On the Liberties of Roman Youths (Pro Caelio 48)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2016


Caitlyn Alario studies a passage in which Cicero insinuates that Clodia is a meretrix, or prostitute. Her discussion centers on the nature of Roman prostitution, and the purpose of Cicero’s frequent allusions to it.

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Latin Text

Verum si quis est qui etiam meretriciis amoribus interdictum iuventuti putet, est ille quidem valde severus — negare non possum — sed abhorret non modo ab huius saeculi licentia verum etiam a maiorum consuetudine atque concessis. quando enim hoc non factitatum est, quando reprehensum, quando non permissum, quando denique fuit ut quod licet non liceret? hic ego ipsam rem definiam, mulierem nullam nominabo; tantum in medio relinquam.


But anyone who thinks that the youth should be forbidden to hire prostitutes is incredibly strict—I can’t deny it—and has an aversion not only to the freedoms of our times, but also to the accepted habits of our ancestors. When was this not a common practice? When was this right denied? When was this not permitted? When did our liberties become crimes? Here I will stop myself and name no woman; I will leave that up in the air.


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

Hornblower, Simon, and Antony Spawforth. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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

McCoy, Marsha. “The Politics of Prostitution: Clodia, Cicero, and Social Order in the Late Roman Republic.” In Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World. Edited by Christopher A. Faraone and Laura K. McClure. 177-185. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

Reinhold, Meyer. “The Generation Gap in Antiquity.” In Studies in Classical History and Society. 3-24. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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