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Honorary Inscription for Marcia Aurelia Ceionia Demetrias, CIL 10.5918


Coin of Marcus Aurelius: The Empress Faustina as Juno Regina

Marcia Aurelia Demetrias was the daughter of Marcus Aurelius Sabinianus Euhodus, an imperial freedman (see names) under the co-emperors Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE) and Lucius Verus (161-169 CE ). Raised by a Christian eunuch, Hyacinthus, she became the concubine of the emperor's nephew, Marcus Ummidius Quadratus (consul 167 CE), who was put to death by the emperor Commodus for his involvement in an assassination plot led by the emperor's sister Lucilla. Marcia Aurelia Demetrias subsequently became Commodus' favored mistress and, adept at handling the unstable emperor (180-192 CE), she used her influence to diminish his cruelty (see Cassius Dio, Roman History 73.4). She obtained the release of Christians who had been sent to labor in the Sardinian mines; one of these was Callistus, who later as bishop of Rome (217-222 CE) passed contested liberal legislation on the marriage of Christian women. Marcia Aurelia Demetrias was thought to have poisoned Commodus on December 31, 192, then married her fellow-slave and long-time lover, Eclectus. As a result, both were put to death in 193 by Pertinax, a stern imperial successor to Commodus who was himself assassinated within three months by his own soldiers. Marcia Aurelia Demetrias was the patroness of Anagnia, a hill town southeast of Rome famed as the summer retreat of the 2nd century emperors. Another inscription of the period refers to a statue of her erected by the town in gratitude for her largesse.

   

MARCIAE AVREL[iae]

CEIONIAE DEME-
TRIADI, STOLATAE
FEMINAE OB DEDICATIONEM
THERMARVM QUAS POST MVL-
TVM TEMPORIS AD PRISTINAM
FACIEM SVIS SVMPTIBVS RESTAV-
RAVERVNT S[enatus] P[opulus]Q[ue] ANAGNIN[us]
STATVAM PONENDAM CENSVERVNT
O[b] CUIUS DEDICATIONIM DEDIT DECVRI-
ONIBUS X [=denarios] V, SIVIR[is] X [=denarios] II, popul[o] X [=denarios] SING[ulos]
ET EPVLVM SUFFICIENS OMNIB[us].

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Ann R. Raia and Judith Lynn Sebesta
Return to The World of State
April 2006