Saturday, January 09, 2010

An Antoninanus Of Gordian III

Obverse: Radiate crowned draped bust facing right.

Reverse: Pax standing left, holding an olive branch.
Inscription: PAX AVGVSTI

Silver antoninianus, Sear #2447, RIC 17.

Gordian III, M. Antonius Gordianus lasted as emperor from AD 238-244. His recent predecessors Gordian I only lasted for 21 days in 238 AD, as did Gordian II his son and co-ruler. There were a total of 6 emperors in conflict and rapid succession in 238, surpassing the famous and far better known year of The Year of Four Emperors, 69 AD. Gordian III was made emperor by the Praetorian Guards after the Praetorians killed the Emperors Balbinus and Pupienus.

The antoninianus was a replacement for the denarius, a product of the rampant inflation that occurred during the Roman Empire. The antoninianus is also referred to as a double denarius, even as it is only slightly larger than a denarius as historians have not found an agreed upon term for this coin. Given it was introduced by Caracalla (M. Aurelius Antoninianus) it is named after him. The antoninianus are distingushed easily from the slightly smaller denarius as the antoniniani always depict the emperor wearing a radiate crown.

The Antoniniani begin as good silver, and over time with inflation become silver-washed bronze coins, as we'll see later.

The coin is rather ironic proclaiming the Peace of the Emperor, as Gordian's reign did not end peacefully. Gordian III was killed while on campaign in Mesopotamia by the head of his Praetorian Guard, his Praetorian Praefect, M. Julis Phillipus.


A Conservative Teacher said...

I wonder- how much of that coin is worth something and how much of it is useless like our money?

Aaron said...

That one is pretty decent silver. I'll be posting some struck by later emperors where you can see the silver wash flecks on the bronze.