« Mamertus, Claudianus Ecdicius Mammaea or Mamaea, Julia Manes, called also Mani »

Mammaea or Mamaea, Julia

Mammaea or Mamaea, Julia, the daughter of Julia Moesa, and niece of Julia Domna, the wife of the emperor Septimius Severus. She played for a short time a conspicuous part in Roman history, not without some interesting points of contact with the Christian church. By her marriage with the Syrian Gessius Marcianus she became the mother of Alexander Severus, and soon afterwards was a widow. With her mother and her sister Soaemias, the mother of ELAGABALUS, she went, at the command of Macrinus after the death of Caracalla, to reside at Emesa. On the election of her nephew Elagabalus as emperor, she went with him and her son Alexander, then 13 years old, to Rome, and it speaks well for her prudence and goodness that she continued to secure the life of her son from the jealous suspicions of the tyrant and to preserve him from the fathomless impurity which ran riot in the imperial court. There are sufficient reasons for assigning this watchfulness to at least the indirect influence of Christian life and teaching. Possibly, as in the time of Nero, there may have been disciples of the new faith among the slaves of Caesar's household, whom she learnt to respect and imitate. On the death of Elagabalus, a.d. 222, and the election of her son by the Praetorian Guard, she attained great influence. Her leanings to the Christian society were shewn more distinctly when she was with the emperor at Antioch, and hearing that Origen, already famous as a preacher, was at Caesarea, invited him to visit them with the honour of a military escort, welcomed him with all honour, and listened attentively as he unfolded the excellence of the faith of Christ (Eus. H. E. vi. 21). It does not appear that she ever made a definite profession of belief, and her religion, though it won from Eusebius (l.c.) the epithets of θεοσεβεστάτη and εὐλαβής, and from Jerome (de Script. Eccles. c. 54) that of religiosa, was probably of the syncretistic type then prevalent, which shewed itself, in its better form, in Alexander's adoption of Christian rules of action, and in his placing busts of Christ, Abraham, Orpheus, and Apollonius of Tyana in his private oratory (Lamprid Vit. Sev. c. 29, 43), and in its worst when Elagabalus wished to build a temple on the Capitol in which Jews, Samaritans, Christians, and Romans were to unite in worshipping the Deity whose name he had adopted. Both mother and son, in consequence of these tendencies, came under the lash of Julian, who sneers at the childish unwisdom of the latter in submitting his own will to Mammaea's and gratifying her greed of gain (de Caesarr. p. 315), and represents him as weakly bemoaning his disaster. Mammaea shared her son's fate when the troops rose and murdered him in Gaul, and her last moments were embittered by her son's reproaches for the pride and avarice which had wrought their common ruin (Gibbon, cc. vi. and vii. and authorities cited above).

[E.H.P.]

« Mamertus, Claudianus Ecdicius Mammaea or Mamaea, Julia Manes, called also Mani »





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