Julia Domna

The death of Septimius Severus. February 4, 211.

By 210, Septimius Severus‘ campaigning had made significant gains in Britain, despite Caledonian guerrilla tactics and heavy Roman casualties. The Caledonians sued for peace, which Severus granted on condition they gave up control of the Central Lowlands. The Caledonians, short on supplies and feeling their position was becoming desperate, revolted later that year along with the Maeatae. Severus prepared for another protracted campaign within Caledonia. He was now intent on exterminating the Caledonians, telling his soldiers: “Let no-one escape sheer destruction, no-one our hands, not even the babe in the womb of the mother, if it be male; let it nevertheless not escape sheer destruction”. Severus’ campaign was cut short when he fell fatally ill. He withdrew to Eboracum a...

Elagabalus – May 16, 218 AD

Upon the assassination of Caracalla in April 217, the Praetorian Prefect, Marcus Opellius Macrinus became the next Roman emperor. To help protect himself and his family, Macrinus exiled the remaining members of the Severan dynasty to their estate in Syria, except Julia Domna, who was forced to stay in Rome, where she starved herself to death. When they arrived in Emesa, Julia Maesa, the grandmother, began plotting with Gannys, the tutor of her eldest grandson, Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus, to overthrow Macrinus and his son Marcus Opellius Diadumenianus. Bassianus was born the son of Sextus Varius Marcellus and Julia Soaemias Bassiana in c.203. As part of the plot with Maesa, Soaemias claimed Bassianus was actually the illegitimate son of her cousin, former emperor Caracalla. Being the el...

Family Ties – June 8, 218 AD

Marcus Opellius Macrinus was born c.165 AD in Mauretania-Caesarea to parents in the Roman equestrian class. His education allowed him to eventually join the senatorial class. He was a respected lawyer and enjoyed becoming an important bureaucrat under Septimius Severus. Under Caracalla, he was appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard. Caracalla clearly trusted Macrinus to a great extent, but began to make changes when it was rumored a prophesy told that Macrinus would depose the emperor and take the position for himself. Caracalla reassigned some of the staff of Macrinus, but must not have been aware of the full prophecy, since Macrinus still held his position. In 217, Caracalla, Macrinus and the Praetorian Guard were in the eastern provinces, preparing to campaign against the Parthians. ...

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