Elagabalus (/ˌɛləˈɡæbələs/), also known as Heliogabalus (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; c. 204 – 11 March 222), was Roman emperor from 218 to 222. A member of the Severan dynasty, he was Syrian, the second son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus. In his early youth he served the god Elagabalus as a priest in Emesa, the hometown of his mother's family. As a private citizen, he was probably named Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus. Upon becoming emperor he took the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. He was called Elagabalus only after his death.
In 217, the emperor Caracalla was assassinated and replaced by his Praetorian prefect, Marcus Opellius Macrinus. Caracalla's maternal aunt, Julia Maesa, successfully instigated a revolt among the Third Legion to have her eldest grandson (and Caracalla's cousin), Elagabalus, declared emperor in his place. Macrinus was defeated on 8 June 218 at the Battle of Antioch. Elagabalus, barely 14 years old, became emperor, initiating a reign remembered mainly for sex scandals and religious controversy.
Later historians suggest Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the traditional head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabalus, of whom he had been high priest. He forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, over which he personally presided. Elagabalus was supposedly "married" as many as five times, lavishing favours on male courtiers popularly thought to have been his lovers, and was reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. His behavior estranged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate, and the common people alike. Amidst growing opposition, Elagabalus, just 18 years old, was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander on 11 March 222, who ruled for 13 years before his own assassination, which marked the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century. The assassination plot against Elagabalus was devised by his grandmother, Julia Maesa, and carried out by disaffected members of the Praetorian Guard.
Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for extreme eccentricity, decadence, and zealotry. This tradition has persisted, and with writers of the early modern age he suffers one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors. Edward Gibbon, for example, wrote that Elagabalus "abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures and ungoverned fury". According to Barthold Georg Niebuhr, "The name Elagabalus is branded in history above all others" because of his "unspeakably disgusting life".
Head of Elagabalus,
from the Capitoline Museums
|Emperor of the Roman Empire|
|Reign||16 May 218 – 11 March 222|
|Died||11 March 222 (aged around 18)|
|Supposed spouse||Julia Cornelia Paula|
Julia Aquilia Severa
Annia Aurelia Faustina
|Issue||Severus Alexander (adoptive)|
|Father||Sextus Varius Marcellus|
|Mother||Julia Soaemias Bassiana|
Elagabalus was born around the year 204 to Sextus Varius Marcellus and Julia Soaemias Bassiana. His father was initially a member of the Equites class, but was later elevated to the rank of senator. His grandmother, Julia Maesa, was the widow of the consul Julius Avitus, the sister of Julia Domna, and the sister-in-law of the emperor Septimius Severus. He had at least one sibling: an unnamed elder brother. His mother, Julia Soaemias, was a cousin of the emperor Caracalla. His other relatives included his aunt Julia Avita Mamaea and uncle Marcus Julius Gessius Marcianus and among their children, their son Severus Alexander. Elagabalus's family held hereditary rights to the priesthood of the sun god Elagabal, of whom Elagabalus was the high priest at Emesa (modern Homs) in Roman Syria.
The deity Elagabalus was initially venerated at Emesa. This form of the god's name is a Latinized version of the Syrian Ilāh hag-Gabal, which derives from Ilāh (a Semitic word for "god") and gabal (an Arabic word for "mountain"), resulting in "the God of the Mountain," the Emesene manifestation of the deity.
The cult of the deity spread to other parts of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century; a dedication has been found as far away as Woerden (Netherlands), near the Roman limes. The god was later imported and assimilated with the Roman sun god known as Sol Indiges in republican times and as Sol Invictus during the second and third centuries CE. In Greek the sun god is Helios, hence "Heliogabalus", a hybrid conjunction of "Helios" and "Elagabalus".
When the Emperor Macrinus came to power, he suppressed the threat against his reign from the family of his assassinated predecessor, Caracalla, by exiling them—Julia Maesa, her two daughters, and her eldest grandson Elagabalus—to their estate at Emesa in Syria. Almost upon arrival in Syria, Maesa began a plot with her advisor and Elagabalus' tutor, Gannys, to overthrow Macrinus and elevate the fourteen-year-old Elagabalus to the imperial throne.
His mother publicly declared that he was the illegitimate son of Caracalla, and therefore deserving the loyalty of Roman soldiers and senators who had sworn allegiance to Caracalla. After Julia Maesa displayed her wealth to the Third Legion at Raphana they swore allegiance to Elagabalus. At sunrise on 16 May 218, Publius Valerius Comazon, commander of the legion, declared him emperor. To strengthen his legitimacy Elagabalus assumed Caracalla's names, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
In response Macrinus dispatched his Praetorian prefect Ulpius Julianus to the region with a contingent of troops he considered strong enough to crush the rebellion. However, this force soon joined the faction of Elagabalus when, during the battle, they turned on their own commanders. The officers were killed and Julianus' head was sent back to the emperor.
Macrinus now sent letters to the Senate denouncing Elagabalus as the False Antoninus and claiming he was insane. Both consuls and other high-ranking members of Rome's leadership condemned Elagabalus, and the Senate subsequently declared war on both Elagabalus and Julia Maesa.
Macrinus and his son, weakened by the desertion of the Second Legion due to bribes and promises circulated by Julia Maesa, were defeated on 8 June 218 at the Battle of Antioch by troops commanded by Gannys. Macrinus fled to Italy, disguised as a courier, but was intercepted near Chalcedon and executed in Cappadocia. His son Diadumenian, sent as a friendly hostage to the Parthian court as a guarantee of peace between the states, was captured at Zeugma and also put to death.
Elagabalus declared the date of the victory at Antioch to be the beginning of his reign and assumed the imperial titles without prior senatorial approval. This violated tradition but was a common practice among 3rd-century emperors nonetheless. Letters of reconciliation were dispatched to Rome extending amnesty to the Senate and recognizing the laws, while also condemning the administration of Macrinus and his son.
The senators responded by acknowledging Elagabalus as emperor and accepting his claim to be the son of Caracalla. Caracalla and Julia Domna were both deified by the Senate, both Julia Maesa and Julia Soaemias were elevated to the rank of Augustae, and the memory of both Macrinus and Diadumenian was expunged by the Senate. The former commander of the Third Legion, Comazon, was appointed commander of the Praetorian Guard.
Elagabalus and his entourage spent the winter of 218 in Bithynia at Nicomedia, where the emperor's religious beliefs first presented themselves as a problem. The contemporary historian Cassius Dio suggests that Gannys was in fact killed by the new emperor because he pressured Elagabalus to live "temperately and prudently". To help Romans adjust to having an oriental priest as emperor, Julia Maesa had a painting of Elagabalus in priestly robes sent to Rome and hung over a statue of the goddess Victoria in the Senate House. This placed senators in the awkward position of having to make offerings to Elagabalus whenever they made offerings to Victoria.
The legions were dismayed by his behaviour and quickly came to regret having supported his accession. While Elagabalus was still on his way to Rome, brief revolts broke out by the Fourth Legion at the instigation of Gellius Maximus, and by the Third Legion, which itself had been responsible for the elevation of Elagabalus to the throne, under the command of Senator Verus. The rebellion was quickly put down, and the Third Legion disbanded.
When the entourage reached Rome in the autumn of 219, Comazon and other allies of Julia Maesa and Elagabalus were given powerful and lucrative positions, to the chagrin of many senators who did not consider them worthy of such privileges. After his tenure as Praetorian prefect, Comazon served as the city prefect of Rome three times, and as consul twice. Elagabalus soon devalued the Roman currency. He decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 58% to 46.5% — the actual silver weight dropping from 1.82 grams to 1.41 grams. He also demonetized the antoninianus during this period in Rome.
Elagabalus tried to have his presumed lover, the charioteer Hierocles, declared Caesar, while another alleged lover, the athlete Aurelius Zoticus, was appointed to the non-administrative but influential position of Master of the Chamber, or Cubicularius. His offer of amnesty for the Roman upper class was largely honoured, though the jurist Ulpian was exiled.
The relationships between Julia Maesa, Julia Soaemias, and Elagabalus were strong at first. His mother and grandmother became the first women to be allowed into the Senate, and both received senatorial titles: Soaemias the established title of Clarissima, and Maesa the more unorthodox Mater Castrorum et Senatus ("Mother of the army camp and of the Senate"). They held the title of Augusta as well, suggesting that they may have been the power behind the throne. Indeed, they exercised great influence over the young emperor throughout his reign, and can be found on many coins and inscriptions—a rare honor for Roman women.
Since the reign of Septimius Severus, sun worship had increased throughout the Empire. Elagabalus saw this as an opportunity to install Elagabal as the chief deity of the Roman pantheon. The god was renamed Deus Sol Invictus, meaning God the Undefeated Sun, and honored above Jupiter.
As a token of respect for Roman religion, however, Elagabalus joined either Astarte, Minerva, Urania, or some combination of the three to Elagabal as consort. A union between Elagabal and a traditional goddess would have served to strengthen ties between the new religion and the imperial cult. In fact, there may have been an effort to introduce Elagabal, Urania, and Athena as the new Capitoline triad of Rome—replacing Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.
He aroused further discontent when he married the Vestal Virgin Aquilia Severa, claiming the marriage would produce "godlike children". This was a flagrant breach of Roman law and tradition, which held that any Vestal found to have engaged in sexual intercourse was to be buried alive.
A lavish temple called the Elagabalium was built on the east face of the Palatine Hill to house Elagabal, who was represented by a black conical meteorite from Emesa. Herodian wrote "this stone is worshipped as though it were sent from heaven; on it there are some small projecting pieces and markings that are pointed out, which the people would like to believe are a rough picture of the sun, because this is how they see them".
In order to become the high priest of his new religion, Elagabalus had himself circumcised. He forced senators to watch while he danced around the altar of Deus Sol Invictus to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. Each summer solstice he held a festival dedicated to the god, which became popular with the masses because of the free food distributed on these occasions. During this festival, Elagabalus placed the Emesa stone on a chariot adorned with gold and jewels, which he paraded through the city:
A six horse chariot carried the divinity, the horses huge and flawlessly white, with expensive gold fittings and rich ornaments. No one held the reins, and no one rode in the chariot; the vehicle was escorted as if the god himself were the charioteer. Elagabalus ran backward in front of the chariot, facing the god and holding the horses' reins. He made the whole journey in this reverse fashion, looking up into the face of his god.
The most sacred relics from the Roman religion were transferred from their respective shrines to the Elagabalium, including the emblem of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the Shields of the Salii, and the Palladium, so that no other god could be worshipped except in association with Elagabal.
The question of Elagabalus' sexual orientation is confused, owing to salacious and unreliable sources. Elagabalus married and divorced five women, three of whom are known. His first wife was Julia Cornelia Paula; the second was the Vestal Virgin Julia Aquilia Severa.
Within a year, he abandoned her and married Annia Aurelia Faustina, a descendant of Marcus Aurelius and the widow of a man he had recently had executed. He had returned to his second wife Severa by the end of the year. According to Cassius Dio, his most stable relationship seems to have been with his chariot driver, a blond slave from Caria named Hierocles, whom he referred to as his husband.
The Augustan History claims that he also married a man named Zoticus, an athlete from Smyrna, in a public ceremony at Rome. Cassius Dio reported that Elagabalus would paint his eyes, depilate his body hair and wear wigs before prostituting himself in taverns, brothels, and even in the imperial palace:
Finally, he set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain which hung from gold rings, while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by. There were, of course, men who had been specially instructed to play their part. For, as in other matters, so in this business, too, he had numerous agents who sought out those who could best please him by their foulness. He would collect money from his patrons and give himself airs over his gains; he would also dispute with his associates in this shameful occupation, claiming that he had more lovers than they and took in more money.
Herodian commented that Elagabalus enhanced his natural good looks by the regular application of cosmetics. He was described as having been "delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles" and was reported to have offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia. Elagabalus has been characterized by some modern writers as transgender or transsexual.
By 221 Elagabalus' eccentricities, particularly his relationship with Hierocles, increasingly provoked the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard. When Elagabalus' grandmother Julia Maesa perceived that popular support for the emperor was waning, she decided that he and his mother, who had encouraged his religious practices, had to be replaced. As alternatives, she turned to her other daughter, Julia Avita Mamaea, and her daughter's son, the fifteen-year-old Severus Alexander.
Prevailing on Elagabalus, she arranged that he appoint his cousin Alexander as his heir and that the boy be given the title of Caesar. Alexander shared the consulship with the emperor that year. However, Elagabalus reconsidered this arrangement when he began to suspect that the Praetorian Guard preferred his cousin to himself.
Following the failure of various attempts on Alexander's life, Elagabalus stripped his cousin of his titles, revoked his consulship, and invented the rumor that Alexander was near death, in order to see how the Praetorians would react. A riot ensued, and the Guard demanded to see Elagabalus and Alexander in the Praetorian camp.
The Emperor complied and on 11 March 222 he publicly presented his cousin along with his own mother, Julia Soaemias. On their arrival the soldiers started cheering Alexander while ignoring Elagabalus, who ordered the summary arrest and execution of anyone who had taken part in this display of insubordination. In response, members of the Praetorian Guard attacked Elagabalus and his mother:
He made an attempt to flee, and would have got away somewhere by being placed in a chest had he not been discovered and slain, at the age of eighteen. His mother, who embraced him and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the mother's body was cast aside somewhere or other, while his was thrown into the [Tiber].
Following his assassination, many associates of Elagabalus were killed or deposed, including his lover Hierocles. His religious edicts were reversed and the stone of Elagabal was sent back to Emesa. Women were again barred from attending meetings of the Senate. The practice of damnatio memoriae—erasing from the public record a disgraced personage formerly of note—was systematically applied in his case. Several images, including an over-life-size statue of him as Hercules that is now in Naples, were re-carved with the face of Alexander Severus.
The source of many of these stories of Elagabalus's depravity is the Augustan History (Historia Augusta), which includes controversial claims. It is most likely that the Historia Augusta was written towards the end of the 4th century, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I. The life of Elagabalus as described in the Augustan History is of uncertain historical merit. Sections 13 to 17, relating to the fall of Elagabalus, are less controversial among historians.
Sources often considered more credible than the Augustan History include the contemporary historians Cassius Dio and Herodian. Cassius Dio lived from the second half of the 2nd century until sometime after 229. Born into a patrician family, he spent the greater part of his life in public service. He was a senator under emperor Commodus and governor of Smyrna after the death of Septimius Severus. Afterwards, he served as suffect consul around 205, and as proconsul in Africa and Pannonia.
Severus Alexander held him in high esteem and made him his consul again. His Roman History spans nearly a millennium, from the arrival of Aeneas in Italy until the year 229. As a contemporary of Elagabalus, Cassius Dio's account of his reign is generally considered more reliable than the Augustan History, although by his own admission Dio spent the greater part of the relevant period outside of Rome and had to rely on second-hand information.
Furthermore, the political climate in the aftermath of Elagabalus' reign, as well as Dio's own position within the government of Alexander likely influenced the truth of this part of his history for the worse. Dio regularly refers to Elagabalus as Sardanapalus, partly to distinguish him from his divine namesake, but chiefly to do his part in maintaining the damnatio memoriae and to associate him with another autocrat notorious for a dissolute life.
Another contemporary of Elagabalus' was Herodian, a minor Roman civil servant who lived from c. 170 until 240. His work, History of the Roman Empire since Marcus Aurelius, commonly abbreviated as Roman History, is an eyewitness account of the reign of Commodus until the beginning of the reign of Gordian III. His work largely overlaps with Dio's own Roman History, but the texts, written independently of each other, agree more often than not about the emperor and his short but eventful reign .
Although Herodian is not deemed as reliable as Cassius Dio, his lack of literary and scholarly pretensions make him less biased than senatorial historians. Herodian is considered the most important source for the religious reforms which took place during the reign of Elagabalus, which have been confirmed by numismatic and archaeological evidence.
For readers of the modern age, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1737–94) further cemented the scandalous reputation of Elagabalus. Gibbon not only accepted and expressed outrage at the allegations of the ancient historians, but he might have added some details of his own; he is the first historian known to claim that Gannys was a eunuch, for example. Gibbon wrote:
To confound the order of the season and climate, to sport with the passions and prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements. A long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among whom was a vestal virgin, ravished by force from her sacred asylum, were insufficient to satisfy the impotence of his passions. The master of the Roman world affected to copy the manners and dress of the female sex, preferring the distaff to the sceptre, and dishonored the principal dignities of the empire by distributing them among his numerous lovers; one of whom was publicly invested with the title and authority of the emperor's, or, as he more properly styled himself, the empress's husband. It may seem probable, the vices and follies of Elagabalus have been adorned by fancy, and blackened by prejudice. Yet, confining ourselves to the public scenes displayed before the Roman people, and attested by grave and contemporary historians, their inexpressible infamy surpasses that of any other age or country.
The 20th-century anthropologist James George Frazer (famous for The Golden Bough) took seriously the monotheistic aspirations of the emperor, but also ridiculed him: "The dainty priest of the Sun [was] the most abandoned reprobate who ever sat upon a throne...It was the intention of this eminently religious but crack-brained despot to supersede the worship of all the gods, not only at Rome but throughout the world, by the single worship of Elagabalus or the Sun."
The first book-length biography was The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus (1911) by J. Stuart Hay, "a serious and systematic study" more sympathetic than that of previous historians, which nonetheless stressed the exoticism of Elagabalus, calling his reign one of "enormous wealth and excessive prodigality, luxury and aestheticism, carried to their ultimate extreme, and sensuality in all the refinements of its Eastern habit."
Some recent historians paint a more favorable picture of the emperor's rule. Martijn Icks, in Images of Elagabalus (2008; republished as The Crimes of Elagabalus in 2012), doubts the reliability of the ancient sources and argues that it was the emperor's unorthodox religious policies that alienated the power elite of Rome, to the point that his grandmother saw fit to eliminate him and replace him with his cousin. Leonardo de Arrizabalaga y Prado, in The Emperor Elagabalus: Fact or Fiction? (2008), is also critical of the ancient historians and speculates that neither religion nor sexuality played a role in the fall of the young emperor. He was simply the loser in a power struggle within the imperial family; the loyalty of the Praetorian Guards was up for sale, and Julia Maesa had the resources to outmaneuver and outbribe her grandson. In this version of events, once Elagabalus, his mother, and his immediate circle had been murdered, a campaign of character assassination began, resulting in a grotesque caricature that has persisted to the present day. Historians have not only kept the tradition alive, but often embellished it, reflecting their own bias against effeminacy, religious zealotry, and other traits with which Elagabalus is commonly identified.
Due to the ancient tradition about him, Elagabalus became something of an (anti-)hero in the Decadent movement of the late 19th century. He often appears in literature and other creative media as the epitome of a young, amoral aesthete. His life and character have informed or at least inspired many famous works of art, by Decadents, even by contemporary artists. The most notable of these works include:
Elagabalus is also alleged to have appeared as Venus and to have depilated his entire body. ... Dio recounts an exchange between Elagabalus and the well-endowed Aurelius Zoticus: when Zoticus addressed the emperor as 'my lord,' Elagabalus responded, 'Don't call me lord, I am a lady.' Dio concludes his anecdote by having Elagabalus asking his physicians to give him the equivalent of a woman's vagina by means of a surgical incision.
ElagabalusBorn: c.204 Died: 11 March 222
| Roman Emperor
Marcus Oclatinius Adventus
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Marcus Oclatinius Adventus,
Quintus Tineius Sacerdos,
Publius Valerius Comazon
Gaius Vettius Gratus Sabinianus,
Marcus Flavius Vitellius Seleucus
Gaius Vettius Gratus Sabinianus,
Marcus Flavius Vitellius Seleucus
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Severus Alexander
Luscius Roscius Aelianus Paculus Salvius Julianus
The 220s decade ran from January 1, 220, to December 31, 229.222
Year 222 (CCXXII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Antoninus and Severus (or, less frequently, year 975 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 222 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.Annia Faustina
Annia Aurelia Faustina (c. AD 201 – c. AD 222) was an Anatolian Roman noblewoman. She was briefly married to the Roman emperor Elagabalus in 221 and thus a Roman empress. She was Elagabalus' third wife.Aquilia Severa
Iulia Aquilia Severa was the second and fourth wife of Emperor Elagabalus. She was the daughter of Quintus Aquilius, twice consul under Caracalla. The praenomen of Julia was given to her after becoming an empress.
Severa was a Vestal Virgin and, as such, her marriage to Elagabalus in late 220 was the cause of enormous controversy — traditionally, the punishment for breaking the thirty-year vow of celibacy was death by being buried alive. Elagabalus is believed to have had religious reasons for marrying Severa — he himself was a follower of the eastern sun god El-Gabal, and when marrying himself to Severa, he also conducted a symbolic marriage of his god to Vesta.Both these marriages were revoked shortly afterwards, however. This was possibly on the urging of Julia Maesa, the grandmother who had engineered Elagabalus' rise to the imperial throne. Elagabalus then married Annia Faustina, a more generally acceptable choice to the senatorial elite. Within a short time, however, Elagabalus had divorced Faustina and returned to living with Severa, claiming that the original divorce was invalid. It is believed that Severa remained with Elagabalus until his assassination in 222. The two are not believed to have had any children.
Severa's own opinions about the entire affair are not very well recorded. Some sources state that she was forced to marry against her will, and others go further, alleging rape. It is claimed by some historians, however, that many stories about Elagabalus have been exaggerated by his enemies, and so there is no certainty about what actually happened. It is unclear whether Elagabalus had any real feelings towards Severa, or whether he was more concerned with the symbolism of the marriage. Elagabalus also had relationships with men, and the historian Cassius Dio claims that Elagabalus had a more stable relationship with his chariot driver, Hierocles, than with any of his wives.Battle of Antioch (218)
The Battle of Antioch (8 June 218) was fought between the Roman armies of the Emperor Macrinus and his rival Elagabalus, whose troops were commanded by General Gannys, probably a short distance from Antioch. Gannys' victory over Macrinus led to the downfall of the emperor and his replacement by Elagabalus.
Macrinus' predecessor, Caracalla, was murdered by a disaffected soldier during a campaign against Parthia on 8 April 217. Macrinus himself may have had a hand in the murder of Caracalla. Within days of Caracalla's death, Macrinus was proclaimed emperor with the support of the army. At the time of his accession he inherited all of the problems that Caracalla had left for Rome—war against Parthia, threats from Armenia and Dacia, and extensive fiscal expenditures. Macrinus successfully concluded a peace with Parthia, but it came at considerable cost to Rome. Finally, his policies to reduce monetary expenditures only stoked discontent within the military.
Caracalla's mother's sister, Julia Maesa, took advantage of the discontent of the soldiers and spent from her wealth to champion her grandson Elagabalus as the rightful heir to the empire. Elagabalus, chief priest of the god Elagabal, was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers of Legio III Gallica (Gallic Third Legion) at their camp in Raphanea on 16 May 218. In response, Macrinus sent one of his generals, Ulpius Julianus, with a small cavalry force to quell the rebellious soldiers. The cavalry defected and killed Ulpius Julianus, sending his head back to Macrinus in Antioch. The decisive battle took place less than a month later.
While Gannys had the numerical advantage, in the opening stages of the battle Macrinus' Praetorian Guards broke through Gannys' lines, and the latter's troops began to flee. In response, Elagabalus' mother and grandmother joined the battle and rallied the troops while Gannys led his own charge. Gannys' troops turned and renewed the assault, causing Macrinus to flee the battle in fear and return to Antioch. He sent his son and co-emperor, Diadumenian, to Parthia and tried to return to Rome. Both he and his son were caught en-route and executed. Elagabalus entered Antioch as the new emperor of Rome, and with Macrinus dead, the Senate had no choice but to acknowledge the ascension of Elagabalus. By March 222 A.D., Elagabalus was himself killed by the disgruntled Praetorian Guard, declared an enemy of Rome and subjected to a damnatio memoriae.Diadumenian
Diadumenian (; Latin: Marcus Opellius Antoninus Diadumenianus Augustus) (September 14/19, 208 – 218), was briefly Roman Emperor, in 218. He was born to Macrinus, the future emperor, and Nonia Celsa, whose name may be fictitious, on 14 September 208. He was elevated to Caesar in May 217, and after Elagabalus revolted a few days later Diadumenian was elevated to co-emperor. After Macrinus was defeated in the Battle of Antioch, on 8 June 218, Diadumenian was sent to the court of Artabanus V to ensure his safety; however he was captured and executed along the way, in late June.Elagabalium
The Elagabalium was a temple built by the Roman emperor Elagabalus, located on the north-east corner of the Palatine Hill. During Elagabalus' reign from 218 until 222, the Elagabalium was the center of a controversial religious cult, dedicated to Deus Sol Invictus, of which the emperor himself was the high priest.Elagabalus (deity)
Elagabalus , Aelagabalus, or Heliogabalus is a Syro-Roman sun god. Although there were many variations of the name, the god was consistently referred to as Elagabalus in Roman coins and inscriptions from AD 218 on, during the reign of emperor Elagabalus.Hierocles (charioteer)
Hierocles (Greek: Ἱεροκλῆς, late 2nd century – 222 AD) was reputedly a favorite and lover of the Roman emperor Elagabalus. He was from Caria and was at some point enslaved and later became a charioteer in the service of Elagabalus. Elagabalus considered the blond Hierocles to be his husband and is credited with saying:
"[I am] delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the Queen of Hierocles"After Elagabalus granted Hierocles his freedom he unsuccessfully tried to have Hierocles declared Caesar, which would have made him the emperor's successor. Hierocles was executed, along with other members of Elagabalus' court, when the emperor fell from power in disgrace in 222.Julia Cornelia Paula
Julia Cornelia Paula or Julia Paula was a distinguished Roman noblewoman who became Empress of Rome as the first wife of the Roman emperor Elagabalus.Julia Maesa
Julia Maesa (7 May before 160 AD - c. 224 AD) was a 3rd century Augusta (empress) of the Roman Empire and a powerful, prominent and influential figure in the empire's politics during the rule of the Severan dynasty. Born in Emesa, Syria (modern day Homs), Maesa was the daughter of the high priest of Emesa's Temple of the Sun, and the elder sister of future Roman empress Julia Domna.
Through her sister's marriage, she became sister-in law to the emperor Septimius Severus and later the aunt of emperors Caracalla and Geta. She herself married fellow Syrian Julius Avitus, who was of consular rank. She bore him two daughters, Julia Soaemias and Julia Mamaea, who would later became mothers of emperors Elagabalus and Severus Alexander respectively.The Severan dynasty of ancient Rome was dominated by powerful women, one of which was Julia Maesa. Politically able and ruthless, she contended for political power after her sister's suicide. She is best known for her plotting and scheming which resulted in the restoration of the Severan dynasty to the Roman throne after the assassination of Caracalla and the usurpation of the Roman throne by Macrinus, after which she continued to shape and dominate the politics of the Roman Empire for well over two decades, being the major power behind the Roman throne in the subsequent reigns of Elagabalus and Severus Alexander until her death.Julia Maesa died in Rome at an uncertain date between 223 and 226, and was later deified in Syria along with her sister.Julia Soaemias
Julia Soaemias Bassiana (180 – March 11, 222) was a Syrian noblewoman and the mother of Roman emperor Elagabalus who ruled over the Roman Empire from 218 to 222. She was born and raised in Emesa, Syria and through her mother was related to the Royal family of Emesa, and through marriage, to the Severan dynasty of Ancient Rome.Legio III Gallica
Legio tertia Gallica ("Gallic Third Legion") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded around 49 BC by Gaius Julius Caesar for his civil war against The Republicans led by Pompey. The cognomen Gallica suggests that recruits were originally from Gaul. The legion was still active in Egypt in the early 4th century. The legion's symbol was a bull.Macrinus
Macrinus (; Latin: Marcus Opellius Severus Macrinus Augustus; c. 165 – June 218) was Roman Emperor from April 217 to 8 June 218. He reigned jointly with his young son Diadumenianus. Macrinus was by origin a Berber from Mauretania Caesariensis. A member of the equestrian class, he became the first emperor who did not hail from the senatorial class and was the first emperor from Mauretania. Before becoming emperor, Macrinus served under Emperor Caracalla as a praetorian prefect and dealt with Rome's civil affairs. He later conspired against Caracalla and had him murdered in a bid to protect his own life, succeeding him as emperor.
Macrinus was proclaimed emperor of Rome by 11 April 217 while in the eastern provinces of the empire and was subsequently confirmed as such by the Senate; however, for the duration of his reign, he never had the opportunity to return to Rome. His predecessor's policies had left Rome's coffers empty and the empire at war with several kingdoms, including Parthia, Armenia and Dacia. As emperor, Macrinus first attempted to enact reform to bring economic and diplomatic stability to Rome. While Macrinus' diplomatic actions brought about peace with each of the individual kingdoms, the additional monetary costs and subsequent fiscal reforms generated unrest in the Roman military.
Caracalla's aunt Julia Maesa took advantage of the unrest and instigated a rebellion to have her fourteen-year-old grandson, Elagabalus, recognized as emperor. Macrinus was overthrown at the Battle of Antioch on 8 June 218 and Elagabalus proclaimed himself emperor with support from the rebelling Roman legions. Macrinus fled the battlefield and tried to reach Rome but was captured in Chalcedon and later executed in Cappadocia. He sent his son to the care of Artabanus V of Parthia, but Diadumenianus was also captured before he could reach his destination and executed. After Macrinus' death, the Senate declared him and his son enemies of Rome and had their names struck from the records and their images destroyed.Severan dynasty
The Severan dynasty was a Roman imperial dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 193 and 235. The dynasty was founded by the general Septimius Severus, who rose to power as the victor of the Civil War of 193–197.
Although Septimius Severus successfully restored peace following the upheaval of the late 2nd century, the dynasty was disturbed by highly unstable family relationships, as well as constant political turmoil foreshadowing the imminent Crisis of the Third Century.
It was one of the last lineages of the Principate founded by Augustus.Severus Alexander
Severus Alexander (; Latin: Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus; c. 208 – 19 March 235) was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235 and the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222. His own assassination marked the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century—nearly 50 years of civil wars, foreign invasion, and collapse of the monetary economy, though this last part is now disputed.
Alexander was the heir to his cousin, the 18-year-old Emperor who had been murdered along with his mother Julia Soaemias, by his own guards, who, as a mark of contempt, had their remains cast into the Tiber river. He and his cousin were both grandsons of the influential and powerful Julia Maesa, who had arranged for Elagabalus' acclamation as emperor by the famous Third Gallic Legion. It was the rumor of Alexander's death that triggered the assassination of Elagabalus and his mother. His 13-year reign was the longest reign of a sole emperor since Antoninus Pius. He was also the second-youngest ever sole legal Roman Emperor during the existence of the united empire, the youngest being Gordian III.
As emperor, Alexander's peacetime reign was prosperous. However, Rome was militarily confronted with the rising Sassanid Empire and growing incursions from the tribes of Germania. He managed to check the threat of the Sassanids. But when campaigning against Germanic tribes, Alexander attempted to bring peace by engaging in diplomacy and bribery. This alienated many in the Roman Army and led to a conspiracy to assassinate and replace him.Six Litanies for Heliogabalus
Six Litanies for Heliogabalus is an album by John Zorn. It is the third album to feature the "Moonchild Trio" of Mike Patton, Joey Baron and Trevor Dunn, following Moonchild: Songs Without Words (2005) and Astronome (2006) and the first to feature additional performers. The promotional notes that accompany the US CD Release indicate that the concept for the recording was inspired by the Roman Emperor Heliogabalus.Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. On 25 December AD 274, the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. Scholars disagree about whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus, or completely new. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine I. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, and there were enough devotees in the fifth century that the Christian theologian Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.The Roses of Heliogabalus
The Roses of Heliogabalus is an 1888 painting by the Anglo-Dutch artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicting the young Roman emperor Elagabalus (203–222 AD) hosting a banquet.