When narrating how Elagabalus came to power, Cassius Dio relates an interesting series of facts involving supernatural events. According to Dio, the god Elagabal told Eutychianus, a freedman of Julia Maesa, to take her grandson Avitus Bassianus to a legionary camp to be acclaimed emperor. Later on, Elagabal ordered the emperor to adopt his cousin Bassianus Alexianus, and to call him Alexander. Dio says that this must be true, and that several other prodigies seem to confirm this version of the facts. The analysis of the historical context and a comparison between the accounts of Dio, Herodian and the Historia Augusta, however, indicate that Maesa was probably using stratagems in order to conceal her influence on Elagabalus. Both the army and the senate were, in fact, unwilling to tolerate the direct influence of imperial women in state affairs. Dio says that soon after the assassination of Caracalla at the hand of Macrinus, her sister Julia Domna had tried, in vain, to foment the soldiers against the latter. Some discontent had also started to grow when Caracalla had authorized Domna to hold public receptions in the same fashion as the emperor used to. Finally, it is likely that Dio wanted to present Alexander in the best light possible, avoiding the impression that the emperor from whom he had obtained considerable benefits had ascended the throne thanks to the schemes of his entangling grandmother.

Cassius Dio, Julia Maesa and the Omens Foretelling the Rise of Elagabalus and Severus Alexander

riccardo bertolazzi
2022

Abstract

When narrating how Elagabalus came to power, Cassius Dio relates an interesting series of facts involving supernatural events. According to Dio, the god Elagabal told Eutychianus, a freedman of Julia Maesa, to take her grandson Avitus Bassianus to a legionary camp to be acclaimed emperor. Later on, Elagabal ordered the emperor to adopt his cousin Bassianus Alexianus, and to call him Alexander. Dio says that this must be true, and that several other prodigies seem to confirm this version of the facts. The analysis of the historical context and a comparison between the accounts of Dio, Herodian and the Historia Augusta, however, indicate that Maesa was probably using stratagems in order to conceal her influence on Elagabalus. Both the army and the senate were, in fact, unwilling to tolerate the direct influence of imperial women in state affairs. Dio says that soon after the assassination of Caracalla at the hand of Macrinus, her sister Julia Domna had tried, in vain, to foment the soldiers against the latter. Some discontent had also started to grow when Caracalla had authorized Domna to hold public receptions in the same fashion as the emperor used to. Finally, it is likely that Dio wanted to present Alexander in the best light possible, avoiding the impression that the emperor from whom he had obtained considerable benefits had ascended the throne thanks to the schemes of his entangling grandmother.
978-90-04-51048-7
Cassius Dio; Elagabal; Elagabalus; Severus Alexander; Omens; Julia Maesa; Julia Mamaea
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Bertolazzi_Dio_Maesa_Omens.pdf

non disponibili

Tipologia: Documento in Post-print
Licenza: Accesso ristretto
Dimensione 318.27 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
318.27 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1060335
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact