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Urgulania (fl. 24 AD), was a prominent noblewoman during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, and a friend of the empress Livia. She was the mother of Marcus Plautius Silvanus (consul in 2 BC), who had distinguished himself with Tiberius in the Balkans. She was the grandmother to Plautia Urgulanilla, the first wife of the emperor Claudius, and another Plautius Silvanus, the suspect in a famous murder case.
Due to her closeness with Livia, Tacitus asserts that she held herself above the law. He relates the tale of a man named Lucius Piso who sued Urgulania in the courts. She refused her summons, and instead traveled to the palace where she had Livia issue a statement against Piso's actions. Livia called Tiberius and guard to come and stay with them, which forced Piso to go to them instead of the court. Livia paid a settlement and the matter was closed. Tacitus also states that at a trial where she was called as a witness, Urgulania demanded that the praetor take her deposition in her own home, rather than the attend the court. Even the vestal virgins did not have this privilege.
In 24 AD, Urgulania's star fell as a result of two blows to her family's reputation. Her grandson Silvanus' new wife, Apronia, was found dead in their home, apparently pushed from a great height. Tiberius himself came to investigate the crime scene, and Silvanus was implicated, and tried to claim that his ex-wife had cursed him. Before the trial could begin, Urgulania (perhaps at Livia's behest) sent her grandson a dagger. He used it on himself, saving himself (and her) the disgrace of being convicted of murder.
Claudius divorced her granddaughter Urgulanilla due to a possible role in the murder. Urgulanilla was also put away for adultery, and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter shortly after the divorce. Urgulania's marriage connection with the imperial family was severed.
Understandably, Urgulania is not written of again after these events.
- Tacitus, Annals 2.34.
- Tacitus, Annals 4.22.
- Suetonius, Life of Claudius 26.
- Suetonius, Life of Claudius 27.
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