Caenis

Caenis

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Caenis, a former slave and secretary of Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor , also known as Antonia the Younger or simply Antonia was the younger of two daughters of Roman politician Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. Tacitus Ann. 4.44.2 and 12.54.2 may have confused the two Antonia sisters...

 (mother of the emperor Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

), was the mistress of the Roman emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

. It is believed that she was born in Istria, now in Croatia. Suetonius
Lives of the Twelve Caesars
De vita Caesarum commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius,...

 says that after the death of Vespasian's wife Flavia Domitilla
Domitilla the Elder
Flavia Domitilla Major Flavia Domitilla the Elder or Domitilla the Elder was the wife of the Roman Emperor Vespasian. She was a daughter of Flavius Liberalis, a humble quaestor’s clerk. Before her marriage, she was a formal mistress to an African knight. Vespasian married her around 38...

, Caenis was his wife in all but name until her death in AD 74. She had a remarkable memory and considerable influence on the emperor's administration, carried out official business on his behalf, and apparently made a lot of money from her position. However, she was treated with disrespect by Vespasian's son Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

.

Popular culture


The life of Caenis and her love-story with Vespasian is portrayed in Lindsey Davis
Lindsey Davis
Lindsey Davis is an English historical novelist, best known as the author of the Falco series of crime stories set in ancient Rome and its empire.-Biography:...

' novel The Course of Honour.

Sources

  • Suetonius
    Suetonius
    Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

    , Lives of the Twelve Caesars
    Lives of the Twelve Caesars
    De vita Caesarum commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius,...

    : Vespasian 3, 21; Domitian 12.3
  • Dio Cassius
    Dio Cassius
    Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus , known in English as Cassius Dio, Dio Cassius, or Dio was a Roman consul and a noted historian writing in Greek...

    , Roman History 66.14
  • William Smith (1870), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology