Soon after his acquittal Clodius went to his province, Sicily, and intimated his design of becoming a candidate for the aedileship. On his return, however, he disclosed a different purpose. Eager to revenge himself on Cicero, that he might be armed with more formidable power he purposed becoming a tribune of the plebs. For this it was necessary that he should be adopted into a plebeian family; and as he was not in the power of his parent, the adoption had to take place by a vote of the people in the comitia curiata. (This ceremony was called Adrogatio: see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Adrogatio.) Repeated attempts were made by the tribune C. Herennius to get this brought about. Cicero, who placed reliance on the friendship and support of Pompey, did not spare Clodius, though he at times shews that he had misgivings as to the result. The triumvirs had not yet taken Clodius' side, and when he impeached L. Calpurnius Piso for extortion, their influence procured the acquittal of the accused. But in defending C. Antonius, Cicero provoked the triumvirs, and especially Caesar, and within three hours after the delivery of his speech Clodius became the adopted son of P. Fonteius (at the end of the year 60). The lex curiata for his adoption was proposed by Caesar, and Pompey presided in the assembly. The whole proceeding was irregular, as the sanction of the pontifices had not been obtained; Fonteius was not twenty years old, and consequently much younger than Clodius, and was married, nor was there the smallest reason to suppose that his marriage would remain childless, and, indeed, he was afterwards the father of several children; the rogation was not made public three nundines before the comitia; and it was passed although Bibulus sent notice to Pompey that he was taking the auspices. A report soon after got abroad that Clodius was to be sent on an embassy to Tigranes, and that by his refusal to go he had provoked the hostility of the triumvirs. Neither turned out to be true. Clodius was now actively endeavoring to secure his election to the tribuneship. Cicero was for a time amused with a report that his only design was to rescind the laws of Caesar. With the assistance of the latter, Clodius succeeded in his object, and entered upon his office in December, b. c. 59.
Clodius did not immediately assail his enemies. On tile last day of the year, indeed, he prevented Bibulus, on laying down his office, from addressing the people; but his first measures were a series of laws, calculated to lay senate, knights, and people under obligations to him. The first was a law for the gratuitous distribution of corn once a month to the poorer citizens. The next enacted that no magistrate should observe the heavens on comitial days, and that no veto should be allowed to hinder the passing of a law. This enactment was designed specially to aid him in the attack with which he had threatened Cicero. The third was a law for the restoration of the old guilds which had been abolished, and the creation of new ones, by which means he secured the support of a large number of organized bodies. A fourth law was intended to gratify those of the higher class, and provided that the censors should not expel from the senate, or inflict any mark of disgrace upon any one who had not first been openly accused before them, and convicted of some crime by their joint sentence. The consuls of the year he gained over to his interests by undertaking to secure to them the provinces which they wished. Having thus prepared the way, he opened his attack upon Cicero by proposing a law to the effect, that whoever had taken the life of a citizen uncondemned and without a trial, should be interdicted from earth and water. For an account of the proceedings which ensued, and which ended in Cicero's withdrawing into exile, see Cicero, p. 713.
On the same day on which Cicero left the city Clodius procured the enactment of two laws, one to interdict Cicero from earth and water, because he had illegally put citizens to death, and forged a decree of the senate; the other forbidding any one, on pain of the like penalty, to receive him. The interdict was, however, limited to the distance of 400 miles from Rome. Clodius added the clause, that no proposition should ever be made for reversing the decree till those whom Cicero had put to death should come to life again. The law was confirmed in the comitia tributa, and engraved on brass. On the same day, the consuls Gabinius and Piso had the provinces of Syria and Macedonia assigned to them, with extraordinary powers. Clodius next rid himself of M. Cato, who, by a decree passed on his motion, was sent with the powers of praetor to take possession of the island of Cyprus, with the treasures of its king, Ptolemy, and to restore some Byzantine exiles. [Cato, p. 648, b.] In the former nefarious proceeding, Clodius seems to have taken as a pretext the will of Ptolemy Alexander I., the uncle of the Cyprian king, who, as the Romans pretended, had made over to them his kingdom.
Immediately after the banishment of Cicero, Clodius set fire to his house on the Palatine, and destroyed his villas at Tusculum and Formiae. The greater part of the property carried off from them was divided between the two consuls. The ground on which the Palatine house stood, with such of the property as still remained, was put up to auction. Clodius wished to become the purchaser of it, and, not liking to bid himself, got a needy fellow named Scato to bid for him. He wished to erect on the Palatine a palace of surpassing size and magnificence. A short time betore he had purchased the house of Q. Seilus Postumus, after poisoning the owner, who had refused to sell it. This it was his intention to unite with another house which he already had there. He pulled down the portico of Catulus, which adjoined Cicero's grounds, and erected another in its place, with his own name inscribed on it. To alienate Cicero's property irretrievably, he dedicated it to the goddess Libertas, and a small portion of the site of the dwelling, with part of the ground on which the portico of Catulus had stood, was occupied by a chapel to the goddess. For the image of the goddess he made use of the statue of a Tanagraean hetaera, which his brother Appius had brought from Greece. To maintain the armed bands whom he employed, Clodius required large sums of money; but this he did not find much difficulty in procuring : for with the populace he was all-powerful, and his influence made his favour worth purchasing. (For an account of the way in which, through his influence, Brogitarus of Galatia was made priest of Cybele at Pessinus, and Menula of Anagnia screened front punishment, with other arbitrary and irregular proceedings of Clodius, see Cic. pro Dom. 30, 50, de Har. Resp. 13, pro Sext.