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Rufus, M. Caelius

A young Roman noble distinguished as an elegant writer and eloquent speaker, but equally conspicuous for his profligacy and extravagance. Notwithstanding his vices he lived on intimate terms with Cicero, who defended him in B.C. 56 in an oration still extant. The accusation was brought against him by Sempronius Atratinus, at the instigation of Clodia Quadrantaria, whom he had lately deserted. Clodia charged him with having borrowed money from her in order to murder Dion, the head of the embassy sent by Ptolemy Auletes to Rome, and with having made an attempt to poison her. In 52 Caelius was tribune of the plebs and in 50 aedile. During the years 51 and 50 he carried on an active correspondence with Cicero, who was then in Cilicia, and many of the letters which he wrote to Cicero at that time are preserved in the collection of Cicero's Letters. On the breaking out of the Civil War in 49 he espoused Caesar's side, and was rewarded for his services by the praetorship in 48. Being at this time overwhelmed with debt, he availed himself of Caesar's absence from Italy to bring forward a law for the abolition of debts. He was, however, resisted by the other magistrates and deprived of his office; whereupon he went into the south of Italy to join Milo (q.v.), whom he had secretly sent for from Massilia. Milo was killed near Thurii before Caelius could join him, and Caelius himself was put to death shortly afterwards at Thurii.

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