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Pompeia from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum "

Pompeia (flourished 1st century BC), daughter of Quintus Pompeius Rufus, a son of a former consul, and Cornelia, the daughter of the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla, was the second wife of Julius Caesar.

Caesar married her in 67 BC,[1] after he had served as quaestor in Hispania, his first wife Cornelia having died the previous year.[2] Caesar was the nephew of Gaius Marius, and Cornelia had been the daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna: Marius and Cinna were the leaders of the losing populares side in the civil war of the 80s BC. His marriage to a granddaughter of Sulla, the winner of that war, perhaps signifies his acceptance into the establishment of Roman politics.

In 63 BC Caesar was elected to the position of Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest of the Roman state religion, which came with an official residence on the Via Sacra [3]. In 62 BC Pompeia hosted the festival of the Bona Dea ("good goddess"), which no man was permitted to attend, in this house. However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion."[4] This gave rise to a proverb, sometimes expressed: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."[5][6]


Pompeia was featured in the Epistolary novel Ides of March by Thornton Wilder. The novel mentions the above events, though it transplants them to a short time before the assassination of Julius Caesar.

Pompeia also is a character in Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series, in the novel Caesar's Women. She is depicted as a harmless, but empty-headed, woman; Caesar marries her for political expediency, but is not attracted to her, despite her undeniable beauty. He seizes on the Bona Dea scandal as an excuse to divorce her. She was Caesar's second wife.


  1. ^ Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth- E.A. (edd), Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2003- | 1214.
  2. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 5.6
  3. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 7; Suetonius, Julius 13, 46
  4. ^ Cicero, Letters to Atticus 1.13; Plutarch, Caesar 9-10; Cassius Dio, Roman History 37.45; Suetonius, Julius 6.2
  5. ^ Caesar, Gaius Julius, Historia, KET Distance Learning.
  6. ^ Like Caesar's wife, a politician should be above suspicion, The Independent, March 23, 2001


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