Pompeia Plotina

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Pompeia Plotina coin, celebrating the Fides on the reverse.

Pompeia Plotina Claudia Phoebe Piso or Pompeia Plotina (d. 121/122) was a Roman Empress and wife of Roman Emperor Trajan. She was renowned for her interest in philosophy, and her virtue, dignity and simplicity. She was particularly devoted to the Epicurean philosophical school in Athens, Greece.[1] Through her influence, she provided Romans with fairer taxation, improved education, assisted the poor, and created tolerance in Roman society.

Plotina was born and was raised in Tejada la Vieja (Escacena del Campo) in the province of Hispania during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero (r. 54–68). She was the daughter of Lucius Pompeius and Plotia, who had extensive political and familial connections. Trajan married her before his accession and, although a happy marriage, they had no known children. In 100, Trajan awarded her with title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear also on the coinage until 112.[1]

When the future emperor Hadrian and his sister lost their parents at 10 or 11 years old, Trajan and the Roman officer Publius Acilius Attianus became their guardians; Hadrian was a first cousin once removed to Trajan (Trajan's father and Hadrian's paternal grandmother were siblings). It is rumoured that she and Attianus had an affair, both being fond of Hadrian their ward, and that this was part of how Hadrian became Emperor: Attianus and Plotina were both present at Trajan’s deathbed at Selinus in Cilicia in August 117, and the two helped secure Hadrian's succession by forging Trajan’s will.[1] Along with Attianus and Matidia, the grieving widow Plotina accompanied Trajan’s body to Seleucia and his ashes to Rome.

When Plotina died, c. 121/122, she was deified. Hadrian built a temple in her honor at Nîmes, in Provence.

Nerva–Antonine family tree[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth-E.A. (edd.), Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 1214.
Royal titles
Preceded by
Domitia Longina
Empress of Rome
98–117
Succeeded by
Vibia Sabina

Further reading[edit]

  • (French) Minaud, Gérard, Les vies de 12 femmes d’empereur romain - Devoirs, Intrigues & Voluptés , Paris, L’Harmattan, 2012, ch. 6, La vie de Plotine, femme de Trajan, pp. 147–168.