Octavia Thurina Minor was one of the very first of Roman women to have coins minted in her image. Nonetheless, it appears that only four of her portraits are known.
One is in Rome (titled Octavia from Velletri at the Museo Nazionale Romano, Italy), another in Athens (known as Octavia from Smyrna at the National Museum, Greece), and two in private collections: Wiesbaden (Germany), and New York at the Merrin Gallery.
Also known as Octavia the Younger, she was the grand-niece of Julius Caesar. She was married twice, the second time to Mark Antony by senatorial decree, with whom she lived in their Athenian mansion between 40–36 BC.
Mark Antony, a Roman politician and military commander, abandoned her for his former lover, Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt.
In Octavia’s memory, her brother Augustus — whom she resembled very much — built the gate of Octavia and the Porticus Octavia in Rome. The first Roman emperor, and arguably one of the greatest, Augustus was also known as Octavian.
The Merrin Gallery’s portrait is still in private hands and is said to be the best one — a masterpiece of Roman portraiture; an extremely rare, life-size bust of one of Rome’s most prominent women — Octavia Thurina the Younger.
References, and seen in:
- G. Goudchaux in Cleopatra, Regina d’Egitto, exposition Rome 2000-2001, page 152 figure 2.
- S. Walker & P. Higgs (ed.), Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth (2001) 212 fig. 8,2.
- C. Alfano, Archeo 12 (190), 2000, 52.
- John Pollini, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, römische Abteilung; band 109, 2002.