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causing a full-fledged war—a war which also temporarily killed traditional marital roles. Fulvia was now the gallant general, while Antony remained in the East, submissive and oblivious to the conflict. Fulvia endured bitter verbal attacks in the form of an especially vulgar epigram from the king of propaganda himself, Augustus. This time, his formidable foe was a woman, a circumstance which plagues his writing with an underlying sense of insecurity and frustration.

Augustus, a ruler known for his calm façade and strict preachings on morality, found his temperament shattered by a woman who was supposed to be just another obedient, aristocratic wife. This woman had no right to political power, but her zeal gave her the will to take control. If Roman women were supposed to embody pietas, then Fulvia was the most exemplary Roman woman of all. In the end, Fulvia proved to be loyal to her husband in an unusual but nonetheless extremely devoted manner. Her fortitude was intimidating because according to the standards of the time, it wasn’t appropriate or acceptable. In fact, despite Fulvia’s courage, her husband, Marc Antony wasn’t so loyal to her. After Fulvia surrendered and eventually died, Antony and Octavian


fulvia in the chariot, continued

'It was the chariot' as opposed to the consul. Fulvia...was driving the state and embodying Roman glory.

Rome. She oversaw business, condemned inefficiency, and quietly obtained power. It’s likely that the state needed a competent leader like her, and she needed an opportunity to show her calculated astuteness. After all, she wasn’t a benevolent dictator, but she wasn’t an inept leader, either. Her mind was not feeble, her drive was not weak, and her purpose was not passive. Even the unfortunate circumstance of being a Roman woman didn’t crush her spirit, though it’s simultaneously amazing and sorrowful to think of how far her greatness might’ve stretched if there were no gendered limit on her power, and no sexist disregard of her achievements.

Cassius Dio was the only one who ever bothered to write a detailed account of Fulvia’s short rule. Celebrating a triumph of one of the consuls at the time, he emphasizes that “it was Fulvia…in the chariot” as opposed to the consul. Fulvia, who went down in history and paintings simply as the woman who looked crazily at Cicero’s severed head, was driving the state and embodying Roman glory. Fulvia, whose husband was said to be stronger and smarter, was honored with the same rites as any great Roman man. Yet she was never depicted in the same sort of regal tunic as Julius Caesar. She was never credited with overseeing the Roman empire in times of civil turmoil to the same degree that Augustus was. Nevertheless, her lasting influence was undeniable, even when civil discord intensified with the falling out between Octavian and Antony.

In a brave expression of their loyalty, Fulvia and the consul Lucius Antonius publicly endorsed Antony over Octavian,

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