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Contents

  1. Julia the Elder - Wikipedia
  2. Oh no, there's been an error
  3. Accessibility links

Their two eldest sons were adopted by Augustus in 17 bc and given the names Gaius and Lucius Caesar. It was an unwanted and unhappy marriage for both of them. After an infant son by Julia perished in 6 bc , Tiberius went into voluntary exile, leaving Julia in Rome. Julia was accused of leading a promiscuous life, her adulteries becoming common knowledge in Rome. Finally Augustus discovered how Julia was behaving. After threatening her with death, he banished her to Pandataria, an island off the coast of Campania , in 2 bc.

In ad 4 she was moved to Rhegium. Upon becoming emperor, Tiberius withheld her allowance, and Julia eventually died of malnutrition. You are using an outdated browser. Some of the ancient sources claim that she missed the exercise of power and influence, and it probably is true that she did not mourn Caracalla as a beloved son. Nonetheless, Domna must have seen in his death the destruction of the hopes of many, including the hope for continued peace and stability.

Undoubtedly victim to bitterness and depression described in the sources, she was also afflicted with breast cancer. Refusing food, she starved herself to death. Her sister Julia Maesa was by then a wealthy widow. Her husband's career and fortune had prospered with his brother-in-law's elevation to rule, and her grandson, Bassianus, later called Elagabalus, had inherited his grand-father's position of high priest of Baal.

As his grandmother, Maesa could therefore draw on the ages-old treasury of the great temple. Why should a nobody like Macrinus be allowed to usurp the imperial power? She knew that Caracalla had been popular with the troops in the region. Maesa began spreading rumors that her widowed daughter Julia Soaemias had had an affair with Caracalla, and that her son Elagabalus was also Caracalla's natural son. Helping the cause of such rumors, Macrinus proceeded to alienate senate, people, and army in a series of errors.

Maesa next enlisted Gannys, Elagabalus's tutor and Soaemias's long-time lover, in her scheme. Maesa, Gannys, Soaemias, Elagabalus, Maesa's other daughter Julia Mammaea, and her small son Alexianus all entered a camp of a friendly legion and were effusively welcomed. Though Mammaea's husband was caught on his way and killed by Macrinus's forces, the soldiers proved unwilling to enthusiastically fight other Romans in his name.

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The young Elagabalus did in fact resemble Caracalla and, having been togged out to strengthen the resemblance, his appearance won over many. In the final confrontation on the battlefield, a determined charge by the Praetorian Guard almost broke the ranks of Maesa's forces, but she and Soaemias jumped down from their chariot in the rear and ran forward to rally the men to stand their ground.

When Macrinus's troops discovered that he had fled the scene, they promptly changed sides, and the war was won. Elagabalus, however, was not mature enough to be emperor, and his first impression on the Romans was disastrous. Maesa could stage rebellions, finance and stage-manage ceremonies to impress and win popular support, but she could not get her rebellious adolescent grandson to wear his toga. Having earlier lived with her sister in Rome, Maesa knew that Elagabalus's heavily made-up face and exotic priestly garb would strike the Romans as combining the worst of effeminacy and eccentricity.

But she simply could not convince him that a Roman emperor should look Roman. Thumbing his nose at his grandmother, Elagabalus had a high-camp portrait done and sent it to Rome with instructions that it be hung in the senate.

Julia the Elder - Wikipedia

Finally, Gannys was stabbed to death by guards during an argument with Elagabalus. What should have been a triumphant entrance into Rome was significantly tarnished as a result of Elagabalus's outrageous conduct. The sources do not record that Soaemias shared her mother's disquiet nor that she joined Maesa in trying to get Elagabalus to behave with some propriety. Presumably she did not know Rome or Romans as well, or perhaps the ancient sources assessed her correctly as the most flighty member of the family.

Sill, Roman government continued essentially unaffected since it was Maesa who went into the senate, not Elagabalus, who took no interest in anything except Baal and debauchery. Nonetheless, he still threw money around, was generally offensive, and engaged in open corruption with the distribution of horrors and offices. Knowing perfectly well how many emperors had been assassinated in the previous half-century, and what had happened to their families, Maesa must have been quick to see the solution close at hand.

Mammaea's son Alexianus was a precocious little boy who honored his grandmother and mother. Like her aunt Julia Domna, Mammaea was more philosophically inclined and more interested in providing good government than her sister Julia Soaemias. Although some have believed that Maesa hoped Elagabalus could peacefully be persuaded to resign in favor of Alexianus, so that he could devote himself exclusively to his priesthood and sensuality, she almost certainly decided early that Elagabalus would have to be removed.


  1. Strategy (Chapter 2) (Creating Effective Organizations).
  2. Background!
  3. The Almost Truth.

Rumors were spread that Alexianus too was Caracalla's natural son. Elagabalus, however, was not stupid and knew that once he adopted Alexianus as his grandmother wished, he was expendable. Maesa argued that his almost exclusive homosexuality made it vital for him to adopt an heir to provide for succession, but Elagabalus kept putting it off. Finally, liking and trusting Alexianus as much as everyone else, Elagabalus gave in and adopted him. Then, growing uneasy, he started trying to promote his mother politically, presumably as a counterweight to his grandmother.

He sent Alexianus's tutor, the distinguished legal scholar Ulpian, into exile, an action which only cost him more credibility with the senate, as did an abortive assassination plot against Alexianus. All too late, Soaemias began telling her son to appear for ceremonies appropriately garbed in a toga. She could not, however, make him act with dignity when he got there. The Praetorian Guard became convinced, perhaps correctly, that there was another attempt under way against Alexianus.

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Modern historians have taken positions ranging from the belief that Elagabalus's ensuing murder at the hands of the Praetorian Guard was a shock to Maesa, who had hoped to prevent it, to the assertion that she had planned all along to eliminate both mother and son. The truth is likely in between. Maesa might well have considered Elagabalus unsalvageable but hoped to get Soaemias out of the predicament. Dio, however, blamed her daughter Mammaea for the final riot in the Praetorian camp in , claiming that she had become openly hostile to her sister Soaemias.

In any case, Soaemias did not run; on the contrary, she tried shielding her son with her body and died with him. Their corpses were stripped and dragged through the streets. Mammaea was certainly a different kind of woman than her sister had been. Whereas Soaemias had acquired a shady reputation—although it may well have been exaggerated—Mammaea was known as puritanical.

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She had always wanted to acquire the best tutors for Alexianus, now Alexander Severus, but after the adoption she had been openly grooming him to be a philosopher king, of the sort Plato wanted to produce. At 13 he had been taught to maintain a dignified public bearing in deliberate contrast with the appearance of his cousin. Though the senate confirmed him, it exacted its price from Maesa and Mammaea. Women could no longer enter the senate. This would make him a more legitimate candidate for emperor than was Macrinus.

Julia Maesa helped overthrow Macrinus and install Julia Soaemias' son as emperor. His second marriage to a Vestal Virgin outraged many in Rome. Julia Maesa forced her grandson Elagabalus to adopt his nephew, Alexander, as his son and heir, and Elagabalus was then murdered in Julia Maesa ruled as regent with her daughter Julia Mamaea during Alexander's reign, until her death in or After Julia Maesa died, she was deified, as her sister had been.

Her fate was tied to that of her unpopular son, who worked to bring Syrian gods to Rome. She was born and raised in Emesa, Syria, where her grandfather Bassianus was the high priest of Emesa's patron god, the sun god Heliogabalus or Elagabal. When Septimius Severus, husband of her maternal aunt, was killed while at war in Britain, Macrinus became the emperor, and Julia Soaemias and her family returned to Syria. With Elagabalus focusing mainly on religious issues, Julia Soaemias took over most of the administration of the empire.

Unlike her mother and aunt, both of whom were deified on their deaths, Julia Soaemias' name was erased from public records, and she was declared an enemy of Rome. His behavior in fighting enemies led to a rebellion, with dire consequences for both Julia and Alexander. Julia Mamaea was born and raised in Emesa, Syria, where her grandfather Bassianus was the high priest of Emesa's patron god, the sun god Heliogabalus or Elagabal.


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When Elagabalus and her sister Julia Soaemias were murdered in 22, Julia Mamaea joined her mother, Julia Maesa, as regents for Alexander, then 13 years old. She traveled with her son on his military campaigns.