Calpurnia (wife of Caesar)
Calpurnia was the third and last wife of Julius Caesar. Born c. 76 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.
Marriage and Caesar's demise
Calpurnia married Caesar in late 59 BC. Contemporary sources describe her as a humble, often shy woman. No children resulted from their union. Caesar's daughter, Julia, was likely older than her stepmother, and had married Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus around the same time. Following Caesar's assassination 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, Calpurnia had a premonition about her husband's murder and endeavoured in vain to warn him. Unaware that praetor Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus was one of the conspirators against her husband, she asked him 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
- 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 portrayed by Gertrude Michael in Cleopatra (1934), Greer Garson in the 1953 adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Gwen Watford in Cleopatra (1963), Joan Sims in Carry On Cleo (1964), Jill Bennett in the 1970 adaptation of Julius Caesar and Valeria Golino in the 2002 miniseries Julius Caesar.
- 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.
- Calpurnia was portrayed by Haydn Gwynne in HBO's series Rome. She is depicted as proud and traditional, and having had a vision of Caesar's death.
- Shakespeare's Calpurnia was portrayed by Sylvia Lennick in Wayne and Shuster's comedy sketch "Julius Caesar - Rinse the Blood Off My Toga", parodied as a hysterical Italian-American housewife, repeatedly wailing "I told him, Julie! Don't go!" in a Bronx accent.
- Caesar's Gallic War, Book 1, Julius Caesar, Hinds & Noble, 1898, pg. 83.
- Cicero: The Secrets of his Correspondence, Volume 1, Jerome Carcopino translator, Taylor & Francis, 1951, pg. 352.
- 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
- "Sylvia Lennick, Wayne & Shuster sidekick, dies at 93". The Globe and Mail, August 10, 2009.