Cicero Versus Clodia: Stereotyped Roman Character Assassination

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Catullo and Clodia, by Giulio Aristide Sartorio (Public Domain)

Cicero Versus Clodia: Stereotyped Roman Character Assassination

Due to the growing independence and complexity of society, the greatest families in Rome met their downfalls. However, the heiresses of those great houses took up the chance to reclaim the power that had been taken from their families. The Valerii Messallae who, by this time, had gone three generations without any member of their family holding a consulship, was given new life by Valeria who one day captivated Sulla at the amphitheater and eventually became his wife. The Mucii Scaevolae were endangered by having only female heirs. However, one of their daughters married Pompey and later became Caesar's lover. Because of this, the family lived on to later became one of the most important families in the Augustan era. 

Not so lucky were other great houses. The sons of the Gracchii and Saturnii were violently killed at a young age. Although their respective daughters went on to make successful marriages, the families had to resort to many different means to secure their status and at times this involved many extramarital affairs between the daughters and Rome’s powerful men. Sempronia, the beautiful and witty daughter of Gaius Gracchus, married the consul Decimus Junius Brutus and became one of Julius Caesar’s mistresses.

Fulvia wife of Marcus Antonius, with the head of Cicero, by Pavel Svedomsky (1898) (Public Domain)

Fulvia wife of Marcus Antonius, with the head of Cicero, by Pavel Svedomsky (1898) (Public Domain)


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