« Marcellus, bp. of Ancyra Marcia, concubine of Commodus Marciani, see Euchites »

Marcia, concubine of Commodus

Marcia. In 183 a conspiracy against the emperor Commodus was detected and put down, in which the emperor's sister Lucilla and his cousin Quadratus had been prime movers. On the execution of Quadratus and the confiscation of his property, his concubine Marcia became the concubine of Commodus and obtained the highest favour with him. She was granted all the honours due to an acknowledged empress, save that of having the sacred fire borne before her. The emperor's coins displayed her figure in the garb of an Amazon, and he himself took the title Amazonius, and gave it to a month of the year. She was all-powerful with him, and used her influence on behalf of the Christians, obtaining for them many benefits. This fact, stated by Dion Cassius (or possibly by his epitomizer Xiphilinus), has led to the suspicion that she was a Christian herself, a suspicion not disproved by her position as concubine; for the Christian code then dealt tenderly with the case of a female slave unable to refuse her person to her master, and, provided she shewed the fidelity of a wife, did not condemn her (Const. Apost. viii. 32). We now know from Hippolytus that the eunuch who brought Marcia up, and who retained a high place in her confidence, was a Christian presbyter. This sufficiently accounts for her Christian sympathies; and the epithet φιλόθεος, which Hippolytus applies to her, would have been different if, besides being friendly to the Christians, she had been a Christian herself.

Marcia, whose intimacy with her fellow servant Eclectus had given occasion for remark, ultimately became his wife. She appears to have had resolution and spirit corresponding to her favourite Amazonian dress. She was put to death in 193 by Didius Julianus, to avenge the death of Commodus, which she had planned and carried out to save her own life. For the original authorities, see ECLECTUS.

[G.S.]

« Marcellus, bp. of Ancyra Marcia, concubine of Commodus Marciani, see Euchites »





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