Lollia Paulina, also known as Lollia Paullina (15-49) was a Roman Empress for six months in 38 as the third wife and consort of the Roman emperor Caligula. Outside of her term as a Roman Empress, she was a noble Roman woman who lived in the Roman Empire of the 1st century.
Family Background & Early Life
Her father, Marcus Lollius was the son born to the Roman Politician and Military Officer Marcus Lollius from his wife Valeria. Valeria was one of the daughters of the literary patron, consul Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus and a sister to the Roman Senators Marcus Valerius Messalla Messallinus and Marcus Aurelius Cotta Maximus Messalinus. Her possible paternal uncle may have been Publius Lollius Maximus, however this is unclear and he was at least was a close relation.
Her mother Volusia Saturnina, came from an ancient and distinguished Senatorial family, that never rose above the Praetorship which was of eques status. She was the daughter of the prefect, Quintus Volusius from his wife Claudia. Her father served under Cicero in 51 BC to 50 BC in Cilicia and was a pupil of his in oratory. Claudia was a daughter of Pompey’s officer Drusus Claudius Nero and a sister of praetor, Tiberius Claudius Nero, as Volusia Saturnina was a first cousin to Roman emperor Tiberius and his brother, the General Nero Claudius Drusus.
Paulina was born and raised in Rome and became very wealthy after inheriting the estates of her relatives. She inherited the large fortune from her paternal grandfather, thus was the heiress of Marcus Lollius.
Marriages & Rivals
The first husband of Paulina was Publius Memmius Regulus, a man of consular rank, who served as a suffect consul in 31 and later, as a Roman Governor. Tacitus describes him as a man of 'dignity, who was a person of influence and good name', who died in 62. Paulina bore a son called Gaius Memmius Regulus.
In 38, Paulina was with Regulus at the province he was governing when Caligula ordered her to leave her husband upon overhearing a remark about the beauty of her grandmother. She was forced to divorce Regulus and marry Caligula, becoming his third wife and Roman Empress that same year. Caligula divorced her after six months of marriage, ostensibly because she was infertile, and forbade her to sleep with or associate with another man.
In 48, Paulina became a rival to the sister of Caligula, Agrippina the Younger. Paulina was considered as a choice as the fourth wife of the paternal uncle of Caligula, the Roman emperor Claudius, following the death of the third wife of Claudius, the Roman empress Valeria Messalina. In 49, Agrippina the Younger married Claudius. Sometime after, Agrippina the Younger had Paulina charged with sorcery, accused of having entered into forbidden consultations with astrologers. Without a hearing, the property of Paulina (including her gardens) was confiscated and she was sent into exile. Tacitus reported that Paulina was forced to commit suicide under the watch of a colonel of the Guards and implied that this was done under the orders of Agrippina the Younger. A sepulchre was not erected in her honor until the reign of the Roman emperor Nero.
Paulina is mentioned in Natural History by Pliny the Elder. Pliny the Elder mentions Paulina as an example of Roman ostentation for wearing a large share of her inheritance to a dinner party in the form of jewellery worth to the value of 50 million sesterces. She would wear her jewels in her hair, round her neck, arms and fingers. The complaint of Pliny the Elder was made in the context of Rome spending enormous amounts for importing India’s 'useless' pepper and pearls, as worn by Paulina even around her shoes.
Paulina is a character in the novel series, I, Claudius written by Robert Graves.