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Otacilia Severa

Wife of Philip I

Very little is known about the wife of Philip I. In A. D. 237, she gave birth to a son who was later to become the emperor Philip II. Even the reverses of the coins struck in her name do not tell us very much about this woman but are simply typical reverses for a female personality of the mid Third Century.

No reliable accounts of the events of this time period have been found. It is generally accepted by scholars that the Historia Augusta is unreliable as history from about A. D. 222 onward. At this point, it assumes the character of a collection of fairy tales and anecdotes of mystical or supernatural happenings. There are short biographical sketches of the Roman rulers and family members in many of the Roman coin reference books, but even these scholarly works are in disagreement as to what happened to Otacilia Severa. On one point, the scholars seem to agree. Philip II was killed in her arms by the Praetorian Guard in A. D. 249 near Rome or Verona. She was then either killed also or allowed to go into retirement.

Since so few reliable accounts of the Third Century exist, this is a field in which a researcher can actually uncover new and unknown information. Perhaps there are original letters or other documents lying in an forgotten corner of the Vatican library or the library of one of the great old universities of Europe. Perhaps someone will find a papyrus preserved in the dry sands of Egypt where most original documents of the period that are still readable have been found. In any case, if possible source materials do come to light, they will need to be translated and compared with other fragmentary evidence of the period. After many long hours of study by a dedicated scholar, perhaps this obscure woman may come alive again in the pages of history so that we can see her as a real, flesh - and - blood - person,


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