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Octavia the Younger
Octavia the Younger
(69 BC – 11 BC), also known as Octavia Minor or simply Octavia, was the elder sister of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus
Augustus
(known also as Octavian), the half-sister of Octavia the Elder, and the fourth wife of Mark Antony. She was also the great-grandmother of the Emperor Caligula
Caligula
and Empress Agrippina the Younger, maternal grandmother of the Emperor Claudius, and paternal great-grandmother and maternal great-great-grandmother of the Emperor Nero. One of the most prominent women in Roman history, Octavia was respected and admired by contemporaries for her loyalty, nobility and humanity, and for maintaining traditional Roman feminine virtues.

Contents

1 Life

1.1 Childhood 1.2 First marriage 1.3 Second marriage 1.4 Breakdown 1.5 Life after Antony 1.6 Death

2 Issue 3 Ancestry 4 Descendants 5 Fictional representations 6 Notes 7 Further reading 8 External links

Life[edit] Childhood[edit] Full sister to Augustus, Octavia was the only daughter born of Gaius Octavius's second marriage to Atia Balba Caesonia, niece of Julius Caesar.[1] Octavia was born in Nola, present-day Italy; her father, a Roman governor and senator, died in 59 BC from natural causes. Her mother later remarried, to the consul Lucius Marcius Philippus. Octavia spent much of her childhood travelling with her parents. Marcius was in charge of educating Octavia and her brother Augustus.[2] First marriage[edit] Before 54 BC her stepfather arranged for her to marry Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor. Marcellus was a man of consular rank, a man who was considered worthy of her and was consul in 50 BC. He was also a member of the influential Claudian family and descended from Marcus Claudius Marcellus, a famous general in the Second Punic War. In 54 BC, her great uncle Caesar is said to have been anxious for her to divorce her husband so that she could marry Pompey
Pompey
who had just lost his wife Julia (Julius Caesar's daughter, and thus Octavia's cousin once removed). The couple did not want to get a divorce so instead[2] Pompey
Pompey
declined the proposal[3] and married Cornelia Metella. So Octavia's husband continued to oppose Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
including in the crucial year of his consulship 50 BC. Civil war broke out when Caesar in Gaul invaded Italy
Italy
in 49 BC.[2] Marcellus, a friend of Cicero, was an initial opponent of Julius Caesar when Caesar invaded Italy, but did not take up arms against his wife's great uncle at the Battle of Pharsalus, and was eventually pardoned by him. In 47 BC he was able to intercede with Caesar for his cousin and namesake, also a former consul, then living in exile. Presumably, Octavia continued to live with her husband from the time of their marriage (she would have been about 15 when they married) to her husband's death when she was about 29. They had three children: Claudia Marcella Major, Claudia Marcella Minor and Marcus Claudius Marcellus.[4] All three were born in Italy. Her husband Marcellus died in May 40 BC. Second marriage[edit]

Mark Antony
Mark Antony
and Octavia

By a Senatorial decree, Octavia married Mark Antony
Mark Antony
in October 40 BC, as his fourth wife (his third wife Fulvia
Fulvia
having died shortly before). This marriage had to be approved by the Senate, as she was pregnant with her first husband's child, and was a politically motivated attempt to cement the uneasy alliance between her brother Octavian and Mark Antony; however, Octavia does appear to have been a loyal and faithful wife to Antony.[5] Between 40 and 36 BC, she travelled with Antony to various provinces and lived with him in his Athenian mansion.[6] There she raised her children by Marcellus as well as Antony's two sons; the two daughters of her marriage to Antony, Antonia Major
Antonia Major
and Antonia Minor, were born there. Breakdown[edit] The alliance was severely tested by Antony's abandonment of Octavia and their children in favor of his former lover Queen Cleopatra
Cleopatra
VII of Egypt (Antony and Cleopatra
Cleopatra
had met in 41 BC, an interaction that resulted in Cleopatra
Cleopatra
bearing twins, a boy and a girl). After 36 BC, Octavia returned to Rome
Rome
with the daughters of her second marriage. On several occasions she acted as a political advisor and negotiator between her husband and brother.[7] Mark Antony
Mark Antony
divorced Octavia in 32 BC,[8] after she had supplied him with men and troops, in 35 BC, to be used in his eastern campaigns.[9] Following Antony's rejection of her, their divorce, and his eventual suicide in 30 BC, Octavia became sole caretaker of their children[10] as well as guardian of Antony's children from his unions with both Fulvia
Fulvia
and Cleopatra:

Iullus Antonius (Fulvia), Alexander Helios (Cleopatra), Cleopatra
Cleopatra
Selene II (Cleopatra), Ptolemy Philadelphus (Cleopatra)

Octavia did not marry a third time. Life after Antony[edit]

Virgil
Virgil
reading Aeneid, Book VI, to Augustus
Augustus
and Octavia, by Taillasson

Augustus
Augustus
adored, but never adopted, her son Marcellus. When Marcellus died of illness in 23 BC unexpectedly, Augustus
Augustus
was thunderstruck, Octavia disconsolate almost beyond recovery. Aelius Donatus, in his Life of Vergil, states that Virgil

recited three whole books [of his Aeneid] for Augustus: the second, fourth, and sixth—this last out of his well-known affection for Octavia, who (being present at the recitation) is said to have fainted at the lines about her son, "… You shall be Marcellus" [Aen. 6.884]. Revived only with difficulty, she sent Virgil
Virgil
ten thousand sesterces for each of the verses."[11]

She may have never fully recovered from the death of her son and retired from public life,[12] except on important occasions. The major source that Octavia never recovered is Seneca ("Cons ad Marcia", II.) but Seneca may wish to show off his rhetorical skill with hyperbole, rather than adhere to fact.[citation needed] Some facts[which?] dispute Seneca's version, for Octavia publicly opened the Library of Marcellus, dedicated in his memory, while her brother completed the Marcellus's theatre in his honor. Undoubtedly Octavia attended both ceremonies, as well as the Ara Pacis ceremony to welcome her brother's return in 13 from the provinces. She was also consulted in regard to, and in some versions advised, that Julia marry Agrippa after her mourning for Marcellus ended. Agrippa had to divorce Octavia's daughter Claudia Marcella (Major) in order to marry Julia, so Augustus wanted Octavia's endorsement very much. Death[edit]

Today's appearance of the Porticus Octaviae.

Octavia died of natural causes. Suetonius
Suetonius
says she died in Augustus's 54th year, thus 10 BC with Roman inclusive counting.[13] Her funeral was a public one, with her sons-in-law (Drusus, Ahenobarbus, Iullus Antony, and possibly Paullus Aemillius Lepidus) carrying her to the grave in the Mausoleum of Augustus. Drusus delivered one funeral oration from the rostra; Augustus
Augustus
the other and gave her the highest posthumous honors (e.g. building the Gate of Octavia and Porticus Octaviae in her memory).[14] Augustus
Augustus
also had the Roman senate declare his sister to be a goddess.[15] Augustus
Augustus
declined some other honors decreed to her by the senate, for reasons unknown.[14] She was one of the first Roman women to have coins minted bearing her image; only Antony's previous wife Fulvia
Fulvia
pre-empted her. Issue[edit]

Children with Marcellus

Octavia and her first husband had one son and two daughters born late in their marriage:

Marcellus Claudia Marcella Major Claudia Marcella Minor

Children with Mark Antony

Octavia and Mark Antony
Mark Antony
had two daughters by their marriage (her second, his fourth), and both were the ancestors of later Roman emperors.

Antonia Major: also known as Julia Antonia Major,[16] grandmother to Emperor Nero. Antonia Minor: also known as Julia Antonia Minor,[16] mother to Emperor Claudius, grandmother to Emperor Caligula, and great-grandmother to Emperor Nero.

Ancestry[edit] See also: Julio-Claudian family tree
Julio-Claudian family tree
and Family tree of the Octavii Rufi

Ancestors of Octavia the Younger

16. Gaius Octavius I

8. Gaius Octavius II

4. Gaius Octavius III

2. Gaius Octavius IV

1. Octavia the Younger

12. Marcus Atius Balbus I

6. Marcus Atius Balbus II

26. Sextus Pompeius

13. Pompeia

27. Lucilia

3. Atia Balba Caesonia

28. Gaius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
II

14. Gaius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
III

29. Marcia

7. Julia Minor

30. Lucius Aurelius Cotta

15. Aurelia Cotta

31. Rutilia

Descendants[edit] Three Roman emperors, Caligula, Claudius
Claudius
and Nero, were amongst the most famous of her descendants.

Octavia the Younger

Marcus Claudius
Claudius
Marcellus (42 BC – 23 BC), no issue Claudia Marcella Major (born 41 BC)

Vipsania Marcella Agrippina (Marcellina) (born 27 BC) Lucius Antonius (20 BC – AD 25), no issue Gaius Antonius (? – ?), issue unknown Iulla Antonia (after 19 BC – ?), issue unknown Appuleia Varilla (? – ?), issue unknown

Claudia Marcella Minor (born 40 BC)

Paullus Aemilius Regulus (? – ?), issue unknown Claudia Pulchra (14 BC–26) Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus (11 BC – 20/21)

Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus (? – ?), possibly son of Aurelius Messalinus Valeria Messalina
Valeria Messalina
(17 AD or 20 AD – 48 AD)

Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia
(39 AD or 40 AD – 62 AD), no issue

Tiberius Claudius
Claudius
Caesar Britannicus
Britannicus
(41 AD – 55 AD), no issue

Valeria Messalla (c. 10 BC – ?)

Lucius Vipstanus Poplicola (c. 10 – after 59)

Gaius Valerius Poplicola (? – ?), issue unknown

Gaius Vipstanus Messalla Gallus[17] (c. 10 BC – after 60)

Lucius Vipstanus Messalla[17] (c. 45 – c. 80)

Lucius Vipstanus Messalla[17] (c. 75 – after 115), according to some authors, this man may be one of Saint Melania's ancestors.[18][19][20][21]

Julia Antonia Major
Antonia Major
(39 BC – before 25 AD)

Domitia Lepida the Elder
Domitia Lepida the Elder
(c. 19 BC – 59 AD)

Quintus Haterius Antoninus (? – ?)

Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (17 BC – 40 AD)

Nero
Nero
Claudius
Claudius
Caesar Augustus
Augustus
Germanicus
Germanicus
(Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus) (37 AD – 68 AD)

Claudia Augusta (January 63 AD – April 63 AD), died young

Domitia Lepida the Younger (10 BC – 54 AD)

Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus (same man as above), possibly son of Aurelius Messalinus or Valerius Barbatus (same man as above) Valeria Messalina
Valeria Messalina
(same woman as above)

See her line above

Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix (22 AD – 62 AD)

A son, died young

Julia Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor
(36 BC – 37 AD)

Germanicus
Germanicus
Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
(16 BC or 15 BC – 19 AD)

Nero
Nero
Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Germanicus
Germanicus
(6 AD – 30 AD), no issue Drusus Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Germanicus
Germanicus
(7 AD – 33 AD), no issue Tiberius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Germanicus
Germanicus
(born between 7 and 12 AD), died as an infant Ignotus (born between 7 and 12 AD), died as an infant Gaius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Germanicus
Germanicus
Major (born between 7 and 12 AD), died in childhood Gaius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Augustus
Augustus
Germanicus
Germanicus
(Caligula) (12 AD – 41 AD)

Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla
(39 AD – 41 AD), died young

Julia Agrippina (Agrippina Minor) (15 AD – 59)

Nero
Nero
Claudius
Claudius
Caesar Augustus
Augustus
Germanicus
Germanicus
(Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus) (same man as above)

See his line above

Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla
(16 AD – 38 AD), no issue Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla
(18 AD – 42 AD), no issue

Claudia Livia Julia (Livilla) (13 BC – 31 AD)

Julia Livia (5 AD – 43 AD)

Gaius Rubellius Plautus (33 AD – 62 AD), had several children[22] Rubellia Bassa (born between 33 AD and 38 AD)[23]

Octavius Laenas (? – ?)

Sergius Octavius Laenas Pontianus (? – ?)

Gaius Rubellius Blandus (? – ?), issue unknown Rubellius Drusus (? – ?), issue unknown

Tiberius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Nero
Nero
Gemellus (19AD – 37 AD or 38 AD), no issue Tiberius Claudius
Claudius
Caesar Germanicus
Germanicus
II Gemellus (19 AD – 23 AD), died young

Tiberius Claudius
Claudius
Caesar Augustus
Augustus
Germanicus
Germanicus
(10 BC – 54 AD)

Tiberius Claudius
Claudius
Drusus, died young Claudia Antonia
Claudia Antonia
(c. 30 AD – 66 AD)

A son (same individual as above)

Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia
(same woman as above) Tiberius Claudius
Claudius
Caesar Britannicus
Britannicus
(same man as above)

Fictional representations[edit] A highly fictionalized version of Octavia's early life is depicted in the 2005 television series Rome, in which Octavia of the Julii
Octavia of the Julii
(Kerry Condon) commits incest with her brother Gaius Octavian, has a lesbian affair with Servilia of the Junii
Servilia of the Junii
(the series' version of Servilia) and a romantic relationship with Marcus Agrippa (based on the historical Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa). Octavia's later life, around the time of the death of Marcellus, is depicted in the 1976 television adaptation of Robert Graves's novel I, Claudius. The role was played by Angela Morant, and should not be confused with her great-granddaughter Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia
(also referred to as "Octavia" in the series), Claudius's daughter and wife of the future emperor Nero, who was played by Cheryl Johnson. Notes[edit]

^ Suetonius, Augustus
Augustus
4.1 ^ a b c "Octavia Minor - Livius". www.livius.org. Retrieved 2016-03-08.  ^ Suetonius, Caesar 27.1 ^ Suetonius, Augustus
Augustus
63.1; Plutarch, Antony 87 ^ Plutarch, Antony 31; Appian, Civil Wars 5.64 and 5.66; Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.31.3 ^ Plutarch, Antony 33; Appian, Civil Wars 5.76 ^ So at the treaty of Taranto
Taranto
in 37 BC: Plutarch, Antony 35; Appian, Civil Wars 5.93-95; Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.54 ^ Plutarch, Antony 57.4-5; Cassius Dio, Roman History 50.3.2 ^ Plutarch, Antony 53; Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.33.3-4 ^ Plutarch, Antony 87; Cassius Dio, Roman History 51.15.5 ^ Life of Virgil ^ "Octavia". Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 21 May 2016.  ^ Suet. Div. Aug. 61. A Roman child is 1 year old until its 365th day, when it becomes 2. Thus Augustus's 54th year = 10 BC, since he was born in 63. Note that Dio 54.35.4-5 is not datable. ^ a b Dio 54.35.5 ^ "Octavia". virtualreligion.net. Retrieved 2016-03-08.  ^ a b Minto, The Heliopolis Scrolls, p.159 ^ a b c Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy (1986), pg. 242 ^ Mennen, Inge. Power and Status in the Roman Empire, AD 193-284 (2011), pg. 123-124-125-127. ^ Settipani, Christian. Continuité gentilice et continuité sénatoriale dans les familles sénatoriales romaines à l'époque impériale (2000), pgs. 227-228-229. ^ Potter, David S., The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
at Bay: AD 180-395 (2004), pg. 389 ^ Schlitz, Carl. "St. Melania (the Younger)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 15 Mar. 2013 ^ Their names are unknown, but it is known that all of them were killed by Nero, thus descent from this line is extinct ^ Sir Ronald Syme claims that Sergius Octavius Laenas Pontianus, consul in 131 under Emperor Hadrian, set up a dedication to his grandmother, Rubellia Bassa.

Library resources about Octavia the Younger

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

Further reading[edit]

Life and virtues

Details on Octavia pt 1 "Octavian was much attached to his sister, and she possessed all the charms, accomplishments and virtues likely to fascinate the affections and secure a lasting influence over the mind of a husband. Her beauty was universally allowed to be superior to that of Cleopatra
Cleopatra
and her virtue was such as to excite even admiration in an age of growing licentiousness and corruption." Details on Octavia pt 2 Nuttall Encyclopedia profile says merely that she was "distinguished for her beauty and her virtue"

Discussion

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Octavia Minor.

Octavia's birth and life discussed briefly Octavia's marriage discussed briefly

Family and descendants

Marcellus, Octavia's only son who died aged 20 Julia, Octavia's daughter-in-law and niece

Print sources

Cluett, Ronald. “Roman women and triumviral politics, 43-37 B.C.” Echos du monde classique. Classical views 17, no. 1 (1998), 67-84. Erhart, K. P. “A new portrait type of Octavia Minor (?).” The J. Paul Getty Museum journal 8 (1980), 117-28. Fischer. Fulvia
Fulvia
und Octavia: die beiden Ehefrauen des Marcus Antonius in den politischen Kämpfen der Umbruchszeit zwischen Republik und Principat. Berlin: Logos-Verl., 1999. Foubert, Lien. “Vesta and Julio-Claudian women in imperial propaganda.” Ancient society 45 (2015), 187-204.

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Octavia.

Octavia entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith Livius.org: Octavia Minor

v t e

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

Characters

Mark Antony Octavius Caesar Lepidus Cleopatra Sextus Pompey Domitius Enobarbus Ventidius Canidius Scarus Octavia Maecenas Agrippa Taurus Dolabella Gallus Menas Charmian

Sources

Parallel Lives

Stage adaptations

The False One
The False One
(c.1620) All for Love (1677)

Opera

Antony and Cleopatra
Cleopatra
(1966)

On screen

1908 1913 1959 (TV) The Spread of the Eagle
The Spread of the Eagle
(1963; TV) 1972 1974 (TV) 1981 (TV)

Related

Cultural depictions of Cleopatra Cultural depictions of Augustus Salad days Asp Thomas North Cleopatra
Cleopatra
(1912) Cleopatra
Cleopatra
(1917) Roman Tragedies
Roman Tragedies
(2007)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 289508509 GN

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