Text #9520"Titus Annius Milo Papianus", in .
Titus Annius Milo Papianus (/ˈmaɪloʊ/) was a Roman political agitator, the son of Gaius Papius Celsus, but adopted by his maternal grandfather, Titus Annius Luscus. In 52 BC he was prosecuted for the murder of Publius Clodius Pulcher, and was unsuccessfully defended by his friend Marcus Tullius Cicero in the speech Pro Milone.
Milo was a supporter of Pompey and the optimates, and organized bands of armed slaves, mercenaries, and gladiators in opposition to Clodius, who supported Pompey’s rival Julius Caesar and the populares. The two opposing factions clashed in the streets of Rome between 57 and 52 BC. Milo was tribune of the plebs in 57 BC. He took a prominent part in recalling Cicero from exile, whom Clodius had gotten exiled the prior year.
On 23 January 57 BC, Clodius tried to use a force of gladiators to block a move to recall Cicero from exile, but Milo arrested Clodius’ gladiators. He was subsequently attacked by Clodius’ gangs and attempted to prosecute Clodius for violence. He was unsuccessful at doing so. Later that year he tried to prosecute Clodius again, but Clodius escaped this by being elected aedile in 56, thus being immune from prosecution.
Milo became praetor in 54 BC, and in that year married Cornelia Fausta, daughter of the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla and ex-wife of Gaius Memmius.
In 53 BC, Milo was candidate for the consulship (against Quintus Caecilius Metellus Scipio and Publius Plautius Hypsaeus, nominees of Pompey) and Clodius was standing for the praetorship. There was a breakdown of order at Rome and the rival factions rioted in the streets. The elections were void because of the excessive use of the tribunes’ veto and 52 BC began with an interregnum.
On January 18, 52 BC, Milo, Clodius, and their respective gangs met on the Appian Way at Bovillae. Milo was on the way to Lanuvium in order to appoint a priest. Conflicting stories claim Clodius was either peacefully heading to Rome after receiving news a friend had died, or else was lying in wait for Milo. The result was a pitched battle that ensued, and Clodius was killed by Milo’s slaves.
The followers of Clodius carried his body to the Senate House - the Curia Hostilia - and set fire to it. In the ensuing unrest, the Senate called on Pompey to become sole consul. He set about restoring order partly by force but also by the legal means now at his disposal. He passed a law regarding electoral bribery and violence and charged Milo under it. This may have been to placate Clodius’ supporters, who would not be soothed even after setting fire to the Curia. Pompey hand-picked Milo’s jury, and the presiding magistrate, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul 54 BC) was Pompey’s client.
Milo was defended by Marcus Tullius Cicero, Marcus Caelius Rufus and Marcus Marcellus. Under Pompey’s new procedural rules, the trial should have lasted five days, with the summing up for the defence and the verdict on the fifth. However, on the first day, Gaius Causinius Schola appeared as a witness against Milo and described the deed in such a way as to portray Milo as a cold-blooded murderer. This worked up the Clodian crowd who in turn terrified the advocate on Milo’s side, Marcus Marcellus. As he began his questioning of the witnesses, the Clodian crowd drowned out his voice and surrounded him. On subsequent days, Pompey brought armed cohorts to keep order.
On the final day of the trial, Cicero was to give a closing speech to try and prevent Milo from being condemned. Instead, he broke down and was intimidated by the Clodian mob and either did not finish, or did not present the speech well and in the style for which he was renowned. Milo was convicted by 38 votes to 13, fled Rome, and went into exile at Massilia (today Marseille). His property was sold by auction. During his absence, Milo was prosecuted for bribery, unlawful association, and violence, for all of which he was successfully convicted.
Cassius Dio states that when Cicero had finished writing up his speech, he sent a copy to Milo in exile. Milo wrote back that it was lucky for him that the same speech had not been made in court, because otherwise he would “not now be enjoying the delicious red mullet of Massilia”.
Milo later joined Marcus Caelius Rufus in 48 in rebellion against Caesar, but he died at the 48 BC siege of Compsa, near Thurii in Lucania, killed by a stone thrown from the city walls.
Asconius, Pro Milone, 53C
W.J. Tatum, The Patrician Tribune. Publius Clodius Pulcher, Chapel Hill 1999.