Most people have heard of the great romance and tragedy between Marc Antony and Cleopatra. For those who are unaware of it, it involves love, infidelity, war, and suicide. (Basically, it was an ancient Roman soap opera.) The famed William Shakespeare immortalized it by writing Antony and Cleopatra. However, most overlook the fact that when Marc Antony married Cleopatra, he was already married to a Roman woman named Octavia. Octavia was in Rome with her children from a previous marriage and the children of Antony and herself, while he married a foreign queen. One can only imagine how she felt to have her husband abandon her and her children while he married another woman, without even bothering to get a divorce until several years after he and Cleopatra had twins.
Octavia was born Octavia Minor in the year 69 BC. Her father was Gaius Octavius, a Roman official, and her mother was named Atia. Octavia had an older half-sister, Octavia Maior, and a younger full-blood brother, Gaius Octavius or simply Octavian. Her brother would actually later become Rome's first emperor, but under the name Augustus. In 59 BC, her father died, and her mother later remarried to the consul Lucius Marcius Philippus. Octavia spent a lot of her childhood traveling with her mother and stepfather.
In 54 BC, she married Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor, a man approximately nineteen years her senior, when she was fifteen. Marcellus was originally opposed to Julius Caesar when he invaded Italy. He, unlike his brother and nephew, however, did not war upon him, so was pardoned by Caesar later on. Though before being pardoned, he was in exile for a time. Octavia went with him and bore him three children, one of whom he never met as Marcellus died in 40 BC.
Several months later, the newly widowed Octavia became the fourth wife of Marc Antony and was at the time pregnant with her first husband's child. Octavia was used as a political pawn to seal an alliance between her new husband and her brother. Despite it being a political marriage, she was a loyal and faithful wife to Antony, even when he wasn't a loyal and faithful husband to Octavia. She even gave him four children, two girls and two boys, as well as three stepchildren. During the majority of their marriage, she and her seven children lived in Antony's mansion in Athens.
In 41 BC Marc Antony and Cleopatra had twins, and in 36 BC Octavia moved back to Rome with her children. Finally, in 32 BC, Marc Antony officially divorced Octavia. It is unknown at how she took the divorce. However, I am inclined to believe that in her eyes she and her husband has separated years before, when Antony had twins with a foreign queen. Her life most likely continued on as it did before: Octavia caring for her children, alone and having to fill the role of both mother and father, in place of her absent husband. Two years later, her ex-husband and his new wife committed suicide, and she took sole guardian of his children from marriages other than her own: one boy from a previous union with Fulvia, one girl with his union with Cleopatra, and an additional two boys from Cleopatra and Antony. This left Octavia the sole guardian of eleven children.
Octavia Minor died sometime between 11 and 9 BC. She had a public funeral with her brother, and now emperor, Augustus, giving the funeral oration. He also gave her high post humorous honors, like building the Gate of Octavia and Porticus Octaviae in her memory. She is remembered as being "distinguished for her beauty and her virtue". She has gone down in history as being loyal, noble, and the perfect example of a woman from her time. I see her as a caring and forgiving woman who cared for the children of the woman who ruined her marriage, but more importantly, as a brave mother who led her children, even those who weren't hers biologically, through thick and through thin. And I believe she should be commended for it.
A/N: Eh. I think it turned out okay. Not up to my usual standards, but for my teacher, anything will work. What'd you think?