Titus Annius Milo

Titus Annius Milo Papianus (/ˈml/) was a Roman political agitator and the son of Gaius Papius Celsus, but he was adopted by his maternal grandfather, Titus Annius Luscus. In 52 BC, he was prosecuted for the murder of Publius Clodius Pulcher, and he was unsuccessfully defended by his friend Marcus Tullius Cicero in the speech Pro Milone.

Early political life

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 after Clodius had gotten him 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 but was unsuccessful. Later that year he tried to prosecute Clodius again, but Clodius escaped by being elected aedile in 56 and so was immune from prosecution.

Milo became praetor in 54 BC, and in that year, he married Fausta Cornelia, daughter of the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and the ex-wife of Gaius Memmius.

Death of Clodius

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 to appoint a priest. Conflicting stories claim that Clodius was peacefully heading to Rome after receiving news a friend had died or 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 both electoral bribery and violence and charged Milo under it. That may have been to placate Clodius' supporters, who would not be soothed even after they had set fire to the Curia. Pompey handpicked 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 day. 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 coldblooded murderer. That 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 to prevent Milo from being condemned. Instead, he broke down and was intimidated by the Clodian mob and 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.[1]


Milo left 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, 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".[2]


Milo later joined Marcus Caelius Rufus in 48 in rebellion against Caesar, but he died at that year's siege of Compsa, near Thurii, in Lucania.[3] He was killed by a stone thrown from the city walls.

Titus Annius Milo appears as a recurring character in John Maddox Roberts' SPQR series of novels. These historical mysteries are presented as memoirs of fictional Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger; Milo is a trusted friend of Metellus.

Milo also appears as a character in A Murder on the Appian Way, Last Seen in Massilia and A Mist of Prophecies, in the Roma Sub Rosa series of historical mystery novels by Steven Saylor.

Milo appears in Conn Iggulden's book The Field of Swords, the third in the series Emperor, as a street gangster who wages a private war with Publius Clodius.

Milo is a character in Colleen McCollough's Caesar.

He also appears in the book Street Fighter: Son of Spartacus in a plot to assassinate Julius Caesar.

Milo features prominently in the 2015 novel "Dictator (Harris novel)" by British novelist Robert Harris.


  1. Asconius, Pro Milone, 53C
  2. Dio, 40.54.3
  3. Michele Carluccio (2002). Conza della Campania. Il parco archeologico Compsa. De Angelis. ISBN 978-88-86218-46-7.

Further reading

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