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513781
513781.

Julia Soaemias. Augusta, AD 218-222. AR Denarius (17mm, 3.91 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Elagabalus, AD 218-220. Draped bust right, hair drawn back into loose chignon at nape / Venus Caelestis seated left, holding apple and scepter; to left, child standing right, raising hands. RIC IV 243 (Elagabalus); Thirion 388; RSC 14. Lightly toned, traces of deposits. EF. Wonderful portrait.


Julia Soaemias, daughter of Julia Maesa, married the Roman Senator Sextus Varius Marcellus and gave him two sons, one of them who ascended the throne as the now-infamous emperor Elagabalus. To restore the dynasty, Julia Maesa promulgated the fiction that Soaemias had slept with her cousin Caracalla and thus Elagabalus was his son. Soaemias seems not to have minded this slur on her character; indeed she seems to have been of a rather profligate nature and encouraged some of her son’s wilder palace antics. Like Maesa, she was acclaimed as Augusta, but her coins are considerably scarcer and she may not have been granted the title until a year or two into her son’s reign. She is said to have established and headed up a “Women’s Senate” that debated subjects like court etiquette, proper fashion, sumptuary laws and popular entertainment. She was murdered along with her son in the Praetorian revolt of 11 March AD 222, and her mutilated corpse cast into the Tiber along with his.