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Of a prominent family of Lanuvium in Latium (central Italy), as tribune 57 bc worked for Cicero's recall from exile and, with Publius Sestius, organized armed gangs to oppose those led by Clodius which had long prevented it. Fighting between Clodius and Milo in the city continued for several years, since—short of the senatus consultum ultimum (‘ultimate decree’ of the senate, in effect a declaration of emergency), impossible to pass—there was no legitimate way of using public force to suppress it. Both Milo and Clodius ascended through the official career, at times unsuccessfully prosecuting each other for vis (violence), until Milo's men met and defeated Clodius' near Bovillae (on the Appian Way, about 17 km. from Rome) in January 52. Clodius, wounded in the fighting, was killed on Milo's orders, chiefly to clear the way for Milo's candidacy for the consulship of 52, elections for which had been prevented by Clodius with Pompey's support. After continued rioting Pompey was made sole consul and passed legislation including a strict law on vis, under which Milo was prosecuted. Cicero, intimidated by Pompey's soldiers guarding the court, broke down and was unable to deliver an effective speech for the defence. (The speech we have was written later.) Milo was convicted and went into exile at Massalia (Marseille), where he ironically professed to enjoy the mullets. Julius Caesar, in part out of loyalty to Clodius' memory, refused to recall him along with other political exiles, and in 48, while Caesar was away in the east, Milo joined Marcus Caelius Rufus in an attempt to raise rebellion among the poor in Italy and was killed.

Ernst Badian

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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