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Clodius Pulcher, Publius

A noted Roman demagogue, the enemy of Cicero. He first appears in history as an officer of Lucullus in Asia (B.C. 70). In the following year he accused Catiline of extortion in Africa, but was bribed to abandon the prosecution. In B.C. 62, he was alleged to have had an intrigue with Pompeia, the wife of Iulius Caesar, to meet whom he profaned the rites of the Bona Dea by entering the house of Caesar where they were being held; but was detected by Caesar's mother, and subsequently tried for sacrilege, but escaped conviction by lavish bribery. It was because of this affair that Caesar divorced his wife, with the famous remark that those of his household must be above suspicion (Iul. 74). At the trial Clodius had attempted to prove an alibi, but Cicero's evidence showed that Clodius was with him in Rome only three hours before he pretended to have been at Interamna. In order to revenge himself upon Cicero, Clodius caused himself to be adopted into a plebeian family, that he might obtain the formidable power of a tribune of the plebs. As tribune in 58, supported by the triumvirs Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, he drove Cicero into exile; but, notwithstanding all his efforts, he was unable to prevent the recall of Cicero in the following year. In 56, Clodius was aedile, and attempted to bring his enemy, T. Milo, to trial. Each had gladiators in his pay, and frequent fights took place in the streets of Rome between the two parties. At the time when Clodius was a candidate for the praetorship and Milo for the consulship, on the 20th of January, B.C. 52, on the Via Appia, near Bovillae, an affray ensued between their followers, in which Clodius was killed. The mob was infuriated at the death of its favourite; and such tumults followed at the burial of Clodius that Pompey was appointed sole consul (consul sine collega), in order to restore order to the State. See Cicero; Milo; Pompeius.

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