At the core of republican power Mucia Tertia?

In this post I take a look at Mucia Tertia. Her extraordinary family connections raise some interesting questions about the status of women in republican era Rome.

Mucia Tertia was a daughter of Q. Mucius Scaevola (cos 95) and Licinia. Mucia’s father was himself fourth consecutive consul from his familyline. Q. Mucius Scaevola (cos 220) was the first of the line, his son P. Mucius Scaevola was consul at 175 and married with Licinia Crassa, daughter of C. Licinius Crassus. Two brothers of Licinia Crassa achieved consulships: P. Licinius Crassus at 171 and C. Licinius Crassus at 168. Son of P. Mucius Scaevola (cos 175) and Licinia Crassa was the famous P. Mucius Scaevola pontifex (cos 133). Consul 95 was himself son of Scaevola pontifex. Licinia later married Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos (cos 98), so Mucia Tertia had very powerful relatives both from father’s and mother’s side with total of 9 consular-level relatives:

  • Q. Mucius Scaevola cos 220
  • P. Mucius Scaevola cos 175 (married to Licinia Crassa, sister of consuls of 171 and 168)
  • Q. Mucius Scaevola cos 174 (brother of Scaevola cos 175, father of Scaevola augur cos 117)
  • P. Mucius Scaevola pontifex cos 133
  • Q. Mucius Scaevola cos 95
Mucia Tertia family

Mucia Tertia and her family connections.

Such hyper-connected person might be expected to marry according to her family status and this is what also happened to Mucia Tertia.

Her first marriage was to C. Marius cos 82, the son of record braking 7 times consular C. Marius. Younger Marius was by the way also married to Licinia Crassa Secunda, a daughter of famous L. Licinius Crassus orator, consul of 95 and Mucia minor, daughter of Scaevola augur (cos 117). Both of younger Marius’ marriages were thus very appropriate choice for marriage between the families of Marius, Mucius Scaevola and Licinius Crassus.

The second marriage of Mucia Tertia was no lesser in prestige. She became the third wife of famous Cn. Pompeius Magnus (thrice consul: 70, 55, 52). Their daughter, Pompeia Magna, had also very interesting marriages with F. Cornelius Sulla (their son Faustus Cornelius Sulla was consul at 7 BCE). Pompeia Magna’s second marriage was to L. Cornelius Cinna (cos 32) and their son Cn. Cornelius Cinna Magnus became consul at 5 BCE).

Finally the third marriage of Mucia Tertia was to M. Aemilius Scaurus, himself only a praetor at 56, but being son of famous all-powerful M. Aemilius Scaurus (cos 115) and Caecilia Metella (daughter of L. Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus cos 119, the fifth consecutive generation consul of his family and brother of cos 109 Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus. Scaurus cos 115 had practically ruled the politics of the republic during his days while rich Caecilii Metelli were one of the most important ruling families alongside equally rich and powerful Licinii Crassi.

Marriages were political tools: rich families marrying their daughters to rising stars of Roman republican politics. One can only try to imagine how the individuals themselves felt and thought. What Mucia Tertia thought about her marriages or contacts of her extended family? How much power and influence she had in the otherwise male-dominated Roman society? What sort of tools she had in her disposal for influence? My own impression is that compared to survived ancient texts, the Roman society was much more complex network of influences and influencers and that women were not necessarily passive side-characters in the game – indeed, it would have been counterproductive for families to leave half of the power potential unutilised or underused. Person like Mucia Tertia surely was influental individual through her connections and could influence on many things if she willed so.

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