Throughout his life, Julius Caesar had a reputation for being something of a home wrecker. Even though he divorced his second wife, Pompeia, because she was suspected of having an affair, he personally had no issue with seducing married women. The ancient scholar and biographer, Suetonius (c. 70-130+), wrote freely about such personal topics, unfortunately garnering him a reputation as something of a gossip. He delved through songs, lampoons and letters from the 1st century BCE and made a list of seven married noblewomen whose alleged affairs with Julius Caesar he believed were the most plausible.
1-Postumia—She was the wife of Servius Sulpicius Rufus, a prolific writer of law treatises, none of which survive today. He sided with Julius Caesar during the Civil War and was made proconsul of Achaea in the year 46.
2-Lollia—She was the wife of Aulus Gabinius, a savvy politician who was a known associate of Pompey the Great. He aided Caesar during the time of the First Triumvirate (c. 60-53 BCE), but he was generally more loyal to Pompey’s interests. Nevertheless, Aulus Gabinius was exiled in 54 BCE because of a charge of extortion, and, after the civil war began, Julius Caesar interestingly convinced him to join his army.
3-Eunoë—She was the wife of King Bogud, who ruled the kingdom of Mauretania jointly with his brother, King Bocchus II. King Bogud aided Julius Caesar in his campaigns in North Africa and Spain. Bogud would later be removed from power and killed in battle after he unfortunately decided to support Mark Antony against Octavian, the future Augustus.
4-Tertulla—She was the wife of Caesar’s triumvirate partner, Marcus Crassus. He was not a military genius like Caesar or Pompey, but he played his part by skillfully utilizing his immense wealth to further his political goals. He was a staunch rival of Pompey, but Julius Caesar managed to get the two men to work together and dominate Rome. Crassus’ death at the hands of the Parthians in 53 BCE, at the Battle of Carrhae, was one of the major events leading to the showdown between Caesar and Pompey.
5-Mucia—She was the wife of Gnaeus Pompey, the gifted military leader who, at first, worked with Caesar in the First Triumvirate, but ultimately sided with the Senate against Julius Caesar. In the great clash between the masterful tacticians, Caesar proved the more adaptable and imaginative of the two, finally dealing Pompey a crushing blow at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BCE. After the defeat, Pompey fled to Alexandria, where he was assassinated by agents of King Ptolemy XIII.
6-Cleopatra—This remarkable queen is arguably the most famous woman from the ancient world. Everyone knows that when Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt, he quickly began a romantic relationship with Cleopatra. Fewer people know, however, that she was a married woman, with her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, as her husband. After Ptolemy XIII died fighting against Julius Caesar in 47 BCE, she married another one of her young brothers, Ptolemy XIV, who died of mysterious causes in 44 BCE. Of course, Cleopatra’s true partner at the time was Julius Caesar, and they had a son named Ptolemy Caesar (Caesarion). The boy was assassinated not long after the suicides of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BCE.
7-Servilia—She was the mother of one of the lead conspirators that would assassinate Julius Caesar—Marcus Brutus. She supposedly was Caesar’s favorite affair, although there were rumors that he may have also struck up a romantic relationship with Servilia’s daughter, Tertia. Brutus sided with Pompey against Caesar and was captured during the Battle of Pharsalus. Caesar showed him mercy and even helped him attain promotions in the priesthood and politics. Yet, Brutus was disillusioned by Julius Caesar’s monarchal behavior and played a leading role in the dictator’s assassination on March 15, 44 BCE.
Written by C. Keith Hansley.
Picture Attribution: (Julius Caesar in his horse-drawn chariot, from The Triumph of Julius Caesar, by Andrea Andreani after Andrea Mantegna, c. 1599, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and the MET.jpg).
- The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, translated by Robert Graves and edited by James B. Rives. New York: Penguin Classics, 2007.