The only record of the Empress Julia Soaemias’ senaculum (female Senate) is found in the problematic Historia Augusta. Thus, numerous modern scholars have assumed incorrectly that this female assembly is another story fabricated by author. This paper will challenge this long-standing view by re-examining the literary and epigraphic evidence, which documents that the senaculum was part of a long-standing tradition of female assemblies stretching back to the Republican Period.


The multitude of different names for these other female assemblies, such as the ordo matronarum (order of matrons), the conventus feminarum (assembly of women), and the conventus matronarum (assembly of matrons), has posed a significant challenge for modern scholars, who have considered each organisation to be separate from the others. These scholars fail to recognise the fluidity of the Latin language, which is not subject to the same rigid standards as modern English. This paper will demonstrate that tracking an organisational name is not an effective method for examining the development of these female assemblies, whereas tracing similarities in the membership and duties of each organisation produces better results. Using this method, I will prove that the senaculum developed from the tradition of the ordo matronarum and the assemblies of the Imperial Period.


About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

All research seminars begin at 4 pm on Friday (with the exception of special Friends of Antiquity events). 

They will take place simultaneously in person and online.

The in-person venue is room E302 of the Forgan-Smith Building (building no. 1) on the St-Lucia campus of the University of Queensland.

Please contact Associate Professor David Pritchard or for the zoom link. 

For further information please contact the Seminar Convenor Associate Professor David M. Pritchard ( or +61 401 955 160).



302 Forgan Smith (Building 1) St Lucia