Publins Clodus Pulcher, a Roman demagogue, killed in 52 B. C. He was by birth a Claudius, but changed his patrician name to Clodius in order to curry favor with the plebeians. He served in Asia under Lucullus, in whose camp at Nisibis he acted the part of a mutineer, and was afterward taken captive by the pirates of Cilicia. On his release he joined the Syrians in their war against the Arabians. He led a scandalous life on his return to Rome, and was believed to have had an intrigue with the wife of Julius Caesar, into whose house, while it was occupied by the vestals and matrons in the performance of the mysteries of the Bona Dea, during the celebration of which all males were rigorously excluded, he gained admission in the disguise of a woman. Caesar, although he repudiated his wife on the ground that she must not even be suspected, gave evidence in favor of Clodius on his trial for the violation of the sacred mysteries. Cicero declined to defend him, and gave evidence against him. By bribing the judge, however, Clodius was acquitted.
Supported by Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, he was elected tribune in 50, and used his power to drive Cicero into exile for one year, after which he was recalled to Rome, in spite of the opposition of Clodius.
He also managed to make Cato leave Rome, by sending him on a mission to Cyprus. Having degraded himself as a tool of the triumvirs, he aimed at the supreme power, rallied around him the worst characters of Rome, insulted Pompey, and after having taken every means to bring disgrace upon himself and upon Rome, he was finally murdered in an affray with his political rival Milo, a circumstance which has acquired great celebrity from Cicero's oration in defence of the murderer. The mob was infuriated at the death of their favorite, and Pompey was appointed sole consul to restore order. The first wife of Clodius was a sister of Lucullus, and his second the notorious Fulvia.