PRINCESSES AND POWER HAIR
While the coin portraits of Octavia, Julia, and Livia may be the purest expression of the public roles of these influential women, they were by no means the only one. Sculptured portraits of all three were also erected in highly visible public spaces in Rome and the provinces. Octavia, unlike her lesser-known sister of the same name, was commemorated with portraiture. The reason that she, and not her sister, received this privilege is that Octavia was a key figure in Roman public life. Such a position was accorded her primarily because of her marriage to important men and because she was actively involved in helping her brother form alliances that furthered his political goals. Above all, it was the direct result of the sacrosanctitas (sacrosanctity) that Augustus bestowed on her and Livia in 35 B.C. As we saw earlier, Augustus was motivated by his rivalry with Antony and his desire for jurisdiction over the entire empire. Octavia's sacredness would mean that any offense against her (for example, Antony's affair with Cleopatra and the birth of their children) would also be a transgression against the state, punishable by a declaration of war.
Dio Cassius mentions the sacrosanctitas law, but he doesn't indicate whether it was promulgated by the senate or was a triumviral edict.1 In either case, it was very special, had no precedent, and was, in fact, so unique as to be confined to only these two women. It provided them with unmatched financial freedoms and liberated them from Augustus's sumptuary laws for women that regulated the wearing of ostentatious
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Publication information: Book title: Cleopatra and Rome. Contributors: Diana E. E. Kleiner - Author. Publisher: Belknap Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, MA. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 242.
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