The distinguishing feature between coins of Gordian I and Gordian II (since the obverse legends are the same on the coinage of both emperors) is that the latter has a receding hair line and is always portrayed bald in front of his laurel wreath.
The eldest of the three Gordiani, Gordian I served for just 21 days as emperor along with his son, Gordian II, during the tumultuous year of 238–the year of six emperors. Forces loyal to the Gordiani in Africa threw their support to the elder Gordian, anointing him as emperor in opposition to emperor Maximinus Thrax. This rule was extremely short lived, however, as forces loyal to Maximinus countered his move and defeated him, with Gordian I committing suicide following the murder of Gordian II. Gordian III, grandson of Gordian I and nephew of Gordian II, would eventually be proclaimed as the final emperor of the year following the unsuccessful reigns, also in revolt against Maximinus, of Pupienus and Balbinus, senators appointed to the purple as a result of the deaths of the elder Gordiani.
Bust of Gordian I, laureate, draped and cuirassed, right
IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AFR AVG
Virtus standing left, holding reversed spear and resting right hand on shield; amphora with two laurel branches at sides in exergue
VIRTVS AVGG, S-C across
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