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Caecilia Metella

Caecilia Metella is the name of all women in the Caecilii Metellii family, since feminine names were the their father's gens and cognomen declined in the female form.

In Roman history, there are at least four Caecilia Metella cited by the ancient sources.

Table of contents
1 Dalmatica
2 Balearica
3 Calva
4 Celer's daughter


Caecilia Metella Dalmatica (died around 80 BC) was daughter of Lucius Caecilius Metellus Dalmaticus, pontifex maximus in 115 BC. Dalmatica's first marriage, as a young matrona, was to Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, an ageing politician at the peak of his power. The patrician Scaurus was princeps senatus (leader of the senate) and a traditional ally of her family. Dalmatica bore Scaurus two children: Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and Aemilia Scaura, second wife of Pompey. Following Scaurus' death, Dalmatica married Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In 86 BC, Marius obtains his seventh consulship and outlaws his political enemies, ordering confiscation of property and several persecutions. Sulla, at the time in the East fighting king Mithridates VI of Pontus, was at the top of the list. Dalmatica is forced to abandon Rome and meets Sulla in Greece. There, she gives birth to the twins Faustus and Fausta. In 81 BC, following a brief civil war with the last of Marius' supporters, Sulla enters Rome and his appointed dictator for life. Again, Dalmatica follows her husband and becomes Rome's first lady. She died around 80 BC. Ignoring the anti-luxury laws that he drafted himself, Sulla organizes for her a spectacular state funeral.


Caecilia Metella Balearica Minor (died 89 BC) was the second daughter of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus, consul in 123 BC. Her oldest sister was a Vestal virgin. Balearica was married to Appius Claudius Pulcher, a politician of an old patrician, although slightly empoverished family. As a member of an important family and married into another, Balearica was one of Rome's most esteemed matronas. She had a reputation of virtue and modesty, allied to a unreproachable conduct as a mother of two boys (Appius and Gaius) and three girls (Claudia Prima, Claudia Secunda e Claudia Tertulla, this one known to history as Clodia). While pregnant of her sixth child, Balearica had a dream of Juno complaining about the neglect of her temple. As any other Roman would, she took the dream very seriously and proceeded to clean the temple herself, with the help of the censor Lucius Julius Caesar. Shortly afterwards, Balearica died in childbirth. Her youngest son was to be the notorious Publius Clodius Pulcher.


Caecilia Metella Calva was daughter of Lucius Caecilius Metellus Calvus, consul in 142 BC, and sister of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus. She was married to Lucius Licinius Lucullus. Instead of playing the role of a virtuous married woman, Calva engaged on a succession of scandalous affairs, mostly with slaves, that eventually lead to divorce. She was the mother of Lucius Licinius Lucullus (consul in 74 BC) and Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus (consul in 73 BC).

Celer's daughter

Caecilia Metella Celer was daughter of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer by his wife, the notorious Clodia. In 53 BC, Metella Celer was married to Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, a conservative politician, allied to her father's family. Like her mother, Metella was not to contempt herself with a simple married life. Briefly after the wedding she started an affair with Publius Cornelius Dolabella, a man of the opposite political spectrum. Spinther divorced her in 45 BC in the midst of a huge scandal. Marcus Tullius Cicero bitterly mentions the affair in his letters, because at the time, his daughter Tullia was Dolabella's wife.

Metella went back to her family in absolute disgrace. She was still in her twenties and very beautiful. Her cousins did not hesitate in using her for political conspiracies. Metella seduced several of Julius Caesar's intimate friends, in order to get the family name cleaned after the defeat of the Optimates in the battles of Pharsalus and Munda. Amongst her non-political lovers is the poet Ticida, who wrote about Metella giving her the name of Perilla. Her last known lover was an Aesopo, a wealthy knight, who supported the Caecilii Metellii for a few years. Her date of death is unknown.

See also: Women in Rome - Caecilius Metellus family tree