Meretrix Augusta: The Exiles of The Imperial Princesses as Proof of the Julian Monarchy | Maria Rosario Katsulos |

PDF Version

Although the era itself is named after the men who ruled it, the Julio-Claudian period in Roman history is marked by several powerful women who were significant players. Some of those were solely enemies, like the sexually empowered Cleopatra. Her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony turned her public image in Rome into that of an exotic temptress.[1] Others were seen as the consummate angel, like Empress Livia, whose loyalty to her husband was reinforced by not remarrying after his death.[2] Some women, though, transcend the barrier of good and evil, starting as one and becoming the other until finally finding their place in the more morally gray 21st century. Perfect examples of this type of character are Augustus’ daughter and granddaughter, both named Julia. As the first imperial princesses of Rome, mother, and daughter both lived the luxurious and hedonistic lives a modern viewer might associate with the Roman Empire. In their times, they were tried, condemned, and exiled for this shameful use of their independence and education. Julia the Elder was the only natural child of Augustus, and through her bloodline, emperors such as Caligula and Nero came to the throne. Had she not been a woman, as a granddaughter of Augustus and a daughter of Agrippa, the elder Julia’s namesake daughter should have had every opportunity to wield the political power of her forefathers. Even though female independence and sexuality were more heavily penalized than the same qualities found in men and incurring moral stigmatization for an adulteress,[3] such a severe punishment as banishment was not common among women of the Julias’ time. In discussing historical evidence for the banishment of adulteresses in the Augustan era, Amy Richlin writes that “the limited evidence suggests only that the [lex Julia] ’s application was irregular, although the possibility must be kept in mind that only irregular cases were recorded by contemporary writers.” She further notes that “most of the exiles on record are involved with offenses to the reigning dynasty.”[4] Similarly, Suzanne Dixon argues that “the stronger sanctions like divorce and prosecutions for adultery seem to have been employed intermittently and half-heartedly,” except in the case of the imperial women.[5] The treatment of Julia the Elder and Younger, both by Augustus himself and their contemporary critics, stems from their promise of dynastic inheritance and their key positions within imperial succession, effectively disproving Augustus’ claims that the Empire was not a monarchy.[6] Their key roles in this imperial history mark them as valuable figures in the biographical and feminist studies of the Roman Empire, despite the invective nature of the ancient sources on their behaviors.

There are two important factors to remember when analyzing ancient sources that deal with the history of the Julias. The men who wrote about the Julias had been socialized to reject female sexuality in any form but the marriage bed (prostitutes and enslaved persons notwithstanding). Additionally, writers who were contemporaries of Augustus, such as Livy, must have felt immense pressure to vilify the women exiled by Augustus. To portray the mother or daughter with even a hint of sympathy might have triggered retribution from the emperor, especially considering how preeminent the moral reforms were in Augustus’s reign and propaganda. Thus, even later writers like Suetonius had to work within the confines of the lasting historical record: pro-Augustus, anti-Julia. Interestingly, Cassius Dio remarks that the Roman people – the poor, plebeian majority of the city – “brought such pressure” and protests against the exile of Augustus’s daughter that the emperor eventually conceded by allowing Julia back onto the Italian mainland.[7] Despite the populus’s love for their princess, the upper registers of Roman society continued preaching invectives against Julia to fall in line with Augustus’s propaganda. What then remains to modern scholars of the Julias is “a dreadful warning to all those fast-living women whose conduct Augustan policy aimed to transform.”[8] Moving on from solely written work, visual evidence of either Julia (but especially the Younger) is few and far between due to Augustus’ destruction of their statuary. Although her mother’s likeness survives in coinage, both women’s busts and other statues have mostly been destroyed over the years – and much of that destruction occurred immediately following their exiles.[9] This action served equally as a threat toward others who might displease the emperor and have their legacies quite literally shattered and helped to bolster Augustus’ image. By removing any evidence of moral or sexual failure within the Julian clan, it was easier for the emperor to separate these women from their families and continue portraying himself as a morally perfect savior of the Roman people, one who was not swayed by the favoritism or nepotism that might otherwise have stayed his hand. For far too long, the Julias have simply been cautionary tales.

With more modern analysis, however, this trend has started to change. For one, the development of gender studies has allowed a more multifaceted lens to be placed over historical women who were shunned in their own time for daring to step outside societal norms. Scholars can now more closely compare the opportunities allowed to male versus female children[10] and can address historical misogyny like the proto-slut-shaming that existed in Ancient Rome.[11] Another example of modern scholarship allowing for changes in the study of these ancient women is the heightened importance of social history and the study of prosopography.[12] The removal of women from the historical canon or ignoring them in favor of deeper studies of male social circles results in an inaccurate portrayal of important figures and relationships. Especially as a quasi-monarchy developed in imperial Rome, social connections were one of the most valuable forms of currency. Scholars can piece together more information about Roman social circles and norms by elevating these women back to their historical importance pre-exile. This begins with a careful examination of the biography of Julia the Elder, through childhood and young adulthood, as these were the times when she most effectively consolidated her political and social power.

From birth, the elder Julia’s childhood would have created an ideal imperial heir: as a young woman, her betrothals, marriages, and many children showed her father’s dynastic aims to cement the Julian bloodline as imperial successors. She entered a world of discord as Augustus divorced her mother, Scribonia, immediately following Julia the Elder’s birth.[13] At the age of two, she was already available as a political pawn, becoming betrothed to a boy eight years her senior. Suetonius claims in his Life of the Caesars that Mark Antony himself discussed Julia’s first betrothal to his namesake son, nicknamed Antyllus.[14] However, after Antony’s defeat at Actium, Augustus had Antyllus executed, despite the betrothal to Julia. Continuing with her childhood, she was raised by her father and stepmother, Livia. Julia was educated in more feminine arts, like weaving, and enjoyed a more masculine education. According to Macrobius, Julia had “a love of literature and much learning, easily accessible in that home.”[15] She inherited her father’s high level of intelligence and ravenous appetite for knowledge. As a young teenager, Julia the Elder became engaged again. Her first husband was her cousin, Marcellus, son of Augustus’ sister Octavia. Augustus hoped to make Marcellus his official successor; he sped the boy’s elevation through government and military ranks in preparation. However, this plan never came to fruition, as Marcellus died in 23 BCE, and there were no children from his union with the emperor’s daughter.[16]

Julia remained unwed for two years before remarrying her father’s right-hand man Agrippa, who was over twenty years her senior but would father her sons, the eventual heirs to the imperial throne.[17] This was not a political marriage in the sense that Agrippa was a new ally – on the contrary, he had been instrumental to Augustus’ victories at Actium and other locales. His marriage to Julia was seen as a “prestige above the ordinary”and was meant to cement his loyalty to the Julian family.[18] Throughout their admittedly very happy and fruitful marriage, Julia frequently boasted about being sexually liberated but only having Agrippa’s children. In Saturnalia, Macrobius quoted her as saying, “I never take on a passenger unless the ship is full”[19] – in other words, Julia would only sleep with another man if she was already pregnant with Agrippa’s child. While Julia’s method of birth control was unconventional even in her own time, it seemed to be effective enough; Agrippa fully claimed all five of Julia’s children from their marriage.

Before long, Augustus had officially adopted their eldest two sons, Gaius and Lucius, as his imperial heirs. He honored Julia with a portrait on imperial coinage to commemorate the adoption – a privilege, not even his wife Livia had attained.[20] The coinage showed Julia accompanied by her sons, boldly advertising her position as the highest-ranking mother in Rome (and continuing her opposition to Livia).[21] The corona civica was placed above Julia,[22] with her sons at either side; the symbol was an important “token of dynastic succession.”[23] Although Augustus still maintained that the Empire was not a monarchy, his emphasis on the Julian imperial bloodline through Julia and her children showed the vast departure from the Roman Republic. Other Julia-centric coins of the era attributed significant symbolism; she was depicted in the guise of Diana,[24] wearing the iconic bow of the goddess and her royal diadem.[25] Augustus symbolizing his daughter as the virgin goddess was ironic for many reasons, not the least of which is that in Diana’s childhood, her father grants her the privilege of remaining unwed.[26] By forcing his daughter into multiple political marriages, Augustus contradicted any equivalence to Jove he may have had in this example. Even though Julia had surpassed the requirement for Roman matrons’ independence – she had two more living children than the baseline three – Augustus continued to use her for political gain. Less than a year after Agrippa’s death in March 12 BCE,[27] while Julia was still deep in mourning, her father forced her to marry her stepbrother Tiberius. This union came on the heels of Tiberius’ forced divorce from his pregnant wife Agrippina (Agrippa’s daughter from a previous marriage), with whom he was deeply and publicly in love. Despite the inauspicious start to the marriage of Julia and Tiberius, they were happy together before the couple fought “so severely that he lived apart from her thereafter.”[28] They had one son together, but he died in early infancy.

Julia doubled down on her wild escapades as she entered this new marriage, which became her downfall. In 2 BCE,[29] she was put on trial and officially banished, proving how seriously Augustus took his moral reforms. Julia “took part in revels and drinking parties by night in the Forum and even upon the Rostra,”[30] an incredibly explicit sign of disrespect for the Roman government. Though her father had tried to ignore her antics for years, he was finally forced to treat her as a criminal. He also tried those with whom Julia had committed adultery, and nearly all the men were exiled like Julia was.[31] Through the trial, there was no shortage of contemporary criticism of Julia. It became easier and easier to heave loaded terms and explicit disdain at the emperor’s daughter because, by failing her father, she had failed Rome and the very concept of what it meant to be Roman. Instead of upholding Augustus’ public tenets of chastity and frugality, Julia reveled in her own “luxury, elegance, and sexual autonomy,”[32]  basically spitting in the face of the new Augustan moral code as she flouted her father’s rules. Because of this, there were frequent comparisons to her father’s hated enemy Cleopatra; female sexuality was negatively exoticized, and the Egyptian queen was the closest model Roman people had.[33] In the eyes of the public, the less Roman Julia became, the easier it was to vilify her. Unfortunately, most surviving historical sources neglect Julia in her own words. As Richlin writes, this invective writing style against Julia and other Augustan-era women does “not tell you directly about women, but they tell you what women had to put up with.”[34] What remains for modern scholars to study, then, amounts solely to “the scabrous jokes Romans told about her…that constructed her as the farthest pole of promiscuity,”[35] rather than any contemporary sources representing Julia with a more understanding lens. Seneca, for example, called her “shameless beyond the indictment of shamelessness;”[36] Suetonius wrote that both Julia and her namesake daughter “were tainted with every form of vice.”[37] Although Augustus considered having Julia killed,[38] he eventually decided to sentence her to a lifetime of exile on the tiny island of Pandateria.[39] Instead of being affected by love for his daughter, Augustus had other concerns in mind. He dreaded returning to his pre-imperial habits of proscription, which had made him infamous for his cruelty before he could win over the Roman public again, and thus avoided unnecessary executions. Tiberius may also have convinced him of clemency. By this time, the divorce between Augustus’ stepson and Julia was official, but Tiberius urged the emperor to treat Julia with mercy.[40] Thus, Augustus allowed Julia’s mother Scribonia to accompany her into exile[41] rather than sending her to her prison alone.

Julia’s permanent and fairly severe exile proved that no one was safe from imperial wrath. Julia’s exile could have been more appropriately described as boring than torturous during her father’s lifetime. For example, among the luxuries forbidden in exile, Augustus did not even let his daughter have wine.[42] After several years of this treatment, Augustus allowed Julia to move from the island back to the Italian mainland in 4 CE[43] though she was still forbidden from re-entering Rome. The loosening of Julia’s metaphoric chains allowed the Roman populus to hope their beloved princess might come back to the city, though Augustus shut down those rumors in a public meeting and told his people that “fire should sooner mix with water than that she should be allowed to return.”[44] Julia would never set foot in the capital again. Augustus also decreed that she was not to be buried in his mausoleum.[45] Suetonius wrote of one specific plot to rescue Julia and her Agrippa Postumus, who had been deemed mad and banished. This plot involved an elderly forger named Audasius and a half-Parthian Roman, Epicadus, who planned to bring Julia and her son home to Rome.[46] Augustus’ death ended any hope the Romans had for Julia’s return. Once in power, her ex-husband Tiberius contradicted all his pleas during Julia’s trial by harshening her exile. He stopped sending her a yearly allowance, refused any visitors, and supposedly even denied her food, contributing directly to her death in 14 CE,[47] just months following her father.

Like her mother before her, Julia the Younger had a life marked by excess, flying in the face of Augustan reform in both similar and different ways from her mother. She was born in 19 BCE and married at fifteen to Lucius Aemilius Paullus.[48] Julia was primarily raised in the household of her grandfather and step-grandmother, Livia. Aemilius Paullus had been hand-selected by the emperor to marry his granddaughter and enter the Julian family. He would eventually become a consul in 1 CE[49] Together, they had a daughter called Cornelia, who was betrothed to the future emperor Claudius until her parents fell out of favor with Augustus.[50] Until then, the couple flaunted their wealth and power. Augustus found his granddaughter’s luxurious countryside villa so offensive to his austere tastes that he had it razed to the ground.[51] This dramatic level of reaction toward Julia’s disobedience foreshadowed her downfall. Julia and her husband were to fall dramatically out of favor with her grandfather in the years between 1 and 8 CE[52] Toward the beginning of this time, Julia was charged with adultery. Her main paramour was the senator Decimus Junius Silanus,[53] whose punishment for his misconduct with the emperor’s granddaughter will be discussed later in this paper. Closer to 8 CE,[54] Aemilius Paullus was found to be planning a rebellion against Augustus. Suddenly, both husband and wife were criminals in the eyes of the Empire.

A mere decade after her mother’s exile, Julia the Younger was also banished. She and her husband were tried for adultery and conspiracy, respectively. Perhaps to reinforce the severity of the punishment, or maybe for dramatic irony, Julia was exiled similarly to her mother. The grandfather of the latter had sent her to the island of Trimerus.[55] Once on the island, Julia had a baby – the grandson who could have, in any other circumstances, answered Augustus’ quest for an heir in his bloodline. Because of her transgressions, however, Augustus ordered the child to be killed through exposure. Though the dates are unclear, Aemilius Paullus’s fate was more severe than his wife’s; he was executed sometime around 8 CE for involvement in the rebellion plot.[56] [57] Back in the city of Rome, as soon as Augustus had died and Tiberius had taken the imperial throne, Decimus Junius Silanus freely returned to the capital.[58] Because his brother was a high-ranking senator, he was allowed to approach the Senate and ask the emperor to pardon his former crimes. Tiberius noted that Decimus “had been banished not by a decree of the Senate or under any law”[59] and thus could re-enter Roman society as a normal citizen. Decimus never again, however, held political office.

On the other hand, Julia remained in exile on Trimerus until her death twenty years later. Unlike her mother, whose financial livelihood was ended by Tiberius, Julia was sent relief by her step-grandmother, Livia.[60] Because Julia predeceased the empress by a year,[61] she could live the rest of her life with that support. It is possible that the support Livia showed Julia contributed in a small way to the rift that grew between her and her son Tiberius, by this point, the Roman Emperor. This analysis, focusing on the sympathy and kinship between women, relates to the modern scholarship in the field of gender studies discussed earlier in this paper; perhaps Livia had regrets over her husband’s treatment of his daughter, or maybe the daughterless woman just wanted to extend a helping hand to the girl. If Julia the Younger’s life in exile was more bearable than her mother’s, indeed, the emperor’s mother’s generosity played a part in that. Regardless, the loss of her husband, her life in Rome, and most heinously, the murder of her infant son must have taken an indescribable toll on the granddaughter of Augustus. In ancient sources, as noted above, the vast majority of information about either Julia is written with Augustus’s propaganda in mind. Even in modern scholarship, Julia the Elder fades into a footnote; Richlin eloquently declares that modern scholars, “like their [ancient] sources…write from the end of a story that lacks [Julia’s] voice, only incidentally seeking Julia,” within her own story.[62]

If Augustus had hoped to strengthen the moral backbone of his imperial family and his Empire as a whole, future emperors would prove his immense failure. What he did manage to achieve was the destruction of his granddaughter’s legacy as he performed a hasty amputation of an invaluable limb of his family tree. In his daughter and granddaughter, Augustus had a unique opportunity to confirm the continuation of his bloodline. Regardless of who fathered the Julias’ children, their mothers were related to the emperor, legitimizing them as inheritors to the pater familias’ power. Reported promiscuity on the Julias’ parts, in other words, would not have precluded their sons from Augustus’s dynastic inheritance, only that of their mothers’ husbands. However, Augustus damaged his legacy and destroyed his dynastic aspirations by exiling and killing the male heirs of his daughter and granddaughter.

In addition to his military victories, Augustus won his Empire through propaganda, and he strengthened his hold on it in the same way. How was he meant to symbolize Roman morality and tradition when his female descendants flouted the rules at every turn? When considering the exiles in that cruelly strategic way, Augustus’ treatment of the two Julias makes strange sense. Augustus had only been able to maintain his stronghold on Rome by painting himself as the one who could return Rome to its traditional ideal, removing the moral taint of the Republic’s sins. To use an Augustan art historical reference, the moment there were cracks in Augustus’ plaster, he quickly painted over them. In these cases, the imperfections in the imperial family were his daughter and granddaughter. By erasing them, though, Augustus did not create the perfect work of art for which he hoped. Instead, he allowed his dreams of a dynastic empire to become that of the weaker emperors who would follow him.[63] Perhaps if he had allowed his daughter and granddaughter to continue the Julian line, future emperors would have been able to reach the pinnacle set forth in the Augustan Age.

The Author: Maria Rosario Katsulos is a senior President’s Scholar at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Her undergraduate research has focused on investigating questions of gender, sexuality, and community through art, material history, and literature. After graduating with honors in History in May 2022, she will begin her History PhD at Northwestern University in Fall 2022. Special thanks to Dr. Melissa Barden Dowling, Professor Justin Germain, and TR, AK, + MK. 


[1] Scholars have also drawn connections between the identification of Cleopatra with Dido, the mythical queen of Carthage who “breaks her oath of celibacy…and devotes herself to Aeneas” in Virgil’s Aeneid. Fantham et. al, 298; see also Sarah B. Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (New York: Schocken Books, 1995), 189.

[2] Livia is portrayed as a paragon of moral chastity in primary sources, though more recent stories like Robert Graves’ I, Claudius depict Augustus’s third wife as the personification of the evil stepmother trope. Sarah B. Pomeroy specifically notes the promotion of “Fides, denoting [a wife’s] faithfulness to one man” even after her husband’s death as an ideal for Roman women. Pomeroy, 184-185.

[3] Pomeroy writes that “Augustus declared adultery a public offense only in women,” whereas men were accused of “criminal fornication (strupum),” which only applied to his potential “sexual relations with an unmarried or widowed upper-class woman, [not] relations with prostitutes” or with enslaved people. 159, 160.

[4] Richlin also notes that “Livy shows no concern for factual cases of adultery in the extant books,” choosing instead to focus on mythological moral exempla such as the stories of Verginia and Lucretia. Amy Richlin, Arguments with Silence: Writing the History of Roman Women (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2014), 44, 43.

[5] Suzanne Dixon, Reading Roman Women: Sources, Genres and Real Life (Duckworth: London, 2001), 36.

[6] Erich S. Gruen writes that when “Rumors had circulated of a prospective blood-line dynasty,” the emperor “had been at pains to discredit [those rumors]. He could not give even the appearance of preparing such a dynasty by indirect means.” Erich S. Gruen, “Augustus and the Making of the Principate,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, ed. Karl Galinsky (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 43. Augustus’s desire to squash rumors of dynastic inheritance stemmed from wanting to avoid the deep-seated Roman hatred for kings and kingship, going back to the overthrow of the Tarquins in 509 B.C. and seen again as recently as 44 B.C., when Augustus’s own adoptive father had been assassinated partially for assuming the role of Dictator for Life. Throughout his tenure as the first emperor of Rome, Augustus was sure to never liken himself to a king; even though from his title princeps we get the word “prince,” it was translated at the time as “first among equals.”

[7] Cassius Dio, Roman History, Volume VI: Books 51-55, trans. Earnest Cary, Herbert B. Foster, Loeb Classical Library 83 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1917), LV.13. In response to Augustus declaring that “fire should sooner mix with water than” Julia be allowed back into Rome, the Roman people staged a fruitless protest by throwing “many firebrands into the Tiber” River.

[8] Fantham et al., Women in the Classical World, 315. By levying taxes on unmarried or childless women, Augustus made it financially, politically, and socially beneficial to engage in the institution of marriage and to grow the Roman population.

[9] The survival of coinage with Julia the Elder’s likeness can be attributed to the higher difficulty in rescinding coins already in circulation in comparison to destroying larger portraits. Even though the representations of Julia on these coins were tiny, they would have been recognizable to the Roman people.

[10] Pomeroy notes the continued references, even into the Augustan period, to “a law attributed to Romulus that required a father to raise all male children but only the first-born female.” Pomeroy further acknowledges that “while [this so-called law is] not to be accepted at face value as evidence that every father regularly raised only one daughter[, it] is nevertheless indicative of official policy and foreshadows later legislation favoring the rearing of boys over girls.” Pomeroy, 164.

[11] It is still important to acknowledge, however, that the modern understanding of the term “slut-shaming” has evolved exponentially since the Roman Empire, especially due to the Christian influences developing at the time.

[12] The study of one’s social, familial, professional, and other connections.

[13] Fantham et al., 291.

[14] Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, trans. Catharine Edwards (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), II.63.

[15] Fantham et al., 291. Sourced from Macrobius, Saturnalia, 2.5.2.

[16] Susan Treggiari, “Women in the Time of Augustus,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, ed. Karl Galinsky (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 140.

[17] Gruen, 43. Gruen places Julia’s marriage to Agrippa in 21 B.C.E. According to Dio, LIII.27, Augustus was unable to attend the wedding due to illness while on campaign.

[18] Cassius Dio, The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus, trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert (London: Penguin Books, 1987), LIV.6.

[19] Fantham et al, 291. Sourced from Macrobius, Saturnalia, 2.5.9.

[20] Diana E. Kleiner, “Semblance and Storytelling in Augustan Rome,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, ed. Karl Galinsky (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 201.

[21] “Ara Pacis,” Ara Pacis Museum, Rome, Italy, photographed by the author May 23, 2019. Though there is scholarly debate over the identity of the two women featured among the imperial family (which is Julia? which is Livia?) I am inclined to agree with a majority of scholarship that argues the more significant figure, near Agrippa and a child argued to be Gaius as a young child, is Julia. The fact that she held a more significant position than her stepmother is very important, as the Ara Pacis celebrated the power, strength, and success of the Julian family. Effectively, Julia was recognized at this point of the empire (13 BCE) to be the de-facto first lady of the Empire, to use more modern terminology.

[22] British Museum Collection Database, “1921,0612.1,”, British Museum. Online. Accessed 27 April 2020. The placement of the singular corona civica, over Julia rather than over, for instance, her elder son Gaius, signifies her leading importance in the dynastic succession. Even though the grandsons were the heirs, not the mother, Augustus acknowledged that his daughter was the real key to this lineal succession.

[23] Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, trans. Alan Shapiro (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1988), 93.

[24] Zanker, 216. Zanker interprets the presence of Diana’s bow on the coin to imply “that the goddess herself had attended the birth of the two boys.” 

[25] British Museum Collection Database, “1856,0904.8,”, British Museum. Online. Accessed 27 April 2020. In my personal analysis of the coin, it seems that the obverse side of the coin (which depicts Augustus) shows him with the lyre of Apollo. This link between father and daughter as not only two sides of a literal coin, but also to represent the divine twins, seems significant.

[26] There are other important factors to consider in the identification of Julia with Diana. For example, despite the departure from Diana by being known for her “famous fertility,” Julia’s success in raising five of her six children to adulthood conquered the high infant mortality rate of the time, identifying her with Diana’s association with children and childbirth. Another similarity between Julia and Diana came in the form of their shared “transgressive behavior[, exemplified by] the goddess’s fierce and permanent virginity, her habitat in the wilds, and her predatory behavior in the hunt,” though certainly this was a more problematic difference between the two that Augustus would not have wanted to emphasize. Eve D’Ambra, “Daughters as Diana: Mythological Models in Roman Portraiture,” in Role Models in the Roman World: Identity and Assimilation, ed. Sinclair Bell and Inge Lyse Hansen (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2008), 171-183.

[27] Geoffrey Walter Richardson, Theodore John Cadoux, and Barbara Levick, “Vipsanius Agrippa, Marcus,” Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, March 2016, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.6827.

[28] Suetonius, III.7.

[29] Theodore John Cadoux and Robin Seager, “Iulia (3), daughter of Augustus, d. 14 CE,” Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, March 2016, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.3370.

[30] Dio, LV.10.

[31] Dio. Out of the men on trial with Julia, only Iullus Antonius was put to death. The son of Mark Antony (and younger brother of Julia’s first fiancé, Antyllus), he was tried not only for morality crimes, but also for treason. Augustus considered Iullus a conspirator, and perhaps to continue eliminating the rest of the Antonius line, had him executed. Of course, Mark Antony’s descendants would eventually become members of the imperial family, and even emperors themselves. 

[32] Fantham et al., 291-2. Sourced from Amy Richlin, “Julia’s Jokes: Galla Placidia and the Roman Use of Women as Political Icons.” In Stereotypes of Women in Power: Historical Perspectives and Revisionist Views, ed. B. Garlick, S. Dixon, and P. Allen (New York: 1992), 65—91.

[33] In the eyes of Augustus, and implicitly, therefore, in the rest of the Roman population, Julia became “a counterpart to the loathed Cleopatra” because of her sexual licentiousness, a trait that was understood to go hand-in-hand with the orientalized figure of Cleopatra or, as mentioned earlier, Dido of Carthage. Fantham et al., 292. Further, Seneca calls Julia “once again a woman to be feared with an Antony” as an allusion to Cleopatra; through her analysis of this quote, Richlin “recalls the feverishness of the propaganda against Augustus’s old enemy…Cleopatra was not only foreign but also Egyptian and Eastern…and was drunken and profligate…and there were rumors that [Cleopatra] wanted to take Rome itself. …This is what Seneca is talking about.” Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 88.

[34] Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 6.

[35] Fantham et al., 315.

[36] Fantham et al.

[37] Suetonius, II.65.

[38] Suetonius, II.65.

[39] Dio, LV.10. 

[40] Suetonius, II.11.

[41] Dio, LV.10. 55.

[42] Suetonius, II.101.

[43] Suetonius, II.65. Cadoux and Seager, “Iulia (3), daughter of Augustus, d. 14 CE.” In this article, the authors determine her new place of exile to be the colony of Rhegium. This is also in line with Dio’s assessment of the Roman populus’s clamoring for leniency for Julia. LV.13.  

[44] Dio, LV.13.

[45] Suetonius, II.65.

[46] Suetonius, II.19. The racial implications of Epicadus being only half Roman, and half Rome’s greatest enemy, should not be ignored; Suetonius chose to include that detail among the rest of his imperial propaganda in order to further vilify Parthia. Of note: nothing came of this plan to rescue Julia or her son, but the fact that it made it into Lives of the Caesars suggests that it was fairly well-known in its own time.

[47] Cadoux and Seager, “Iulia (3).”

[48] Theodore John Cadoux and Robin Seager, “Iulia (4), daughter of Agrippa and Iulia (3), d. 28 CE,” Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, March 2016, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.3370; Theodore John Cadoux, Robin Seager, and Ernst Badian, “Aemilius Paullus, Lucius (4), Roman consul, failed conspirator against Augustus, 1 CE,” Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, December 2015, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.125. Also interesting to note is the fact that Paullus shared a maternal grandmother with his wife: his mother was an older half-sister of Julia the Elder from one of Scribonia’s marriages before marrying Augustus.

[49] Cadoux, Seager, and Badian, “Aemilius Paullus.”

[50] Cadoux, Seager, and Badian.

[51] Suetonius, II.72.

[52] The sources of Tacitus and Suetonius, as well as the additional research through the Oxford Classical Dictionary, seem contradictory and unclear on specific timing, but are all in agreement that the falls of Julia and Aemilius Lepidus occurred during these years.

[53] Tacitus, The Annals, trans. Alfred John Church and William Jackson Broadbibb (London: Macmillan & Co., 1876), ed. Sara Bryant for Perseus Digital Library, 2011. Accessed 27 April 2020, III.24

[54] Cadoux, Seager, and Badian, “Aemilius Paullus.”

[55] Elaine Fantham, Julia Augusti: The Emperor’s Daughter (New York: Routledge, 2006), 110.

[56] Cadoux, Seager, and Badian, “Aemilius Paullus.”

[57] Suetonius, II.65. Though Suetonius does not draw the connection, in my analysis I found this to be similar to the executions of the Vestal Virgins and also to the way Augustus waited for Lepidus to die of natural causes, as the pontifex maximus was protected from assassination. By allowing nature to take its course on his newborn great-grandson, rather than ordering his direct, active execution through a soldier’s sword, Augustus could remain untainted from both the general cultural stigma of infanticide, but more important to his propagandic presentation, he could avoid becoming like Romulus, who killed his own family member in the name of Roman strength.

[58] Tacitus, III.24.

[59] Tacitus, III.24.

[60] Tacitus., IV.71.

[61] Cadoux and Seager, “Iulia (4)”; Nicholas Purcell, “Livia Drusilla, b. 58 BCE,” Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, March 2016, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.3738.

[62] Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 90.

[63] These included, of course, the emperors Caligula and Nero, whose own instances of sexual licentiousness were picked apart by Roman writers. Due to a lack of surviving material from the emperors’ own times, one of our best primary sources is that of Suetonius, who wrote anywhere from fifty to eighty years after the emperors’ reigns. Suetonius, IV.36, IV.52, VI.28, VI. 29.