222 A.D. - The Imperial Score : Alexander Severus 1, Elagabalus
0, Julia Maesa 2
Forgive the sports metaphor folks, but it seems the best way to describe the latest round in Rome's favorite game - "Who Wears the Purple". The game was won yesterday by the supporters of Severus Alexander over the unlucky adherents of Elagabalus. Alexander climbs the throne while Elagabalus gets the traditional Roman treatment of defeated Emperors - death, dragging and dumping in the Tiber. And the crowd is loving it!
First, a bit of background for those fresh off the turnip cart.
Rome had a brief period of non-Severian rule four years ago after
a disgruntled soldier relieved Caracalla of his life while he
was relieving his bowels. The Praetorian Prefect, Macrinus, stepped
into the gap and became Emperor but didn't count on the determination
of two sisters: Julia Domna and Julia Maesa.
Julia Domna was the widow of Emperor Septimius Severus. When evidence implicating Macrinus in the death of her son Caracalla began to surface she played on the army's love of her late son to undermine the new Emperor's rule. When Macrinus learned of this and ordered Domna home to Rome from the Syrian frontier (and its resident armies) she played the only trump in her hand - she starved herself to death.
Julia Maesa continued the anti-Macrinus campaign her sister had started. Maesa had two daughters - Julia Soeamias and Julia Mamaea. Each daughter had a son and Maesa was determined that one of them would become Emperor. Of course, both grandsons lacked Severian blood and so had little claim to the empire Septimius Severus had won. This inconvenience was bypassed when Soeamias claimed that Elagabalus was really the son of Caracalla. The army began to rally to Elagabalus and Macrinus found himself without an head. Sadly, this took place outside of Rome so the citizens were deprived of their traditional entertainment.
Julia Maesa soon began to suspect that her grandson might not be of the stuff the better emperors are made of. Little things only a grandmother might notice, such as worshiping a Syrian rock, marrying a Vestal Virgin, marrying the rock to the Goddess Vesta, divorcing the Vestal Virgin (if she could still be so described), divorcing Vesta and the rock, remarrying the Vestal (not-quite-a)Virgin and dressing up as a prostitute to service men in taverns on weekends. When Elagabalus began entertaining notions of having a surgeon convert him into an Empress, Maesa decided to remove her grandson before he became her granddaughter.
Julia Maesa persuaded Elagabalus to promote his cousin Severus Alexander (son of her other daughter Julia Mamaea) to the rank of Caesar to act as his assistant. Alexander quickly proved far more popular among both the army and the people than Elagabalus. When in a rage of jealousy Elagabalus ordered Alexander executed the army refused and moved Alexander and Julia Mamaea into their camp for protection.
Elagabalus gathered an assortment of loyal soldiers and, along with his Mother, went to the army camp to give the soldiers there a piece of his mind. A sharp skirmish ensued with Julia Soeamias on one side and Julia Mamaea on the other, each with her son by her side. (Grandma Maesa stayed home waiting for news of which grandson would return as Emperor). Elagabalus was outnumbered and as his troops scattered he was found in the camp privy hiding with his Mom.
The drag & dunk begins tomorrow at 8:00 A.M. Participants are requested to bring their own meathooks.