Key information:

Official Name: JULIA DOMNA AUGUSTA

Birthdate: Circa 170 CE.

Birthplace: Emesa, Syria (modern-day Homs).

(Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, 3.9) (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 79.30)

Reign: Julia Domna became empress in 193 CE, when her husband Septimius Severus won the throne in a civil war. Following his death in 211 CE, her sons Caracalla and Geta inherited the position of emperor.

(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 74.17 & 77.15)

Marriages:

Septimius Severus (187-211 CE)

(Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, 3.9) (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 77.15)

Children:

Julia Domna and Septimius Severus had two sons together. Both would serve as emperor after their father’s death.

Caracalla (188-217 CE)

(Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, 3.9 & 4.2)

Geta (189-211 CE)

(Historia Augusta, Life of Antoninus Geta, 3.1)

Death:

Julia Domna committed suicide in Antioch in 217 CE after hearing that her son, Caracalla, had been assassinated by his soldiers.

(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 79.23-24)

Head of Julia Domna, Palatine Antiquarium, Rome, April 2019
Statue of Julia Domna, Colosseum Antiquarium (Roma Universalis Exhibition), Rome, February 2019
Head of Julia Domna, NY Carlsberg Glyptothek, Copenhagen, September 2018

Famous facts and dates

187
While she was living in Emesa, Syria, an astrologer predicted that Julia Domna would marry a king. After hearing this prophecy, Septimius Severus sought her out and they married in 187 CE.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, 3.9)
Marcus Aurelius 676)
211
The marriage of Julia Domna and Septimius Severus was a happy one, lasting over twenty years. During his life, Septimius Severus gave Julia Domna several prestigious titles such as Augusta, Mater Augustus (Mother of Augustus), and Mater Castrorum (Mother of the Camp).
211
In 211 CE, Julia Domna’s youngest son, Geta, was murdered in her arms. He was killed by his older brother, Caracalla, who despised him and wanted to rule as sole emperor. After Geta’s death, Caracalla forbade his mother from mourning or shedding tears in his memory.
(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 78.2)

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Julia Domna” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 3/29/2022. https://ancientromelive.org/juliadomna/

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