Brother/Lover from the Same Mother

Cicero, pro Caelio 32

“Indeed, that is what I would do quite eagerly if I weren’t always hindered by the enmity of her husband, or, pardon me, I meant to say her brother – I’m always making that mistake.”

Quod quidem facerem vehementius, nisi intercederent mihi inimicitiae cum istius mulieris viro—fratre volui dicere; semper hic erro.

Sir Edward John Poynter, ‘Lesbia and Her Sparrow’

The siblings here alluded to are Cicero’s personal enemy Publius Clodius and his sister Clodia. (They were children of the distinguished and somewhat infamous patrician Claudian family; they used the popular ‘Clodius’ form of their name to emphasize their attachment to the popular party and the people it pandered to. Indeed, Publius Clodius had his status formally changed from patrician to plebeian so that he could stand for election as a Tribune.) This Clodia is usually identified with the Lesbia of Catullus’ poems. The rather ungentlemanly things which he writes about her seem to have been rather consistent with the common street gossip regarding her.

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