Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Julie Langford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Murray, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sheramy Bundrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Matthew King, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alex Imrie, Ph.D.


Digital Humanities, Epigraphy, Material Culture, Numismatics


This dissertation traces the creation and negotiation of dynastic succession ideologies between the emperors and their subject populations between 193 and 313 CE, particularly through the advertisement of imperial women. Julia Domna, Otacilia Severa, and Galeria Valeria occupy watersheds in the evolution of third century dynastic succession ideologies. The administrations of each emperor crafted propaganda designed to elicit support for their reigns and dynastic ambitions, each tailored to appeal to a particular audience. Images of the empresses in official media were carefully constructed to elicit a population’s support for the emperor’s legitimacy. Subjects responded to these messages, seeking to have a meaningful relationship with the emperor. They engaged with the emperor by echoing, ignoring, or amplifying the imperial administration’s portrait of the empress. Cities, provincial governors, military units, and local magistrates were among the populations that responded to imperial propaganda by erecting inscriptions in honor of the emperor and his family, and sometimes of the empresses alone.

This dissertation reconstructs the official images of Julia Domna, Otacilia Severa, and Galeria Valeria to determine their role in dynastic propaganda and examines the responses to it, particularly in the epigraphic record. Inscriptions erected by men represented a broad swath of the empire’s populations. To detect women’s responses to the empress and dynastic propaganda, I also consider inscriptions erected by women and less conventional artifacts such as dolls, cameos, and jewelry. Imperial propaganda and responses to it reveal how a variety of diverse groups employed the empresses’ images to create a sense of citizenship in the empire.