, better known as Aemilia Paulla (c. 230-163 BC or 162 BC), was the wife of Scipio Africanus
(also known as the elder Scipio), Roman general and statesman. She was the daughter, possibly the third surviving daughter, of another Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paullus
(consul in 216 BC who was killed at the Battle of Cannae
of the Second Punic War
) and sister of another famous Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus
(consul 182 and 168 BC). Her name Aemilia was derived from her gens Aemilius
, one of the five most important patrician families of Ancient Rome
; Roman women of the Middle Republic were always known by their father's gens (family or clan), and were usually distinguished by their birth order.
Marriage to Scipio
Aemilia Tertia's marriage to Scipio probably took place sometime between 213 BC and 210 BC (when Scipio went first to Sicily and thence to Spain); it may however have been as late as 206 BC-205 BC. Aemilia Tertia and Scipio Africanus
had a fruitful marriage, and according to Livy, Polybius, and other classical historians, were very happily married. They had two sons and two daughters, the younger being the famous Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi
Character of Aemilia
Aemilia Tertia was allegedly of a very mild disposition, but was fiercely loyal to her husband who upset many Senators by challenging the older leaders in their military strategy, and conservative Romans by his adoption of some parts of Greek lifestyle. The Greek historian Polybius
who was living in the household of her brother Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus
for some time, and who almost certainly was an eye-witness, wrote of Aemilia Tertia:
- "This lady whose name was Aemilia, used to display great magnificence whenever she left her house to take part in the ceremonies that women attend, having participated in the fortune of Scipio when he was at the height of his prosperity. .. For apart from the richness of her own dress and of the decorations of her carriage, all the baskets, cups, and other utensils for the sacrifice were either of gold or silver, and were borne in her train on all such solemn occasions, .. while the number of maids and men-servants in attendance was correspondingly large. (Polybius, translated by John Dryden, Book 31 Fragments: 26)
This passage shows that for that period, the last decades of the Middle Republic, Aemilia Tertia had unusual freedom and wealth for a patrician married woman, both given her by an unusually liberal husband. She is one of the few Roman women known to us from the Middle Republic. Because of her unusual wealth and freedom, and her own behavior, she was an important role model for many younger Roman woman, just as her youngest daughter Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi
(190 BC-121 BC, would be an important role model for many Late Republican Roman noblewomen, including allegedly, Aurelia
, the mother of Julius Caesar
According to other sources, Aemilia was gentle, mild-mannered, but also fiercely loyal to her husband. Valerius Maximus
relates an incident where Scipio was unfaithful to her with one of their own maid-servants, but Aemilia chose not to make the matter public.
Sources such as Polybius also emphasize her love of luxury and her extravagance; she drove a special chariot at women's religious processions, and was attended by a large number of servants. One source claims that she enjoyed buying tasteful although extravagant works of art.
Scipio's death and aftermath
Scipio died of a lingering illness in 183 BC after having retired to his country house at Liternum
in 185 BC. During his last years, he wrote his memoirs in Greek, but those have vanished, with even Plutarch's Life of him missing. He was survived by his widow and four children; his brother Scipio Asiaticus
also remained living, although in political disgrace.
According to Polybius, Scipio made generous provisions for his widow to ensure that she would retain the same lifestyle she had grown accustomed to as his wife. He also promised his daughters fifty talents of silver each, which was a very large dowry by that era's standards.
Aemilia as a widow
Aemilia Tertia long survived her husband and outlived both her sons. She had two daughters surviving upon her own death, which took place sometime around 163 BC and by 162 BC. She continued her luxurious lifestyle despite widowhood, presumably having been guaranteed a generous income by her husband's will. However, thanks to the lex Voconia
(which prohibited women from inheriting much or from passing on their own wealth to females) passed in 169 BC, she was unable to dispose of her possessions as she pleased. At her death, her heir was automatically her grandson by adoption, Scipio Africanus II, or Scipio the Younger (better known to Romans as Scipio Aemilianus
). He gave them to his mother Papiria Masonis
, who was divorced from his own natural biological
father L. Aemilius
for more than two decades. At her death, he passed those same possessions over to his two biological sisters - Aemilia Paulla Prima, wife of Marcus Porcius Cato Licinianus
and Aemilia Paulla Secunda, wife of Quintus Aelius Tubero. (Polybius, Book 31: 28, Plutarch
. Aem. 2; Liv. xxxviii. 57).
Despite her wealth and comfortable lifestyle, her last years must have been saddened by the death of both her sons, both without natural issue.
The sources for this section are the histories of Livy and Polybius, as well as William Smith's Dictionaries, all available online.
Aemilia Paulla and Scipio Africanus had four surviving children, two sons and two daughters. His two sons failed to become consuls, although both became praetor in 174 BC. The elder may have married but no wife nor issue are known; the younger fell into dissolute ways and never married. Both suffered from ill-health which prevented them pursuing a military career.
The daughters did better, being granted fifty talents of silver as dowry each (then a very large sum), of which the half was paid immediately upon their marriages and the other half (twenty-five talents) became due within three years of their mother's death.
- Publius Cornelius P.f. P.n. Scipio Africanus (fl 174 BC); he became a priest or Augur in 180 BC (like his maternal uncle), was flamen dialis or priest of Jupiter (according to his tomb inscription), and served as praetor in 174 BC. Some sources seem to imply that he was married, but his wife, if any, is unnamed. He appears to have died at some point after 174 BC, and probably before 167 BC (Battle of Pydna) where Scipio Aemilianus is already known as his adoptive son. He was certainly dead by 163 BC-162 BC when his own mother died, leaving her money to his adoptive son and heir. The date of his adopting Scipio Aemilianus is also unknown, but probably took place between 174 BC and 167 BC when his brother was probably dead.
- Lucius Cornelius P.f. P.n. Scipio (fl 174 BC); he led a dissolute lifestyle, and was expelled from the Senate in the year that he was elected praetor. (Livy) This son is most notable for having been captured by pirates circa 192-191 BC, and being released without ransom before the Battle of Magnesia which would cause his father political problems. Date of death unknown, but he probably died between 174 BC and 170 BC. No wife or issue are mentioned by any Roman historian, and he probably died unmarried.
- Cornelia Africana Major (fl 174 BC), eldest daughter of Aemilia was born approximately 201 BC; her date of death is unknown, but she probably married circa 182 BC, judging by the year in which her son became consul. Her husband was her own second cousin Scipio Nasica Corculum, consul in 162 BC and 155 BC, censor 159 BC, and later Princeps Senatus (until overthrown i.e. not chosen again) and Pontifex Maximus until his death in 141 BC. Her husband was the son of the eponymus consul of 191 BC who was himself son of Scipio's elder paternal uncle Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus); her father-in-law and husband were both distinguished jurists. Cornelia Major's date of death is not known. She had one known son or one surviving son, Scipio Nasica Serapio, also consul and Pontifex Maximus 141 BC-132 BC, who left descendants surviving to 45 BC or later. Sadly, Scipio Nasica Serapio is better known for his role in his cousin Tiberius Gracchus's death in 133 BC.
This grandson left descendants, of whom the most distinguished in the Late Republic were Metellus Scipio and his daughter Cornelia Metella (who died childless). Descendants in the female line, if they exist, remain unknown to prosopographers and historians.
- Cornelia Africana Minor (c.192-121 BC), youngest daughter, was born about 190 BC, married in 172 BC, and died in 121 BC after her youngest child Gaius Sempronius Gracchus committed suicide to avoid execution. Better known as Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, she was the wife of the middle-aged but distinguished consul Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, twice consul and censor (d. 154 BC), to whom she bore 12 children, most of whom died very young despite their parents' assiduous care. Three children survived to adulthood, two of them being the famous Brothers Gracchi -- Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (born in the year that his father died suddenly), and the eldest, a daughter Sempronia, being wife of her mother's first cousin (biologically) and her own second cousin Scipio the Younger. Tiberius's own three sons died very young, and her youngest son Gaius left only a daughter Sempronia. Sempronia and Scipio Aemilianus had no children, which contributed to the bitterness in their marriage. Thus circa 45 BC, her only surviving descendant was Fulvia, thrice married, lastly to Mark Antony, and Fulvia's numerous children. Further descendants, stemming from Fulvia's only surviving son Iulus Antonius, were alive in the later reign of Augustus Caesar.