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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Facts About Julia Domna

Septimius Severus was connected with a family of remarkable Syrian women through the marriage to Julia Domna. Their family had actively pursued a leading role in Imperial politics.  Julia Domna, and her sister, Julia Maesa, were well educated, shrewd, and tough. Their father was the high priest of the sun god Elagabalus (Heliogabalus) at the Arabian city of Emesa in Syria. They were accustomed to power and influence. Julia Domna was very interested in philosophy and religion and patronized pagan sophists.

Julia Domna had enjoyed great influence at the beginning of Septimius Severus’ reign but had been outflanked for a time by the ambitious Praetorian Prefect Plautianus and had devoted herself to creating a circle of influential academics and scholars. She was able to recover her former strength after the fall of Plautianus, to which she had probably contributed through Caracalla, and she had accompanied Septimius Severus to Britain in AD 2081.

After Septimius Severus’ death, Julia Domna had tried to promote the interests of her son, Geta, but failing to prevent his murder, Julia Domna had made the best of it with Caracalla. She accompanied Caracalla to Antioch on his Parthian expedition in AD 215 and died there soon after his assassination from breast cancer. Evidently, however, Caracalla's mother Julia Domna was initially left in peace, but when Julia Domna started to conspire with the military he ordered her to leave Antioch. Macrinus then forced her sister, Maesa, to retire to Syria.

Women of prominent families received more public recognition as patronesses of their communities in Roman Africa than anywhere else in the Empire2.   Septimius Severus had given great public prominence, as Caligula had done with his sisters, to Julia Domna, perhaps because of his own Punic descent form North Africa.

Domna’s likeness was portrayed on several coins portraying her as Great Mother Cybele. On others, she is seated on a throne of Juno, Mother of the Augusti, Mother of the Senate, or Mother of the Fatherland.

  1. Allen M Ward, Fritz M Heichelheim, and Cedric A Yeo, A History of the Roman People, (Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2010) 377.
  2. Ibid, p 393.

1 Comment:

A Mom said...

interesting contents! have a great day!

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