Italy · Political

Assassination of Elagabalus

March 11, 222
Emperor Elagabalus is assassinated with his mother

Elagabalus stirred the Roman pot quite a bit during his brief 18 years of life:

  • he married a Vestal Virgin, suggesting their children would be “godlike,” despite the punishment for a Vestal Virgin having sexual relations to be buried alive
  • he appointed his mother and grandmother to be the first women allowed in the Senate
  • he was married five times (remember, he was only 18 when killed)
  • he allegedly had a male lover whom he said he would dress as a woman for, and delighted in being called his lover’s mistress
  • he was said to have offered a large sum to any doctor who could give him working female genitalia
  • he attempted a start his own religion (with himself as high priest) which worshipped a meteorite as though it had been sent by heaven
  • he circumcised himself

His end came when his 13-year-old cousin Severus Alexander was given the title of Caesar. Numerous assassination attempts on the younger boy’s life failed, so Elagabalus stripped him of his titles and spread a rumor the boy was near death. Due to this newfound “knowledge,” a riot broke with the demand to see Alexander and Elagabalus. Elagabalus complied, bringing Alexander as well as his own mother. Alexander was cheered by the crowd and Elagabalus ignored.

It was quickly decided Elagabalus as well as any involved in the deception should be executed. The guards descended upon Elagabalus and his mother, who clung to her son. They were beheaded and dragged through town before she was discarded casually and he was thrown in the Tiber.

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