Fulvia

From Academic Kids

Fulvia (died 40 BC) was a Roman matron remembered by her ambition and political activity, in a time when women were expected to stay home and live with virtue and modesty, according to Roman morals. She was the first non mythological woman represented in Roman coins.

Fulvia was born in the 1st century BC in an uncertain date. She was daughter of Fulvius Flaccus Bambulus and Sempronia, daughter of Gaius Gracchus. Her maternal great-grandmother was Cornelia Africana, who lived her life according to all the traditions that Fulvia was about to break. As heiress to the Gracchi estate, after the death of her grandfather and Tiberius Gracchus, Fulvia was a very wealthy woman. Her family was not patrician but highly respected by Roman elite.

Her first husband was Publius Clodius Pulcher, a demagogue politician famous for causing instability in Rome's internal affairs, often involved in conspiracies and known to resort to violence. It is said that Fulvia financially supported her husband's career and inspired most of his actions. Clodius was (killed by Milo in a battle that erupted between these sworn enemies and their retainers in a chance encounter at Bovillae outside Rome) in 52 BC, leaving Fulvia a widow. Not for long. Afterwards, she married Gaius Scribonius Curio, an influential and talented tribune whose defection to Caesar in exchange for an enormous bribe swung the balance in Caesar's favor in his struggle with the Senate in 50 BC. At the outbreak of the Civil War Caesar entrusted Curio with an expedition to conquer Africa, but through overconfidence he allowed himself to be outmaneuvered by King Juba and he and his troops were annihilated--the only serious defeat suffered by Caesar's forces during the Civil War.

Fulvia's own political career started with her third marriage, to Mark Antony. Plutarch said that she needed husbands with an active political profile and the ambitious Antony was highly qualified. As Clodius had done previously, Antony was happy to accept her money to boost his career.

Following Julius Caesar's assassination in March 15 44 BC, Antony formed the second triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus and embarked on a savage proscription. To solidify the political alliance, Fulvia offered her daughter, Clodia, to young Octavian as wife. Antony pursued his political enemies, chief among them being Marcus Tullius Cicero, who had criticized him openly for abusing his powers as consul after Caesar's assassination. In the proscription, Antony dispatched search parties to Cicero's country homes to track him down. He was found and beheaded by a Roman centurion, Herennius, whom Cicero had previously defended successfully in a murder trial, after his whereabouts were revealed by a young slave to whom Cicero had shown special favor. Antony exhibited Cicero's head and hands at the rostra in the Forum.

Fulvia was happy to take revenge against Cicero for Antony's sake, but also in revenge for Publius Clodius Pulcher, her first husband, also an earlier victim of Cicero's sharp rhetoric. Plutarch and other sources describe the joy with which she pierced the tongue of the dead Cicero with her golden hairpins, as a final revenge againsts Cicero's power of speech.

Shortly afterwards, triumvirs then distributed the provinces among them. Lepidus took the west and Antony went to the province of Egypt, where he met Cleopatra. Octavian remained in Italy, where he was busy taking lands from Italians and giving them to the triumvirate veterans.

These actions caused political and social unrest, but when Octavian asked for a divorce from Clodia, Fulvia herself decided to take action. Together with Lucius Antonius, her brother-in-law, she raised eight legions in Italy to fight for Antony's rights against Octavian. The army occupied Rome for a short time, but eventually retreated to Perusia (modern Perugia). Octavian besieged Fulvia and Lucius Antonius in the winter of 41 - 40 BC, starving them into surrender. Fulvia was exiled to Sicyon, where she died of a sudden illness, while Antony was en route to meet her.

Her death opened a space for Octavian and Antony to reconcile. Now a widower, Antony married Octavian's sister Octavia. Later it would be Octavia who took care of Fulvia's children.

Fulvia's marriages and descendants

See also: Women in Rome - Scipio-Paullus-Gracchus family treede:Fulvia pl:Fulwia

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