Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. 193-217 AD. Rome, c. 211-215 AD

Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. 193-217 AD. Rome, c. 211-215 AD


AR Antoninianus, 5.24g (22mm, 1h). Diademed and draped bust right set on crescent / Luna driving biga left. LVNA LVCIFERA around.

References: RIC IV 379a (Caracalla). RSC 106

Grade: Slight weak strike on reverse but wonderful large flan with great details, particularly on the obverse. EF (re1080)

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Julia Domna is likely one of the more revered and celebrated of all Roman empresses. The wife of the African born Septimius Severus, Julia Domna, had by all accounts a successful and happy marriage. She was born in Emessa in modern day Syria into a priestly family. Julia bore Septimius two sons, the brother emperors Caracalla and Geta. Unlike many other Roman wives, Julia traveled extensively with Septimius and was well liked by the soldiers often being referred to as “mother of the camp”. After Septimius died in 211 AD his wishes were that his two sons jointly reign. Unfortunately the brothers were always at odds and continually fought. Eventually Caracalla, the stronger of the two, had his brother murdered and reigned on his own. Despite this devastation, Julia Domna continued to support the Severan dynasty through the reign of her son. Caracalla was well liked by the soldiers but otherwise was a brutal and savage man. He likened himself as the reincarnation of Alexander the Great and mimicked many of the events of the Greek hero’s life. Eventually his vicious actions resulted in his murder. Julia Domna reacted by committing suicide. It was rumored that she suffered from breast cancer so she could have killed herself as a result of this or the other suggestion that she didn’t want to return to civilian life.