I’ve noticed lately that a few people find this blog by searching for things like “ancient Roman queen.”  I am sorry to report that the ancient Romans didn’t have any ruling queens at all.  The early kings were, of course, married, but their wives played insignificant roles.  After the Republic began, Rome’s famous “no king, ever” policy ensured that any woman clever and ambitious enough to get power wouldn’t be able to do so by marrying the top dog.

Julius Caesar couldn’t have himself crowned King of Rome – remember the famous scene where Marc Antony offered him the wreath during the games and the crowd cheered when Caesar pushed it away?

Caesar did bring a queen to Rome, his innamorata, Cleopatra of Egypt.  She fascinated the Romans, but she wasn’t popular, and neither was her idea that crowned rulers were, in fact, descended from gods.  After Caesar’s murder, she decamped to Egypt.

One could argue that Livia Augusta and a few of the other Roman emperors’ wives were queens with authority, at least behind the scenes, but they weren’t called queens or even empresses.  And, certainly, any power they exercised was unofficial; Roman upper-class women were expected to stay home, not become political leaders.

So, I have to wonder why everyone’s looking for ancient Roman queens.  Is it term paper time?