Publius Clodius Pulcher

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Publius Clodius Pulcher (* around 92 BC; † January 18, 52 BC at Bovillae ) was a politician in the late Roman Republic who belonged to the loose group of the Populares and to this day mainly because of his long-standing feud Marcus Tullius Cicero is known. He successfully based his politics on the Roman plebs and, like many of his opponents, sometimes resorted to violent means such as street fighting.


Clodius was rung of the branch of Pulchri (Latin pulcher "the Beautiful") of the patrician family of Claudius and son of Appius Claudius Pulcher (consul 79 v. Chr.) And the Cecilia Metella . After his adoption, he changed the spelling of his gentile name to Clodius , the plebeian version of Claudius . In contrast to his brother Appius Claudius Pulcher , his three sisters followed this decision and called themselves Clodia .

Under his brother-in-law Lucius Licinius Lucullus , Clodius took part in the Third Mithridatic War , but instigated a revolt because, according to Plutarch , he was of the opinion that he was not being treated with sufficient respect. Another brother-in-law, Quintus Marcius Rex , proconsul of Cilicia , gave him command of his fleet - whereupon Clodius was kidnapped by pirates. After his liberation he retired to Syria , where he almost lost his life in a revolt he instigated.

After his return to Rome in 65 BC. BC he charged Lucius Sergius Catilina with extortion. Contrary to the claims of Cicero, who for various reasons (see below) stylized Clodius as an arch villain, there is no reason to assume that Clodius was later involved in Catilina's conspiracy. According to Plutarch ( Cicero , 29) he even gave Cicero every support and acted as one of his bodyguards. The affair surrounding the Bona Dea Mysteries then led to a rupture between the two: Clodius entered in December 62 BC. In women's clothes (men were not admitted to the mysteries) the house of Caesar (who was pontifex maximus ), where the mysteries were celebrated, supposedly because he had a relationship with Pompeia, Caesar's wife. He was discovered and put on trial for incestum , where Cato was prosecuting him. However, Clodius escaped conviction by bribing the jury. Cicero's incriminating statements may have contributed to the tense relationship between the two. Research suggests that the charge of incestum contributed to the fact that he was later believed to have incestuous relationships with his sisters.

After his work as quaestor in Sicily (61 BC), Clodius strove for the tribunate of the people . Since only plebeians were admitted to this office, with which one could exert great influence on the people, he renounced his rank as patrician. In March 59 BC With the help of the consul and pontiff Maximus Caesar, he was adopted by a certain Publius Fonteius, who was just about 20 years old, and thus became a plebeian. Suetonius ( Divus Iulius , 20) suggests that this could be interpreted as a swipe by Caesar against Cicero, who had given an unpopular speech against the political situation on the same day. On December 10, 59 BC Clodius took office as tribune of the people. As a first official act, he submitted draft laws that were intended to secure popular favor for him. Grain should be given away for free once a month instead of being sold at a low price; the right to consult the omen on a certain day and (if it was unfavorable ) to cancel the meeting ( Comitia ) which every magistrate was entitled to on the basis of the Lex Aelia Fufia (with this method, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus , Caesar's optimistic colleague in the consulate, had in Tried in vain the year before to torpedo Caesar's popular legislative proposals), was abolished; the colleges (professional and cult associations of craftsmen) were reintroduced; the censors were not allowed to expel or punish citizens from the Senate until they were publicly charged and convicted.

Clodius found a way to get rid of Cicero and Cato. The latter was sent to Cyprus as quaestor pro praetore to take over the island and the royal treasure. Because of the lex de capite civis Romani, Cicero went into exile at the beginning of March and only realized his mistake later. The lex de exilio Ciceronis , which was introduced in mid-March or at the end of March and approved at the end of April, ostracized Cicero because of the alleged logging of a forged Senate resolution and the inducement to have Roman citizens executed without charge. Cicero's property was confiscated on Clodius' instructions, his house on the Palatine was burned down, the property was put up for auction, which Clodius then acquired through a straw man. After Caesar's departure for Gaul , Clodius wanted to continue pursuing an independent policy based on his popularity with the people and violent supporters.

In 57 BC One of the tribunes suggested the return of Cicero. Clodius tried to thwart approval of this decree. But Titus Annius Milo thwarted his plan by bringing together a sufficiently large armed gang who managed to keep Clodius at bay. On August 4th, 57 BC The ban against Cicero was lifted and he returned to Rome. Clodius then attacked the workers who were rebuilding Cicero's house at the public expense, attacked Cicero in the street and set fire to his brother Quintus Tullius Cicero's house .

In 56 BC As a Curulian aedile , Clodius himself continued to disturb the public tranquility through an armed group that was in his service, and at the same time charged Milo with public violence ( de vi ), as he had defended his house against Clodius' attacks. In 53 BC When Milo was a candidate for the office of consul and Clodius for the office of praetor , both rivals gathered armed teams around them. When Clodius and Milo met on January 18, 52 on the Via Appia , fighting broke out in which Clodius was slain near Bovillae. His body was taken to Hostilia Curia by his followers and cremated with them.

In historical research it is still controversial today whether Clodius had a serious political concern in his fight against the Optimates or whether he was just a politicizing rowdy, the “prototype of the unprincipled agitator, a parasite” ( Luciano Canfora ). The assessment of Clodius' person and politics is made particularly difficult by the source situation, since almost all contemporary reports about him come from his archenemy Cicero.


Publius Clodius Pulcher was from about 62 BC. Until his death in 52 BC. Married to Fulvia , the two children Publius Claudius Pulcher and Claudia descend from the marriage . Through Fulvia's following marriage with Mark Antony , Clodia became his stepdaughter and to strengthen the Second Triumvirate from 43 BC. Married to Octavian for about two years .


  • Luca Fezzi: Il tribuno Clodio . Laterza, Roma and Bari 2008, ISBN 8-8420-8715-7 .
  • Philiippe Moreau: Clodiana religio. Un procès politique en 61 av. J.-C. Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1982, ISBN 2-251-33103-4
  • Wilfried Nippel : Publius Clodius Pulcher - "the Achilles of the street" . In: Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp , Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp (ed.): From Romulus to Augustus. Great figures of the Roman Republic . Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-46697-4 , pp. 279-291.
  • Jörg Spielvogel : Father Clodius Pulcher - a political exception of the late republic? In: Hermes 125, 1997, pp. 56-74
  • W. Jeffrey Tatum: The patrician tribune: P. Clodius Pulcher . University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1999, ISBN 0-8078-2480-1

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cic. Att. 3.15.5
  2. Wolfgang Will, The Roman Mob. Social conflicts in the late republic, Darmstadt 1991, 77-8
  3. Cic. Att. 4.3
  4. This notation proves CIL VI 1282