Historical Figures

Elagabalus (203-222)

Heliogabalus (photo:public domain)

Heliogabalus (203-222)

Roman emperor. Warius Avitus Bassjanus was born in the city of Emesa in Syria in 203 CE. His family served the god Baal, and his mother was a cousin of Karakala, liked by the legionnaires. It was even rumored that Warius is the emperor's bastard. The young man, who was a priest of Baal, was nicknamed Elagabalus, which was with him until the end of his life. In 217 Karakala was murdered and power fell into the hands of Macrinus, the praetorian prefect.

Elagabalus's grandmother and mother began to plot and convinced the soldiers that the fourteen-year-old boy was the son of the former ruler. On May 16, 218, legionnaires proclaimed him emperor. Soon Elagabalus 'army defeated Macrinus' forces, and the praetorian prefect was killed after he fled the battlefield. The Senate accepted the young ruler (the youngest in history), although his mother and grandmother held the helm. Soon, Heliogabalus' position began to wane.

The ruler's supporters did not like that he took part in ritual orgies in honor of Baal, whom he made more important than the most holy of the Romans, Capitoline Jupiter. He forced the most important people in the country to worship him and participate in bloody rituals. He even made human sacrifice, choosing beautiful young men for it. His private life was a scandal too. Recognizing that the greatest children would come into the world from the union of the high priest and priestesses, he married a vestal. When he changed his mind, he abandoned her and wanted a married woman whom he had ordered to kill. Moreover, as the historian Lampridius wrote, he sent people who sought men with a large member for him and brought them to the imperial court so that he could benefit from their strength.

He turned the imperial palace into a real brothel, and instead of ruling the country, he dealt with pleasures with more and more men. His grandmother, fearing the negative development of the situation, persuaded him to adopt Aleksander Severus and recognize him as the heir to the throne. After all, the legionaries could not stand the emperor's antics. Elagabalus and his mother were murdered in AD 222.

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