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A daughter of Gaius Octavius and Accia, and sister to the emperor Augustus. All the historians praise the beauty and virtues of this celebrated woman. She was first married to Marcus Marcellus, a man of consular rank, and every way worthy of her; and after his death she became the wife of M. Antonius, this latter union being deemed essential to the public welfare, as a means of healing existing differences between Antonius and Octavianus. It was with this view that the Senate abridged the period of her widowhood and of her mourning for her first husband, who had been dead little more than five months. Antonius, however, was incapable of appreciating the excellence of her character. After her marriage she followed him to Athens, where she passed the winter with him (B.C. 39), though keeping far aloof from the dissolute pleasures to which he abandoned himself. Without her interposition, civil war would even then have broken out between Octavianus and Antonius. By urgent prayers she appeased her husband, who was incensed against her brother for his suspicions, and then, disregarding the difficulties of the journey and her own pregnancy, she went with his consent from Greece to Rome, and induced her brother to consent to an interview with Antonius, and to come to a reconciliation with him. When Antonius went to make

Octavia. (Porphyry Bust in the Louvre.)

war against the Parthians, she accompanied him to Corcyra, and at his order returned thence to remain with her brother. New quarrels arose between Octavianus and Antonius. To have a pretext for a rupture, the former ordered his sister to go to her husband, in the expectation that he would send her back. This actually happened. Antonius was leading a life of pleasure with Cleopatra at Leucopolis, when letters from Octavia at Athens informed him that she would soon join him with money and troops. The prospect of this visit was so unwelcome to Cleopatra that she persisted in her entreaties until Antonius sent his wife an order to return. Even now, however, she endeavoured to pacify the rivals. Octavianus commanded her to leave the house of a husband who had treated her so insultingly; but, feeling her duties as a wife and a Roman, she begged him not, for the sake of a single woman, to destroy the peace of the world, and of two persons so dear to her, by the horrors of war. Octavianus granted her wish; she remained in the house of Antonius, and occupied herself with educating, with equal care and tenderness, the children she had borne him and those of his first wife Fulvia. This noble behaviour of hers increased the indignation of the Romans against Antonius. At last, when war broke out between Antonius and Octavianus, he divorced her, and ordered her to leave his mansion at Rome. She obeyed without complaint, and after his death reared the children he had had by Fulvia and Cleopatra. She died in B.C. 11. Her children numbered five—three by Marcellus and two by Antonius, the last being daughters. Her son, M. Marcellus, was adopted by Augustus, and was intended by him for his successor; but he died in B.C. 23. (See Marcellus.) Her elder daughter by Antonius was the grandmother of the emperor Nero, and the younger was the mother of the emperor Claudius and grandmothor of Caligula.


The daughter of the emperor Claudius, born A.D. 42. She was first betrothed by Claudius to L. Silanus, who put an end to his life, as Agrippina had destined Octavia to be the wife of her son, afterwards the emperor Nero. She was married to Nero in A.D. 53, but was soon deserted by her young and profligate husband for Poppaea Sabina. After living with the latter as his mistress for some time, he resolved to recognize her as his legal wife; and accordingly he divorced Octavia on the alleged ground of sterility, and then married Poppaea, A.D. 62. Shortly afterwards Octavia was falsely accused of adultery, and was banished to the little island of Pandataria, where she was put to death. Her untimely end excited general commiseration. Octavia is the heroine of a tragedy, found among the works of Seneca, but the author of which was more probably Curiatius Maternus.

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