The Bona Dea Scandal

Notes on the Bona Dea Scandal

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When and who did it involve?


-Clodius who was a supporter of Cicero, was a bodyguards of Cicero's because after the Catilinarian consipiracy, Cicero feared for his life.

- Caesar - Pontifex Maxiumus

-Vestal Virgins- had to look after the vester falme, if it goes out then supposedly Rome will fall

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What Happened?

- One night in December 62BC, a number of noble women including the vestal virgins were celebrating the Bona Dea (festival of the good goddess) in the house of Caesar ~Pontifex Maximus.

-Men were banned from these rites.

-Clodius entered dressed as a woman but was discovered and found guilty.

-Political enemies seized on this affair to try and break him.

-Clodius had undermined Lucullus in Asia which had paved the way for elevation of Pompey to the command against Mithridates, therefore optimates like Hortensius and Lucullus were ranged against him.

-Clodius' opponents tried to arrange a trial before a panel of jurors which were picked by the presiding praetor rather than the standard panel- this was to reduce the risk of a bribed jury.

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What Happened?

-Cicero regarded the composition of the jury as all important and wrote that it would hve been better to have dropped the charge rather than risk defeat.

-Hortensius claimed that he could slit Clodius' throat with a lead sword.

-However it was a defeat, Crassus stepped in and bribed the jury with 31 voting for aquittal and 25 for condemnation.

-Both Pompey and Cicero owed Clodius a favour as Pompey was the one who gained most from Clodius' action against Lucullus and Clodius had been a volunteer member of Cicero's bodyguard at the time of the Catilinarian conspiracy.

-Neither Cicero or Pompey repaid their debt- Pompey didn't go to Clodius' aid and Cicero gave evidence to break Clodius' alibi.

-Because of prominantly optimates trying to get Clodius, Pompey needed his eastern settlement and land for veteran's bill and Cicero wanted the Optimates on his side.

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