Lollia Paulina

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Lollia Paulina from Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum

Lollia Paulina,[1] also known as Lollia Paullina[2] (15-49[3]) was a Roman Empress for six months in 38 as the third wife and consort of the Roman emperor Caligula. Outside of her term as a Roman Empress, she was a noble Roman woman who lived in the Roman Empire of the 1st century.[4]

Family Background & Early Life[edit]

Paulina was a member of the plebeian gens Lollia.[5][6] Paulina was the second daughter of the suffect consul Marcus Lollius from the noble woman Volusia Saturnina,[7] while her eldest sister was Lollia Saturnina.[8]

Her father, Marcus Lollius was the son born to the Roman Politician and Military Officer Marcus Lollius[9] from his wife Valeria.[10] Valeria was one of the daughters of the literary patron, consul Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus and a sister to the Roman Senators Marcus Valerius Messalla Messallinus and Marcus Aurelius Cotta Maximus Messalinus.[11] Her possible paternal uncle may have been Publius Lollius Maximus or at least a close relation to his paternal grandfather.[12] Publius Lollius Maximus was a soldier who served under the first Roman emperor Augustus;[13] later becoming a friend of the Poet Horace;[14] who became a possible poet, historian and must have been offered a post in the Retinue of the future Roman emperor Tiberius in about 20 BC.[15] Paulina was the namesake of her father; paternal grandfather and her paternal ancestors.

Her mother Volusia Saturnina, came from an ancient and distinguished Senatorial family, that never rose above the Praetorship[16] which was of eques status.[17] She was the daughter of the prefect, Quintus Volusius from his wife Claudia. Her father served under Cicero in 51 BC to 50 BC in Cilicia[18] and was a pupil of his in oratory.[19] Claudia was a daughter of Pompey’s officer Drusus Claudius Nero and a sister of praetor, Tiberius Claudius Nero,[20] as Volusia Saturnina was a first cousin to Roman emperor Tiberius and his brother, the General Nero Claudius Drusus.[21] The brother of Volusia Saturnina was the consul Lucius Volusius Saturninus.[22][23]

Paulina was born and raised in Rome and became very wealthy after inheriting the estates of her relatives. She inherited the large fortune from her paternal grandfather,[24] thus was the heiress of Marcus Lollius.[25]

Marriages & Rivals[edit]

The first husband of Paulina was Publius Memmius Regulus, a man of consular rank,[26] who served as a suffect consul in 31 and later, as a Roman Governor. Tacitus describes him as a man of 'dignity, who was a person of influence and good name', who died in 62. Paulina bore a son called Gaius Memmius Regulus.[27]

In 38, Paulina was with Regulus at the province he was governing when Caligula ordered her to leave her husband upon overhearing a remark about the beauty of her grandmother.[28] She was forced to divorce Regulus and marry Caligula, becoming his third wife and Roman Empress that same year. Caligula divorced her after six months of marriage, ostensibly because she was infertile, and forbade her to sleep with or associate with another man.[29]

In 48, Paulina became a rival to the sister of Caligula, Agrippina the Younger. Paulina was considered as a choice as the fourth wife of the paternal uncle of Caligula, the Roman emperor Claudius,[30] following the death of the third wife of Claudius, the Roman empress Valeria Messalina. In 49, Agrippina the Younger married Claudius. Sometime after, Agrippina the Younger had Paulina charged with sorcery, accused of having entered into forbidden consultations with astrologers.[31] Without a hearing, the property of Paulina (including her gardens) was confiscated and she was sent into exile. Tacitus reported that Paulina was forced to commit suicide[32] under the watch of a colonel of the Guards and implied that this was done under the orders of Agrippina the Younger. A sepulchre was not erected in her honor until the reign of the Roman emperor Nero.[33]


Paulina is mentioned in Natural History by Pliny the Elder. Pliny the Elder mentions Paulina as an example of Roman ostentation for wearing a large share of her inheritance to a dinner party in the form of jewellery worth to the value of 50 million sesterces.[34][35] She would wear her jewels in her hair, round her neck, arms and fingers.[36] The complaint of Pliny the Elder was made in the context of Rome spending enormous amounts for importing India’s 'useless' pepper and pearls, as worn by Paulina even around her shoes.

In Fiction[edit]

Paulina is a character in the novel series, I, Claudius written by Robert Graves.


  1. ^ Hazel, Who’s Who in the Roman World, p.171
  2. ^ [1] & articles of Lollia Paulina at ancient library
  3. ^ A bit of History – Lollia Paullina
  4. ^ Aut. E. Groag, A. Stein, L. Petersen - e.a. (edd.), Prosopographia Imperii Romani saeculi I, II et III, Berlin, 1933-x, L 308. (PIR2)
  5. ^ Lollia Gens article at ancient library
  6. ^ Marcus Lollius no. 5 article at ancient library
  7. ^ Lollius by D.C. O’Driscoll
  8. ^ Marcus Lollius’ article at
  9. ^ Marcus Lollius’ article at
  10. ^ Genealogy of M. Lollius by D.C. O’Driscoll
  11. ^ Genealogy of M. Lollius by D.C. O’Driscoll
  12. ^ Harrison, Homage to Horace: A Bimillenary Celebration, p.290
  13. ^ Harrison, Homage to Horace: A Bimillenary Celebration, p.290
  14. ^ Highet, The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature, p.96
  15. ^ Horace, Horace: Epistles Book I, p.136
  16. ^ Tacitus, Annals: Part One: Tiberius, Chapter 6 - Tiberius and the Senate
  17. ^ Genealogy of Volusius Saturninus by D.C. O’Driscoll
  18. ^ Romeins Imperium – Lucius Quintus Volusius Saturninus translated from Dutch to English
  19. ^ Quintus Volusius no.2 article at ancient library
  20. ^ Romeins Imperium – Lucius Quintus Volusius Saturninus translated from Dutch to English
  21. ^ After Actium: Two Caesars Are Not Enough: Chapter LXXXVII: The Trials of Livia Valeria
  22. ^ Rickman, Roman Granaries and Store Buildings, p.169
  23. ^ Genealogy of Volusius Saturninus by D.C. O’Driscoll
  24. ^ Hazel, Who’s Who in the Roman World, p.171
  25. ^ Romeins Imperium – Lollia Paulina translated from Dutch to English
  26. ^ Suetonius, Caligula, 25
  27. ^ Memmius Regulus by D.C. O’Driscoll
  28. ^ Suetonius, Caligula, 25
  29. ^ Suetonius, Caligula, 25
  30. ^ Hazel, Who’s Who in the Roman World, p.171
  31. ^ Hazel, Who’s Who in the Roman World, p.171
  32. ^ Hazel, Who’s Who in the Roman World, p.171
  33. ^ [2] & articles of Lollia Paulina at ancient library
  34. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 9.117
  35. ^ Prof. George Menachery, quoted in Kodungallur, 1987 & 2000
  36. ^ [3] articles of Lollia Paulina at ancient library


Royal titles
Preceded by
Livia Orestilla
Empress of Rome
Succeeded by
Milonia Caesonia