While searching for the Latin quote of the proverb "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion", I was a bit surprised because the form that I know of that proverb was "It's not enough for Caesar's wife to be virtuous, she must be seen to be virtuous.". I understand that the proverb comes from Plutarch's writings, but can anyone point to me the actual proverb and its Latin form?

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


Welcome, Leonardo, to the Latin Stack Exchange. The quote you asked for is found in Latin in Suetonius's Life of Julius Caesar, §74, 2:

in Publium Clodium Pompeiae uxoris suae adulterum atque eadem de causa pollutarum caerimoniarum reum testis citatus negauit se quicquam comperisse, quamuis et mater Aurelia et soror Iulia apud eosdem iudices omnia ex fide rettulissent; interrogatusque, cur igitur repudiasset uxorem: 'quoniam,' inquit, 'meos tam suspicione quam crimine iudico carere oportere.'

When he was summoned as a witness against Publius Clodius, his [second] wife Pompeia's lover, who was prosecuted for profanation of religious ceremonies, he declared he knew nothing of the affair, although his mother Aurelia, and his sister Julia, gave the court an exact and full account of the circumstances. And being asked why then he had divorced his wife? "Because," he said, "my family should not only be free from guilt, but even from the suspicion of it.

The story is also found in Plutarch's parallel lives, section 10.

"Why, then, did you divorce your wife?" said the prosecutor. "Because," said Caesar, "I thought my wife ought not even to be under suspicion."

ὁ κατήγορος ἠρώτησε, ‘πῶς οὖν ἀπεπέμψω τὴν γυναῖκα;’ ‘ὃτι,’ ἔφη, ‘τὴν ἐμὴν ἠξίουν μηδὲ ὑπονοηθῆναι.’

The Latin version is sometimes loosely quoted as "Uxorem Caesaris tam suspicione quam crimine carere oportet" (Caesar's wife should be free from suspicion, as well as from accusation). Plutarch and Suetonius were contemporaries. Plutarch lived from between c. 45-125 AD and Suetonius c. 69-122 AD.

  • Perhaps a moderator could lay out this answer in a better format, since I only have an ipad and in any case am not au fait with how to present a document like this! Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 9:39
  • 1
    I have submitted an edit to improve the formatting
    – user10919
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 10:08
  • 1
    Thanks, Laravel, for your efforts on my behalf! Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 14:44

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