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Julia was example of unfaithful wife

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder | Photo: Miguel Hermoso Cuesta | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Augustus’ daughter Julia was an example of an unfaithful wife. Although in 11 BCE she became the wife of Tiberius, she did not avoid romance and love outside the marriage bed. Julia’s scandalous conduct resulted in Tiberius leaving for Rhodes in 6 BCE.

Among her lovers were Iullus Antonius, Tiberius Quinctius Crispinus, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, Appius Claudius Pulcher and Cornelius Scipio, representatives of the most famous Roman families. This points to the existence of a political basis for these relationships as well. It should be noted, however, that she also did not avoid lovers of worse birth.

Julia’s scandalous behaviour was a crack in Octavian’s “mental reform” in Rome. The emperor sought to restore the ancient Roman moral and religious virtues, and Julia only ridiculed him. Moreover, Tiberius’ withdrawal from public life was a threat to the continuity of power. Livia’s son was planned to succeed Octavian, and possible other contenders – Agrippa’s sons – were too young to be heirs. To make matters worse, the conspiracy of Iullus Antonius, son of the triumvir of Mark Antony, to overthrow Octavian’s power, seemed to be worse. Iullus, Julia’s most prominent lover, was accused of treason and sentenced to death. It was even suggested that Julia was involved in the conspiracy, but there was no evidence of it.

In 2 BCE Augustus found out about everything. The case was brought to the Senate, and August, on behalf of Tiberius, sent Julia the divorce papers. In the same year, Augustus sent her into exile on the island of Pandateria, where she lived in very harsh conditions. She was accompanied by her mother Scribonia voluntarily in exile. Julia was later allowed to move to the Regium. After Tiberius ascended the throne, the conditions of her stay were tightened, leading to her death.

  • Koper Sławomir, Życie prywatne i erotyczne w starożytnej Grecji i Rzymie, Warszawa 1998

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