You don’t see a lot of epic romances in Roman history – partnerships, sure, passions, affairs, a few obsessions here and there, but not many great true-love matches. The tendency toward political and arranged marriages among the upper classes did not give much consideration to marital love (hence the affairs). But there were exceptions of course, and for me one of the greatest and most bittersweet is the short marriage of Claudius Drusus, aka Drusus the Elder or Drusus Germanicus, and Antonia Minor.
|one of the few likenesses |
of Drusus the Elder
|the Juno Ludovisi,|
modeled after Antonia
They married in 16BC when he was 22 and she was 20, and for the next seven years they were one of the foremost power couples in Rome. He was a famous general, handsome and dashing, destined for greatness and possibly the throne; she was beautiful and vivacious, clever and independent, exercising a level of freedom unusual for women of the time. Augustus had no qualms about rearranging family marriages as often as the furniture, but he never meddled with Drusus and Antonia’s union. They had three children who lived to maturity, and possibly two others who did not. From all accounts they were deeply in love; there is no evidence that either of them ever had affairs or took lovers, which was pretty unheard of in elite Roman society.
Heather Domin writes mixed-genre fiction including historical adventure, unconventional romance, and supernatural suspense. She is preparing to publish Valerian's Legion: The Heirs of Fortune later this summer, in which Drusus Germanicus plays a major role.