Posted by: ken98 | September 30, 2009

A Mother and her Sons – Julia Domna, Caracalla, and Geta

Day 16 – Ken here

(continued apology) and yes, I’m posting this very late – I was out of town, but kept up with the reading – sans-blogging – so I apologize.

Caracalla

We continue with Septimus Severus’ son, Caracalla, very handsome and mad.

“Caracalla” wasn’t his name, but his nickname. It was his favorite kind of French (Gaul) riding cloak which he adopted as his signature fashion (see his bust below). Its a little like remembering Winston Churchill being as Mr. Derby Hat,or Mr. Cigar.

Caracalla

Caracalla

All the Severans lived life large – lavish with pay to the military, but also lavish builders – which is a good thing. Septimus built and rebuilt countless projects throughout the Mediterranean world, Caracalla likewise. The Severans are a kind of high point in terms of expenditure, size, quality and quantity of art and architecture for the Empire.

Caracalla

Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

The baths of Caracalla are absolutely HUGE ruins in Rome. The concrete barrel arching vaulting over the huge enclosed space to this day is a marvel and a classic of Roman Engineering. “Seeking to secure his own legacy, Caracalla also commissioned one of Rome’s last major architectural achievements, the Baths of Caracalla, the largest public bath ever built in ancient Rome. The main room of the baths was larger than St. Peter’s Basilica, and could easily accommodate over 2,000 Roman citizens at one time. The bath house opened in 216, complete with private rooms and outdoor tracks. Internally it was lavishly decorated with gold trimmed marble floors, columns and mosaics.” (Wiki – Caracalla).

Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

Septimus left the empire to his 2 sons – Geta and Caracalla, when he died in England (York) while on campaign.
Geta died, assassinated by Caracalla under mysterious circumstances. Not only Geta, his brother, but many senators were executed on the suspicion of treason. Septimus Severus left his sons with the advice “damn the people and the senate, support the military”, and Caracalla did just that. He was the 1st emperor to spend almost all of his time in the provinces with his legions, and not in the capital city Rome. He continued increasing pay to soldiers. He gloried in all things military – styling himself a Roman Alexander, and starting the imperial fashion (for the next 50 years) of being portrayed with short, legion-clipped hair to show solidarity with the common soldier.

The Mother: Julia Domna

Julia Domna, thier mother, was the first of a series of strong Empresses for the Empire. The second century in some ways was a century of powerful women (see later: Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra).

Famous Severan Tondo - surviving Roman Oil Painting - of Julia Domna, Sept Severus, and Geta or Caracalla

Famous Severan Tondo - surviving Roman Oil Painting - of Julia Domna, Sept Severus, and Geta or Caracalla

Julia Domna

Julia Domna


Julia Domna

Julia Domna


Julia Domna would go on after her husband’s death to mediate between her 2 sons: Geta and Caracalla. She stood aside after Geta’s death, but took her own life after Caracalla was murdered. Her sister Julia Maesa was even more powerful in imperial politics.

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