Tullia (daughter of Cicero)

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Tullia, sometimes referred to affectionately as Tulliola ("Little Tullia", 5 August 79 or 78 BC – February 45 BC), was the first child and only daughter of Roman orator and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero, by his first marriage to Terentia. Her younger brother, Marcus Tullius Cicero Minor, born in 65 BC, was consul in 30 BC.

Life[edit]

What is known of Tullia's life is from Plutarch's account of Cicero and the letters that Cicero wrote to others, particularly to her mother, and to his friend, the eques Titus Pomponius Atticus.

In 66 BC, Tullia was betrothed to Gaius Calpurnius Piso Frugi. They were married in 63, when Tullia was fifteen or sixteen, and Piso not much older. He embarked on the cursus honorum, the course of a Roman political career, serving as quaestor in 58 BC, but he died the following year. In 56, Tullia married Furius Crassipes. By all accounts they had a happy marriage, but nonetheless divorced in 51 BC, for reasons that remain obscure.

During the Civil War, Tullia visited her father at Brundisium. In Cicero's letters, he complains that Terentia had failed to provide Tullia a proper escort, or sufficient money for her expenses.

In the summer of 50, Tullia married Publius Cornelius Dolabella. They had two sons; the first was born May 19, 49 BC, and died the same year. The marriage was not a happy one, and Tullia divorced Dolabella in November, 46, during her second pregnancy. Dolabella went on to hold the consulship in 44 BC.

Tullia died at Dolabella’s house in February, 45, one month after giving birth to her second son, who survived. Cicero's friends and colleagues wrote letters of condolence to the grief-stricken orator; some of these have survived. His second wife, Publilia, who had always been jealous of the attention her husband lavished on his daughter, showed little sympathy, leading Cicero to divorce her.

Legend of the perpetual lamp[edit]

In the fifteenth century, a tomb discovered at Rome was identified as Tullia’s burial place. Reports of the discovery claimed that the corpse inside looked and felt like it had been buried that very day,[1] and lamp that the discoverers supposed to have been burning perpetually since Tullia's burial, more than fifteen hundred years earlier.[2][3] The seventeenth century English poet John Donne alludes to this legend in the eleventh stanza ("The Good-Night") of his "Epithalamion, 1613. Decemb. 26", composed for the marriage of the Earl of Somerset and Frances Howard:

Now, as in Tullias tombe, one lamp burnt cleare,
Unchang'd for fifteene hundred yeare,
May these love-lamps we here enshrine,
In warmth, light, lasting, equall the divine. . . .[4]

Notes[edit]

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