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Thread: Julia Domna

  1. #1
    Della Rovere's Avatar الله مع الجيش
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    Default Julia Domna

    Hello i wanted to write a small article about Julia Domna because i'm intrigued by her and because there's little known about her. Enjoy!!

    The life of Julia Domna



    Julia Domna born in Emesa (modern Homs in Syria) is thought to be born in 170 AD and to have an Arab descent. Julia was the youngest daughter of the hight priest Julius Bassianus who served as a high priest for a sun temple. Julia also had an elder sister named Julia Maesa According to some sources Julia Bassianus was a member of the royal family of Emesa also know as Emesani dynasty or the sampsiceramids. Julia's family was due to its high standing likely to to be a very wealthy family and was promoted to the roman senatorial aristocracy because of the family's large influence as according to some sources the Emesani dynasty had members who had been governor several times over the city of Emesa (Homs). At a certain point in history Julia inherited her great uncle's (Julius Agrippa, who served as a centurion in the roman army) estate after he died due to unknow reasons.

    Julia when she was sixteen years old met most likely for the first time with Septimus Severus who recently had lost his first wife Paccia Marciana, Septimus now in his forties and still childless was eager to remarry. After Marciana's decease Septimus began to enquire into the horoscopes of prospective brides. According to the Historia Augusta Septimus heard of a Syrian woman who would marry an emperor in the future. This prompted Septimus to visit Syria to find his future bride. Once in Syria Julia's father Julius Bassianus introduced his two daughters Julia Maesa and Julia Domna. Julia Domna's sister Maesa was already married to a syrian nobleman and was therefore unavailable for the Emperor. Julia Domna was not yet married and shortly afterwars Septimus made a proposal to Julia's father to marry his youngest daughter. And in early 187 Julius Bassianus accepted the proposal, in the same year Julia finally married Septimus and so Julia became empress of the Roman empire.

    The marriage proved to be a happy one and Septimus cherished his wife and her political opinion since she was a very educated lady. As empress Julia Domna was a patron of learning surrounded herself with philosphers, writers and artists. According to a source Julia appeared to be interested in the phytagoreans and it is said that she commisioned Philostratus to write the biography of Apollonius of Tyana, a phytagorean philosopher. However Julia apparently never lost her interest in ancient ways of wisdom. Julia mastered also astrology what was a part of the way to wisdom and it held a powerful influence on people's lives. Due to her interests as written above she protected philosophers and helped philosophy to flourish in Rome.

    However one year after the marriage with Severus she bore her first son named Caracalla and in the next year she bore another son named Geta, thus she provided her husband severus with children and a heir. When Septimus Severus had been appointed Augustus (emperor) of the Roman by the Senate she received the title of Augusta (Empress) However Septimus faced a civil war and had to face Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus. When Severus launched his campaigns against those two usurpers in the east Julia accompanied her husband in his campaigns meaning the love was strong between the couple as this was an uncommon event in a time when women were expected to wait in Rome for their husbands to return to Rome. Nevertheless she remained with the emperor and among several proof of affection and love are the minting of several coins and received the title of Mater Castrorum (Mother of the Camp)

    As empress Julia had been several times accussed of treason and adultery which none of those two have been proven to be true. Severus continued to favour her as wife and during his Campaign against the Britons she accompanied her husband once again. An interesting story from around this time is when Julia criticised the sexual morals of the caledonian women, the wife of the Caledonian chieg replied to following to Julia : ''We fullfill the demands of nature in a much better way than you do Roman woman, for we consort openly with the best men, whereas you let yourselves be debauched in secret by the vilest''. When Severus campaign was cut short he fell fatally ill and withdrew to Eburacem (York) where he later died. Once she returned to Rome the senate granted her new honorific titles such as Mater Senatus (mother of the senate) and Mater Patriae (mother of the fatherland)

    Caracalla and Geta succeeded Severus as co-emperors. It appeared that Caracalla and Geta were not fond of eachother and frequently quarrelled with eachother. Julia served as mediator between the two brothers. At a certain point the two brothers deceided to divide the empire in two parts, while planning and announcing this many kept their eye's fixed on the ground except for Julia who cried out :

    ''Earth and sea, my children, you have found a way to divide , as you say, the propontic gulf separates the continents. But your mother , how would you parcel her? How am i , Unhappy , wretched - how am i to be torn and ripped asunder for the pair of you? Kill me first, and after you have claimed your share let each one perform the funeral rites for his proportion. Thus would I too,togheter with sea and earth, be partioned between you''

    After saying this , amid tears and lamentations, Julia streched out her hands and , clapsing them both in her arms, tried to reconcile them. And with all pitying her , the meeting adjourned and the project was abandoned. In the following years the broters hate for eachhother even increased and constantly plotted against eachother. Caracally plotted an evil act, he invited his mother to mediate once again between him and and his brother Geta, once arrived and all in the same room Caracalla murdered his own brother in the arms of his mother and by this act he killed his mother psysically, while Geta, drenched in his blood, fatally wounded and dying in the arms of his mother, Caracalla ran away and claimed he escaped from a plot from Geta and proclaimed himself emperor. Caracalla was now sole emperor.

    Tensions rose between Julia and her son Caracalla and the relations continued to stay difficult probably due to his involvment in Geta's murder which Julia griefed long time for. Nevertheless she accompanied Caracalla on his campaign against the Parthians. However while she returned to Syria Caracalla had been murdered by Macrinus. Once she received this message she tried to commit suicide but Macrinus prevented this by saying that she was able to hold her titles. However despite this gesture she began to plot again the new emperor, when Macrinus heard of these plans she was forced to go back to Rome with the ash of her son, once she arrived in Rome she committed suicide by going on a hunger strike as she was in despair because she lost bother her sons and her husband.

    Her body was brought to Sepulcrum C et L. Ceasaris, later, however , both her bones and those of her youngest son Geta were transferred by her sister Julia Maesa to the mausoleum of Hadrian, she would later be deified.


    Last edited by Della Rovere; January 17, 2015 at 04:15 PM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Julia Domna

    Good writing.

    Great Syrian and one of the greatest woman of ancient times. It is nice to read that she prevented an early (temporally) split of the empire.
    I still wonder if she went on campaign because she loved Severus or he wanted to keep an eye on her. Sadly her life ended up in despair It started out perfect..
    454-480 Western Roman Politics (Article)
    There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. - W. Shakespeare
    We (...) have converted the miracles of science into a chamber of horrors -R. Hull

    USA knew how to gain a victory, but not how to use it - F.J. Nepos
    You will be ruled by either a crown, a clown, or a crook, and democracy assures that you won't get the first one.



  3. #3
    Cyrene's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: Julia Domna

    Yes this is wonderful effort, thanks for the read, i didn't know she commissioned the writing of Apollonius' Biography, without her we would know almost nothing about him, she was very important indeed, +rep.

    Good Fortune to the government!
    Good Fortune to the government!
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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Julia Domna

    A very tragic end for one of Rome's most prominent and notable empresses. For that matter, she's easily one of the important Syrian women in history. Thank you for posting her bio here. She is certainly worthy of it. I actually learned a few things about her that I didn't know before.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Julia Domna

    That was a good read. +rep
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MareNostrum

  6. #6
    Della Rovere's Avatar الله مع الجيش
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    Default Re: Julia Domna

    Quote Originally Posted by TWmodding View Post
    Good writing.

    Great Syrian and one of the greatest woman of ancient times. It is nice to read that she prevented an early (temporally) split of the empire.
    I still wonder if she went on campaign because she loved Severus or he wanted to keep an eye on her. Sadly her life ended up in despair It started out perfect..
    They way how i interpret is that Severus wanted her to be on his side more out of love, afterall the marriage proved to be a happy one. However we will never know this 100% sure.

    It's such a shame we don't know more about her.
    Les barricades mystÚrieuses (4:30-7:30) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6xulWdqcgE
    "Se io potessi scrivere tutto, farei stupire il mondo"
    -Caterina Sforza

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    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
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    Default Re: Julia Domna

    I read this now and I really enjoyed it. It is definitely better than the Wikipedia article too.
    Since I have a limited knowledge of the late period in Roman Empire history it was refreshing to read something like this.
    So I actually learned quite a bit. My impression is that she was one of the most important and celebrated women in Roman history.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

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    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: Julia Domna

    You told us the fascinating and sad tale of another time, when there was not Western Europe, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, North Africa and so on, there was just a large place, around a large Sea and that place was Roma and an Arab Lady was Roma and Roma was that Arab Lady; in that Ancient Age there were not the divisions which today are poisoning and killing the hope in a common future for the peoples living around the Mediterannean waters, in those days that sea was the Mare Nostrum, the 'sea of our', of Julia and of Roma, because Julia was Roma, indeed She was the 'Mater Patriae', that is, the 'Mother of the Fatherland'; Julia, as perhaps Rome, is not to blame for the madness of her children; to us today remains her memory along with an infinite melancholy for that Golden Age.

    Julia Mesa, Julia Domna, Julia Avita Mamea, Julia Soeamia Bassiana, many and powerful were the women belonging to the family of Julia Domna. Probably after the death of Severus there is really the beginning of the Great Crisis. Tragic characters, living in a tragic time, almost living-emblems of what would have been in the tragic years following the death of Severus. Your work is good even because you have chosen a key character in a key age for Rome, Julia Domna's death is the 'non plus ultra line' for the Roman Empire, all in all the life of Julia was the turning point of the Empire of Rome, between the 'Golden Age' of the Empire and the 'Iron Age' of the crisis, her death was also the death of Rome as Augustus had thought Her, then, nothing was anymore as before.

    Congrats and thanks for this precious and interesting work.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Julia Domna

    ^ If someone would write a romantic book on Julia Domna put this on the back of the book
    +rep
    454-480 Western Roman Politics (Article)
    There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. - W. Shakespeare
    We (...) have converted the miracles of science into a chamber of horrors -R. Hull

    USA knew how to gain a victory, but not how to use it - F.J. Nepos
    You will be ruled by either a crown, a clown, or a crook, and democracy assures that you won't get the first one.



  10. #10
    Della Rovere's Avatar الله مع الجيش
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    Default Re: Julia Domna

    Thank you for your kind comments friends, i do appreciate it

    I'm going to provide more articles about Roman women in the VV. So stay tuned friends!
    Les barricades mystÚrieuses (4:30-7:30) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6xulWdqcgE
    "Se io potessi scrivere tutto, farei stupire il mondo"
    -Caterina Sforza

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