Julie Langford, Associate Professor of Roman History at University of South Florida, joined Life Elsewhere for our edition on Birthdays where she described in explicit detail how the ancient Romans celebrated birthdays and rites of passage, “Romans marked out children from adults by their dress, in particular by an amulet that citizen children would wear around their neck. Very often, this had a phallus and testicles…it was in the shape of a cock and balls” the Professor cooly announced, causing Norman B’s producer to have an instant deer-in-the-headlights moment as she readied herself to hit the “bleep” button. Julie Langford went on to describe how a phallus was the symbol of life and crucial in averting the Evil Eye. The Professor continued with stories about sacrifices, honey cakes, the age girls became women and much more.
Professor Langford unmasks the maternal titles and honors of Julia Domna, wife of Roman emperor Septimius Severus (193–211). as a campaign on the part of the administration to garner support for Severus and his sons. Langford looks to numismatic, literary, and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the propaganda surrounding the empress. She explores how her image was tailored toward different populations, including the military, the Senate, and the people of Rome, and how these populations responded to propaganda about the empress. She employs Julia Domna as a case study to explore the creation of ideology between the emperor and its subjects.