information can be gleaned from the biographies of two Maximins, Gordian I, Pupienus and Balbinus, which are part of the Augustan History. In addition to the mentioned sources, Gordian II is also mentioned in the later works of Eutropius, Aurelius Victor, Zosimas and John Zonara. In addition to narrative sources, the importance of the information contained in the legends of coins and Latin and Greek inscriptions should be noted. The inscriptions and coins of Gordian II cannot always be clearly distinguished from the inscriptions and coins of his father, since they bore the same name.

Origin and career

Historians have scant information about the life and career of Gordian II before the African revolt. The source providing the most complete information is the biography of the three Gordians in the "History of the Augusts"