Antonia the Elder

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Antonia the Elder
Female portrait Musei Capitolini MC922.jpg
Bust believed to be Antonia Major
BornAugust/September 39 BC
Athens, Greece
SpouseLucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
Domitia Lepida Major
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
Domitia Lepida Minor
HouseJulio-Claudian dynasty
FatherMark Antony
MotherOctavia Minor
Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus 27 BC – AD 14
Tiberius AD 14–37
Caligula AD 37–41
Claudius AD 41–54
Nero AD 54–68
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors
Category Category
Antonia from Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum. The inscription means: "Antonia Major, Emperor Nero's grandmother."

Antonia the Elder[a] (born August/September 39 BC) was a niece of the first Roman emperor Augustus, being the eldest daughter of Octavia the Younger and her second husband the Triumvir Mark Antony. She married Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and became the maternal grandmother of empress Messalina as well as paternal grandmother of the emperor Nero.


Antonia was born in Athens, Greece and after 36 BC her mother, along with her siblings and herself were brought to Rome. She was raised by her mother, her uncle and her aunt Livia Drusilla. According to Cassius Dio after her father died, Augustus allowed her and her younger sister Antonia Minor to benefit from their father's estate in Rome. Although little is known of her, Antonia was held in high regard like her sister Antonia Minor, the mother of the emperor Claudius, who was celebrated for her beauty and virtue.


Around 22 BC Antonia married the consul Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Three of their children are known for certain:

It is also likely that they had another son named Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (born between 20 and 17 BC), and possibly also a third daughter (born around 23 BC).[2][3] Syme thinks its possible that the sister may have lived to marry and produce children, but probably died before the reign of Caligula.[4]

Cultural depictions[edit]

Many scholars think the Ara Pacis (an altar from the Augustan Era), displays Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and his elder sister. The woman behind Domitia and Domitius is allegedly their mother Antonia Major and the man next to Antonia Major is her husband Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Ronald Syme has argued the two children are actually the elder son Lucius and another unknown sister.[5][6]


  1. ^ Also known as Antonia Major or Latin: Antonia Maior.[1]


  1. ^ PIR2 A 884.
  2. ^ Syme, Ronald (1989). The Augustan Aristocracy (illustrated and revised ed.). Clarendon Press. pp. 155–156. ISBN 9780198147312.
  3. ^ Syme, Ronald (1989). The Augustan Aristocracy (illustrated and revised ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780198147312.
  4. ^ Syme, Ronald (1989). The Augustan Aristocracy (illustrated and revised ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 164. ISBN 9780198147312.
  5. ^ Syme, Ronald (1989). The Augustan Aristocracy (illustrated and revised ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780198147312.
  6. ^ Pollini, John (1987). The Portraiture of Gaius and Lucius Caesar. Fordham University Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780823211272.


  • E. Groag, A. Stein, L. Petersen - e.a. (edd.), Prosopographia Imperii Romani saeculi I, II et III, Berlin, 1933 - . (PIR2)

External links[edit]