THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE
The Wives of G. Julius Ceasar
Most everyone knows the history of the famous men of Rome, but do they even know the names of the women that were involved in their lives. The Great Ceasars of the Empire Era were not isolated from the normal pursuits of family and friends. Here is but a brief look in to their family and the why’s.
A History: But when there broke out the revolution in which Marius placed himself at the head of the popular party, and the revolution was overcome by Sulla, the old aristocracy, which had conquered with Sulla, did not forgive the patrician family of the Julii for having connected itself with that bitter foe, who had made so much mischief. Consequently, during the period of the reaction, all its members were looked upon askance, and were suspected and persecuted, among them young Caesar, who was in no way responsible for the deeds of his uncle, since he was only a lad during the war between Sulla and Marius.
Cossutia: First wife of G. Julius Caesar
This explains how it was that the first wife of Caesar, Cossutia, was the daughter of a knight; that is, of a financier and revenue-farmer. For a young man belonging to a family of ancient senatorial nobility, this marriage was little short of a “mésalliance”;(a marriage with somebody of a lower social position, regarded as a bad match) but Caesar had been engaged to this girl when still a very young man, at the time when, the alliance between Marius and the knights being still firm and strong, the marriage of a rich knight’s daughter would mean to the nephew of Marius, not only a considerable fortune, but also the support of the social class which at that moment was predominant.
Cornelia: Second wife of C. Julius Ceasar
For reasons unknown to us, Caesar soon repudiated Cossutia, and before the downfall of the democratic party he was married to Cornelia, who was the daughter of Cinna, the democratic consul and a most distinguished member of the party of Marius. This second marriage, the causes of which must be sought for in the political status of Caesar’s family, was the cause of his first political reverses. For Sulla tried to force Caesar to repudiate Cornelia, and in consequence of his refusal, he came to be considered an enemy by Sulla and his party and was treated accordingly.
Pompeia: Third wife of G. Julius Ceasar
It is known that Cornelia died when still very young, after only a few years of married life, and that Caesar’s third marriage in the year 68 B.C., was quite different from his first and second, since the third wife, Pompeia, belonged to one of the noblest families of the conservative aristocracy–was, in fact, a niece of Sulla. How could the nephew of Marius, who had escaped as by miracle the proscriptions of Sulla, ever have married the latter’s niece? Because in the dozen years intervening between 80 and 68, the political situation had gradually grown calmer, and a new air of conciliation had begun to blow through the city, troubled by so much confusion, burying in oblivion the bloodiest records of the civil war, calling into fresh life admiration for Marius, that hero who had conquered the Cimbri and the Teutons. In that moment, to be a nephew of Marius was no longer a crime among any of the great families; for some, on the contrary, it was coming to be the beginning of glory. But that situation was short-lived.
Calpurnia: Fourth Wife of C. Julius Ceasar
After a brief truce, the two parties again took up a bitter war, and for his fourth wife Caesar chose Calpurnia, the daughter of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, consul in 58, and a most influential senator of the popular party.
Whoever studies the history of the influential personages of Caesar’s time, will find that their marriages follow the fortunes of the political situation. Where a purely political reason was wanting, there was the economic. A woman could aid powerfully a political career in two ways: by ably administering the household and by contributing to its expenses her dower or her personal fortune.
TITLE: THE WOMEN OF THE CAESARS
AUTHOR: GUGLIELMO FERRERO