2. M. Antonius
Gordianus, eldest son of the foregoing and of Fabia Orestilia, was born in A. D. 192, was appointed legatus to his father in Africa, was associated with him in the purple, and fell in the battle against Capellianus, as recorded above, in the forty-sixth year of his age.
Less simple in his habits, and less strict in his morality than his parent, he was nevertheless respected and beloved both in public and private life, and never disgraced himself by acts of ostentatious profligacy, although he left upwards of sixty children by various mistresses, and enjoyed the somewhat questionable distinction of being selected by the favour of Elagabalus to fill the office of quaestor. He became praetor under the more pure auspices of Alexander, and acquitted himself with so much credit as a judge, that he was forthwith, at a very early age, promoted to the consulship. Several light pieces in prose and verse attested his love of literature, which he imbibed in boyhood from his preceptor, Serenus Sammonicus, whose father had accumulated a library of sixty thousand volumes, which the son inherited, and on his death bequeathed to his pupil.
No period in the annals of Rome is more embarrassed by chronological difficulties than the epoch of the two Gordians, in consequence of the obscurity, confusion, and inconsistency which characterise the narratives of the ancient historians, insomuch that we shall find six weeks, a hundred days, six months, one year, two years, and even six years, assigned by conflicting authorities as the limits of their reign, while in like manner Balbinus, with Pupienus, are variously stated to have occupied the throne for twenty-two days,--\\for three months,--for one year,--or for two years. Without attempting to point out the folly of most of these assertions, it will be sufficient to state that Eckhel has proved in the most satisfactory manner that the revolt in Africa against Maximinus must have taken place in A. D. 238, probably about the beginning of March, and that the death of the two Gordians happened in the middle of April, after a reign of six weeks, while the assassination of Balbinus and Pupienus, with the accession of the third Gordian, could not have been later than the end of the following July. Our limits do not permit us to enter into a minute investigation of these, but it may be useful to indicate the nature of the arguments which seem to establish the above conclusions :--
1. The accession of Maximinus is known to have taken place in the middle of the year A. D. 235, and copper coins are still extant issued by the senate with the usual stamp (S. C.), struck when he was tribune for the fourth time, which therefore cannot belong to an earlier date than the beginning of A. D. 238.
2. Upon receiving intelligence of the proceedings in Africa, the senate at once acknowledged the Gordians, threw down the statues of Maximinus, and declared him a public enemy. Hence it is manifest that they would issue no money bearing his effigy after these events, which must therefore belong to some period later than the beginning of A. D. 238.
3. It is known that the third Gordian was killed about the month of March, A. D. 244, and numerous coins are extant, struck in Egypt, commemorating the seventh year of his reign.
But since the Egyptians calculated the commencement of their civil year, and consequently the years of a sovereign's reign, from the 29th of August, they must have reckoned some period prior to the 29th of August, A. D. 238, as the first year of the third Gordian's reign.
Hence the elevation of the first two Gordians, their death, the death of Maximinus, the accession and death of Balbinus with Pupienus, and the accession of the third Gordian, must all have fallen between the 1st of January and the 29th of August, A. D. 238.