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Old December 7th, 2012, 03:33 PM   #1

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The Greatest First Lady of Imperial Rome

Who was, in your opinion, the greatest first lady of Imperial Rome and why?

If only Octavia had been first lady... but then that would have been incest and would more than likely disqualify her from this topic.

I'd have to go with Julia Domna, wife to Septimius Severus, and mother to Caracalla and Geta. Feel, for a moment, what it must have been like living with these strong masculine personalities. I suspect Julia had the bigger balls. I see her as the glue that kept the empire functioning while the men were out defending it's borders. She was definately a strong presence in their lives and able to convince her sons not to devide the empire between them - imagine how devastating that civil war would have been! Although, eventually, Caracalla got his own way and had done with his brother, Julia seems to have favoured diplomacy over violence.

Hats off to Julia Domna!
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Old December 7th, 2012, 04:16 PM   #2

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Good question. Rome's history is littered with powerful women, so its hard to choose.

I think the woman who continues to divide opinion and is fascinating still to many, is Agripinna the Younger.

Two other particularly powerful woman being Julia Marmea; mother of Aleander Severus, and the effective ruler during his rule (Alexander being a mommies boy due to her grooming him). That being said, she was a supposed virtuous women averse to scandals.

The other women in question being Julia Soamias, the mother of his predecessor, Elegabalus. She was a woman known for her intrigues and plotting, but was a very powerful woman from a Syrian family. She was the de facto ruler during her sons infamous reign.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 04:49 PM   #3

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If the stories were true, it would be hard to argue with Livia. As they aren't, Julia Domna is the obvious choice, for the reasons you point out.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 04:51 PM   #4

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Theodora, for putting some backbone into Justinian when he was on the verge of fleeing his own capitol. And for being (supposedly) unbelievably attractive.

Or are we not counting Byzantine as Imperial Rome?
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Old December 7th, 2012, 05:08 PM   #5

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[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Women-Imperial-Rome-Mothers/dp/0415408989/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1354932640&sr=8-3"]Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars: Amazon.co.uk: Jasper Burns: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/315A4tKLgRL.@@AMEPARAM@@315A4tKLgRL[/ame]

This is an insightful book on influential Roman women, including Julia Domna and Julia Marmea. Its well worth a read, imo.

PDF version below:

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Old December 7th, 2012, 05:32 PM   #6

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Second woman of Octavian August - Livia Drusilla, without any doubt.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 05:44 PM   #7

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If the story about Ulpia Servinia ruling in her own right is correct, surely it must be her?
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Old December 7th, 2012, 11:59 PM   #8

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Originally Posted by Pacific_Victory View Post
Theodora, for putting some backbone into Justinian when he was on the verge of fleeing his own capitol. And for being (supposedly) unbelievably attractive.

Or are we not counting Byzantine as Imperial Rome?
If you are counting Theodora then i think you could call her powerful or influential , but not great .... although both her and Justinian 1 were made saints by the RC church , the secret history written by Procopius shows what he really thought of the excesses of these two ,once he did not have to write what Justinian had ordered him to write,
This secret history was found in the archives of the vatican , i wonder if they already had this copy before they made the pair saints ?
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Old December 8th, 2012, 02:24 AM   #9

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Julia Domna of course gets my vote. She was so loved that Caracalla could not find one person in all the Roman Empire who would lay any harm upon her. That is greatness that goes beyond most Emperors.

There are many women of the Roman Empire who had great influence and power over the Empire. This is a culture that dates all the way back to Etruscan civilization where women had a lot more equality than in most other civilizations.

Theodora was obviously influential and powerful, so you could argue she was great in that way, but I wouldn't doubt there were millions in her time who would love to see her and Justinian's demise. She was not great in the same way as Julia Domna.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 02:34 PM   #10

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Does Irene of Athens count, she was first citizen, and a lady. So logically she was first lady.
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