Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Hans-Friedrich Mueller

Second Advisor

Zoe Oxley




politics, extramarital affairs, public perception, infedelity


This thesis explores four historical figures who engaged in extramarital affairs while holding political office. These figures include Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton. I assess the varied public responses to these men’s affairs by researching their relationships with women – that is, their wives and mistresses. In Ancient Rome, one politician was exiled from society and eventually killed in battle for his extramarital romance, whereas the other was – and still is – praised as one of the most successful politicians while he was sleeping with the wives of his allies and friends. Both presidents, on the other hand, are remembered as two of the most successful in American history, yet during their presidencies, one’s long-standing affair was overlooked and hidden by the media, while the infidelity of the other was splashed across tabloids and offered grounds for his impeachment. I found a number of factors in each case that contributed to the public perception of extramarital affairs. This includes the political and media environments of the time. In addition, the treatment of women in each case is shockingly similar. The faithful wives of these adulterous men were praised in all instances, whereas the reputations of the mistresses were in some ways badly affected. By examining these men and the factors surrounding their infidelities, theories about the affect these affairs had on their careers and overall legacies can be determined.