Known forThe second or third wife of Julius Caesar
Spouse(s)Julius Caesar (67–62 BC; divorced)

Pompeia (fl. 1st century BC) was either the second or third[i] wife of Julius Caesar.


Early life

Pompeia's parents were Quintus Pompeius Rufus, a son of a former consul, and Cornelia, the daughter of the Roman dictator Sulla.


Caesar married Pompeia in 67 BC,[1] after he had served as quaestor in Hispania, his first wife Cornelia having died in 69 BC.

In 63 BC, Caesar was elected to the position of the Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest of the Roman state religion, which came with an official residence on the Via Sacra.[2] In 62 BC, Pompeia hosted there the festival of the Bona Dea ("good goddess"), which no man was permitted to attend. However, a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion".[3] This gave rise to a proverb, "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion", meaning that if one is romantically involved with a famous or prominent figure, one must avoid attracting negative attention or scrutiny.[4][5][6]

Later life

Nothing specific is known about her life after the divorce, but it has been proposed that she may have married Publius Vatinius.[7]

Cultural depictions

Pompeia is depicted in various works of fiction including Robert Harris' Lustrum and Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series; in the Masters of Rome series, the theory that she remarried to Publius is depicted.

See also


  1. ^ Plutarch refers to Pompeia, Cornelia's successor, as Caesar's third wife, implying that Cornelia was his second, implying that Cossutia, to whom he had been betrothed to since childhood, was his first.


  1. ^ Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth- E.A. (edd), Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2003- | 1214.
  2. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 7; Suetonius, Julius 13 Archived 2012-05-30 at archive.today, 46
  3. ^ Cicero, Letters to Atticus 1.13; Plutarch, Caesar 9-10; Cassius Dio, Roman History 37.45; Suetonius, Julius 6.2 Archived 2012-05-30 at archive.today
  4. ^ Caesar, Gaius Julius Archived 2013-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, Historia, KET Distance Learning.
  5. ^ Like Caesar's wife, a politician should be above suspicion, The Independent, March 23, 2001 [dead link]
  6. ^ "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion". Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. Farlex, Inc. 2015.
  7. ^ American Journal of Ancient History. Vol. 1–3. Harvard University. 1976. p. 14.