Appius Claudius Pulcher (consul 38 BC)

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Appius Claudius Pulcher[1] was a Roman politician. An early supporter of Augustus, he was elected consul in 38 BC.


A member of the patrician branch of the Claudii family, Pulcher originally bore the name Gaius Claudius Pulcher, and was the natural born son of Gaius Claudius Pulcher, a praetor in 56 BC. Upon his adoption by his uncle Appius Claudius Pulcher, the consul of 54 BC, he took his adopted father’s praenomen.[2] He, along with his natural born brother, also called Appius Claudius Pulcher, prosecuted Titus Annius Milo in 51 BC for the murder of Publius Clodius Pulcher, and managed to convict him with the help of Pompey.[3]

Originally a supporter of Mark Antony following the death of Julius Caesar, Pulcher had some sympathy towards the Liberatores, and showed some willingness to join Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus.[4] However, by 38 BC, the year he was elected consul, he had attached himself to the cause of Octavianus, one of the earliest patricians to publicly join the heir of Julius Caesar.[5] This alliance came about as a result of the marriage of Octavianus to the aristocratic Livia Drusilla,[6] and by doing so, he attached his auctoritas to Octavianus’s rising power and fortune, and was greatly rewarded by Octavianus in the years to come.[7]

In 36 BC, during Octavianus’s war with Sextus Pompey, Pulcher was given command of the rear guard of Octavian’s fleet as it sailed from Puteoli, which then suffered some damage in a storm.[8] Then in 34 BC, he was proconsul in one of the provinces in Hispania where he remained for two years, during which time he was awarded the title imperator.[9] In 32 BC, Pulcher was back in Rome where he celebrated a triumph on 1 June.[10] After this, Pulcher was given no further military commands,[11] and by 31 BC he had been made a member of the Septemviri Epulones.[12]

Pulcher had at least one son, who may have been put to death by the emperor Augustus on charges of adultery with the emperor’s daughter Julia.[13] He possibly had another son, Marcus Valerius Messalla Appianus, who was probably adopted by Marcus Valerius Messalla, the suffect consul of 32 BC.[14]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gaius Cocceius Balbus and Publius Alfenus Varus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Gaius Norbanus Flaccus
38 BC
Succeeded by
Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Lucius Marcius Philippus


  • T. Robert S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, Vol II (1952).
  • Syme, Ronald, The Roman Revolution (1939)
  • Anthon, Charles & Smith, William, A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography (1860).


  1. ^ There is some confusion as to which of the two Appius Claudius Pulchers who prosecuted Milo in 51 BC was the consul of 38 BC. Given that the other Appius Claudius Pulcher was impeached for extortion by the Servilii, it is assumed that the one adopted by his uncle (the former consul Appuis Claudius Pulcher) was the one who became consul in his turn in 38 BC.
  2. ^ Anthon & Smith, pgs. 209-210; Syme, pg. 229
  3. ^ Anthon & Smith, pg. 210
  4. ^ Syme, pg. 237
  5. ^ Broughton, pg. 389; Syme, pg. 229
  6. ^ Syme, pg. 268
  7. ^ Syme, pgs. 238-239
  8. ^ Broughton, pg. 400
  9. ^ Broughton, pgs. 411 & 418; Syme, pg. 239
  10. ^ Syme, pg. 292; Broughton, pg. 418
  11. ^ Syme, pg. 327
  12. ^ Broughton, pg. 426
  13. ^ Syme, pg. 426
  14. ^ Syme, Ronald, "The Augustan Aristocracy" (1986), pg. 147. Clarendon Press. Retrieved 2012-11-06  – via Questia (subscription required)