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Maesa, Ju'lia

the sister-in-law of Septimius Severus, the aunt of Caracalla, the grandmother of Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. [See geneaogical table prefixed to CARACALLA.] She was a native of Emesa in Syria, and seems, after the elevation of the husband of her sister Julia Domna, to have lived at the imperial court until the death of Caracalla, and to have accumulated great wealth. The boldness and skill with which she contrived and executed the plot which transferred the supreme power from Macrinus to her grandson, the sagacity with which she foresaw the downfall of the latter, and the arts by which, in order to save herself from being involved in his ruin, she prevailed on him to adopt his cousin Alexander, are detailed in the articles ELAGABALUS and MACRINUS. By Severus she was always treated with the greatest respect, and she exerted all her influence in the best direction, ever urging him to obliterate by his own virtues all recollection of the foul enormities of his predecessor. She enjoyed the title of Augusta during her life, died in peace, and received divine honours. Every particular of her history points her out as one of the most able and strongminded women of antiquity, one who was passionately desirous of power, who was unscrupulous in the means she employed to gratify her ambition, but who had the wisdom to perceive that the dominion thus obtained would be best preserved by justice and moderation. (D. C. 78.30; Herodian. in Elagab. For other authorities, see CARACALLA, ELAGABALUS, MACRINUS, SEVERUS.)


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