Polly Walker as Atia the Elder and James Purefoy as Antony in Rome | Photo: HBO
Atia the Elder, niece of Julius Caesar and mother of Gaius Octavian and Octavia was one of the most expressive female characters in the television series “Rome”. In the series, she was shown as an amoral manipulator who allows herself to play with the feelings and matchmaker of her family members to achieve political goals. Do historical sources confirm this?
Interestingly, Tacitus in her Dialogus de oratoribus mentions her as an exemplary and devoted mother and a matron with a high degree of piety.
In addition, in the HBO series, Atia lives until the end of the civil war and the assumption of power by her son Octavian in 27 BCE. According to ancient records, she died in August or September 43 BCE, during Octavian’s first consulship, and before the battle of Philippi. Octavian honoured her memory with a public funeral.