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Clodius (Publius Clodius Pulcher)klōˈdēəs, d. 52 B.C., Roman politician. He belonged to the Claudian gens (see Claudius), and his name is also written as Publius Claudius Pulcher. He was brother to Appius Claudius Pulcher and to the notorious Clodia. In 62 B.C. he created a tremendous scandal when, disguised as a woman, he entered the house of Julius Caesar at the time of the women's mysteries of Bona Dea. Cicero prosecuted him for sacrilege, but Clodius, probably by heavy bribery, won an acquittal. The results were that Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia, and Cicero earned Clodius' unswerving hatred. In 58 B.C., Clodius was tribune of the people, put into office by the First Triumvirate (Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey) probably under the mistaken impression that he would be a tool. Instead, he proved himself a demagogue, seeking popularity in every way. He exiled Cicero on specious charges arising from the conspiracy of Catiline, and he sent Cato the Younger to Cyprus. Clodius spent much of his money in organizing gangs of bullies to intimidate the city. The tribune Milo (initially supported by Pompey) organized a conservative gang, and Rome was plagued with bloody rioting until Clodius was killed by Milo's gang. His irresponsible actions had prepared the way for the civil war of Caesar and Pompey.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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