Julia Augusti, late 1st century BCE
Julia (39 BCE-14/15 CE) was the daughter of Augustus and his first wife Scribonia. She was as celebrated in gossip for her beauty, wit, and kind-heartedness as for her indiscretions. Raised in the strict household of her stepmother, she was expected to follow the example of her aunt Octavia and Livia Drusilla, who were celebrated as models of the elite Republican matrona. In 25 BCE she was married to her cousin M. Claudius Marcellus (42-23 BCE), who fell ill and died not two years later. In 21 BCE Augustus gave Julia in marriage to his friend and lieutenant M.Vipsanius Agrippa (64/2-12 BCE), who was twenty-three years older than she. During her second marriage Julia was rumored to have engaged in many love affairs. Whether Agrippa knew about them or not is unclear. Augustus may have been unaware of her activities. Macrobius, a grammarian of the late 4th century CE, portrays him putting the best construction on what he heard and saw. After Agrippa's death, Julia, a widow for the second time, having borne five children in eight years, was given in marriage to Livia's son Tiberius Claudius Nero (42 BCE-37 CE), which is said to have pleased neither of them. In 2 BCE, invoking the provisions of his legislation on marriage, the Lex Julia, Augustus referred the matter to the Senate. Julia was divorced by her father's decree from his stepson Tiberius, and, accompanied by her mother, Scribonia, a virtuous woman, was exiled to the island of Pandateria (Ventotene), where she was forbidden the company of men or access to wine (Suetonius, Aug.65). In 3 CE Augustus allowed her to move to Rhegium in southern Italy, where she died shortly after her father. Julia may well have been the love poets' model of the new woman, for a time exercising control over her body and satisfying her sexual and emotional needs. Despite the fact that she submitted to three marriages aimed at advancing her fathers political goals and that she fulfilled traditional expectations by producing three male heirs (see Julio-Claudian family), perhaps because of her high status, her body became the ground of contention between the world of state and her private world. For further information on Julia Augusti, see Fantham (2006), and for an analysis of Julia in the worlds of Augustus and Macrobius, see "Julia's Jokes, Galla Placidia, and the Roman use of Women as Political Icons" in Richlin (2014) in the Bibliography.
|2. Annum agebat tricesimum et octavum, tempus aetatis, si mens sana superesset, vergentis in senium: sed indulgentia tam fortunae quam patris abutebatur, cum alioquin litterarum amor multaque eruditio, quod in illa domo facile erat, praeterea mitis humanitas minimeque saevus animus ingentem feminae gratiam conciliarent, mirantibus qui vitia noscebant tantam pariter diversitatem.|
|3. Non semel praeceperat pater, temperato tamen inter indulgentiam gravitatemque sermone, moderaretur profusos cultus perspicuosque comitatus. Idem cum ad nepotum turbam similitudinemque respexerat qua repraesentabatur Agrippa, dubitare de pudicitia filiae erubescebat.|
|4. Inde blandiebatur sibi Augustus laetum in filia animum usque ad speciem procacitatis, sed reatu liberum: et talem fuisse apud maiores Claudiam credere audebat. Itaque inter amicos dixit duas habere se filias delicatas, quas necesse haberet ferre, rem publicam et Iuliam.|
|5. Venerat ad eum licentiore vestitu, et oculos offenderat patris tacentis. Mutavit cultus sui postera die morem, et laetum patrem adfectata severitate conplexa est. At ille, qui pridie dolorem suum continuerat, gaudium continere non potuit, et Quantum hic, ait, in filia Augusti probabilior est cultus? Non defuit patrocinio suo Iulia his verbis: Hodie enim me patris oculis ornavi, heri viri.|
|7. Eadem Iulia mature habere coeperat canos, quos legere secrete solebat. Subitus interventus patris aliquando oppressit ornatrices. Dissimulavit Augustus deprehensis super vestem earum canis: et aliis sermonibus tempore extracto induxit aetatis mentionem, interrogavitque filiam, utrum post aliquot annos cana esse mallet an calva: et cum illa respondisset: Ego, pater, cana esse malo, sic illi mendacium obiecit: Quid ergo istae te calvam tam cito faciunt?|
|9. Cumque conscii flagitiorum mirarentur quomodo similes Agrippae filios pareret quae tam vulgo potestatem corporis sui faceret, ait: Numquam enim nisi navi plena tollo vectorem.|
Click on the underlined words for translation aids and commentary, which will appear in a small window. Close the small window after each use.