A Tale of Two Clodias (Pro Caelio 34)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2016


Emily Lueder examines Pro Caelio 34, which continues the prosopopoeia of the previous section. She focuses in particular on the figure of Quinta Claudia, a female ancestor of Clodia’s who is mentioned by “Appius Claudius,” and shows how Cicero uses her example to shame Clodia and to play on the festival of the Ludi Megalenses.

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Latin Text

Non denique modo te Q. Metelli matrimonium tenuisse sciebas, clarissimi ac fortissimi viri patriaeque amantissimi, qui simul ac pedem limine extulerat, omnis prope civis virtute, gloria, dignitate superabat? Cum ex amplissimo genere in familiam clarissimam nupsisses, cur tibi Caelius tam coniunctus fuit? cognatus, adfinis, viri tui familiaris? Nihil eorum. Quid igitur fuit nisi quaedam temeritas ac libido? Nonne te, si nostrae imagines viriles non commovebant, ne progenies quidem mea, Q. illa Claudia, aemulam domesticae laudis in gloria muliebri esse admonebat, non virgo illa Vestalis Claudia quae patrem complexa triumphantem ab inimico tribuno plebei de curru detrahi passa non est?


Did you forget that you were married to Quintus Metellus, a distinguished, brave, and patriotic man, a man who had surpassed all others in virtue, in glory, and in dignity from the very beginning? After marrying into this most celebrated family, why were you and Caelius even together? Was he a relative by blood or by marriage? Was he a close friend of your husband? No. So what was the relationship if it wasn’t based on foolishness or lust? And if our family’s manly images didn’t move you, doesn’t the thought of my descendant, the infamous Quinta Claudia, remind you of the praise that should belong to the women of this family? Or what about the vestal virgin Claudia, who saved her father as he was celebrating a triumph by embracing him and thus stopping him from being pulled from his chariot by a hostile tribune of the plebs? Does she not move you either?


Austin, R. G., ed. M. Tulli Ciceronis Pro M. Caelio Oratio. 3rd ed. New York; Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

Keitel, Elizabeth, and Jane Crawford, eds. Cicero: Pro Caelio. Newburyport, MA: Focus, 2010.

MacLachlan, Bonnie. Women in Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Skinner, Marilyn B. “Clodia Metelli.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 113 (1983): 273-287.

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