Pompeia Plotina Claudia Phoebe Piso – or just Pompeia Plotina for short – was an influential and intellectual Roman Empress.
Raised in Escacena del Campo in the romanised Hispania province, Plotina was the daughter of Lucius Pompeius Plotia, a politician. In around 91 she married Trajan, a soldier who had recently been elected a roman Consul.
The couple never had any children of their own, but were adoptive parents to the future emperor Hadrian and his sister, who had become orphaned at a young age. Trajan became emperor in 98, and in 100 he gave his wife the title of Augusta (Empress), which she did not accept until five years later.
Plotina was well read, and took a deep interest in philosophy – particularly the Epicurean school, which promoted modesty and moderation as well as gaining knowledge of the world. The empress and her husband became known for their simplicity, their philanthropy and their kindness.
Rather than concerning herself with increasing her power as so many empresses before her, Plotina used her influence to help others. She worked for fairer taxation, better access to education and poverty relief. She became beloved by Roman society and Trajan became known as one of the ‘five good emperors’.
When Plotina died, she was deified (made a goddess) and Hadrian built a temple in her honour at Nîmes, in Provence.
A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women – Marjorie Lightman, Benjamin Lightman
The Women of Pliny’s Letters – Jo-Ann Shelton
Women in Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook – Bonnie MacLachlan
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
“Bust of Pompeia Plotina, from the Baths of Nepture at Ostia, 110-120 AD, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome (12453374733)” by Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – Bust of Pompeia Plotina, from the Baths of Nepture at Ostia, 110-120 AD, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons