Clodia may have caused tension in their marriage,

Clodia was an aristocratic woman who lived in the first century BC. She was born in 95 or 94 BC, as a daughter of politician Appius Claudius Pulcher, and was originally named Claudia, but changed her name along with one of her brothers, politician Publius Clodius Pulcher, supposedly “to appear less aristocratic and thus win Clodius the vote of the Roman people” (Kamil). She was married to politician Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer and had one daughter with him. Through her brother Clodius as well as her husband, Clodia was indirectly involved in politics, since the Roman Republic did not allow women to be first-hand. However, her brother and husband often had opposing political views, with Clodius being for the people and Metellus for the aristocracy, in which Clodia regularly sided with her brother, “defying her obligations as a wife” (Kamil). This may have caused tension in their marriage, further increased by the rumors of adultery that surrounded Clodia. Clodia was said to have had affairs with “slaves and married men, possibly including the poet, Catullus” (Wikipedia). Her marriage was an unhappy one, consisting of arguments, several of which are said to have occurred in public (Wikipedia). When Metellus suddenly died in 59 BC, Clodia was the one people suspected of having killed him.  Catullus was said to have been one of Clodia’s many lovers. Catullus wrote poems about a woman named Lesbia, who has been identified as being Clodia herself, which began with the writer Apuleius in the second century AD. Lesbia was described as being an older woman, unfaithful and independent of her marriage. Catullus and Lesbia had a sexual relationship that eventually turned sour. Evidence in Catullus’ poems that leads to the conclusion that Clodia is Lesbia is the reference in poem 79, of Lesbia’s incest with her brother, Lesbius, a rumor that had followed Clodia and her brother Clodius, and in which Cicero had referred to in his speech Pro Caelio. After her husband’s death, Clodia took on more lovers, among them being Marcus Caelius Rufus, who she would end up accusing of attempted murder by poison. Cicero defended Caelius, who claimed that Clodia was lying as a way to get revenge after Caelius ended their relationship. Cicero then proceeded to “paint a lurid picture of Clodia’s debauchery” by referring to her numerous sexual partners, the mysterious death of her husband, and the incest rumors that surrounded her and Clodius (Skinner). Cicero did this as an attack on both Clodia and Clodius. He blamed Clodia for supposedly putting a wedge in his marriage to Terentia, who believed that he was having an affair with Clodia (Doroudian). As for Clodius, he considered him a political rivalry and greatly disliked him due to the fact that it was Clodius who took part in his exile in 58 BC.  Cicero tarnished Clodia’s reputation and ultimately won the trial by having done so. After the trial, much less is known about Clodia, who was said to be alive just after Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, but besides that nothing else is known about her (Skinner). Much of what is known about Clodia came from Catullus and Cicero; however, scholars do not take Catullus’ descriptions of Lesbia as historical evidence since they are poems, and therefore it is uncertain if there is any truth to them, since “the poet would have felt at liberty to modify the raw data of experience to suit his creative objectives” (Skinner). Scholars question as well Cicero’s account of Clodia as a result of the possible motives behind the negative image he presented of Clodia in his Pro Caelio speech. In addition, tainting her character could have been a straightforward way of getting the jurors to be on Caelius’ side instead of Clodia’s.The woman presented by Catullus and Cicero as Clodia may just be a myth, but whether it is or not, what can be said about Clodia from between the words, is that she appeared to be in control of herself and not bound by society. Women from ancient Rome are rarely spoken about, and to have someone like Clodia be mentioned by no other than Cicero indicates the significance of her character in ancient Roman society.

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