Octavia

Octavia
The Wronged Wife of Mark Antony
69 – 11 B.C.

Her father was the the Roman Prætor, Caius Octavius, and the family one of the great patrician distinction. One of her brothers became the Emperor Augustus after the rotten Republic had slid into monarchy.

In the day so of Julius Caesar she as married to his bitter enemy, C. Marcellus, and Caesar later greatly desired her to divorce her husband and marry Pompey, but she refused. Her husband died three years after Caesar’s assassination, and then, to prevent if possible the civil war that was brewing between her brother Octavius and Antony, she was introduced to marry Antony immediately after the death of Marcellus.

The historians report her to have been a woman of very high character and many accomplishments, and for a time she kept the dissolute Antony with her, inasmuch as she was far more beautiful woman in person than the courtesan Cleopatra. But his affection for his wife was not strong enough to counterbalance the feelings that weighed against it.

After Antony’s unsuccessful Parthian campaign she went with troops and money to meet him at Athens. But he, now that Cleopatra was with him, refused to see her, and bade her return to Rome overwhelmed with grief at his infatuation with the Egyptian queen, and thereafter devoted herself to the education of her children, she having had three by her first husband, Marcellus, and two daughters by Antony. From these two daughters descended, it is said, the emperors Calingula, Cclaudius, and Nero.

Even after Antony had so cruelly and unjustly divorced her, she continued to educate his son by Fulvia, along with her children; and after his and Cleopatra’s shameful death she took Antony’s children by Cleopatra, protecting them and educating then as if they had been her own.

She is known as the “Patient Grizel of the ancient world,” and died, it has been supposed, of grief at her misfortunes, when in her fifty-fourth year. She was buried with the highest honors in Rome.

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Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.