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Claudia Octavia (late AD 39 – June AD 62) was the Empress of Rome. First cousin to Caligula, daughter of Emperor Claudius, and stepsister/wife (nice combo) to Emporer Nero.

Nero was a very very bad boy. Aside from poisoning Octavia’s brother to ascend to the throne when Claudius died— he also murdered his mom. Nice. He was married to Octavia in 53, but it was not a happy marriage. He hated Octavia so much- who was described as “an aristocratic and virtuous wife’ he tried to strangle her on several occasions and had a well-known affair with Poppaea Sabina. When Poppaea became pregnant, Nero divorced his wife- claiming she was barren and married his mistress.

The newly married couple had Octavia banished to the island of Pandateria (now Ventotene) on charges of adultery. When Octavia complained, her friends were tortured. After Nero officially signed her death warrant, Octavia was bound and her veins were opened in a traditional Roman suicide ritual. She was suffocated in a hot vapor bath and her head was cut off and sent to Poppaea. I can’t help but wonder what she did with the head.

It is said that years later Nero was plagued with nightmares about his mother and Octavia.

Poor thing. (can you hear me crying for him? no?)