Sabina’s Death and Deification

T. Corey Brennan

in Sabina Augusta

Published in print May 2018 | ISBN: 9780190250997
Published online April 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190875428 | DOI:

Series: Women in Antiquity

Sabina’s Death and Deification

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  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Religion in the Ancient World


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The chapter places Sabina’s death firmly in late 137. It first studies a relief depicting Hadrian’s consecration ceremony for her on Rome’s Campus Martius. No literary source mentions her deification, but coinage and inscriptions confirm it. Perhaps Hadrian’s failing health and the intense political conflict following his adoption of Aelius Caesar provide a context for the empress’s death, especially given the ancient tradition that Hadrian forced her into suicide. Divinization came naturally to the deceased empress, even though Hadrian alienated the Senate thoroughly and quashed much of that body’s good will for Sabina’s memory. After Hadrian’s death, his adopted heir Antoninus did complete the late emperor’s Mausoleum and buried the imperial couple there in 139, but before the Senate allowed Hadrian the same divine honors as Sabina’s. The chapter also details how, after Sabina’s deification, Matidia II aggrandized herself in Antoninus Pius’ and Marcus Aurelius’ reigns.

Keywords: Arco di Portogallo; Campus Martius; Apotheosis; deification; Matidia II; Antoninus Pius; Faustina I

Chapter.  8758 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Religion in the Ancient World

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