Lesbia was the pseudonym of the lover to whom the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54BC) dedicates a number of poems. Nothing is known about her other than what can be deduced from Catullus's poems. The name itself suggests literary and erotic connotations, evoking as it does the Lesbos Island, where famed Lesbian poet Sappho lived. According to Apuleius, a 2nd century author from Africa, 'Lesbia' was a pseudonym invented by Catullus - a common practice - whose real name was Clodia (see below). Lesbia is the subject of 25 of his 116 surviving poems, and these display a wide range of emotions (see Catullus 85), ranging from tender love (eg, Catullus 5), to sadness and disappointment, and to bitter sarcasm, following the often unsteady course of Catullus' relationship.

Lesbia is traditionally identified with the infamous Clodia, prosecuted by Cicero in Pro Caelio.


  • Oxford Latin Reader, Maurice Balme and James Morewood (1997)

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