Octavia of the Julii, Rome
Octavia of the Julii (Kerry Condon)
Octavia of the Julii was one of the main characters in Rome, based on the Roman matron Octavia Thurina Minor, sister of Roman Emperor Augustus, the only daughter of Atia of the Julii, niece of Juilus Caesar.
Octavia was in an arranged marriage with Glabius and they grew to love each other but her mother forced her to divorce in order to offer Octavia to Pompey who later rejected the marriage for another woman. Octavia continued to visit her ex-husband behind her mother’s back until Atia had him killed.
In episode 1×06, with Pompey & Caesar readying for their final showdown, Atia sent Octavia to Servilia with a gift, a male sex slave, in order to secure an alliance, since Servilia was Caesar’s lover. Servilia refused the gift, but agreed to help, and during the visit Octavia became upset and Servilia embraced her. Octavia spent the next few days deep in prayer to attempt to get over the attraction.
By episode 1×07, when Octavia asked for help once again, it was Servilia who became distraught, and Octavia who comforted her and by the end of the episode the two women were shown lying naked in bed together. Their relationship continued in episode 1×08 and during a two year jump before episode 1×09, when Caesar returned to Rome.
After Caesar’s return, Servilia used Octavia to find information about him, going so far as to suggest Octavia seduce her own brother. Octavia, repulsed by the suggestion, began to leave but was stopped when Servilia told her Atia had her husband murdered. Octavia then agreed to seduce her brother, and went through with it, after which she secluded herself at the Temple of Cybele ritually cutting herself and praying to be “cleansed of weakness and filth.”
“Their sexual relationship is depicted in a much less graphic way than the other sexual relationships on Rome. Much of their love affair involves merely looking at each other, along with a few very light kisses and touches. […] The lack of knowledge about lesbian sex is not unexpected, but it is disappointing in an HBO drama that explores heterosexuality with such lusty vividness.” – AfterEllen
And the switch from a same sex relationship to an incestuous one particularly unfortunate:
“The trajectory on Rome of homosexual relationship to incest to condemnation runs the risk of drawing a clear line between homosexuality and condemnation, period. It is a clear negative correlation. […] In comparison, the other sexual liaisons on Rome do not take this negative spiral. Even though Atia and Cleopatra may have sex for clearly manipulative reasons, their sexuality has not yet faced such judgment. The only sexual relationship that has ended abruptly due to social judgment is the one between Octavia and Servilia, and it ended because Servilia encouraged Octavia to have sex with her brother.”
In season 2, Octavia started an affair with Marcus Agrippa who admitted that he loved her, but avoided her because he was a common man. Octavia insisted she could be with whoever she wanted, and they became lovers. When confronted by her mother, Octavia insisted she loved Agrippa, and they continued the affair.
Octavia however was soon forced into another arranged marriage with Mark Antony, and accepted his advances in bed, while still involved with Agrippa. Her brother sent her into seclusion for her adultery. Years later, after she had a daughter, and after Mark Antony’s death, Octavia was left to raise Antony and Cleopatra’s twins and at the end of the show, was seen catching the glance of Agrippa. It was suggested they would resume their affair.
- 22 episodes.
Female love interests:
- Servilia of the Junii (Lindsay Duncan, regular, 18 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a woman: No
Male love interests:
- Glabius (Robert Davide, guest, 3 episodes, 2005)
- Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham, regular, 8 episodes, 2005)
- Gaius Octavian (Max Pirkis, regular, 13 episodes, brother, incest)
- Marcus Agrippa (Allen Leech, regular, 8 episodes)
- Mark Antony (James Purefoy, regular, 22 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a man: Yes
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? No
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.