Domitia Lepida the Younger

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Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus 27 BC14 AD
Tiberius 1437 AD
Caligula 3741 AD
Claudius 4154 AD
Nero 5468 AD
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors

Domitia Lepida,[1] also known as Domitia Lepida the Younger, Domitia Lepida Minora, or simply Lepida (c. 10 BC-54); was the younger daughter of consul, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and Antonia Major. Her elder siblings were Domitia Lepida the Elder and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, father of the Emperor Nero. She was the great niece of Emperor Augustus, granddaughter of Octavia the Younger and Triumvir Mark Antony, second cousin to the Emperor Caligula, first cousin and mother-in-law to the Emperor Claudius and paternal aunt of the Emperor Nero. Lepida was a beautiful and influential figure.[2] Like her sister, she was also very wealthy. She had holdings in Calabria and owned the praedia Lepidiana.[3]

Lepida was married three times. Her first husband was her cousin, the consul Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus.[4][5] Lepida married Barbatus probably around 15.[6] They possibly had a son, Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus and a daughter, Valeria Messalina (c. 17/20-48), who became Empress and third wife to the Emperor Claudius. Barbatus most likely died around 20 or 21, shortly after Messalina was born. Lepida's second husband was Faustus Cornelius Sulla Lucullus III,[7] consul suffectus in 31, a descendant of the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Their son, Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix was born in 22 and married Claudia Antonia, the daughter of Claudius through his second marriage to Aelia Paetina.[8][9] Faustus Cornelius Sulla died in 62.

At the beginning of the reign of her son-in-law, Claudius, Lepida was given in marriage to Appius Junius Silanus, consul in 28. In the following year in 42, Silanus was put to death by Claudius, apparently because he had resisted the advances of Messalina, who subsequently accused him of plotting to assassinate Claudius.

Lepida was the maternal grandmother to Messalina's children Claudia Octavia (stepsister and first wife of Nero) and Britannicus. In 48, Messalina was executed on the orders of Claudius, due to Messalina's mock marriage with her lover Gaius Silius which later became a foiled political coup d'état. During the most part of Messalina's influence and prosperity at the imperial court, Lepida had argued with Messalina and they had become estranged (this might have followed Appius Silanus' murder). In Messalina's last hour in the Gardens of Lucullus, Lepida was at her side and encouraged her to end her own life.[10] After Messalina was stabbed with a dagger by an officer, her body was given up to Lepida.

Lepida's former sister-in-law, Agrippina the Younger, became Claudius' new wife in 49. Out of jealousy, Agrippina arranged the execution of Lepida sometime before the poisoning of Claudius, after which Nero became the new emperor. Agrippina charged Lepida with attempting her life by magic, disturbing Italian peace, and failing to control her Calabrian slave-gangs. Agrippina thought that Lepida would use her 'kind' influence on Nero to turn him against his mother.

She was played by Moira Redmond in the 1976 TV series I, Claudius.


a.^ Minor being Latin for "the younger"


  1. ^ E. Groag, A. Stein, L. Petersen - e.a. (edd.), Prosopographia Imperii Romani saeculi I, II et III, Berlin, 1933 -. (PIR2) D 180
  2. ^ Tacitus, Annals, 12.64
  3. ^ Raepsaet-Charlier M.-Th., Prosopographie des femmes de l'ordre sénatorial (Ier-IIe siècles), 2 vol., Louvain, 1987, 285 ff; p.286
  4. ^ E. Klebs, H. Dessau, P. Von Rohden (ed.), Prosopographia Imperii Romani, 3 vol., Berlin, 1897-1898. (PIR1) V 88
  5. ^ Suetonius, Vita Claudii, 26.29
  6. ^ Barrett, Anthony A., Agrippina: Sex, Power and Politics in the Early Roman Empire. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1996; p. 287 n. 154
  7. ^ PIR2 C 1459
  8. ^ PIR2 C 1464
  9. ^ Dio 60.30.6a
  10. ^ Tacitus, Annals 11.37
  • Levick, Barbara, Claudius. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1990

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