Publius Claudius Pulcher (son of Clodius)

Publius Claudius Pulcher (c. 60-59 BC[a] – aft. 31 BC, possibly born Publius Clodius Pulcher) was a son of Publius Clodius Pulcher and his wife Fulvia. He was briefly the brother-in-law of Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) through Octavian's marriage to his sister Claudia.

Publius Claudius Pulcher
Claudia Marcella Minor (possibly)
ChildrenClaudius Pulcher
Claudia Pulchra (possibly)[1]


Early lifeEdit

Publius, who was the son of Publius Clodius Pulcher and Fulvia, had one full sister Claudia, and three half-brothers, Gaius Scribonius Curio, Marcus Antonius Antyllus and Iullus Antonius from his mothers later marriages to Gaius Scribonius Curio (married in 52 BC) and Mark Antony (married in 49 BC). His father Clodius might have been married to a woman named Pinaria Natta before Fulvia, but there are no children known from this possible match.[2]

It is not known exactly when he was born, but he was still referred to as a "boy" (puer) in 44 BC and he was likely born no earlier than 60 BC.[3]

In 59 Publius's father (who was born as a patrician) was adopted by a man of plebeian status named Publius Fonteius and changed the spelling of his own name from Publius Claudius Pulcher to Publius Clodius Pulcher.[b] If Publius was born after this he might have been born under the name "Clodius", although it is known that he reverted to the patrician spelling at some point after his father's death.[5]

In 52 BC when his father was killed by Titus Annius Milo and his followers, there were accusations that Milo had also had a slave abduct the boy from his father's villa in Alba and bring him to see the body of his father and to demand that he allow them to cut up Clodius's body.[6] At his father's funeral he was not considered old enough to deliver a funeral oration.[7][c] Around this time he was referred to as a parvulus[9] which would mean "little child".[10][d]

Publius appears to have been raised by his mother's last husband Mark Antony. As a young man he likely asked for Antony to recall the exiled Sextus Cloelius (sometimes called "Sextus Clodius") as a favour. Sextus had been a major supporter of his father.[14] His younger sister Claudia married Octavian around 43-41 BC but when the relations between Octavian and his mother Fulvia broke down about a year later the marriage was broken off. Fulvia died of illness in 40 BC in Greece after traveling with her children following battles with Octavians forces.


Valerius Maximus regarded Publius as a lethargic nonentity who only rose to the Praetorship after 31 BC under the Second Triumvirs and died young amid scandals of luxurious excess and an obsessive attachment to a common prostitute.[15] Besides his praetorship he was also a quaestor and a member of the priestly college of the augurs.[16] It is possible that he survived the Battle of Actium and went over to Octavian's side after the defeat of his step-father Mark Antony, later making a further career under the emperor.[17]

An inscription of ownership on an expensive Egyptian alabaster vase once owned by him has survived to attest to his short official career, and includes an unusual triple filiation which confirms the literary evidence to the effect that Clodius' own filiation was: Ap. f. Ap. n. Ap. pron. (son of Appius cos.79, grandson of Appius cos.143).[18]


He seems to have had at least one son, possibly named Appius. The Claudius Pulcher who was triumvir monetalis in 11 BC may have been this son.[19] The son may have been born some time in the 20s BC.[20]

There has also been some speculation among historians such as George Patrick Goold[21] that he might have been the father of Claudia Pulchra who was the daughter of Augustus' niece Claudia Marcella Minor. Some historians such as Ronald Syme have rejected this proposal[22] while others like Susan Treggiari are open to the possibility.[23] Another interpretation put forth is that Claudia Pulchra was indeed Publius daughter, but by Claudia Marcella Major, the elder sister of Claudia Marcella Minor.[24] Goold argues that an engagement between Publius and Marcella would have fit the political climate around 43 BC when Octavian himself was marrying Pulcher's sister Claudia. He conjectures that the future emperor might have reasoned that betrothing his niece to a son of a plebeian hero would have its advantages after his experience with the Pseudo-Marius.[25][e]

Cultural depictionsEdit

He appears as a young infant in Respublica by Richard Braccia.[28] His possible kidnapping is also a plot poing in A Murder on the Appian Way by Steven Saylor.[29]


  1. ^ Tatum (Patrician Tribune p. 61) points out that in 44 BC, Claudius could still be called a puer, "boy", though granting that age categories such as puer, adolescens and iuvenis are fluid.
  2. ^ It is unknown if Publius and his sister Claudia were considered plebeian or patrician.[4]
  3. ^ For context, the future emperor Tiberius delivered a funeral oration to his father when he was nine years old.[8]
  4. ^ Exactly how old a boy called parvulus would be is disputed, possibly referring to a child directly after infancy,[11] around two years old,[12] or even to as old as between six and ten years old.[13]
  5. ^ Pseudo-Marius was a man who attempted to pass himself off as the grandson of Gaius Marius, a man who was elected consul seven times and beloved as a hero by many citizens of Rome. Gaius Marius was also married to Julia, the aunt of Julius Caesar, and the Pseudo-Marius attempted to use his claimed relation to the recently murdered dictator to gain further support until he was killed by Caesar's general Mark Antony.[26][27]


  1. ^ Burl, Aubrey (2004). Catullus: A Poet in the Rome of Julius Caesar. Constable. p. 130. ISBN 9781841195261.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Drumann, Geschichte Roms vol. ii, p. 370.
  3. ^ Lyubimova O. Octavian's Marriage to Livia: Benefits or Risks? // Bulletin of ancient history. - 2016. - No. 1 . - P. 96.
  4. ^ "ZPE". 2000.
  5. ^ A Companion to Latin Studies. CUP Archive. 1921. p. 825.
  6. ^ "ASCONIUS, ON CICERO'S Pro Milone". California State University, Northridge. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  7. ^ "Fin De Siecle". The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge history ebook collection. Vol. 9 (illustrated, reworked ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1970. p. 407. ISBN 9780521256032.
  8. ^ Garzetti, Albino (2014). From Tiberius to the Antonines: A History of the Roman Empire AD 14-192. Routledge Revivals. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 9781317698449.
  9. ^ Wiseman, T. P. (1970). "Pulcher Claudius". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. 74: 207–221. doi:10.2307/311008. JSTOR 311008.
  10. ^ Smith, Lucius Edwin; Weston, Henry Griggs (1869). "The Baptist Quarterly".
  11. ^ Wilkes, Lanceford Bramblet (1871). "The Louisville Debate: A Discussion of the Question, what is Christian Baptism, Including Its Proper Subjects and Design".
  12. ^ Johnston, Harold Whetsone (June 2010). Selected Orations and Letters of Cicero; to Which is Added the Catiline of Sallust. ISBN 9781434419828.
  13. ^ "The Journal of Sacred Literature". 1853.
  14. ^ Treggiari, Susan (2019). Servilia and her Family. Oxford University Press. p. 273. ISBN 9780192564641.
  15. ^ Valerius Maximus III.5.3
  16. ^ ILS 882
  17. ^ Tatum J. The Patrician Tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher. - Chapel Hill — London, 1999. - p. 61 - ISBN 0-8078-2480-1 .
  18. ^ T. P. Wiseman, "Pulcher Claudius", HSCP 74 (1970), 208-221, at 210, with family stemma at 220. The inscription is CIL VI, 1282 = ILS 882
  19. ^ Wiseman, T. P. (1970). "Pulcher Claudius". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Vol. 74. Harvard University Press. p. 217. doi:10.2307/311008. ISBN 9780674379206. JSTOR 311008.
  20. ^ Wiseman, Timothy Peter (1987). Roman Studies: Literary and Historical. Collected classical papers. Vol. 1 (illustrated ed.). University of Michigan: F. Cairns. p. 50. ISBN 9780905205625.
  21. ^ Goold, Patrick (1970). "Pulcher Claudius". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Vol. 74. Harvard University Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780674379206.
  22. ^ Syme, Ronald (1989). "Two Nieces of Augustus". The Augustan Aristocracy. Clarendon paperbacks (new, illustrated, reworked ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 149. ISBN 9780198147312.
  23. ^ Treggiari, Susan (3 January 2019). Servilia and her Family. ISBN 9780192564658.
  24. ^ Wiseman, Timothy Peter (1987). Roman Studies: Literary and Historical. Collected classical papers. Vol. 1 (illustrated ed.). University of Michigan: F. Cairns. p. 51. ISBN 9780905205625.
  25. ^ Goold, G. P. (1970). Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Vol. 47. Harvard University Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780674379206.
  26. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 3. 2-3
  27. ^ Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.8.1
  28. ^ Braccia, Richard (2009). Respublica: A Novel of Cicero's Roman Republic. p. 302. ISBN 9781449043414.
  29. ^ Saylor, Steven (2012). A Murder on the Appian Way. Roma Sub Rosa. Hachette UK. ISBN 9781780337432.