Octavia (39–62 CE)

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Octavia (39–62 ce)

Roman empress. Name variations: Olympia. Born around 39 ce; executed in 62 ce; daughter of the emperor Claudius, emperor of Rome (r. 10 bce–54 ce) and his third wife Valeria Messalina (c. 23–48 ce); became first wife of Nero (37–68), emperor of Rome (r. 54–68), in 53 ce (divorced 62 ce).

To ensure her son Nero's succession, Agrippina the Younger —fourth wife of Claudius—arranged a marriage between the 16-year-old Nero and 11-year-old Octavia, daughter of Claudius and Valeria Messalina . But Nero deserted Octavia for Acte , and then for Poppaea Sabina . Through Poppaea's jealousy, a charge of adultery was brought against Octavia, and she was sent to the island of Pandataria. While there, almost immediatelly following a notice of divorce, she was executed by order of Nero when she was only 22 years old. Shortly after, Nero married Poppaea. Although he seems to have cared for her as much as he cared for anyone, in 65 ce he killed Poppaea by kicking her in the stomach. Octavia is the heroine of Octavia, the only extant Roman historical play, or fabula praetexta. This tragedy has been attributed, probably wrongly, to Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the noted Stoic rhetorician and philosopher and Nero's tutor.