Julius Avitus

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Julius Avitus[1][2] also known by his full name Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus[3] (flourished second half of the 2nd century & first half of the 3rd century, died 217[4]) was an Assyrian nobleman who had an impressive Roman military and political career.

Background & Career[edit]

Although Alexianus was a Roman citizen who was born and raised in Emesa (modern Homs, Syria), little is known on his origins. It has been assumed that Alexianus was born in c. 155.[5] What is known about him is from surviving inscriptional and Roman historical evidence. Through marriage he was a relation to the Royal family of Emesa and the ruling Severan dynasty of the Roman Empire.

He was an Equestian officer[6][7] serving as a Prefect and Tribune in the Roman military. Alexianus after served as a Procurator of the food supply in Rome, being stationed in Ostia.[8]

Later he was promoted to the Roman Senate by the Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus.[9] Having entered the Senate with the rank of Praetor[10] in 194, Alexianus was made Legatus in the Legio IV Flavia Felix[11] and later served as Proconsul of Raetia[12] which may be dated to 196/197.[13] During his proconsulship of Raetia, he dedicated an altar to the Emesene God Elagabalus.[14] The altar and its inscription still intact, mentions him as a priest of the deified Roman emperor Titus.[15]

Alexianus served as a Roman consul in 200,[16] even perhaps as early as 198 or 199.[17] After his consulship, Alexianus didn’t served in a Roman military nor political position, probably due to Septimius Severus’ hostilities from the Praetorian prefect Gaius Fulvius Plautianus.[18] After the death of Plautianus in 205, Alexianus took part in Septimius Severus’ expedition in Britain where he acted as a Comes (Companion) to the emperor[19] from 208 until 211.[20]

Under Septimius Severus’ successor Caracalla, for two years Alexianus served as a Prefect of the Italian orphanages.[21] He served as a Legatus in Dalmatia[22] in c. 214 and later as a Proconsul in Asia[23] and in Mesopotamia.[24] In 216-217, Alexianus became a Comes to Caracalla[25] on his campaign against the Sassanid Empire. He died on his way from old age to Cyprus being sent by Caracalla in early 217 to act as an advisor to the Governor.[26]

Marriage & Issue[edit]

Alexianus married the Syrian noblewoman Julia Maesa[27] the first daughter of Gaius Julius Bassianus, a High Priest of the Temple of the Sun. The temple was dedicated to the Syrian Aramaic Sun God El-Gebal (counterpart to the Phoenician Baal) in Emesa. The younger sister of Maesa was the Roman empress Julia Domna wife of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus[28] who was the mother of the Roman emperors Caracalla and Publius Septimius Geta.

Maesa bore two distinguished daughters[29] to Avitus who were born and raised in Syria:

Among his grandchildren were the Roman emperors Elagabalus (born as Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus) and Alexander Severus (born as Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus Alexianus).[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, 78(79).30.2
  2. ^ Julius Avitus’ article at ancient library
  3. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  4. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p. 34
  5. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  6. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  7. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  8. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  9. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  10. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  11. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  12. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  13. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  14. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  15. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  16. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  17. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  18. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  19. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  20. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  21. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  22. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  23. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  24. ^ Julius Avitus’ article at ancient library
  25. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.223
  26. ^ Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus’ article at Livius.org
  27. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.217
  28. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  29. ^ Hazel, Who's who in the Roman World, p.34
  30. ^ Julius Avitus’ article at ancient library

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]