Octavia the Elder

Last updated
Octavia the Elder
Bornbefore 69 BC
Noble family Octavia (gens)
Spouse(s) Sextus Appuleius I
Father Gaius Octavius

Octavia the Elder (born before 69 BC [lower-alpha 1] – died after 29 BC), also known as Octavia Major or Octavia Maior [lower-alpha 2] was the daughter of the Roman governor and senator Gaius Octavius by his first wife, Ancharia. She was also an elder half-sister to Octavia the Younger and Roman Emperor Augustus. [1] Little is known of her life.



Early life

Octavia was born to Ancharia and Octavius some times before 69 BC. [2]

Marriage and issue

Octavia the Elder was married to Sextus Appuleius (I). They had one son, who was also named Sextus Appuleius, was ordinary consul in 29 BC with his half-uncle, Augustus. [3] It is postulated that they had a second son, Marcus Appuleius, the consul of 20 BC. [4] Through Sextus Appuleius, the consul, she had a grandson named Sextus Appuleius, consul in AD 14, and a granddaughter Appuleia Varilla. Octavia the Elder's last known descendants were her great-grandson, also named Sextus Appuleius, through her grandson and Fabia Numantina. [5]


Plutarch was only aware of one daughter of Gaius Octavius and confused Octavia the Elder with Octavia the Younger. [6]

Octavias existence as wife of Appuleius's wife was first discovered due to a dedication from when her husband was proconsul of Asia. [7]

Cultural depictions

Octavia and her husband, as well as their two sons, may be depicted on the Ara Pacis . [8]

See also


  1. Her younger paternal half-sister, Octavia the Younger, was born in 69 BC.
  2. Maior is Latin for the Elder

Related Research Articles

Publius Quinctilius Varus Roman governor

Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman general and politician under the first Roman emperor Augustus. Varus is generally remembered for having lost three Roman legions when ambushed by Germanic tribes led by Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, whereupon he took his own life.

Atia (mother of Augustus) Mother of Augustus

Atia Balba Caesonia was the niece of Gaius Julius Caesar through his sister Julia Minor, mother of Gaius Octavius, who became the Emperor Augustus, step-grandmother of the Emperor Tiberius, great-grandmother of the Emperor Claudius, great-great grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, and great-great-great-grandmother of the Emperor Nero.

Claudia Marcella was the name of several women of ancient Rome.

Marcus Claudius Marcellus (nephew of Augustus) nephew of Augustus in the Julio-Claudian dynasty

Marcus Claudius Marcellus was the eldest son of Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor and Octavia Minor, sister of Augustus. He was Augustus' nephew and closest male relative, and began to enjoy an accelerated political career as a result. He was educated with his cousin Tiberius and traveled with him to Hispania where they served under Augustus in the Cantabrian Wars. In 25 BC he returned to Rome where he married his cousin Julia, who was the emperor's daughter. Marcellus and Augustus' general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa were the two popular choices as heir to the empire. According to Suetonius, this put Agrippa at odds with Marcellus, and is the reason why Agrippa traveled away from Rome to Mytilene in 23 BC.

Sextus Appuleius is the name of four figures during the 1st century BC and 1st century AD. The first Sextus Appuleius was married to Octavia Major, the elder half-sister of Augustus. The three subsequent figures named Sextus Appuleius are respectively the son, grandson and great-grandson of Sextus Appuleius (I) and Octavia Major.

Appuleia Varilla was a Roman noblewoman and the daughter of Quinctilla Varilla and Sextus Appuleius. She was a grand-niece of the emperor Augustus as her father was the son of Octavia Major.

Lucius Aemilius Paullus was the son of Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus and Cornelia, the elder daughter of Scribonia. He was married to Julia the Younger, the eldest granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus.

Octavia the Younger Roman noblewoman, full-sister of Augustus

Octavia the Younger was the elder sister of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, the half-sister of Octavia the Elder, and the fourth wife of Mark Antony. She was also the great-grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, maternal grandmother of the Emperor Claudius, and paternal great-grandmother and maternal great-great-grandmother of the Emperor Nero.

Julia Minor (sister of Caesar) Second eldest sister of Julius Caesar and grandmother of Augustus

Julia, also known as Julia Minor and Julia the Younger, was the second of two daughters of Gaius Julius Caesar and Aurelia Cotta. She was the sister of the dictator Gaius Julius Caesar, and the maternal grandmother of Augustus.

Claudia Marcella Major (PIR2 C 1102; Major Latin for the elder) also known as Marcella the Elder was the senior niece of Roman emperor Augustus, being the eldest daughter of his sister Octavia Minor and her first husband Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor.

Iulla Antonia, is thought to be a daughter of Roman consul of 10 BCE Iullus Antonius and Claudia Marcella Major. The only direct evidence of her existence that has been found is a funerary urn.

Fabia Numantina was a member of the patrician Fabia gens. Precisely how she fits into this family is not certain; while she is generally believed to be the daughter of Paullus Fabius Maximus and Marcia, a maternal first cousin of Augustus, it is possible that she was the daughter of Paullus' brother, Africanus Fabius Maximus.

Marcus Livius Drusus Libo was the natural son of Lucius Scribonius Libo and an unknown wife. His natural paternal aunt was Scribonia, the second wife of Augustus, as a consequence of which he was a natural maternal first cousin of Julia Caesaris.

Claudia Marcella Minor (PIR2 C 1103, Minor Latin for the younger, born late 40 BC probably) as the younger daughter of Octavia the Younger and her first husband Gaius Claudius Marcellus. She was also known as Marcella Minor, Claudia Marcella the Younger and Marcella the Younger was the second daughter of Octavia Minor and her first husband Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor.

The gens Appuleia, occasionally written Apuleia, was a plebeian family at ancient Rome, which flourished from the fifth century BC into imperial times. The first of the gens to achieve importance was Lucius Appuleius, tribune of the plebs in 391 BC.

Lucius Nonius Asprenas was a Roman Senator active during the Principate. He was notorious for being prosecuted for poisoning a number of people at a dinner party.

Marcus Appuleius was a Roman Senator who was appointed Roman consul in 20 BC with Publius Silius Nerva as his colleague.

Vipsania was an ancient Roman noblewoman of the first century BC. She was married to the politician Publius Quinctilius Varus and was a daughter of Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and his second wife Claudia Marcella Major.

Vipsania was an ancient Roman noblewoman of the first century BC. She was married to the politician Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and was likely the daughter of Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and his second wife Claudia Marcella Major.

Vipsania was an ancient Roman noblewoman of the first century BC. She was married to the orator Quintus Haterius and was likely the daughter of Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and his first wife Pomponia Caecilia Attica.


  1. Suetonius, Life of Augustus 4.1
  2. Syme, Ronald (1978). History in Ovid. University of Michigan: Clarendon Press. p. 152.
  3. Inscriptions from Pergamon 2, 419 = Inscriptiones Graecae ad res Romanas pertinentes 4, 323 = Wilhelm Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci inscriptiones selectae 462.
  4. Syme, Ronald, Augustan Aristocracy (1989), p. 37
  5. Syme, R., Augustan Aristocracy (1989), pp. 316f
  6. Plutarch, Life of Antony 31.1-2 and 87
  7. Syme, Ronald (1989). The Augustan Aristocracy (illustrated and revised ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 316. ISBN   9780198147312.
  8. Pollini, John (October 1986). "Ahenobarbi, Appuleii and Some Others on the Ara Pacis". American Journal of Archaeology. Archaeological Institute of America. 90 (4): 453–460. doi:10.2307/506032. JSTOR   506032.


Further reading