Julia Soaemias Last Coin ------------------ Next Coin Severus Alexander

Roman Empire

Ruler: Julia Maesa Grandmother of Elagabalus and Severus Alexander
Reigned: died 224 AD
Denomination: AR Denarius
Mint: Eastern mint, probably Antioch; under Elagabalus
Date of Issue: 220-222 AD
Obverse: Draped bust right. "IVLIA MAESA AVG."
Reverse: Felicitas standing front, head left, sacrificing out of patera over lighted altar and holding long caduceus. Star in right field. "SAECVLI FELICITAS"
Reference: RSC 45a RCV 2184, RCVM 7757, RIC 271
Weight: 3.4 gms
Diameter: 20 mm
Comment: Larger? star indicates this mint. The star may represent the god Elagabal. "SAECVLI FELICITAS"=Lifetime of happiness

The "Syrian Princesses" Julia Maesa, Julia Soaemias, Julia Mamaea

  • Julia Maesa, was the daughter of Julius Bassianus, priest of the Sun-god, and was born at Emesa,in Syria.She was the sister of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. She married Julius Avitus.
  • Julia Soaemias was the younger daughter of Julius Avitus and Julia Maesa, and therefore niece of Julia Domna. She was the mother of Elagabalus
  • Julia Mamaea was the eldest daughter of Julius Avitus and Julia Maesa. She was the mother of Severus Alexander
  • To place her son, Elagabalus, on the throne in place of Macrinus, Julia Soaemias and her mother, Julia Maesa, invented the story that Elagabalus was the illegitimate son of Caracalla who was murdered in 217 AD.
  • Telling this story to the troops - who still loved Caracalla - as well as paying them money, Maesa succeeded in getting them to defeat Macrinus. Thus, in 218 AD, Elagabalus became emperor.
  • Elagabalus shocked Roman society with his licentious ways, but Soaemias joined in by taking a string of lovers.
  • In 222 AD, with Elagabalus growing more and more unpopular, Julia Maesa finally decided to do away with her daughter and grandson before the army revolted.
  • She had Elagabalus adopt his thirteen year old brother, Alexianus, as his heir.
  • Although Elagabalus gave Alexianus some power, he grew suspicious of him and planned to have him murdered.
  • The Praetorian Guard, who liked Alexianus, got wind of the plot and invited the boy, his mother Mamaea, and grandmother Maesa to the safety of their camp. The worried Elagabalus cut a deal.
  • Later Elagabalus had second thoughts and once more planned to kill his brother, but this time the Praetorian Guard had had enough. They proclaimed Alexianus emperor as Severus Alexander.
  • They searched the palace for Elagabalus and found him and Julia Soaemias in each others' arms hiding in a palace privy. They were killed and their corpses dragged through the streets and thrown into the Tiber. (208 AD)
  • Julia Maesa and Julia Mamaea became Alexander's co-regents.
  • Julia Maesa died c. 223-5 AD.

Back to main page

R15150