Powerful Women Who Met Tragic Ends Posted by on Oct 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Being a powerful woman in Ancient Rome did have its perks, but it also had its perils. Here are some of the harrowing stories of women in positions of power that have met a terrible end :

Julia Soaemias Bassiana was the mother of Emperor Elagabalus. Although Elagabalus was the emperor, he was still a teenager, so his mother was the ‘real’ ruler. Julia was brutal. In order to secure the throne for her son, Julia plotted the demise of former Emperor Marcus Opellius Macrinus. Both mother and son were despised by the public. Julia was eventually killed by the Praetorian Guard, and so was her son.

When Elagabalus died, Julia Avita Mamaea’s son Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander became emperor. Since Alexander was still young, Julia ruled on his behalf. Julia was a domineering mother and Empress. She reversed nearly all of Elagabalus’s policies and kicked her daughter-in-law Barbia Orbiana out of the palace. She was eventually beheaded when the Praetorian Guard betrayed her to follow someone else.

Bruttia Crispina was the wife of Emperor Commodus. She was politically framed for adultery and exiled to the island of Capri. In Capri, she was executed. Crispina is one of the many tragic examples of how Empresses were easily disposed of in Ancient Rome. The position of empress did not guarantee absolute security, life or fortune. This was unfortunately true in Crispina’s case.

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  1. LiZ:

    Basically being a woman just sucks! And never more so than in ancient times! Women were chattel, they held no power, right to vote or own property. They were themselves property of men! The only two options available to them as currency of power were either to be beautiful ( but also clever! Or it could go badly against them anyway) or use a man to get what the want! Sadly those two options still remain their most sought after and chosen ones even today!

  2. ted:

    Wow, LiZ. You’ve been taking your Women’s Studies course a little too seriously.