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Titus Annius Milo

?? - 48 BC

Titus Annius Milo, a contemporary of Cicero and Caesar, was a Roman political agitator. The son of C. Papius Celsus, he was adopted by his mother's father, Titus Annius Luscus. Milo married Fausta, daughter of the dictator Sulla and ex-wife of C. Memmius, in 54 BC. He supported the Pompeian faction (Optimates) and organized bands of mercenaries and gladiators to support the cause through public violence. In this he was opposed by P. Clodius Pulcher, who organized similarly violent support for the democratic (Populares) cause.

The roots of their deadly feud reached back over several years: Clodius had accused Cicero of improperly sentencing to death five of Catiline's supporters five years earlier during suppression of the Catilinarian plot. Since it was illegal to administer the death penalty to a Roman citizen without a trial, Cicero had gone into voluntary exile rather than face banishment. A year and a half later, when Milo was tribune of the plebs in 57 BC, he took a prominent part in bringing about Cicero's recall from exile. Clodius, who had played such a significant role in sending him into exile, unsuccessfully opposed the recall.

Milo became praetor in 54 BC and the following year he stood as a Optimates candidate for the consulship. At the same time Clodius, supported by the Populares, was a candidate for the praetorship. Violence and rioting occurred throughout the city of Rome. On January 18, 52 BC, the two leaders met outside Rome, on the Appian Way near Bovillae; whether by accident or plan is unknown. Clodius was killed in the encounter.

Milo's guilt seemed obvious and he was impeached. Asconius gave one account of the event. Cicero attempted to prove him not guilty of premeditated murder. Milo' enemies used violence to suppress Milo's supporters and intimidate the judges, and Cicero became too afraid to speak. (Thus, the extant document, Cicero's Pro Milone, is an expanded version of the undelivered defense speech.) Milo was condemned and went into exile at Massilia (Marseille).

In 48 BC, when M. Caelius Rufus became embroiled in an uprising against Caesar, Milo took up violence again. He was captured and executed at Cosa, near Thurii in Lucania.

J. Jahnige, October 2003

Source: Oxford Classical Dictionary


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