10/26/12

Pavel Svedomsky, Fulvia With the Head of Cicero (Фульвия с головой Цицерона)

Date: Unknown
Technique: Oil on canvas, 138.5 x 67.5 cm

Fulvia Flacca Bambula (c. 83 BC – 40 BC), commonly referred to as simply Fulvia, was an aristocratic Roman woman who lived during the Late Roman Republic. Through her marriage to three of the most promising Roman men of her generation, Publius Clodius Pulcher, Gaius Scribonius Curio and Mark Antony, she gained access to power. All three husbands were politically active populares, tribunes and supporters of Julius Caesar. Though she is more famous for her involvement in Antony's career, many scholars believe that she was politically active with all of her husbands.

Fulvia is remembered in the history of the late Roman Republic for her political ambition and activity. She is most famous for her activities during her third marriage and her involvement in the Perusine War of 41-40 BC. She was the first Roman non-mythological woman to appear on Roman coins.

/.../ After Curio's death in Africa, Fulvia was still an important widow in elite circles. She provided an important tie to Clodius and his clientela, had proven her fertility, and could offer a husband money and political organization. Also, her husband would become the stepfather of Clodius' children, further linking him to Clodian politics.

Fulvia's third and final marriage was to Mark Antony in 47 or 46 BC, a few years after Curio's death, although Cicero suggested that Fulvia and Antony had had a relationship since 58 BC. Cicero wrote about their relationship in his Philippics as a way of attacking Antony. According to him, while Fulvia and Antony were married, Antony once left a military post to sneak back into Rome during the night and personally deliver a love letter to Fulvia describing his love for her and how he had stopped seeing the famous actress Cytheris. Cicero also suggested that Antony married Fulvia for her money. At the time of their marriage, Antony was an established politician. He had already been tribune in 49 BC, commanded armies under Caesar and was Master of the Horse in 47 BC. As a couple, they were a formidable political force in Rome, and had two sons together, Marcus Antonius Antyllus and Iullus Antonius.

Plutarch believed that Fulvia heavily influenced Antony, and that former Clodian policies were continued through him. Throughout their marriage, Fulvia defended Antony from Cicero's attacks, sustained his popularity with his soldiers and hindered Octavian's ascension to power. In fact, Fulvia still retained the support of gangs formerly ruled by her first husband, Clodius. Antony was able to gather that support by publicly associating himself with Clodius' children. Through Fulvia, Antony was able to use Clodius' gangs in his own gang wars against Dolabella.

After Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated, Antony became the most powerful man in Rome. Fulvia was heavily involved in the political aftermath. After Caesar's death, the senate realized his popularity and declared that they would pass all of Caesar's planned laws. Antony had attained possession of Caesar's papers, and with the ability to produce papers in support of any law, Fulvia and Antony made a fortune and gained immense power. She allegedly accompanied Antony to his military camp at Brundisium in 44 BC. Appian wrote that in December 44 and again in 41 BC, while Antony was abroad and Cicero campaigned for Antony to be declared an enemy of the state, Fulvia attempted to block such declarations by soliciting support on Antony's behalf.

Antony formed the second triumvirate with Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus on 43 BC and began to conduct proscriptions. To solidify the political alliance, Fulvia's daughter Clodia was married to the young Octavian. Appian and Cassius Dio describe Fulvia as being involved in the violent proscriptions, which were used to destroy enemies and gain badly needed funds to secure control of Rome. Antony pursued his political enemies, chief among them being Cicero, who had openly criticized him for abusing his powers as consul after Caesar's assassination. Though many ancient sources wrote that Fulvia was happy to take revenge against Cicero for Antony's and Clodius' sake, Cassius Dio is the only ancient source that describes the joy with which she pierced the tongue of the dead Cicero with her golden hairpins, as a final revenge against Cicero's power of speech.

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