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Fulvia, mother of Iullus Antonius: new approaches to the sources on Julia's adultery at Rome.

In a 1983 essay, Amy Richlin sought to reconcile several wildly divergent accounts of Roman attitudes toward transgressive female sexual behavior. She observed that "each [account] obeyed the conventions of a [different literary] genre, [telling] the portion of the truth which its audience had come to hear." (1) Like Richlin, I will discuss a diverse collection of ancient Roman and Greek texts and other sources that document and elucidate the phenomenon of adultery in Rome. More precisely, I will examine one renowned instance of adultery in Rome discussed by Richlin in her essay and then revisited by her in 1992. I refer to the liaison between Julia, daughter of Augustus and Scribonia, and Iullus Antonius, son of Mark Antony and Fulvia, which was brought to light in 2 B.C.E. and resulted in Augustus's banishment of Julia and Iullus's suicide. Augustus's decision to punish this particular adulterous episode when he did, and how he did, has received, and still warrants, serious scholarly attention. (2) After all, Augustus had apparently overlooked his daughter's adulteries for over fifteen years, even after he himself had passed legislation outlawing sexual conduct of this sort. (3)

I will argue that in 2 B.C.E., a year during which he assumed the title of pater patriae, Augustus was not only wielding his own patria potestas over his sexually transgressive only child, but may also have been haunted by what one might call the matria potestas of Fulvia. I will contend that Augustus appears to have harbored complex and conflicted personal feelings toward Iullus's mother over time, and at that particular time, despite the fact Fulvia had died thirty-eight years previously in 40 B.C.E., a year before Julia's birth. In other words, I will suggest that, and why, personal and emotional factors loomed large in at least one Roman male's decision to punish, rather than overlook, adulterous conduct by a female relative. We may never be able to ascertain from our sources what we ourselves, much less an ancient Roman audience, would judge, in Richlin's words, "a portion of the truth." Yet examining different sources from different perspectives does allow for new, multiple, and plausible interpretations of Roman actions as well as attitudes--in this instance attitudes toward transgressive female sexual behavior.

Scholars such as Suzanne Dixon (1988, 2001) have joined Richlin in rightly insisting on the importance of literary genre in Roman constructions of gender. (4) In addition to speculating on personal and emotional reasons for Augustus's conduct, my discussion pays heed to generic conventions operative in these different sources, both literary and nonliterary, some of them produced in Augustus's lifetime, most of them after. These sources include inscriptions and coins; the sculptural reliefs adorning the Ara Pacis, the monumental altar of Augustan peace; a philosophical essay; lyric and epigrammatic poems; biographies; and historical narratives. By combining, if not reconciling, these diverse sources, I, like Richlin and Dixon, adopt an approach to Julia's adultery that is historicist as well as sensitive to literary and other aesthetic factors.

Fulvia emerges as a formidable figure--independent of her spouse's needs, vengeful, and simultaneously ambitious for and destructive to her own children--from our extant sources. This image helps to account for the indelible impression that she seems to have made on Augustus, and perhaps on her youngest son Iullus Antonius as well. It has much in common with the representations of mothers in the three major Roman poets analyzed in the other papers in this volume. Two of these poets, Propertius and Ovid, are also from the Augustan era; the third, Statius, who wrote over a century later, is contemporaneous with, or prior to, a number of important sources, such as Martial, Suetonius, and Plutarch, on both Fulvia and Augustus. Hence I would posit a dynamic interrelationship from the first century B.C.E. onward between such Roman literary representations of fictional mothers and the Roman cultural and political developments that foregrounded and faulted this prominent historical mother. (5)

Our earliest explicit evidence, from Augustus's own lifetime, on the complicated relationship between Augustus and Iullus Antonius's mother Fulvia is some inscriptions from the battle of Perusia in 41 B.C.E. and an epigram in elegiac couplets attempting to account for this military conflict. The former is a group of sexual insults, written on acorn-shaped lead sling bullets (glandes) about both Octavian (the future Augustus) and Fulvia. The epigram, quoted verbatim in Martial 11.20, contains Augustus's own six lines (sex versus) about his decision "to fight rather than fuck" Fulvia at Perusia. I examined these sources closely in 1977, contrasting Augustus's strait-laced sexual attitudes late in his principate, indeed at the time of Julia's exile, with the tolerant outlook on extramarital sexual dalliances that he espoused around the time of Julia's birth. I also contrasted the messages of the glandes and the epigram. My contention was that the message of the epigram challenges that of the glandes. (6)

The glandes resemble certain obscene poems by Catullus, Martial, and the Carmina Priapea in both sentiment and the specific vocabulary of sexual abuse. In attacking Octavian as passive and effeminate, and employing primary obscenities to do so, they follow the generic conventions common to such literary efforts. The glandes call him "Octavia," using the feminine gender, and pathicus (phallically penetrable); they accuse him of "cock sucking" (with fellas); they name his culus (anus) as their target and call it laxus (loose), presumably through repeated, penetration-induced stretching. But they also attack Fulvia as deviantly masculine, in obscene language as well, targeting her landica (clitoris) and her culus; they even name her "the enemy" in addition to (and in one case instead of) the actual commander of Antony's forces at Perusia, her brother-in-law Lucius Antonius. (7)

I argued that these sling bullets functioned as a kind of playful pun often found in the epigrams of Catullus, Martial, and the Priapea. They take precise aim at the same ultimate resting places as those often sought by the poetic Priapus--or by Catullus and Martial in sexually menacing moments--because the word glans was the technical Latin term for both lead sling bullets and the tip of the penis. (8) Several of these Perusinae glandes in fact contain crude sketches of the male organ. But as I pointed out, their message also accords with that of certain other evidence from later biographers and historians which depicted Octavian as suspected of pathic effeminacy, or at least of inadequate virility, in the years immediately before and after the Perusine conflict.

Suetonius (Aug. 68) claims that the young Octavian had incurred disgrace and derision, from Mark Antony among others, for passive and womanish sexual conduct. The elder Pliny records, on the authority of Octavian's close friends Agrippa and Maecenas, the young triumvir's cowardly behavior at the battle of Philippi in 42 B.C.E. Both Cassius Dio and Suetonius, moreover, report that in 41 B.C.E, after marrying Fulvia's own barely nubile daughter by her first husband Clodius, Octavian returned the bride without consummating the union. Suetonius states (Aug. 62.1): privignam eius Claudiam, Fulviae ex P. Clodio filiam, duxit uxorem vixdum nubilem ac simultate cum Fulvia socru orta dimisit intactam et virginem (He married Antony's stepdaughter Claudia [sic], Fulvia's daughter by Publius Clodius Pulcher, although she was barely of marriageable age and after a disagreement had arisen with his mother-in-law Fulvia sent her back untouched and a virgin). Considering the questions raised about his manliness, one might infer that Octavian had been unable to consummate the marriage physically. Dio asserts, however, that Octavian merely alleged political differences with her mother. (9)

The epigram Martial quotes in 11.20 represents Octavian as at odds with Fulvia on other, sexual, matters as well:
  Caesaris Augusti lascivos, livide, versus
    Sex lege, qui tristis verba Latina legis:
  'Quod futuit Glaphyran Antonius, hanc mihi poenam
    Fulvia constituit, se quoque uti futuam.
  Fulvia ego ut futuam? Quid si me Manius oret
    pedicem, faciam? Non puto, si sapiam.
  'Aut futue, aut pugnemus' ait. Quid quod mihi vita
    carior est ipsa mentula? Signa canant!'
  Absolvis lepidos nimirum, Augusti libellos,
    Qui scis Romana simplicitate loqui.

  Read six bawdy verses of Augustus Caesar, ill-tempered one, you who
  read Latin words in a disapproving mood. "Because Antony fucked
  Glaphyra, Fulvia decided on this punishment from me, that I also fuck
  her. That I am to fuck Fulvia? What if Manius should beg me to fuck
  him in the asshole, would I do that? Not, I think, if I should have
  any taste. 'Either fuck or let's fight' she said. Why deny that my
  prick is dearer to me than my life itself? Let the war-trumpets
  sound!" Augustus, you marvelously get my charming little books of
  poetry off the hook, you who know how to speak with Roman frankness.

As I noted, the epigram Martial quotes resembles the glandes in that it represents Fulvia as deviantly masculine. After all, Octavian claims that Fulvia was propositioning him, to punish Antony for an affair with the Cappadocian queen Glaphyra. He equates her with a male--Manius, Antony's associate--as a sexual partner beneath the standards of his besieged mentula. Later historical and biographical accounts also criticize Fulvia for acting like a man. Velleius Paterculus asserts at 2.47 that she had nothing womanly about her except her body (nihil muliebre praeter corpus gerens); Plutarch claims at Antony 10 that she disdained domestic tasks, preferring only to dominate politically and militarily powerful men. (10)

But the epigram adheres to generic literary convention as well, since it characterizes Octavian as resembling the sexually swaggering literary persona often adopted by Martial and Catullus and assigned to Priapus in the Priapea. (11) More to the point, the epigram depicts him altogether differently from the portrait we find in the glandes: as self-confident both sexually and militarily, as spicing his erotic boasts with multiple primary obscenities, and as particularly desirable to an experienced older woman, indeed his ex-mother-in-law. Here, too, biographical and historical, albeit considerably later, sources such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio furnish independent testimony that Octavian endeavored to cultivate a virile sexual image in the years soon after Perusia, in part because his rival Antony excelled on this particular front. Octavian waited until his next wife Scribonia gave birth to their child, Julia, before divorcing her. He wed his final wife Livia when she was in an advanced state of pregnancy, affording the impression that he, and not the husband whom Livia divorced to marry him, had fathered this child. He also made his erotic conquests of several aristocratic matrons well enough known for Mark Antony himself to chide him affectionately about them. (12) The sex versus that assail Fulvia constitute a key element of this image.

It also merits note that at De rhetoribus 5, Suetonius reports another insulting remark about Fulvia's assertive conduct and physical attractiveness uttered by the Latin and Greek oratorical teacher Sextus Clodius, when he reflected about his years of friendship (amicitia) with Mark Antony. Specifically, Clodius stated that "Antony's wife Fulvia, one of whose cheeks was slightly swollen, provokes the point of a pen" (eiusdem uxorem Fulviam, cui altera bucca inflatior erat, acumen stili tentare dixit). The remark functions as a rhetorical double entendre, implying that Fulvia's conduct literally deserves--and earned her--a physical puncture in the face and literarily deserves a pointed, unflattering epigram, thereby justifying Octavian's sex versus quoted by Martial.

Sextus Clodius would appear to have been a freedman of Fulvia's previous husband P. Clodius Pulcher, and thus likely to have enjoyed his friendship with Antony through his connections with Fulvia. Suetonius further relates that Clodius became "more rather than less favored by Antony as a result of this remark" (nec eo minus, immo vel magis ob hoc Antonius gratus). Antony's reported response, not merely tolerating but actually approving this cruel joke at his wife's expense, may also be explained by invoking literary and social conventions, as exemplifying behavior that has, regrettably, long been and to some extent remains acceptable in Western society. It should obviously be contrasted with Octavian's insults. Still, Antony's reported response may have licensed Octavian's efforts, legitimating Fulvia as a target for his poetic, self-serving witticisms. (13)

What is more, the mere survival of Octavian's epigram--quoted by Martial nearly 150 years after it was written--would suggest that Augustus did not forget Fulvia, nor, for that matter, his own belittlement of her political activities in the form of a sexual rejection, even after he entered his later, punitively moralistic phase. To judge from both contemporary and later sources, Fulvia was unforgettable for other reasons too. In 43 B.C.E, while attacking Antony in his Philippics, Cicero pointedly savages Fulvia for her bloodthirstiness, highlighting her greed and cruelty. Centuries later, Cassius Dio represents her as treating Cicero's own head barbarically after he was decapitated in December of that same year; according to Appian, she exhibited similar vindictiveness in defiling the head of another man whom Antony had prescribed. (14)

Again, we need to keep the generic literary conventions of such oratory in mind when assessing such claims. Cicero may have been exaggerating, even lying, in the grand tradition of political invective. The later historians may merely have extrapolated Fulvia's likely behavior on the basis of Cicero's claims. Yet Cicero's portrait, however unreliable, may have also left an indelible impression on Octavian at the time, and encouraged him to assassinate her character still further in his sex versus. (15)

Our later biographical and historical sources also imply that Fulvia publicly exploited her own offspring, four sons and a daughter, for political purposes. In addition to foisting the pubescent Clodia off as a bride on the hostile Octavian, she is said to have paraded her children before her husband's soldiers in the conflict leading up to Perusia, and to have fled with them after Perusia to Brundisium before meeting up with Antony and his mother Julia in Athens. (16) Still, none of these authors specifically mentions Iullus, Fulvia's son by Antony and the youngest of her brood, born in 43 B.C.E., the year of Cicero's decapitation, in their accounts of her maneuvers. All we have is information about Iullus's life after her death, when he was only three.

These sources relate, for example, that Octavia, his father's subsequent wife and Octavian's half-sister, reared Iullus in Rome while Antony was away in the East. They claim that Iullus studied with Crassicus, a grammarian renowned for his commentary on Cinna's learned poem Zmyrna. More significantly, they report that after his father's death in 30 B.C.E., Iullus continued to reside in Octavia's household; in that year, by way of contrast, Octavian had both Iullus's elder brother, Marcus Antonius Antyllus, and elder half-brother, Fulvia's son by her second marriage to Gaius Scribonius Curio, put to death. They tell us that Iullus married his stepsister--Octavia's elder daughter, Marcella--in 21 B.C.E., after Marcella's second husband, Agrippa, divorced her to marry the recently widowed Julia, and that he fathered a son by Marcella named for his father's brother, Lucius. What is more, Iullus and this Marcella are prime candidates for the figures of a man and a woman on the north frieze of the Ara Pacis Augustae, which was constructed between 13 and 9 B.C.E. C. Brian Rose conjectures that Julia, her sons--and Augustus's heirs--Gaius and Lucius Caesar, and her daughter Julia are depicted there as well. (17)

So, too, various sources document that Iullus enjoyed a distinguished political career, serving as praetor in 13, consul in 10, and proconsul of Asia in 7 B.C.E. To judge from Horace, and the Horatian scholiast Acro, Iullus's literary studies with Crassicus bore abundant fruit. Acro notes that Iullus wrote a twelve-book epic poem on Diomedes, Aeneas's legendary Greek foe, plus some works of prose: heroico metro Diomedias duodecim libros scripsit egregios, praeterea et prosa aliquanta. Diomedes was said to have been the founder of Brundisium, from which port Iullus's mother sailed the last time that he ever saw her. Horace addresses Iullus at Odes 4.2: after refusing to celebrate Augustus's Gallic military victories of 13 B.C.E. in Pindaric fashion himself, he urges Iullus to take up the challenge. (18)

Augustus, then, did not simply make an exception of Iullus Antonius by sparing his life after his father's death. He also gave Iullus a privileged upbringing and opportunities he reserved for close friends and kin. The generosity that Augustus displayed toward Iullus goes some distance in explaining why Augustus became so incensed over Iullus's alleged involvement with Julia, and why Augustus pressured Iullus--but not Julia's other, equally well-born, alleged paramours--into taking his own life. Indeed, at 2.100.4ff., Velleius Paterculus sees Augustus's generosity to Iullus as the sole explanation for Augustus's reaction. Describing the suicide of Iullus thirty years after it occurred, Velleius refers to Iullus only as a unique example of Augustus's clemency and proceeds to reel off the benefits that Augustus bestowed on him:
  Then Iullus Antonius, who had been an unparalleled example of
  Augustus's clemency [singulare exemplum clementiae], only to become
  the violator of his household [violator eius domus] himself, avenged
  he crime he had committed; after the defeat of his father Augustus had
  not only granted safety to Iullus, but also had him honored with a
  priesthood, the praetorship, the consulship, and the governance of
  provinces and received him in the closest bond of relationship through
  a marriage with the daughter of his sister ... Quintius Crispinus,...
  Appius Claudius, Sempronius Gracchus, Scipio and other men of both
  orders ... suffered the penalty of having violated the wife of an
  ordinary citizen rather than the daughter of Augustus and wife of
  Tiberius. Julia was banished to an island, taken away from the eyes of
  her country and "parents," although her mother Scribonia accompanied
  her of her own will ... (19)

Other ancient sources, and many modern scholars, assume that Iullus posed a threat to Augustus's principate and life. Enumerating all of Augustus's major disappointments that illustrate the "human lot" (magna sortis humanae reperiantur volumina) at HN 7.147-9, the elder Pliny mentions the exposure of Julia's plans for parricide immediately after her adultery, implying that she and Iullus were also plotting to kill her father: adulterium filiae et consilia parricidae palam facta (his daughter's adultery and public exposure of her plans to kill her father). (20) At 55.10.15, Cassius Dio states outright that Iullus died because he coveted the monarchy. (21) A few decades after Velleius, the younger Seneca, at Brev. Vit. 14.4.5, states that Julia and many noble young men, bound to her by adultery as if by a sacred oath, terrified Augustus, likewise raising the possibility of a political conspiracy against Augustus's life: filia et tot nobiles iuvenes adulterio velut sacramento adacti iam infractam aetatem territabant. Seneca then comments: et iterum timenda cum Antonio mulier (Again a woman with an Antony had to be feared). He thereby maintains that, as I am arguing, Iullus's involvement with Julia disturbed Augustus at least in part because it recalled and repeated a troubling experience from his earlier years. (22)

This evidence raises the question: why did Augustus not merely spare Iullus's life, but also show immense generosity to this child of two bitter foes, especially in view of the humiliating ways in which he had publicly treated Iullus's late mother? The protectiveness of Iullus's stepmother Octavia, who died in 11 B.C.E., cannot be the only reason. Yes, Iullus was only thirteen in 30 B.C.E., but his executed brother Antyllus, also raised by Octavia, was not much older.

Furthermore, Iullus's marriage to Octavia's own daughter Marcella, the sister of Augustus's heir Marcellus, two years after Marcellus's death, so that Marcella's husband Agrippa could marry Marcellus's widow Julia, not only reflected Iullus's strong ties with Octavia but strengthened those ties as well. More important, this marriage placed Iullus and his offspring by Marcella in the line of dynastic succession. As poet, politician, and kinsman, therefore, Iullus was publicly positioned to glorify the achievements of a Rome renewed by the adopted son of Julius Caesar: a man whose family derived their name and fame from Iulus, a variant of Ilus, son of the Trojan hero Aeneas, and grandson of the goddess Venus.

And rightfully so positioned. Iullus's father Mark Antony, lest we forget, also belonged to the Julian family on his mother's side. Antony's mother Julia, remembered for her courageous support of her brother during the proscriptions as well as for the refuge she provided Fulvia after Perusia, was apparently the first cousin of Julius Caesar. (23) What is more, Antony and Fulvia had highlighted the Julian lineage of their last-born from his earliest infancy by naming him Iullus. I would argue that by giving the unusual praenomen Iullus, a variant of Iulus, to the son born to them in 43 B.C.E.--the year after Julius Caesar's death and the testamentary adoption of Octavian--Antony and Fulvia evidently engaged in a preemptive political ploy. Ostensibly they were merely emphasizing the divine, Trojan ancestry of Antony's maternal family, just as the cognomen of their firstborn Antyllus--derived from Hercules' son Anto, legendary ancestor of the Antonii--exalted his paternal lineage. (24) But with the formal addition to the gens Iulia of Gaius Octavius, whose maternal grandmother Julia, dead since 51 B.C.E., was Caesar's sister, they wished to assert their son's equal claim to Julian identity and the power that Antony, who had crowned Caesar in February 44 B.C.E., assumed that it conferred. (25)

Let us turn, then, to some well-known literary and artistic evidence about Iullus's own name and its Augustan cultural associations. Both the symbolic import and cultural resonance of the name warrant attention, especially during the first twenty-five years of Augustus's principate when Iullus benefited immensely from Augustus's favor. At Aeneid 1.267-70, in a speech delivered by Jupiter to Venus that both justifies and promises the political hegemony of the Julian family, Vergil accounts for the change in name from Ilus to Iulus by Aeneas's son Ascanius. Jupiter attributes the u to the loss of Trojan supremacy:
  Et puer Ascanius, cui nunc cognomen Iulo
  Additur--Ilus erat, dum res stetit Ilia regno--
  Triginta magnos volvendis mensibus orbes
  Imperio explebit.

  And the boy Ascanius, to whom now the cognomen Iulus is added--it was
  Ilus, while the Ilian state stood powerful in its reign--will fill out
  thirty great years as the months roll by with his empire.

Then, after assuring his daughter that the descendants of her son Aeneas's line will rule over an empire without bounds (imperium sine fine, 279), Jupiter emphatically connects her grandson with the Julian family of Vergil's own day in 1.296-8. His words describe Augustus in terms that could refer to Julius Caesar as well:
  Nascetur pulchra Troianus origine Caesar
  Imperium Oceano famam qui terminet astris
  Iulius, a magno demissum nomen Iulo.

  A Trojan Caesar will be born of magnificent family, of the sort who
  limits his power by the Ocean and his glory by the stars, Julius, a
  name derived from great Iulus.

On a lighter note, albeit in a sorrowing poem, at Amores 3.9.13-14, Ovid directly addresses Iulus as pulcher Iule:
  Fratris in Aeneae sic illum funere dicunt
    Egressum tectis, pulcher Iule, tuis.

  They say that at the funeral of his brother Aeneas, Cupid departed in
  such a sorrowful state from your house, comely Iulus.

Ovid seems to have written this elegy shortly after, and under the influence of, the Aeneid, since it laments the death of his fellow elegist Tibullus in 19 B.C.E., the same year that Vergil died. This address to Iulus provides both a learned and a humorous touch. After all, Ovid here states that Venus's son Cupid grieved as much at Tibullus's funeral as he did after departing from the house of his newly dead brother Aeneas. He also depicts this house as subsequently headed by Aeneas's comely (pulcher) son, whom Vergil has an even more physically appealing Cupid impersonate at Aen. 1.657-98, when Cupid causes Dido to become enamored of Aeneas. But even though Ovid is here having some fun at Vergil's expense, he echoes Vergil in portraying Iulus as destined to assume the mantle of family and state leadership from Aeneas. (26)

Furthermore, Aeneas and Iulus are both depicted on the Ara Pacis. Indeed, Rose contends that their depictions formally evoke those of Augustus and his heir, Julia's son Gaius Caesar, elsewhere on the relief: "Unlike Aeneas, Iulus wears contemporary Roman garb, and this was probably intended to highlight his connection to Gaius ... [B]oth are dressed as young camilli with the fringed mappa and they each would have held the sacrificial pitcher in their lowered right hands." (27) Rose regards the Ara Pacis as repeating and amplifying themes of triumph and dynastic solidarity prominent in Augustus's coinage of 13 and 12 B.C.E.; if Iullus himself is in fact represented on the south frieze, it is in a procession led by Gaius, assimilated to the figure of Iulus by garb and gesture.

Most important, in his discussion of earlier Roman dynastic imagery, created around the time of Julius Caesar's death, Rose asserts that "prospective commemoration [had been] carried ... further by Antony, who issued [coins] with the portraits of his wives, brother, and son [Antyllus], and the men were named in the legends." Rose employs the plural "wives" because he is among those scholars who believe that three coins, dated between 44 and 40 B.C.E., from far-flung parts of the Roman world--Lugdunum, Eumeneia, and Tripolis--depict Fulvia as the goddess Nike. (28) To be sure, others regard these coins as portraits of Antony's subsequent wife Octavia, whose likeness appears on aurei issued by eastern mints from 39 to 38 B.C.E. (29) If the identification of Fulvia is correct, however, it would make her the first living Roman woman to be depicted on a coin.

But even though Rose interprets this self-aggrandizing public depiction of Fulvia as completely Antony's doing, propaganda for his family's dynastic ambitions, I credit Fulvia as much as, perhaps more than, Antony for efforts of this sort, chief among them the naming, and anointing, of their second son as a prospective, Julian, king. After all, both ancient sources and modern scholars portray her as a strong supporter of monarchic government. (30) Her eagerness to promote the special, royal status of the Julian line also helps to account for both Octavian's willingness to ally with her by wedding her daughter, and for his political fallout with her. Just as Julius Caesar had coveted but was not yet ready to accept Antony's crown in public, so Octavian by the late 40s B.C.E. may have endorsed but was not yet ready to make a public assertion of the divinely based Julian claim to kingly supremacy at Rome. (31) By the time that he did so, decades later, through Vergil's epic Aeneid and in other modes of propaganda, Augustus did not, ironically, have any adult, kindred, Julian males around him other than Fulvia's own, dynastically named, son. Octavia and Antony produced no male offspring, and Octavia's son by Marcellus was dead. (32)

Even though Augustus was at odds with Fulvia, they appear to have shared a political vision for the Julian family, one that abided with him--and that her son Iullus kept calling to his mind--for decades. It is customary to interpret Seneca's statement, which attempts to explain why Augustus took action against his daughter Julia and Mark Antony's son Iullus in 2 B.C.E., that "again a woman with an Antony had to be feared" as likening Julia to Cleopatra. But perhaps he was also likening Julia to Iullus's own mother, Fulvia. (33)

Works Cited

Babcock, C. 1965. "The Early Career of Fulvia." AJP 86: 1-32.

Badian, E. 1996a. "Antonius (Creticus), Marcus." In Hornblower and Spawforth 1996, 116.

______. 1996b. "Iulius Caesar (1), Lucius." In Hornblower and Spawforth 1996, 783.

______. 1996c. "Iulius Caesar (2), Lucius." In Hornblower and Spawforth 1996, 783.

Barrett, A. A. 2002. Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome. New Haven and London.

Bauman, R. A. 1992. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. London and New York.

Delia, D. 1991. "Fulvia Reconsidered." In S. B. Pomeroy, eds., Women's History and Ancient History. Chapel Hill and London. 197-217.

Dixon, S. 1988. The Roman Mother. Norman.

______. 2001. Reading Roman Women: Sources, Genres and Real Life. London.

Earl, D. 1968. The Age of Augustus. New York.

Hallett, J. P. 1977. "Perusinae glandes and the Changing Image of Augustus." AJAH 2: 151-71.

Hornblower, S., and A. Spawforth, eds. 1996. Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3d ed. Oxford.

Richardson, G. W, and B. Levick. 1996. "Antonius Antyllus, Marcus." In Hornblower and Spawforth 1996, 116.

Richlin, A. E. 1983. "Approaches to the Sources on Adultery at Rome." In H. P. Foley, Reflections of Women in Antiquity. New York, London, and Paris. 379-404.

______. 1992a. "Julia's Jokes, Gallia Placidia and the Roman Use of Women as Political Icons." In B. Garlick, S. Dixon, and P. Allen, eds., Stereotypes of Women in Power: Historical Perspectives and Revisionist Views. Westport, CT. 65-91.

______. 1992b. The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor. Rev. ed. Oxford.

Rose, C. B. 1997. Dynastic Commemoration and Imperial Portraiture in the Julio-Claudian Period. Cambridge.

Syme, R. 1978. History in Ovid. Oxford.

______. 1986. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford.


(1) Richlin 1983, 397: "How is it possible to reconcile these accounts, and why should they disagree so wildly about a fact of everyday life? The first, obvious, answer is that each obeyed the conventions of a genre, and told the portion of the truth which its audience had come to hear. This, however, leaves us weighing the reliability of the genres, a false analysis of the problem."

(2) In addition to Richlin 1983, 384-5 and 1992a, see, e.g., Bauman 1992, 108-19, as well as Syme 1978, 192-8 and 1986, 91, 118, 347. Especially noteworthy in this context is Syme 1978, 196 and 197: "The tradition kept its concentration on Julia, Iullus being neglected and all but forgotten ... What Tacitus has to say about Iullus and Julia leads towards a paradox. The separate items show the historian preoccupied with adultery, not with dynastic politics. He fails to bring out anywhere the significance of the son of M. Antonius."

(3) For discussion of Julia's flagrant disregard for her father's own adultery laws, see Bauman 1992, 108-19. His evidence includes Macrobius 2.5.9: "When people expressed surprise that [Julia's] children looked like [her husband] Agrippa, she replied that 'I only take a passenger on board when I have a full cargo.'" Bauman also remarks that "Julia was the first [in her family] to claim superiority because of the divine blood of Augustus that flowed in her veins."

(4) Dixon 2001, 16-31. However, what Tacitus does and does not say about Iullus and Julia, remarked upon by Syme, may not be a function of annalistic history as a literary genre, inasmuch as Velleius Paterculus treats this episode quite differently.

(5) On the Roman mother and her role, see Dixon 1988, which does not discuss Fulvia in her role as mother to Antony's children. There are, however, brief discussions in Babcock 1965 and Delia 1991, as well as in Bauman 1992.

(6) Hallett 1977; see also Bauman 1992, 85 n. 21. All translations are my own, and literal.

(7) On these inscriptions (CIL 11.6721.305.14), see Hallett 1977, 152-3. Relevant texts include FULVIAE LANDICAM PETO; PETO OCTAVIAI CULUM; SALVE OCTAVI FELAS; OCTAVI LAXE; L. ANTONI CALVE ET FULVIA, CULUM PAN-DITE; PATHICE. For the Roman view of the prominent clitoris as an unsightly, "masculine," physical defect and a sign of advancing age, see Priapea 12.14 and 78; Martial 3.72.6 and 7.67.

(8) Cf. Catullus 112.1-2 (multus as "greatly in evidence" and "constantly seeking to be penetrated"); Martial 11.90.8, alluding to Augustus's words in 11.20.8 (ni scis mentula quid sapiat as "if you don't know how a male organ tastes" and "you do not know what a virile literary style is"); Priapea 15.7 (testes as "testicles" and "witnesses") and 55.6 (Gallus as "castrated man" and "man from Gaul").

(9) Suetonius (Aug. 68: prima iuventa variorum dedecorum infamiam subiit [In his early youth he was subjected to the disgraceful charge of various shameful activities]) cites charges that include sexual submission to Julius Caesar--by Sextus Pompey, Mark Antony, and Lucius Antonius--as well as a line about a "cinaedus ruling the world with his finger," from a play about a castrated priest of Cybele, which the audience interpreted as a reference to Octavian. Pliny (HN 148) gives Agrippa and Maecenas as authorities for Octavian's fleeing the fighting at Philippi, hiding in the marshes with a skin ailment while Antony did all the military dirty work, a passage to be discussed again below. See also Cassius Dio 48.5.2-3.

(10) Cf. also Appian, B Civ. 4.29 and 32; Cassius Dio 47.8, 48.3-4, 48.10.4.

(11) On the sexually self-aggrandizing and threatening Priapus persona, see, e.g., Richlin 1992b, 57-63.

(12) For his divorce from Scribonia after Julia's birth, see Cassius Dio 48.34.3; Suetonius, Aug. 63.1. For his marriage to the pregnant Livia (and the innuendos that he had fathered Drusus), see Suetonius, Aug. 62.2 and Claud. 1; Cassius Dio 48.44.4-5. For Antony's letter, claiming that Octavian "had entered" Tertulla, Terentilla, Rufilla, and Salvia Titisenia in addition to [Livia] Drusilla, concluding "Does it matter where or in whom you park your erection?" (an refert, ubi et in qua arrigas), see Suetonius, Aug. 69.2.

(13) My thanks to Natalie Angel for her learned and perceptive comments on Sextus Clodius and Antony's reported response to his witticism. See also Barrett 2002, 118: "Fulvia's story contains many of the ingredients familiar in the profiles of ambitious women: avarice, cruelty, promiscuity, suborning of troops, and the ultimate ingratitude of the men for whom they made such sacrifices ... Livia would have seen in Fulvia an object lesson for what was to be avoided at all costs by any woman who hoped to survive and prosper amidst the complex machinations of Roman political life."

(14) Cicero, Phil. 3.4, 5.22, 13.18 (and cf. Bauman 1992, 84: "Cicero has 'that most avaricious and cruel woman' look on, while the blood of 'the bravest of men and the best of citizens' spatters over her face"); Cassius Dio (and cf. Bauman 1992, 85: "When [Cicero's] head was brought to Antony, she is said to have spat on it, pulled out the tongue and pierced it with headpins, with many cruel jokes"); Appian, B Civ. 4.20.

(15) Cf. Delia 1991, 201: "Perhaps the most astute imitator of Cicero would be the young Octavian, who would revive and refashion to his own ends the character assassination of Fulvia first undertaken by Cicero."

(16) For Fulvia and her children, see Plutarch, Ant. 87; Cassius Dio 48.27.4; Appian, B Civ. 5.14, 5.50, 5.52. Cf. also Babcock 1965, 13 n. 25 for details on all five: Clodia, P. Clodius Pulcher, C. Scribonius Curio, Marcus Antonius Antyllus, and Iullus Antonius. He notes, "The birth of Antyllus probably gave Antony his first legitimate male heir--and Fulvia had already demonstrated her ability to produce sons."

(17) For Iullus's rearing by Octavia, even after his brother Antyllus was put to death in 30 B.C.E., see Plutarch, Ant. 54 and 87; for his education by Crassicus, Suetonius, Gram. 18; for his marriage to Marcella in 21 B.C.E. (after she was divorced by Agrippa, so that Agrippa could marry Julia, widowed by Marcella's brother Marcellus in 23 B.C.E.), Tacitus, Ann. 44.4, Velleius Paterculus 2.100.4, Plutarch; for his son, who was exiled to Massilia at the time of his father's death, and dead in 25 C.E., Tacitus, Ann. 4.44. For the view that Iullus and his wife Marcella are figures on the north frieze of the Ara Pacis, see Rose 1997, 103-5 (who, however, confuses this Marcella with her younger sister). See also Earl 1968, 114 who conjectures that both Julia and Iullus appear with Agrippa on the south frieze.

(18) For Iullus's praetorship in 13 B.C.E., see Velleius Paterculus 2.100.4, as well as Cassius Dio 54.26. The latter notes that in celebration of Augustus's birthday that year, Iullus gave games in the Circus, and a slaughter of wild beasts, and entertained both the emperor and the senate on the Capitol in accordance with a senatorial decree. For Iullus's consulship in 10 B.C.E. and his proconsulship of Asia in 7 B.C.E., see Velleius 2.100.4 and Josephus, AJ 16.172. For his epic poem on Diomedes, see Acro on Horace, Carm. 4.2. Relevant lines in Horace, Carm. 4.2--written after 17 B.C.E. to celebrate Augustus's victories in Gaul--include lines 33ff.: Concines maiore poeta plectro / Caesarem, quandoque ... trahet, ferocis / ... Sygambros; Concines laetosque dies et urbis / publicum ludum super impetrato / fortis Augusti reditu (As a poet in grand style you will sing of Augustus Caesar, when he will drag the savage Sygambri [in his triumphal procession]; you will sing of happy days and a public celebration for the desired return of mighty Augustus).

(19) Cf. also Tacitus, Ann. 3.18.1, which Syme regards as uncharacteristically echoing Velleius, stating that on the Fasti Augustus did not erase the name of Iullus Antonius, qui domum Augusti violasset (who had supposedly violated his household).

(20) Among Augustus's major disappointments, Pliny also mentions two stressful events from the years immediately after Caesar's death, when he was intensely competing with Antony for the role of Caesar's rightful Julian successor. One was Augustus's flight (fuga) from the battle of Philippi when he was ill, involving--on the authority of Agrippa and Maecenas--three days hiding in a marsh with a skin ailment; the other, the "anxiety of the Perusine struggle."

(21) Cassius Dio 55.10.15: "Of the men who made sexual use of her, Iullus Antonius, on the grounds that he had done this to obtain the monarchy, died along with other prominent men."

(22) Syme (1986, 195) argues that Julia and the "young nobles," concerned about Augustus's advancing age and the tender years (eighteen and fifteen, respectively) of the two boy princes in line to succeed him, were, out of "plain duty," making "provision against an emergency. Hence the need for something like a council of regency. In due course the operation might entail divorce for Julia and a fourth husband. The role of the Triumvir's son takes shape--and the five nobiles are a faction, not a society coterie that enjoyed the favours of a princess." After noting that Syme is one of many scholars who assert that "Julia and the rest conspired to kill Augustus, to marry Julia to Iullus Antonius and to place him on the throne as caretaker for Gaius and Lucius," Bauman (1992, 114) states that "there is no possible foundation for this view."

(23) On Antony's mother, Julia, see, e.g., Plutarch, Ant. 1 (on her efforts to control her husband's spending); 2.1 (on her membership in the family of Julius Caesar); 20 (on her protection of her brother, proscribed by her son, in the proscriptions, saying to those who came to slay him: "It was I who brought Antony, your general, into this world and you shall not kill Lucius Caesar unless you kill me first"). See also Appian, B Civ. 4.32 (on the appeal to Julia, Octavia, and Fulvia over the war tax levied on the 1,400 richest women in Rome: Julia and Octavia were sympathetic, but not Fulvia) and 5.50 and 5.52 (Fulvia's flight to Julia after the Perusian war).

Although Badian (1996a, 116) refers to Antonius (Creticus) as "father of Mark Antony ... an easy-going man, dominated by his wife Julia, Caesar's sister," he does not identify this Julia as Caesar's sister in other [OCD.sup.3] entries on her male relatives. In his entry on Creticus's father-in-law Lucius Julius Caesar (1), he states that "his daughter married M. Antonius *Creticus, becoming the mother of M. *Antonius (2)"; he identifies Lucius Julius Caesar (2) as "uncle of M. *Antonius ... After Caesar's death he opposed Antonius and was proscribed, but saved by the intercession of his sister Iulia, Antonius' mother." Yet he does not identify the former as Julius Caesar's father or the latter as his brother, and, in personal communication, assures me that the statement identifying Antony's father as married to Caesar's sister is an error for which he is not responsible.

(24) For the cognomen Antyllus (from Hercules' son Anto), see Richardson and Levick 1996 on Antyllus.

(25) For this Julia, Augustus's maternal grandmother, see, e.g., Suetonius, Aug. 8.1; Octavius delivered her funeral laudatio at the age of twelve in 51 B.C.E. For Antony's offer of a crown to Julius Caesar at the Lupercalia in 44 B.C.E., see Plutarch, Caes. 61.

(26) With this address to pulcher Iule, Ovid, who pays homage to docte Catulle (learned Catullus) at line 62 of this lament for Tibullus, may also allude to the earlier marriage of Fulvia, mother of his contemporary Iullus, to Publius Clodius Pulcher. This marriage, as noted earlier, produced Iullus's half siblings P. Clodius Pulcher and Clodia (to whom the young Octavian had been briefly wed). Catullus, after all, identifies Fulvia's one-time husband Clodius as the brother of his inamorata Clodia Metelli, to whom he refers by the metrically equivalent pseudonym Lesbia, at 79.1, with Lesbius est pulcher.

(27) Rose 1997, 16, prefaced by the remark, "There are formal evocations of both father [Augustus] and son [Gaius] in the Aeneas relief by the western entrance ... the similarities in pose and gesture between Augustus and the sacrificing Aeneas exist also for Gaius and Iulus."

(28) Rose ibid., 8 n. 65. The second-century C.E. Florus does, however, characterize (2.65) Fulvia as functioning in the military capacity of a victory goddess. Florus remarks that at Perusia Antonii pessimum ingenium Fulvia tum gladio cincta virilis militiae uxor agitabat (Fulvia his wife, at that time girded with the sword of her husband's war-waging, stirred up Antony's most disgraceful character).

(29) Delia 1991, 202. Appian's detailed description, at B Civ. 5.93, of the efforts made by Octavia to mediate between her brother and husband would, however, suggest that she was less likely to be associated with confrontational conduct, and military symbols, than was Fulvia.

(30) For Fulvia's monarchic sympathies, see Babcock 1965, 23; Bauman 1992, 89 (on the basis of Appian, B Civ. 5.19 and 5.53): "She was a true Caesarian. The great dynasts had come to stay and she did not have any objections to Octavian in principle. All that she held against him were his attempts to exclude her husband from a full share in the new order."

(31) For Julius Caesar's desire for monarchic rule, but his unwillingness to accept a crown and the title of king publicly during the months before his assassination, see, e.g., Suetonius, Iul. 79.

(32) In conversation, Ulrich Schmitzer has perceptively observed that Iullus's value as a "spare heir" to Augustus had also greatly diminished by 2 B.C.E., since Gaius and Lucius Caesar, Julia's sons and his adopted heirs, born in 20 and 17 B.C.E., respectively, were now coming of age. Both, of course, died within the next few years.

(33) Many thanks to Donald Lateiner, for his wise counsel on various versions of this essay, first delivered as a paper at the Classical Association of the Middle West and South meeting in April 2004; to Natalie Angel, Ernst Badian, William Dominik, and Tom Stevenson, for their helpful reactions to the version delivered at the annual meeting of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies in Otago, New Zealand, in January 2005; and to Annette Baertschi, Thorsten Foegen, and Ulrich Schmitzer, for their insights on a subsequent version delivered at the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin in June 2005.
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Author:Hallett, Judith P.
Article Type:Critical essay
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Date:Sep 22, 2006
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