Aconia Fabia Paulina

Aconia Fabia Paulina[1] (died c. 384) was an aristocratic woman and one of the last pagan Romans who tried to save the Roman religion from decline.[citation needed]


Paulina was the daughter of Aconius Catullinus Philomatius, a prominent aristocrat who held the offices of Praefectus urbi of Rome in 342-344 and was Consul in 349. In 344, Paulina married Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, a prominent exponent of the Roman senatorial aristocracy, an important imperial officer and a member of several pagan circles; Paulina was initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries and to the Lernian mysteries of Dionysus and Demeter, was devoted to several female deities, such as Ceres, Hecate (of whom she was hierophant), the Magna Mater (as a tauroboliata) and Isis.

Praetextatus and Paulina owned at least two houses. The first was on the Esquiline Hill, probably situated between via Merulana and viale del Monte Oppio in Rome, where the modern Palazzo Brancaccio stands (41°53′39.83″N 12°29′59.09″E / 41.8943972°N 12.4997472°E / 41.8943972; 12.4997472). The garden around the palace, the so-called Horti Vettiani,[2] extended to the modern Roma Termini railway station. Archaeological investigations in this area brought out several discoveries related to Praetextatus' family. Among them was the base of a statue dedicated to Coelia Concordia, one of the last Vestal Virgins, who had erected a statue in honour of Praetextatus after his death (384); in exchange for this honour, which caused the reprobation of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus on the basis that the Vestals never erected statues to men, Paulina dedicated a statue to Concordia.[3] They also had a house on the Aventine Hill.[4]

On the base of the funerary monument to Pratextatus,[5] Paulina had a poem composed by herself inscribed, which celebrated her husband and their love, a poem probably derived by the oration read by Paulina at her husband's funeral.[4] This poem is cited by Jerome in a letter in which he mocks Praetextatus, claiming he was not in paradise but in hell.[6]

Paulina died shortly after her husband. Their son or daughter dedicated them a funerary monument with statues in their house.[7]


  1. ^ She is called Aconia Fabia Paulina in CIL VI, 1779, Fabia Aconia Paulina in CIL VI, 1780, Fabia Paulina in CIL VI, 2145 or Paulina in CIL VI, 1779 and in Symmachus' letter I.48).
  2. ^ Musei Capitolini Archived 2009-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ CIL VI, 2145.
  4. ^ a b Kahlos
  5. ^ CIL VI, 1799.
  6. ^ Jerome, letter 23.
  7. ^ CIL VI, 1777.


Primary sourcesEdit

Secondary sourcesEdit

  • Kahlos, Maijastina, "Paulina and the Death of Praetextatus", Arduum res gestas scribere
  • Kahlos, Maijastina, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus. A senatorial life in between, Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Roma, 2002, ISBN 952-5323-05-6 (Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae, 26).
  • Lanciani, Rodolfo, Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries, Houghton & Mifflin, Boston e New York, 1898, pp. 169–170.
  • Stevenson, Jane, Women Latin Poets, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-19-818502-2, pp. 71–72.
  • Thayer, Bill, "Honorific Inscription of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus", Lacus Curtius