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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Julia Maesa

b. circa C.E. 170, Syria; d. circa 226, Rome

Like her younger sister Julia Domna, Syrian-born Julia Maesa married into a noble Roman family and wielded influence in the imperial government. She lived with her sister during the reigns of Septimius Severus (193–211) and Caracalla (211–217), but fled back to Syria when Caracalla was assassinated and hatched a plot with her daughter to place her grandson Elagabalus on the throne, overthrowing Caracalla’s killers. Unfortunately, the unpopular Elagabalus was murdered, but not before Julia Maesa had maneuvered another grandson into the line of succession. She remained a potent force until her death around 226.