Portrait of Claudia Octavia

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Claudia Octavia was

1st wife of Nero

Daughter of Claudius


  William Storage and Laura Maish
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  Claudia Octavia (also Octavia Neronis, Latin CLAVDIA OCTAVIA) was born about 42-40 AD, married Nero in 53, and was divorced and banished by him in 62. According to Suetonius, she was later executed on demand of Nero's second wife Poppaea. While this may have happened, Suetonius's details of this execution are clearly fictional.

After being declared a hostis by her former husband Nero in 62 AD, most portraits of Claudia Octavia were probably quickly destroyed. Styling of the marble portrait shown here, from the Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo, indicates it is from the time of Nero. The hairstyle is similar to that seen on the very few extant coins bearing Claudia Octavia's image. Her faciaol features, particularly ears and chin, are very similar to those of the more veristic portraits of Claudius, her father (compare her chin with that of Claudius here, and ears with this Claudius head) [1].




Claudia Octavia (?)
Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo


Claudia Octavia, Augusta, 54-62 AD. Æ 27mm (10.35 gm, 12h), THRACE, Perinthus.
OKTAOYIA SEBASTH, diademed and draped bust right /
HPA PERINQIWN, cult statue of Hera of Samos left, holding filleted patera.
Schönert-Geiss 255; RPC I 1755; Varbanov 3694. Very rare (only seven specimens cited by Schönert-Geiss).
Photo courtesy of CNG Coins


[1] References for discussion of Octavia's portraits:

Imperial Women: A Study in Public Images, 40 B.C. - A.D. 68 by Susan B Wood (ISBN-10: 9004112812,
ISBN-13: 978-9004112810)

Römische Ikonographie (2.1). - Bernoulli, Johann J., 1886, Stuttgart

Mutilation and Transformation: Damnatio Memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture by Eric R Varner. ISBN: 9789004135772


Copyright 2007 Bill Storage and Laura Maish. Updated 6/8/2008