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Stylized Fulvia on a coin of the city of Eumeneia in Asia Minor.

Fulvia (* around 84–73 BC ; † mid 40 BC in Sikyon near Corinth ) was one of the politically most influential women of the late Roman Republic . She was believed to be the first non- mythological woman to be depicted on Roman coins.

After her marriages to Publius Clodius Pulcher and Gaius Scribonius Curio , it was above all her marriage to Marcus Antonius that brought her public attention. The picture she has handed down is partially distorted by Octavian's propaganda , who accused her, who was one of his opponents at the end of her life, of greed and lust for power.



Fulvia was the daughter of the plebeian Marcus Fulvius Bambalio from Tusculum and Sempronia, daughter of Sempronius Tuditanus. Fulvia's maternal great-grandfather was the historian and consul from 129 BC. BC, Gaius Sempronius Tuditanus . Fulvia was probably the last member of the family to inherit some fortune on both paternal and maternal sides.

First marriages

Her first husband was from around 62 BC. BC Publius Clodius Pulcher , the tribune of the people of the year 58 BC. The marriage, which is said to have been very harmonious, resulted in two children: a son Publius Clodius Pulcher named after his father and a daughter Clodia . Fulvia is said to have accompanied her husband on all his travels; at any rate, she recruited a crowd of followers ( collegia ) for him. Clodius was born in early 52 BC. Killed by his political rival Titus Annius Milo in a street battle in Bovillae outside Rome , his body was brought to Rome and laid out in the atrium of his house. There Fulvia uttered loud laments and displayed the numerous wounds of her murdered husband to the passers-by hurrying to her house in large numbers in order to incite them against Milo and his supporters. Her expressions of pain as a witness at the trial of Clodius' murderer left a similar lasting impression. Its defender was the famous speaker and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero , who had previously been an enemy of Clodius. As already mentioned in his speech Pro Caelio 56 v. BC, in which Cicero based his defense primarily on the defamation of Clodius and his sister Clodia Metelli because of an incestuous relationship, he also tried to destroy Clodius' reputation in Pro Milone by accusing him of incest, this time with another sister . Believing he failed to get Milo acquittal for Fulvia's performance, Cicero has been her fierce opponent ever since, often attacking her below the belt. The other two husbands Fulvia was to marry were also enemies of Cicero. Fulvia achieved for the first time demonstrably wide public notoriety through her role in the murder trial.

Fulvia married Gaius Scribonius Curio , a talented and influential tribune, whose bought loyalty to Caesar's fight against the Senate in 50 BC. Was of decisive importance. When the civil war broke out in early 49 BC Caesar entrusted Curio with a campaign in Africa, but his arrogance allowed the Numidian king Iuba to outmaneuver him: mid-49 BC. Curio's troops were annihilated and he himself killed - the only serious defeat Caesar suffered during the civil war. Despite the short marriage, Fulvia had a son from her second husband, Gaius Scribonius Curio, who later became involved in the annihilation of her third husband, Mark Antony .

Early years of marriage with Antonius

Fulvia's marriage to Antonius probably took place around 46 BC. BC, as Cicero announces that Antony was previously married to his cousin Antonia , from whom he had divorced because of an alleged adulterous relationship with Dolabella .

Another episode handed down by Plutarch also shows that Fulvia's marriage to Antony took place before 45 BC. Took place: When Antonius made his way to Caesar after his victory in the civil war in Spain, but in Italy the rumor of the death of the dictator and the march of his opponents surfaced, Antonius returned to Rome and coveted one in disguise Slaves admitted to Fulvia's house because he had a letter to give her from her husband. When Fulvia, who apparently did not recognize him in his masquerade, became restless, he revealed himself and kissed her.

Plutarch says that Fulvia was by no means interested in the usual activities for a matron and therefore did not want to have a private citizen, but rather an office holder as a husband. Fulvia's legacy was certainly an attractive factor for Antonius, who was constantly in financial distress. Fulvia's influence on Antony's politics is likely, but must always be placed in the context of Augustan propaganda. Cicero's allegations can be assigned to the invective, and Fulvia's behavior contradicted the later policy of the emperor Augustus, who, following on from ancient Roman traditions , wanted to limit the role of women to household and motherhood.

Fulvia's third marriage resulted in two sons: Marcus Antonius Antyllus (* 45; † 30 BC), who was murdered at Octavian's instigation after his father's suicide, and Iullus Antonius (* 42; † 2 BC) who subsequently enjoyed a great reputation with Augustus and was married to his niece Marcella Marcella Major.

Fulvia's political career began after Caesar's assassination on March 15, 44 BC. BC Antony became one of the most powerful men in the Roman Empire and this also brought his wife into the public eye. Above all, the topoi with which it is characterized have been passed down: cruelty, greed, jealousy. According to Plutarch, she was so domineering that she wanted to rule a regent; Antony's future lover, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII , owed her the apprenticeship money that Antony had learned to obey women. Fulvia is said to have actively participated in the trade in Caesar's files forged by Antonius. Only the case of the Galatian king Deiotarus is known for the latter assertion , to whom Antony allegedly under Fulvia's influence confirmed the annexation of a territory by the Acta Caesaris against payment of 10 million sesterces. That Fulvia and her husband at the end of 44 BC BC traveled to Brundisium and there watched the execution of mutinous soldiers, who are said to have been splattered with the blood of the severed heads, earned her the charge of heartlessness.

As expected by a Roman woman, Fulvia stood loyally behind her husband in Rome when he, absent from the capital, fell on the defensive militarily and politically. Since the end of 44 BC, Antony had BC besieged the Caesar murderer Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus in Mutina , but after receiving military help from the Senate and Octavian, Antonius became more and more troubled. Meanwhile, Fulvia was alone in Rome and (almost) only Titus Pomponius Atticus helped her. Since the beginning of 43 BC Cicero tried to enforce that Antonius was declared an enemy of the state. Fulvia asked whether such a conviction of a person who had no means of justification was even legally possible, knowing that the senators were divided about it. Therefore, she and her little son Antyllus and Antonius' mother Julia visited all the senators on the night before the decisive senate decision. The next morning she stood with her mother Sempronia in mourning clothes on the way to the Senate and moaned loudly in order to influence the senators in their favor. However, the majority of them condemned Fulvia's husband and banished him from Italy.

Share in the proscriptions

End of 43 BC Octavian changed sides and formed the second triumvirate with Antonius and Lepidus . These three rulers ruled the western Roman Empire (and the Caesar murderers for the time being the east). To stabilize the political alliance, Octavian married Clodia , the daughter of Fulvias and Clodius, who had just reached marriageable age. At least Appian reports that Fulvia was involved in the events surrounding the proscriptions . He reports that Fulvia was very interested in the building of a certain Rufus, which borders on their property. Rufus refused to sell her the building and was put on the proscription list by her. Thereupon he was ready to give it to her, but Fulvia had no understanding: Rufus was beheaded and his head was sent to Antonius. He had the head sent on to Fulvia with the remark that he did not know it, who had shown it to the public in front of the building. Quite different from Valerius Maximus , who reports that Antonius made a statement about an outlawed senator named Caesetius Rufus, not knowing him; in this version Fulvia is not mentioned at all.

The depiction of Fulvia's actions during the proscriptions by Cassius Dio , whose historical work was written 250 years after the events, is particularly drastic . According to this, Antonius pursued his archenemy Cicero with particular interest and sent search parties to his country house to track him down. In December 43 BC BC Cicero was found and beheaded by the centurion Herennius and the tribune Gaius Popilius Laenas , whom Cicero had successfully defended a few years earlier in a murder trial. Cicero had been betrayed by a young slave whom he had trusted in a special way. Antonius exhibited Cicero's head and hands on the rostra of the Roman Forum . Fulvia is said to have been happy about the revenge because of her husbands Clodius and Antonius and to have mistreated the head of Cicero and pierced his tongue with her hairpin. No other ancient author reports such an incident.

In order to be able to finance the fight against the murderers of Caesar, the triumvirs wanted to levy a special tax on the 1400 richest Roman women. A delegation of matrons, led by Hortensia , reached support only from Octavian's sister Octavia Minor and Antonius' mother Julia with their request for intercession , but was abruptly rejected by Fulvia. Fulvia thus supported her husband's politics and turned away from the traditional function of women as mediators between conflicting parties.

Role in the Peruvian war

42 BC BC Antony and Octavian crossed to Macedonia and were able to decisively beat the Caesar murderers. Then they divided the Roman Empire into new spheres of power, with Antony receiving the east and Octavian receiving the west. The young heir of Caesar also had the ungrateful task of driving the population out of several Italian cities for the promised settlement of 100,000 veterans, as if they had become the spoils of war. This had to draw Octavian the hatred of those to be expropriated, while Antony enjoyed himself with Cleopatra in Egypt .

Meanwhile, Lucius Antonius , the younger brother of the triumvir, was born on January 1, 41 BC. Chr. Consul and wanted to celebrate a triumph over defeated Alpine peoples. Fulvia allegedly initially rejected this, and the Senate only approved the triumph after its approval. In this sense, Cassius Dio asserts, in a completely exaggerated manner, that Fulvia had seized all power in Rome.

When Octavian returned to Italy, he was busy bringing together the estates promised to his veterans. These activities generated political and social unrest. Fulvia represented her husband's interests in Italy and, together with Lucius Antonius Octavians, wanted to take advantage of the difficulties in the distribution of land. The tensions between these parties caused the outbreak of the Peruvian War .

Before the war broke out, Octavian sent Clodia back to her mother saying that he had never slept with her. Now Fulvia went into action together with Lucius Antonius and stirred up the discontent of the Italians dispossessed by Octavian's land grants. They also rejected Octavian's offers of mediation and took their base in the well-secured Praeneste , where Fulvia is said to have given orders to the soldiers wearing a sword, among other things. According to Appian, Fulvia initially listened to the concerns of her husband's veterans. She therefore resisted the efforts of Lucius Antonius to support the expelled Italians. But then she is said to have been made jealous by Antonius' trustee Manius. This is said to have advised her to go to war with Octavian, as this would again attract Antonius' attention and he would leave Cleopatra or his lover Glaphyra . This is said to have shown greater inclination towards the intentions of Lucius, Antonius' brother. The less detailed sources describe Fulvia as the spiritus rector of the war against Octavian and accuse her of being unfeminine because she is said to have carried a sword and commanded the soldiers. To what extent Fulvia was really involved in the outbreak of war cannot be determined with certainty because of the contradicting representations of the main sources Cassius Dio and Appian.

When, in the course of the war, Lucius Antonius was trapped by Octavian and his general in Perusia ( Perugia ) and the Antonian generals who were supposed to bring relief to the besieged proceeded only hesitantly, Fulvia demanded in vain more energetic action to break through Octavian's barriers. The consequence of this improper behavior for a woman according to Roman ideas was that Octavian's legionnaires engraved crude sexual jokes in (partly still preserved) sling lead and stated that the shame of the Fulvia was the target of these projectiles. An obscene epigram allegedly composed by Octavian himself , according to which Fulvia had ultimately asked him to sleep with her to punish Antonius' infidelity, as otherwise she would wage war against him, is similarly low-level .

Finally, Lucius Antonius, who spent the entire winter of 41 BC To 40 BC Was besieged in Perusia, in February 40 BC. Because of hunger. Despite his victory, Octavian apparently did not want a complete break with his triumvirate colleague, who had been absent from Cleopatra in Egypt during the entire war. Therefore, Caesar's heir spared Lucius Antonius and Fulvia was allowed to travel on to Greece via Puteoli and Brundisium together with her children and Antonius' mother, having said goodbye .


Finally, upon the news of the defeat of his brother and his wife, Mark Antony was on the way from Egypt to Italy in order to finally take care of his interests in Italy himself. In Athens he met in March 40 BC. His wife. Then Antonius traveled on to Italy. Fulvia, however, remained ill in Greece and was deeply offended because Antonius had indulged in numerous romantic adventures in the Orient and also reprimanded her for interfering in his political affairs. She died in the middle of 40 BC. In Sikyon.

The timely death of both Octavian and Antony gave the two triumvirs an opportunity to be reconciled. Antonius married Octavian's sister Octavia Minor, who later took care of Fulvia's children. Perhaps it was only now that the rumor was spread that Fulvia had started the Peruvian War out of jealousy in order to be able to make her primarily responsible for this war, while Antonius did not want it and did not know anything about its outbreak.



The Roman historiography , which followed the description by Cicero and Augustus, was Fulvia as greedy and cruel. As with other politically active women, the main emphasis was on the contrast to the idealized image of the virtuous domiseda , the matrona confined to her own household , as embodied by Antonius 'next wife, Augustus' sister Octavia. This negative portrayal of Fulvia in the ancient sources was even exacerbated by archaeologists of the 19th century and it was not until the 20th century that research in the wake of social changes gave Fulvia a fairer and more balanced assessment. Based on the ancient sources, in which Fulvia appears only as an appendage of her husband until Caesar's assassination, many historians like Jane F. Gardner judge Fulvia primarily as the "mouthpiece of the husband". Richard Bauman, on the other hand, assumes that, like the later imperial women, she acted in her own interest.


  • CL Babcock: The Early Career of Fulvia . In: American Journal of Philology . Volume 86, 1965, pp. 1-32.
  • Jochen Bleicken : Augustus . Berlin 1998, pp. 182 ff., 194, 711 f. (Skepticism about alleged portraits of the Fulvia on Roman coins).
  • Manfred Clauss : Cleopatra . Munich 1995, pp. 40, 50, 53, 55.
  • Robert A. Fischer: Fulvia and Octavia: the two wives of Marcus Antonius in the political struggles of the period of upheaval between the republic and the Principate , Berlin 1999
  • Marjorie Dearworth Keeley: Fulvia . In: Women in World History . Vol. 5, 2000, pp. 825-829.
  • Friedrich Münzer : Fulvius 113). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume VII, 1, Stuttgart 1910, Col. 281-284.
  • C. Virlouvet: Fulvia, la pasionaria . In: A. Fraschetti (Ed.): Roma al femminile . Roma / Bari 1994.
  • Kathryn E. Welch: Antony, Fulvia, and the Ghost of Clodius in 47 BC In: Greece & Rome . Second Series, Vol. 42, No. 2, 1995, pp. 182-201 ( JSTOR 643230 at JSTOR ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See Allison Jean Weir: A Study of Fulvia . Master thesis. Ontario 2007, p. 2.
  2. ^ So Friedrich Münzer : Sempronius 102). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II A, 1, Stuttgart 1921, Sp. 1446 .; see. Cicero, Philippicae 2.90; 3.16; Cassius Dio 45.47.4; 46.7.1; 46.28.1.
  3. Cicero, Pro T. Annio Milone 28; 55; Valerius Maximus 3,5,3.
  4. Asconius : Milo 28:19; 35.21.
  5. Welch, Antony, Fulvia, and the Ghost of Clodius in 47 BC , p. 186.
  6. ^ Cicero, Philippicae 2:11
  7. Cassius Dio 51,2,5.
  8. Cicero: Phil. 2, 3; 3, 17; 13, 23; Epistulae ad Atticum 16, 11, 1; Cf. Plutarch, Antonius 9, 1f .; Cicero, Phil. 2, 99.
  9. Plutarch, Antonius 10: 7-9; see. Cicero, Philippicae 2.77.
  10. ^ Plutarch, Antonius. 10.5.
  11. Cicero, Philippicae 3, 4.
  12. Cicero, Philippicae 2.95.
  13. Martial, Epigram 11:20.
  14. Antonius 10: 5f.
  15. Cicero, Philippicae 5:11.
  16. Cicero, Philippicae 2.93ff .; ad Atticum 14,12,1 u. ö.
  17. Cicero, Philippicae 3.4; 5.22; 13.18; Cassius Dio 45.13.2; 45.35.3.
  18. Cicero, Philippicae 12.2; Nepos, Atticus 9, 2-7; Appian, Civil Wars 3,211f .; 242.
  19. Clodias Alter inferring Arthur Stein (RE, Vol. III, 2, Col. 2887) and Jochen Bleicken ( Augustus , p. 706) from Suetonius , Augustus 62,1.
  20. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 62,1; Plutarch, Antonius 20.1; Cassius Dio 46,56,3.
  21. Civil Wars 4,124.
  22. Valerius Maximus 9,5,4.
  23. Cassius Dio 47,8,3f.
  24. Appian, Civil Wars 4,136f.
  25. Cassius Dio 48: 4, 1-6; see. Plutarch, Antonius 30.1
  26. On this war, cf. B. Bleicken, Augustus , pp. 182-194.
  27. Cassius Dio 48,5,3.
  28. Cassius Dio 48.6.4-7.1.
  29. Cassius Dio 48,10,1-4.
  30. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 5.54; 5.56.
  31. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 5.75.
  32. Velleius Paterculus 2.74.3; Plutarch, Antonius 28.1; 30.2f .; Orosius 6,18,17f .; u. a.
  33. These traits are described in the greatest detail by Cassius Dio (48,10,4).
  34. Appian, Civil Wars 5,130f.
  35. CIL XI 6721, 3-5. 14; on this Clauss, Cleopatra , p. 40.
  36. Martial 11: 20, 3-8; on this Clauss, Cleopatra , p. 50.
  37. Appian, Civil Wars 5,210f .; Cassius Dio 48.15.1; u. a.
  38. Appianus, civil wars 5,217; Cassius Dio 48,27,4.
  39. Appianus, civil wars 5,230; 5,249f .; 5,266; Cassius Dio 48,28,2f .; Livy, periochae 127; Plutarch, Antonius 30.5.
  40. Representation in: Sabine Tausend: Power of women - power through women. The women of the triumvirs , in: Irmtraud Fischer, Christoph Heil: Gender relations and power: ways of life in the time of early Christianity; Münster 2010; Pp. 33-52
  41. Jane F. Gardner: Women in Ancient Rome. Family, everyday life, law , Munich 1995, p. 265
  42. ^ Richard A. Bauman: Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. Routledge 2002; P. 89