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Julia Domna coins Roman Imperial catalog

Empress Julia Domna (170?-211), wife of Septimius Severus

Julia was born in Emessa (now Homs), Syria. The nickname Domna is a deformed translation of the Aramaic name Martha, meaning mistress. Her sister also Julia bore the nickname Meza. Their father, Julius Bassianus, was a hereditary priest of the Syrian god Elagabalus (literally "Master of the Mountain"). By mountain was meant a black cone-shaped stone (or the mountain from which it broke off), to which sacrifices were offered. Apparently, it was a meteorite, as legends said that it fell from the sky.
The name of the god seemed to the Greeks similar to Helios, so they identified Elagabalus with the sun god, and later the name was transformed into Heliogabalus.

Julius Bassianus was a Roman citizen (as is clear from his name), and his priestly position indicates that he belonged to the local aristocracy. So Julia Domna was from the Syrian (but Hellenized) family of the Roman citizens who have kept loyalty to local gods that, however, Rome in any way did not censure. Romans in general considered all gods, including foreign gods, existing, and readily introduced new deities into their pantheon.

The future husband of Julia Domna Septimius Severus, on the father belonged to aristocracy of Libyan city Leptus Magna and apparently had Semitic roots. The mother's family was from Italy. Thanks to wealth and family connections (two members of this family were already senators) Septimius Severus moved up quickly. From 182 he commanded a legion stationed in Syria, where he probably met Julia Domna. Septimius Severus was already married to Pacchia Martianus, but she soon died.

In 185, Septimius Severus became governor of Lugdunian Gaul, and in 187 he married Julia Domna. Lugdunum (now Lyon) is not close to Syria and organizing this marriage took a lot of effort. Apparently, at the previous meeting, the girl made an indelible impression on Sever. However, contemporaries not inclined to romanticism believed that it was all about astrology. Allegedly, according to calculations, it was Domna who was ideal for their boss. In general, the marriage was arranged by the stars. At that time this was extremely important.
Well, the dowry for the daughter of such an important dignitary must have been extraordinary.

Julia Domna was about 15 years old, Septimius Severus was forty. In 186 or 187 the child Lucius Septimius Bassian was born. As is easy to see, he was given family names on both his father’s and mother’s sides, but in history this boy is known under the nickname Caracalla. The second son was born in 189, he was named Geta in honor of his paternal uncle.

In 189 Septimius Severus became governor of Sicily, in 190 consul, in 191 - governor of Upper Pannonia. Having received news of the murder of Pertinax in Rome, the legionnaires refused to obey Didius Julian, who literally bought the title, and proclaimed Septimius Severus emperor. The Senate recognized him and Julia Domna became Augusta.

In 202, Caracalla married Plautilla, daughter of the praetorian prefect Plautius, who was an enemy of Domna. He spread dirty rumors about her and tried to extort testimony from her servants, and she turned Caracalla against her father-in-law, who was the most powerful man in Rome after the emperor, but, precisely because of this, was vulnerable, since he considered himself almost equal to Septimius Severus . The fight continued for more than two years.

Finally, on January 22, 205, at an audience with the emperor, Caracalla accused Plautius of preparing a coup d'etat, tore off his cloak and, pointing to the shell that was on the cloak, declared it proof of the prefect's infidelity. The imperial guards immediately killed Plautius. His son and daughter were exiled.

In 208, the entire imperial family went to Britain, where the presence of the emperor was required to bring the local tribes into submission. On February 4, 211, Septimius Severus died at Eburacum (today York).

Caracalla and Geta did not like each other and this dislike eventually turned into mutual hatred. The problem was aggravated by the fact that the state, in fact, had dual power - both sons of Septimius Severus ruled together. It turned out so badly that there was even a project to divide the empire between them. But this did not last long, since Caraclla turned out to be more decisive and, remembering the successful ending of the story with Plautius, announced an allegedly impending conspiracy and ordered the officers to kill Geta.

Julia Domna naturally tried to reason with Caracalla, but in the end she came to terms with what had happened and actively participated in her son’s campaigns, managing the correspondence, so that he always mentioned her with the greatest respect in his letters to the Senate. At the same time, Cassius Dio claims that she never forgave her son and secretly hated her. In 217, Caracalla was killed in a battle with the Parthians and the praetorian prefect Macrinius became emperor.

Julia Domna tried to commit suicide, as they said, out of despair, in anticipation of being deprived of honors and privileges. Macrinius reassured her, assuring her that everything would remain the same. She, however, intrigued against the new emperor, and when she did not achieve success, she decided to starve herself to death. It is not known for certain what she died from, but most likely not from hunger, but from breast cancer, which she had suffered from for a long time. The Senate deified her.



coin Roman Empire Julia Domna denarius

denarius 199-207
18 mm.
Draped bust right / Julia Augusta
Pietas standing left, holds hands over the altar / Pietas of the people
Value - $70-90







Coins of Julia Domna in the catalog are presented divided by historical periods, indicating the main characteristics and differences by type.
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