Portrait Bust of the Empress Claudia Octavia

50–70 CE
Overall: 38.2 cm (15 1/16 in.)
Location: 103 Roman
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The complex coiffure includes four elements: parted waves (top), tight curls (sides), hanging ringlets (shoulders, back), and a braided knot (back).


This portrait bust depicts a young woman whose idealized features and elaborate hairstyle may identify her as the empress Claudia Octavia (r. AD 54-62), unfortunate first wife of the notorious emperor Nero. Over her tunic she wears a stola, a long garment hanging from both shoulders and distinguishing her as a married, upper-class woman. Although beloved by the Roman citizenry and described by the historian Tacitus as “aristocratic and virtuous,” Octavia was eventually divorced and banished by Nero, then ordered put to death.
Portrait Bust of the Empress Claudia Octavia

Portrait Bust of the Empress Claudia Octavia

50–70 CE

Italy, Roman

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