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Clodius - Clodia's brother

Publius Clodius is one of the most colorful characters from the annals of the history of Rome. He would be considered a rogue by today's standards, even a criminal, but he got things done, and he had many accomplishments (although some were dubius). It is said that he and his sister Clodia changed their names from Claudius in order to disassociate themselves from that family and its respectable roots. Here is a brief list of some of Clodius' (in)famous deeds:

  • 68 BC -Clodius started a mutiny against Lucullus, whom he served with early in his career.
  • 64 BC -colluded with the prosecutor against Cataline.
  • 62 BC -appeared disguised as a woman in the rites of the Bona Dea which occurred in the home of Pontifex Maximus Julius Caesar.
  •         -was said to have had an illicit relationship with Caesar's wife Pompeia (famous quote: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion") the main accuser of Clodius in this case was Cicero, a staunch believer in the upright behavior of roman citizens.
  •         -was acquited of sacrilige in the above case by bribing the jurors.
  • 59 BC -with the help of Caesar, was made a member of the plebian party so he could run for office of tribune the following year against Cicero.
  • 58 BC -elected tribune; bribed people with free corn (if you like the man, you could say he allocated corn to the poor), repealed the Leges Aelia and Fufia, and passed a law outlawing anyone who put a Roman citizen to death without a trial.
  •         -Cicero was forced into voluntary exile by Clodius for bringing about the deaths of the conspirators of Cataline without a trial. Cicero felt that the actions of those conspirators stripped them of citizenship rights.
  •         -Encured the anger of Pompey when he allowed the escape of Tigranes, son of the Armenian king. His escape endangered Pompey's very life.
  • After Luca, Clodius lost Caesar's backing and spent the remainder of his life in brawls against the rival gangs of Milo.
  • 18 January, 52 BC. Milo murdered Clodius on the Appian Way. Clodius was at that time a candidate for the praetorship. His body was brought to the Senate House by his followers. A frenzied mob cremated his body using the Senate House as his funeral pyre. Milo was defended by Cicero in a speech called "Pro Milone."

Clodius' sister Clodia was another story. She shared her brother's flair for the devious, but she did not accomplish as much.

  • unfaithful wife of Metallus
  • always associated with scandal
  • immortalized as Lesbia in the poems of Catullus
  • rejected the love of Catallus unless it was a convenience
  • in general, not a nice woman.

Sources: Oxford Classical Dictionary, Penguin Dictionary of Ancient History.

J.Jahnige 1999

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