Mariamne III, of Judaea

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Mariamne III, of Judaea

Also Known As: ""The Elder" Arria"
Birthplace: Italy
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Aristóbulus, IV, Prince of Judaea and Berenice, Princess of Judaea
Wife of Antipater III of Judea
Ex-wife of Herod Archelaus, Ethnarch of Samaria Judaea and Edom
Sister of Herodias, of Judaea; Herod Agrippa Marcus Julius, I, King of Judea; Herod Pollio ., III, King of Chalcis and Aristobulus ., Minor, V, of Judaea

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mariamne III, of Judaea

Mariamne III was a daughter of Aristobulus IV and Berenice.

She had three brothers, Herod of Chalcis, Herod Agrippa I, and Aristobulus V, and one sister, Herodias.

Aristobulus IV was the son of King Herod and Mariamne I, a Hasmonaean princess related to the renowned Judas Maccabaeus.

Some time after the death of her father in 7 BCE, Mariamne III was betrothed to Antipater II, her uncle and the eldest son of King Herod.

After Antipater's execution in 4 BCE, she may have been the first wife of another uncle, Herod Archelaus, ethnarch of Judea.


^ According to Josephus, the first wife of Herod Archelaus was named Mariamne; however, Josephus does not designate which Mariamne. Jewish Wars, Book II, Chapter 7:4


Tony Bushby, a sensationalist writer, argues she was identical with Mary, the mother of Jesus. However, it seems unlikely the same Jewish sources that claimed Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier would have failed to notice that his mother belonged to the hated Herodian dynasty.


Was Mariamne III Arria Major?

Wagner, Sir Anthony Richard; ‘Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History’ names this woman as Mariamne III 'the Elder' Arria b c 5CE but the only description of an 'Arria Major' I can find is a Wikipedia one of a rather suicidally inclined woman, who doesn't seem to easily fit the description (below).

Wikipedia's references for the two entries do not overlap:

  1. Those to Mariamne III use Josephus as saying that the the first wife of Herod Archelaus was named Mariamne; but not designating which Mariamne.
  2. Those to Arria Major reference Pliny the Younger: Letters 3.16. AD 97/107.

Is there a possible overlap of characters? Or is the wrong Mariamne being assumed from Josephus?

All research findings on this are welcome - See Discussion. (Sharon March 2012)

Arria (also Arria Major) was a woman in ancient Rome. Her husband Caecina Paetus was ordered by the emperor Claudius to commit suicide for his part in a rebellion but was not capable of forcing himself to do so. Arria wrenched the dagger from him and stabbed herself, then returned it to her husband, telling him that it didn't hurt ("Non dolet, Paete!"). Her story was recorded in the letters of Pliny the Younger, who obtained his information from Arria's granddaughter, Fannia.

Pliny records that Arria's son died at the same time as Caecina Paetus was quite ill. She apparently arranged and planned the child's funeral without her husband even knowing of his death. Every time she visited her husband Arria told him that the boy was improving. If emotion threatened to get the better of her she excused herself from the room and would, in Pliny's words, "give herself to sorrow," then return to her husband with a calm demeanor.

After the rebellion against Claudius led by Lucius Arruntius Camillus Scribonianus in 42. AD, Scribonianus was killed and Caecina was taken to Rome as a prisoner for conspiring with him. Arria begged the captain of the ship to allow her to join him on board. She claimed that if a consular Roman man was allowed slaves to take care of him, then she should save them the trouble and look after him herself. The captain refused, so Arria followed the great ship in a small fishing boat all the way to Rome.

Arria openly attacked the wife of the rebellion leader Scribonianus for giving evidence to the prosecution, crying:

"Am I to listen to you who could go on living after Scribonianus died in your arms?"

It was this sentence which alerted everyone to her intention of dying alongside Paetus.

Her son-in-law, Thrasea, attempted to persuade her to live, asking her if she would want her own daughter to kill herself if he were sentenced to death. Arria insisted that she would if her daughter (also called Arria) had lived as long and happily with Thrasea as she herself had with Caecina.

She was watched very closely from that point onwards but, realising this, Arria said that they could not stop her from dying. Having pointed this out she ran, head first, in to a wall and knocked herself out cold. When she came to, she cried:

"I told you I would do it the hard way if you stopped me from doing it the easy way."

Arria was eventually permitted to join her husband in a "noble death" (falling on one's own sword/dagger).


Popular Reference on the internet

Amongst the ward hostages to Antonia Minor in Rome were the four children of Aristobulus IV and his cousin, Berenice, daughter of Costobarus and Salome. He was the son of Herod the Great and his second wife, Mariamne I, the last of the Hasmoneans:

  1. Aristobulus Minor, grandson to Herod the Great and youngest son of prince Aristobulus IV and princess Berenice of Judea.
  2. Herod of Chalcis, who became responsible for the Temple in Jerusalem and the appointment of the High Priest. He married (i) his cousin, Mariamne and after her death, (ii) his niece Berenice, with whom he had two sons, Berenicianus and Hyrcanus.
  3. Herodias, who married (i) her uncle, Herod II, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II, daughter of the high priest Simon Boethus; (ii) another uncle, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.
  4. Mariamne III, who married Antipater III, her uncle and eldest son of Herod; after Antipater’s execution in 4 BCE, she may have been the first wife of another uncle, Herod Archelaus, ethnarch of Judea.

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