Julia Soaemias

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Roman imperial dynasties
Severan dynasty
Denarius-Julia Soaemias-RIC 0237.jpg
Julia Soaemias, on a coin celebrating Juno Regina
Septimius Severus 193198
—with Caracalla 198209
—with Caracalla and Geta 209211
Caracalla and Geta 211211
Caracalla 211217
Interlude: Macrinus 217218
Elagabalus 218222
Alexander Severus 222235
Severan dynasty family tree
All biographies
Preceded by
Year of the Five Emperors
Followed by
Crisis of the Third Century

Julia Soaemias Bassiana (180 – March 11, 222) was a Syrian noblewoman and the mother of Roman emperor Elagabalus who ruled over the Roman Empire during her son's reign.

Julia was the first daughter of the powerful Syrian Roman noblewoman Julia Maesa and her husband, the Syrian noble and Roman politician Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus. Julia's younger sister was Julia Avita Mamaea. She was born and raised in Emesa, Syria and through her mother was related to the Royal family of Emesa. Her maternal aunt was the Roman empress Julia Domna and her maternal uncle-in-marriage was the Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus.

Julia’s husband was the Syrian Roman Equestrian and Politician Sextus Varius Marcellus. As members of the imperial Roman family of the Severan dynasty, they lived in Rome. Julia bore Marcellus two children: one son whose name is unknown and another son called Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus, who became the Roman emperor Elagabalus. Her husband died in c.215, during his time as Roman governor in Numidia.

In 217, her maternal cousin the Roman emperor Caracalla was killed and Macrinus ascended to the imperial throne. Her family was allowed to return to Syria with the whole of their financial assets. They would not allow the usurper to stand unopposed. Together with her mother, Julia plotted to replace Macrinus with her second son, Bassianus. To legitimise this plot, Julia and her mother spread the rumour that the thirteen-year-old boy was Caracalla's illegitimate son. In 218 Macrinus was killed and Bassianus became emperor with the name of Elagabalus.

Julia became the de facto ruler of Rome, since the teenaged emperor was concerned mainly with religious matters. Their rule was not popular, and soon discontent arose, mainly because of the strange sexual behaviour and the Eastern religious practices of Elagabalus. Julia and Elagabalus were killed by the Praetorian Guard in 222. Julia was later declared a public enemy and her name erased from all records.

See also


Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Julius Capitolinus, Opellius Macrinus ix; Aelius Lampridius, Antoninus Heliogabalus i-ii, iv, xvii-xviii.

External links

Media related to Iulia Soaemias at Wikimedia Commons