History, Facts and Information about Elagabalus
The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about the Emperor Elagabalus and the all-powerful Caesars who ruled the empire of Ancient Rome. The word "Caesar" was originally the name of the famous aristocratic patrician family of ancient Rome and became synonymous with the Roman Emperors. Refer to the comprehensive List of Roman Emperors for the names of the most famous Romans, their dynasties and the historic eras of all the Roman Emperors and usurpers. Read about the life of Elagabalus who can be described or remembered as:
"The Emperor who married a Vestal Virgin and then took a husband"
Short Biography about the life of Elagabalus
Short Biography profile and facts about one of the most famous Romans of all, in the life of Elagabalus, Emperor of Rome and provinces of the Roman Empire.
Name commonly known as: Elagabalus
Latin Roman Name: Varius Avitus Bassianus Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (known as Elagabalus)
Reigned as Roman Emperor / Caesar: 218–222
Dynasty / Historical Period: Severan
Place and Date of Birth: Born c203 in Emesa, a western city in Syria
Name of previous Emperor: His predecessor or the Emperor before Elagabalus was Macrinus
Family connections / Genealogy
Name of Father: Sextus Varius Marcellus
Name of Mother: Julia Soaemias Bassiana
Julia Cornelia Paula
Julia Aquilia Severa
Julia Aquilia Severa
Hierocles the blond charioteer who Elagabalus considered to be his husband
Children: Alexander Severus (adoptive)
Why was Elagabalus famous? Accomplishments, achievements and important events:
Place and Date of Death: Died 11 March 222
Name of next Emperor: The successor to Elagabalus was Alexander Severus
Interesting facts about the life of Elagabalus
Obtain a fast overview of the times of the Roman Emperor Elagabalus from the following facts and information about his life. Elagabalus, yet another monster, ascended the throne to the Roman Empire at the age of 15years old. Elagabalus was born in Emesa, a western city in Syria. His maternal grandmother was Julia Maesa, the younger sister of Julia Domna, widow of the Emperor Septimius Severus and mother of Geta and Caracalla. Elagabalus was therefore a prominent member of the Severan dynasty. Elagabalus brought with him many low-born Syrians who were granted positions in high office. The sun was worshiped at Emesa and during his early youth Elagabalus served as a priest of the god El-Gabal (Baal) referred to as Elagabalus by the Romans and from where the emperor took his name. Once proclaimed emperor Elagabalus at once plunged into every vice. Elagabalus introduced the lascivious rites of the Syrian god into the capital of the world. A magnificent temple of the god El-Gabal was raised on the Palatine Mount and the grave and dignified nobles of Rome were forced to take part in the ceremonies clothed in long Phoenician tunics. Elagabalus also decreed that the god El-Gabal should be worshipped as the only god by the Romans.
The Sexual Excesses of Elagabalus
Elagabalus was said to have sunk to the very extreme of depravity. He was married as many as four times and is reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. In 220 AD Elagabalus also divorced his first wife enraged Roman society by marrying one of the Vestal Virgins, Julia Aquilia Severa only to divorce her a year later. The marriages were sham as it appears that Elagabalus was homosexual. He had the hairs plucked from his body in order to appear more female and appeared in public wearing make-up and women's clothing. His most stable relationship appears to have been with his chariot driver, a blond slave from Caria named Hierocles, whom he referred to as his husband.
Elagabalus and Hierocles
Hierocles was the blond charioteer who Elagabalus referred to as his husband. Hierocles was a slave who came from Caria, a Roman province in modern day Turkey. Elagabalus first met Hierocles after the slave had participated in a chariot race. Driving a racing chariot required unusual strength, skill and courage. Hierocles fell in front of the emperor's box and with his long, blond hair tumbling out out his helmet had attracted the eye of the emperor who ordered that he should be taken to his palace. Elagabalus instigated a relationship with Hierocles who he considered to be his husband. Elagabalus is credited with saying:
"I am delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the Queen of Hierocles"
Hierocles was even expected to beat the emperor when displeased, as any man might beat his wife. Elagabalus even tried (but failed) to have Hierocles declared Caesar, which would have made him the emperor's successor. Hierocles was murdered when Elagabalus fell from power in 222.
The Death of Elagabalus
His sexual excesses together with enforced changes in the Roman religion led to his downfall. Elagabalus was beheaded by the Praetorians on March 10, A.D. 222. The body of Elagabalus was dragged through the streets of Rome and thrown into the Tiber. Elagabalus was eighteen years old. His cousin Alexander Severus who had shown himself to be amiable, virtuous, and learned was proclaimed as the next emperor.
The Severan Dynasty (193 - 235)
Septimius Severus began the Severan Dynasty which included Caracalla, Geta, Macrinus, Diadumenian (son of Macrinus), Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. The Severan Dynasty marked the end of Pax Romana (Roman peace) and ended the practice of choosing heirs based on ability rather than lineage or civil war.
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Map of the Roman Empire c395AD illustrating the power of the Emperor