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Antony and Octavia

Marc Antony (83 BC - 30 BC)

Octavia (? - 11 BC)

After the death of Julius Caesar the Roman world was once again thrown into turmoil.

First, those who had been friends of Caesar banded together to avenge his death. There was tension between Antony and Octavian when Octavian laid claim to the inheritance of Caesar as his adopted son. But the two appear to have reconciled their differences in uniting against those who had plotted Caesar's death and also against any who had spoken against Caesar at any time. (Cicero, of course, found himself in this latter group.) Along with Lepidus, Antony and Octavian formed a triumvirate to control Rome and the empire.

When Antony was not campaigning in Parthia, he was falling under the influence of that ambitious queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. During this period conditions in Italy grew worse. Antony returned to Italy and made a pact with Octavian: he would rule in the East and Octavian would rule in the Wast. This agreement was sealed by the marriage of Antony to Octavia, the recently widowed sister of Octavian.

They were not married long before Antony departed to resume the Parthian campaign. He also met once again with Cleopatra. Abandoning Octavia, Antony married Cleopatra according to Egyptian custom. But Octavia continued to support her husband, traveling from Rome to Athens bearing gifts and supplies. But Antony avoided her and even insulted her publicly.

Even after his death, Octavia remained a loyal wife and brought up all of Antony's children, not only her own but also the children born to him by his previous wife.

-- Joan Jahnige, September 2003


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