2. The younger daughter of C. Octavius, by his second wife, Atia, and own sister of the emperor, Augustus, was married first to C. Marcellus, consul, B. C. 50, and subsequently to the triumvir, M. Antonius. (Suet. l.c.
) Plutarch (Plut. Ant. 31
), as has been remarked above, makes the elder Octavia the wife of the triumvir; and he has lately found a supporter of his opinion in Weichert (De Cassio Parmensi,
p. 348, &c.), though some modern scholars, adopting the views of Perizonius, have decided in favour of the authority of Suetonius.
The question is fully discussed by Drumann (Geschichte Roms,
vol. iv. p. 235), who adheres, on good reasons as it appears to us, to the opinion of Perizonius; but for the arguments adduced on each side of the question we must refer the reader to Drumann.
Octavia had been married to Marcellus before the year B. C. 54, for Julius Caesar, who was her great uncle, was anxious to divorce her from Marcellus that she might marry Pompey, who had then just lost his wife, Julia, the only daughter of Caesar. (Suet. Jul. 27
.) Pompey, however, declined the proposal, and Octavia's husband continued to be one of the warmest opponents of Caesar. [MARCELLUS, No. 14.] But after the battle of Pharsalia he sued for and easily obtained the forgiveness of the conqueror; and Octavia appears to have lived quietly with her husband at Rome till the assassination of the dictator in B. C. 44.
She lost her husband towards the latter end of B. C. 41; and as Fulvia, the wife of Antony, died about the same time, Octavianus and Antony, who had lately been at variance, cemented their reconciliation by the marriage of Octavia to Antony. Octavia was at the time pregnant by her former husband, but the senate passed a decree by which she was permitted to marry at once.
This marriage caused the greatest joy among all classes, and especially in the army, and was regarded as a harbinger of a lasting peace. Octavianus was warmly 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, and her virtue was such as to excite even admiration in an age of growing licentiousness and corruption. Plutarch only expresses the feelings of her contemporaries when he calls her χρῆμα θαν- υαστὸν γυναικός.
(Plut. Ant. 31
.) Nor at first did this union disappoint public expectation.
By the side of Octavia, Antony for a time forgot Cleopatra, and the misunderstandings and jealousies which had again arisen between her brother and husband, and which threatened an open rupture in the year 36, were removed by her influence and intervention. But Antony had by this time become tired of his wife; a virtuous woman soon palled the sated appetite of such a profligate debauchee, and he now longed to enjoy again the wanton charms of his former mistress, Cleopatra.
The war with the Parthians summoned him to the East, to which he went with all the greater pleasure, as in the East he would again meet with the Egyptian queen. Octavia accompanied him from Italy as far as Corcyra, but upon arriving at that island he sent her back to her brother, under the pretext of not exposing her to the perils and hardships of the war (D. C. 48.54
) ; though, according to other authorities, he parted with her in Italy. (Plut. Ant. 35
; Appian. B. C. 5.95.) On arriving in Asia, Antony soon forgot, in the arms of Cleopatra, both his wife and the Parthians, and thus sullied both his own honour and that of the Roman arms. Octavia, however, resolved to make an effort to regain the lost affections of her husband.
In the following year, B. C. 35, she set out from Italy with reinforcements of men and money to assist Antony in his war against Artavasdes, king of Armenia; but Antony resolved not to meet the woman whom he had so deeply injured, and accordingly sent her a message, when she had arrived as far as Athens, requesting her to return home. Octavia obeyed; she was great-minded enough to send him the money and troops, and he mean enough to accept them.
It is stated that Octavianus had supplied her with the troops because he foresaw the way in which Antony would act, and was anxious to obtain additional grounds to justify him in the impending war. On her return to Rome, Octavianus ordered her to leave her husband's house and come and reside with him, but she refused to do so, and would not appear as one of the causes of the war ; she remained in her husband's abode, where she educated Antony's younger son, by Fulvia, with her own children. (Plut. Ant. 53
But this noble conduct had no effect upon the hardened heart of Antony, who had become the complete slave of Cleopatra; and when the war broke out in B. C. 32, he sent his faithful wife a bill of divorce.
After the death of Antony she still remained true to the interests of his children, not-withstanding the wrongs she had received from their father. For Julus, the younger son of Antony, by Fulvia, she obtained the special favour of Augustus, and she even brought up with maternal care his children by Cleopatra.
She died in B. C. 11, and was buried in the Julian heroum, where Augustus delivered the funeral oration in her honour, but separated from the corpse by a hanging. Her funeral was a public one; her sons-in-law carried her to the grave; but many of the honours decreed by the senate were declined by the emperor. (D. C. 54.35
; Senec. ad Polyb.
Octavia had five children, three by Marcellus, a son and two daughters, and two by Antony, both daughters. Her son, M. Marcellus, was adopted by Octavianus, and was destined to be his successor, but died in B. C. 23. [MARCELLUS, No. 15.] Of her two daughters by her former husband, one was married to Ms. Agrippa, and subsequently to Julus Antonius [MARCELLA], but of the fate of the other daughter we have no information.
The descendants of her two daughters by Antonius successively ruled the Roman world.
The elder of them married L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, and became the grandmother of the emperor Nero; the younger of them married Drusus, the brother of the emperor Tiberius, and became the mother of the emperor Claudius, and the grandmother of the emperor Caligula. [ANTONIA, Nos. 5 and 6.] A complete view of the descendants of Octavia is given in the stemma on p. 7.
(The authorities for the life of Octavia are collected by Drumann. Geschichte Roms,
vol. v. pp. 235-244.
The most important passages are :--Appian, App. BC 5.64
; D. C. 47.7
. 54, 49.33, 1. 3, 26, 51.15, 54.35; Plut. Ant. 31
; Suet. Jul. 27
One of the most important public buildings erected in Rome in the reign of Augustus was called after Octavia, and bore the name of Porticus Octaviae.
It must be carefully distinguished from the Porticus Octaviaa,
which was built by Cn. Octavius, who commanded the fleet in the war against Perseus, king of Macedonia. [OCTAVIUS, No. 3.] The former was built by Augustus, in the name of his sister, whence sone writers speak of it as the work of the emperor, and others as the work of Octavia.
It lay between the Circus Flaminius and the theatre of Marcellus, occupying the same site as the porticos which was built by Q. Caecilius Metellus, after his triumph over Macedonia, in B. C. 146 [METELLUS, No. 5], and enclosing, as the porticus of Metellus had done, the two temples of Jupiter Stator and of Juno. The Porticus Octaviae contained a public library, which frequently served as a place of meeting for the senate, and is hence called Curia Octavia.
The whole suite of buildings is sometimes termed Octaviae Opera.
It contained a vast number of statues, paintings, and other valuable works of art, but they were all destroyed, together with the library, by the fire which cons sumed the building in the reign of Titus (D. C. 66.24
There is some doubt as to the time at which Augustus built the Porticus Octaviae.
It is usually stated, on the authority of Dio Cassius (49.43), that the building was erected by Octavianuts, after the victory over the Dalmatians, in B. C. 33; hut this appears to be a mistake; for Vitruvius, who certainly did not write his work so early as this year, still speaks (3.2.5, ed. Schneider) of the Porticus Metelli, and we learn from Plutarch (Plut. Marc. 30
) that the dedication at all events of the Porticus did not take place till after the death of M. Marcellus in B. C. 23. (Vell. 1.11
; D. C. 49.43
; Plut. l.c. ; Liv. Epit. 138
; Suet. Aug. 29
; Plin. Nat. 36.4. s. 5
; Festus, p. 178, ed. Müller; Becker, Handbuch der Römischen Alterthümer,
vol. i. pp. 608-612.)