Gordian was the son of his namesake Marcus Antonius Gordianus, emperor Gordian I by an unknown mother. He had a sister, Antonia Gordiana, who was the mother of Gordian III. The official history of the Roman emperors provides the only account of Gordian's early career. Since his memory was cherished after his death, the information is questionable and remains unproved. According to this source, Gordian served as quaestor in Heliogabalus' reign and as praetor and consul suffect with Alexander Severus as emperor. In 237, Gordian went to the Africa Roman provinces under his father's command as a governor.
Early in 238, emperor Alexander Severus and his mother Julia Mamaea are assassinated by mutinous troops in Germania Inferior. The leader of the rebellion, Maximinus Thrax becomes emperor, despite his popular background and the disapproval of the Roman senate. Pushed by the local politicians, Gordian's father begins a revolt against Maximinus and becomes Gordian I on March 22. Due to Gordian I's advanced age, 80 years old at the time, Gordian two is attached to the imperial throne and acclaimed Gordian II. Father and son saw their pretensions ratified both by the senate and most of the other provinces, due to Maximinus' unpopularity.
The only focus of opposition, unfortunately for the Gordians, came from the neighbouring province of Numidia. Cappellianus, governor of Numidia and a loyal supporter of Maximinus Thrax, renewed his alliance to the former emperor and invaded the Africa province with several veteran legions. Gordian II gathered his troops and faced the enemies, but the battle was lost and he was killed during the fight. The news of his death induced Gordian I into suicide.
This first rebellion against Maximinus Thrax was unsuccessful but, by the end of 238, Gordian II nephew would be recognised emperor by the whole Roman world as Gordian III.
Maximinus Thrax (235 - 238)
Pupienus and Balbinus (238)