Plautia (mother of Aelius Caesar)

Plautia was a Roman woman of senatorial rank whom Classical scholars believe lived in the late first century and early second century AD. No direct evidence of her existence has yet been found. Ronald Syme comments about her situation, "Plautia exemplifies a common phenomenon in the history of Imperial Rome; a fragment of knowledge rescued from the waters of oblivion, but a figure of consequence in the social and political history of the time."[1]



Edmund Groag first suggested her existence to explain otherwise baffling and contradictory statements about the familial relationships of senators related to the Antonine dynasty, taking her name from Avidia Plautia, daughter of Gaius Avidius Nigrinus, suffect consul in 110.[2] Syme later identified more of her husbands and children, wryly commenting that while "it would be refreshing to discover aspects of social life not revealed in the correspondence of Pliny (divorce has no place in his decorous pages)", he admits the alternative to accepting Plautia's existence was to assume "Hadrian, freshly married to Vibia Sabina, chose to seduce the wife of Ceionius Commodus."[3] More recently, Anthony Birley accepted her existence by placing her in his family tree of the relatives of Lucius Aelius Caesar, where she appears as the daughter of Lucius Aelius Lamia Plautius Aelianus, suffect consul in 80.[4]



Plautia is believed to have married three different men, by whom she had at least four children:[5]

Nerva–Antonine family tree


See also



  1. ^ This is not the same Avidia as the one who married Lucius Aelius Caesar mentioned above.


  1. ^ Syme, "Antonine Relatives: Ceionii and Vettulani", Athenaeum 35 (1957), p. 308
  2. ^ Groag, Prosopographia Imperii Romani, second edition, A1408
  3. ^ Syme, "Antonine Relatives", p. 309
  4. ^ Birley, Marcus Aurelius, a Biography, revised edition (London: Routledge, 1987), p. 238
  5. ^ Stemma from Syme, "Antonine Relatives", p. 314

Further reading

  • Cassio Dione e l'impero romano da Nerva ad Antonino Pio: alla luce dei nuovi by Guido Migliorati, 2003 – Italian Historical Secondary Source
  • The Cambridge ancient history, Volume 11 by Alan K. Bowman, Peter Garnsey, Dominic Rathbone Limited preview - Edition: 2 - Item notes: v. 11 – 2000
  • Plutarch's Sertorius: A Historical Commentary by C. Konrad; Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994
  • Marcus Aurelius, by Anthony Richard Birley, Routledge, 2000
  • A Dictionary of the Roman Empire by Matthew Bunson – 1995