Although a commoner according to Dio Cassius
, Julia Domna who was born Syria in A.D. 170, married the future emperor Septimius Severus
in 187 when he was legatus pro praetore
in Lyons (in Gaul). She took an active role in her husband's government -- Severus was in power from 193-211 -- and then during her sons'. She was named Augusta during Severus' first year as emperor and coins with her image were struck. That she accompanied her husband on campaign is known from the fact that she is called mater castrorum
'mother of the camp' for the first time in 196. Her older son, who is known as Caracalla, murdered his brother Geta. Cassius Dio reports that Julia Domna was present at the assassination but was forbidden by Caracalla to mourn for Geta. Caracalla allowed his mother to supervise correspondence and petitions, but wasn't interested in her advice about his lifestyle. When Caracalla was assassinated in 217 she tried to kill herself and then appears to have been involved in an assassination attempt against the successor, Macrinus. Macrinus responded by telling her to leave Antioch. Julia Domna starved herself to death.
WLGR - 180. The family of Julia Domna. Rome, 3rd cent. A.D. (Dio Cassius, History of Rome, 78.2, 18.1-3; 79.23, exc. Early 3rd cent. A.D. G).
"Studies in the Lives of Roman Empresses," by Mary Gilmore Williams.
American Journal of Archaeology 1902.