Varius Avitus Bassus

AD203 ~ AD222

Born as Varius Avitus Bassus in 203, his name Elagabalus is a Latin form of the name El-Gabal who was a Semitic deity who he worshipped and was in fact a high priest of this religious sect.


He became emperor at age 14 when falsely announcing he was the illegitimate son of Caracalla (part of a plot created by a family that was exiled by Macrinus) and commander of the legion declared him emperor in 218.

He was a controversial figure as among showing a blatant disregard for religious traditions in Rome, he took a vestal virgin as one of many wives (in order to have “god-like” children, any vestal virgin found to have had intercourse however is said to have been buried alive) and openly claimed he had a sexual interest for men. He was considered among other things, eccentric and decadent.  

His mother and grandmother became the first women to be allowed as part of the senate and while his mother tried to position herself behind the throne to have more power over her son and his decisions, he proved to be uncontrollable.

Many historians claim that he often wore make up and could have been considered a transsexual. He is said to have offered half his empire to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia. He forced many to participate in his religious ceremonies which disturbed many Romans. He was persuaded to nominate 13 year old Severus Alexander as his heir and later when he changed his mind and ordered Alexander to be killed, the praetorian guard were bribed and instead Elagabalus and his mother were murdered.

Back to top