Calpurnia (wife of Caesar)

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Calpurnia from the 16th-century Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum

Calpurnia was the third and last wife of Julius Caesar. Born in 75 BC, she was the daughter of Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, consul in 58 BC, and sister of Lucius Calpurnius Piso (Pontifex), consul in 15 BC.[1]

Marriage and Caesar's demise[edit]

Calpurnia married Caesar in late 59 BC. Contemporary sources describe her as a humble, often shy woman.[2] No children resulted from their union. Julia, Caesar's daughter by his first wife, Cornelia, was likely older than her stepmother, and married Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus around the same time. Following Caesar's death in 44 BC, Calpurnia delivered all Caesar's personal papers, including his will and notes, and his most precious possessions to the consul Marcus Antonius, one of Caesar's most trusted allies. She never remarried.

According to a tradition reported in some ancient sources,[3] Calpurnia had a premonition about her husband's murder, and endeavoured in vain to warn him. Unaware that he was one of the conspirators against her husband, she also asked the praetor Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus to send word to the senate that Caesar was ill and unable to attend. However, Caesar rejected this plan, and Brutus escorted him into the hands of his enemies.

Calpurnia in literature and popular culture[edit]

Greer Garson as Calpurnia.
  • In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Calpurnia has a dream that a statue of Caesar was flowing with blood as many Romans wash their hands in the blood. She also sees in her dream that Julius Caesar would die in her arms.
  • Calpurnia was shown solving a murder in Mist of Prophecies (2002) - part of the Roma Sub Rosa series by Steven Saylor. She gets Gordianus the Finder to look into a threat to her husband in a later book in this series, The Triumph of Caesar (2008). She is portrayed as a woman of formidable intelligence and efficiency, utterly devoted to her husband's interests, but with an incongruous fascination with trying to foretell the future.
  • In the motion picture The Addams Family, there is a portrait of Calpurnia on the wall of the Addams' house.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Caesar's Gallic War, Book 1, Julius Caesar, Hinds & Noble, 1898, pg. 83.
  2. ^ Cicero: The Secrets of his Correspondence, Volume 1, Jerome Carcopino translator, Taylor & Francis, 1951, pg. 352.
  3. ^ Vita Caesaris, chapters 19–24, recounts Caesar's assassination; extracts are quoted in "The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC". EyeWitness to History. Retrieved 9 November 2005. . For an assessment of Nicolaus and his sources see Sihler, E.G. Annals of Caesar: A Critical Biography with a Survey of the Sources (New York : G. E. Stechert, 1911), pp. 293–4
  4. ^ "Sylvia Lennick, Wayne & Shuster sidekick, dies at 93". The Globe and Mail, August 10, 2009.