Pompeia Plotina was the only wife of emperor Trajan. Faithful and loyal. History has produced a beautiful portrait of this Roman empress. But is it real?
Pompeia was born in Colonia Augusta Nemausus (today’s Nîmes in France). Her parents were Lucius Pompey and Plotia. Its birth falls on the reign of Emperor Nero (reigned in the years 54-68 CE). From childhood, she was a very modest and serious person.
She married Marcus Ulpius Trajan before he became Holy Roman Emperor (98-117 CE). It was if you believe the messages, a happy marriage. The imperial couple was held up as a model. The attitude of the empress herself contributed to this. Apparently, when Trajan took the throne, Pompeia crossed the thresholds of the imperial palace, and the following words were to be uttered from her lips: “I enter here as a woman I would like to be when I leave here”.
From the beginning of her reign, the empress was the personification of all the virtues of a Roman matron. Modest, hardworking, and involved in the problems of ordinary people. In this way, she wanted to erase the bad image of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the reign of Domitian. Visually, she was a great success.
The empress also liked to exert a lot of influence in the affairs of the state. Her husband wanted to grant her the title of Augusta in 100, but she waited with her consent until 105. Her image appeared on coins only from 112.
She was also actively interested in philosophy. Interestingly, Pompeia was a follower of the Epicurean school of philosophy, not very popular in Rome itself. There are descriptions of her correspondence with her husband, in which they discuss who should become the head of one of the schools. She was also involved in social life, taking care of the development of education.
Unfortunately, the couple did not have children. This fact was attributed to the emperor’s homosexuality. Thanks to the intervention of the emperor’s sister, the imperial couple adopted the orphaned Publius Elius Hadrian. He was to become Trajan’s successor in the future.
Pompeia was widowed in 117.
The next ruler was her adoptive son Hadrian. Some of the people unfavorable to the empress believed that Pompeia had forced the dying emperor to sign and agree that Hadrian would be his successor. Historians, however, tend to the theory that these were only slander.
Plotina died around 121/122. After her death, she was deified, and the emperor Hadrian built her temple in Nîmes.
Most historians agree that Trajan and Pompeia Plotina were one of the most ideal marriages in the history of the Empire.