Pompeia was either the second or third wife of Julius Caesar, having been wed to him in 67 BC. His first wife, Cornelia, had died in 69 BC. (Plutarch refers to Pompeia, Cornelia's successor, as Caesar's third wife, implying that Cornelia was his second wife and that Cossutia, to whom he had been betrothed since childhood, was his first wife.)
In 63 BC Caesar was elected to the position of the Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest of the Roman state religion, which came with an official residence on the Via Sacra.
In 62 BC Pompeia hosted the festival of the Bona Dea ("good goddess"), which no man was permitted to attend, in this house. However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion". This has given rise to the proverb "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion".
According to Plutarch in Parallel Lives:
“ . . .the people arrayed themselves in defence of Clodius, and were of great assistance to him with the jurors in the case, who were terror-stricken and afraid of the multitude. Caesar divorced Pompeia at once, but when he was summoned to testify at the trial, he said he knew nothing about the matters with which Clodius was charged. His statement appeared strange, and the prosecutor therefore asked, "Why, then, didst thou divorce thy wife?" "Because," said Caesar, "I thought my wife ought not even to be under suspicion."Some say that Caesar made this deposition honestly; but according to others it was made to gratify the people, who were determined to rescue Clodius. At any rate, Clodius was acquitted of the charge, the majority of the jurors giving their verdicts in illegible writing, in order that they might neither risk their lives with the populace by condemning him, nor get a bad name among the nobility by acquitting him.”
Plutarch (D 46–after 119) was a Greek philosopher, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo. He is known primarily for his Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of illustrious Greeks and Romans.