• Christian Hjorth Bagger
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
Women played a prominent part in the politics, alliances, and daily life of the Triumvirs, none more so than Fulvia, the wife of Mark Antony, and Octavia, sister of Young Caesar. Taking the chronological approach, this thesis begins with Fulvia at the time of her marriage to Mark Antony in 47/46. By using a historiographical method it is possible to remove the inherent bias against women in the evidence and re-interpret her role and actions as an independent woman, displaying rational agency. This thesis suggests that she was instrumental in the planning and execution of Caesars funeral in 44, by drawing parallels to the burial of Clodius, her first husband, nearly a decade earlier. Fulvia was a highly capable political thinker and strategist and with her union with Antony they in effect became a power couple. As the political climate changed in 44 Antony was declared a public enemy of the state. Fulvia had deployed all her wits and traditional ways of interceding in order to obstruct the vote, but ultimately failed. Not until the establishment of the Triumvirate in 43 did she ascent to the unprecedented influence and power that would be her downfall. This thesis argues that she may have played a part in the proscriptions but the evidence may have been partly manufactured deformation by later narratives. Fulvia’s downfall came in 41/40 as she lobbied against Young Caesar along with Lucius Antonius, Antony’s younger brother. Prior scholarship has placed the guilt for the following war in Perusia on Fulvia; however, this thesis shows that she did not instigate the war, and that she was forced to follow Lucius’ lead as their goals diverged. She was an instrumental part in the propaganda war, and once more showed her talent for planning and lobbying, while Lucius campaigned against Young Caesar. The year 41/40 showed Fulvia’s influence, auctoritas and power, which reached an unprecedented height, not seen again until the time of Empresses. This thesis argues that Fulvia was a woman with skill, that her experience from ante bellum Rome along with the conditions of civil war, allowed for her to use her influence and auctoritas in a new manner.
As Fulvia died, we turn to Octavia, the elder sister of Young Caesar, and soon-to-be wife of Antony. With her the historiographical method is used to remove the bias from Augustus. Unlike other women, Octavia is portrayed as a dutiful wife, matron and a pawn in the game of politics. However, this thesis strongly suggest that she was as capable as her brother and understood civil war politics and deployed her influence in order to safeguard her family, husband and brother. In 40 she became the visible symbol of concordia and peace between the two Triumvirs, following Fulvia’s death and Octavia’s betrothal and marriage to Antony. In 37 her skills was put to the test. She scolded her impatient and angry brother for wanting war, and instead secured the Treaty of Tarentum, where she arbitrated between the two Triumvirs and secured peace, and the renewal of the Triumvirate’s assignment. Her actions served herself, her family and the res publica. She was far from submissive and pleading; rather she was firm and curbed her younger brothers’ anger and impatience. In 35 she was elevated in status, due to several honours, including the inviolability of the tribunes. Contrary to existing belief this thesis argues that these honours had little to do with Antony, and was not a ploy to trap Antony. Though Young Caesar later used Antony’s insults against Octavia in 35 against him, they were not intended as such. In that same year Octavia used her influence for the last time with success. Octavia never saw Antony again, and he divorced her in 32. Octavia could have avoided the war had she met with Antony and Young Caesar, but events prevented her from doing so. Octavia would continue her role as advisor to the Emperor, but she was in effect the last civil war matron. This thesis argues that she derived her influence and auctoritas from her experience and relation to Young Caesar and Antony and that she used it to mediate and arbitrate between the two colleagues and rivals. She was far from the submissive sister and wife; rather she was an independent woman who manoeuvred triumviral politics with skill and flair in a very different manner than her predecessor Fulvia.
Publication dateJun 2021
Number of pages80
ID: 413300738