Roman Empire, Julia Domna, +218, AR Denarius
Obv.: Drap. bust r.
Rev.: Diana standing left
Julia Domna († 217 in Antioch)
She was the second wife of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (193-211) and the mother of the emperors Caracalla (211-217) and Geta (co-ruler 211).
Julia Domna came from Syria. After the death of her husband, she was unable to prevent the power struggle between her two sons.
Caracalla used her willingness to mediate to lure his brother into a trap; during a pretended reconciliation meeting he had Geta murdered in Julia's presence. Under Caracalla's subsequent autocratic rule she continued to be highly honoured; even during her lifetime she was worshipped like a goddess.
The name Domna is of Semitic origin. Its correspondence with the Latin word dom(i)na (mistress) is coincidental; it is not, as was previously assumed, a Latinisation of the Aramaic name Martha ("mistress").
Julia was very open to spiritual life. Already during her husband's lifetime, a circle of literati and philosophically interested people formed around her. Among them was the writer Flavius Philostratos, who wrote a biography of the neo-Pythagorean philosopher Apollonios of Tyana, which according to his information was done at Julia's request. However, he did not complete the novel-like work until after her death. Philostratos described the empress as a philosopher and mentioned that she appreciated and promoted rhetorical activity and attached particular importance to a cultivated literary style.
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