Caligula

Caligula

Overview
Caligula also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

. Caligula's father Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, the nephew and adopted
Adoption in Ancient Rome
In ancient Rome, adoption of boys was a fairly common procedure, particularly in the upper senatorial class. The need for a male heir and the expense of raising children were strong incentives to have at least one son, but not too many children. Adoption, the obvious solution, also served to...

 son of Emperor Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most beloved public figures. The young Gaius earned the nickname Caligula (meaning "little soldier's boot", the diminutive form of caliga
Caligae
Caligae are heavy-soled hob-nailed military boots worn by Roman legionary soldiers and auxiliaries throughout the Roman Republic and Empire. Worn by all ranks up to and including centurions, no other shoes in history stand as much symbol for the expansion of an empire than the famed caligae...

, n. hob-nailed military boot) from his father's soldiers while accompanying him during his campaigns in Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

.
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Timeline

37   Caligula becomes Roman Emperor after the death of his great uncle, Tiberius.

37   The Roman Senate annuls Tiberius's will and proclaims Caligula emperor.

37   Roman Emperor Caligula accepts the titles of the Principate, entitled to him by the Senate.

41   Gaius Caesar (Caligula), known for his eccentricity and cruel despotism, is assassinated by his disgruntled Praetorian Guards. Claudius succeeds his nephew.

 
Quotations

Utinam populus Romanus unam cervicem haberet!

Would that the Roman people had but one neck!
Encyclopedia
Caligula also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

. Caligula's father Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, the nephew and adopted
Adoption in Ancient Rome
In ancient Rome, adoption of boys was a fairly common procedure, particularly in the upper senatorial class. The need for a male heir and the expense of raising children were strong incentives to have at least one son, but not too many children. Adoption, the obvious solution, also served to...

 son of Emperor Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most beloved public figures. The young Gaius earned the nickname Caligula (meaning "little soldier's boot", the diminutive form of caliga
Caligae
Caligae are heavy-soled hob-nailed military boots worn by Roman legionary soldiers and auxiliaries throughout the Roman Republic and Empire. Worn by all ranks up to and including centurions, no other shoes in history stand as much symbol for the expansion of an empire than the famed caligae...

, n. hob-nailed military boot) from his father's soldiers while accompanying him during his campaigns in Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

. When Germanicus died at Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 in 19 AD, his wife Agrippina the Elder
Agrippina the elder
Vipsania Agrippina or most commonly known as Agrippina Major or Agrippina the Elder was a distinguished and prominent granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus. Agrippina was the wife of the general, statesman Germanicus and a relative to the first Roman Emperors...

 returned to Rome with her six children where she became entangled in an increasingly bitter feud with Tiberius. This conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. Unscathed by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted the invitation to join the emperor on the island of Capri
Capri
Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy...

 in 31, where Tiberius himself had withdrawn five years earlier. At the death of Tiberius in 37, Caligula succeeded his great-uncle and adoptive grandfather.

There are few surviving sources on Caligula's reign, although he is described as a noble and moderate ruler during the first two years of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, extravagance, and sexual perversity, presenting him as an insane tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

. While the reliability of these sources has increasingly been called into question, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor (as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate
Principate
The Principate is the first period of the Roman Empire, extending from the beginning of the reign of Caesar Augustus to the Crisis of the Third Century, after which it was replaced with the Dominate. The Principate is characterized by a concerted effort on the part of the Emperors to preserve the...

). He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and notoriously luxurious dwellings for himself. However, he initiated the construction of two new aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia
Aqua Claudia
Aqua Claudia was an aqueduct of ancient Rome that, like the Anio Novus, was begun by emperor Caligula in 38 AD and completed by Emperor Claudius in 52 AD. Its main springs, the Caeruleus and Curtius, were situated 300 paces to the left of the thirty-eighth milestone of the Via Sublacensis...

 and the Anio Novus
Anio Novus
Anio Novus is an aqueduct of Rome. Together with the Aqua Claudia, it was begun by emperor Caligula in 38 AD and completed in 52 AD by Claudius, who dedicated them both on August 1.-Details:...

. During his reign, the Empire annexed the Kingdom of Mauretania
Mauretania
Mauretania is a part of the historical Ancient Libyan land in North Africa. It corresponds to present day Morocco and a part of western Algeria...

 and made it into a province.

In early 41 AD, Caligula was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy involving officers of the Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

, as well as members of the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 and of the imperial court. The conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 was thwarted: on the same day the Praetorian Guard declared Caligula's uncle Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

 emperor in his place.

Family


See Julio-Claudian Family Tree
Julio-Claudian family tree
The Julio-Claudian dynasty of the early Roman Empire has a family tree complicated by multiple marriages between the members of the gens Julia and the gens Claudia.-Family tree:...

.

Caligula was born in Antium, the third of six surviving children born to Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

 and Germanicus' second cousin Agrippina the Elder
Agrippina the elder
Vipsania Agrippina or most commonly known as Agrippina Major or Agrippina the Elder was a distinguished and prominent granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus. Agrippina was the wife of the general, statesman Germanicus and a relative to the first Roman Emperors...

. Gaius's brothers were Nero and Drusus. His sisters were Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla was the only child and daughter of Roman Emperor Gaius and of his fourth and last wife Milonia Caesonia....

, and Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla was the youngest child of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder and the youngest sister of the Emperor Caligula.-Life:Livilla was the youngest great granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, great-niece and adoptive granddaughter...

. Gaius was nephew to Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

 (the future emperor).

Agrippina the Elder was the daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was a Roman statesman and general. He was a close friend, son-in-law, lieutenant and defense minister to Octavian, the future Emperor Caesar Augustus...

 and Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

. She was a granddaughter of Augustus and Scribonia
Scribonia
Scribonia was the second wife of the Roman Emperor Augustus and the mother of his only natural child, Julia the Elder. She was the mother-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, great-grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, grandmother-in-law of the Emperor Claudius, and...

.

Youth and early career



As a boy of just two or three, Gaius accompanied his father, Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, on campaigns in the north of Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

. The soldiers were amused that Gaius was dressed in a miniature soldier's uniform, including boots and armor. He was soon given his nickname Caligula, meaning "little (soldier's) boot" in Latin, after the small boots he wore as part of his uniform. Gaius, though, reportedly grew to dislike this nickname.

Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 claims that Germanicus was poisoned in Syria by an agent of Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

, who viewed Germanicus as a political rival.

After the death of his father, Caligula lived with his mother until her relations with Tiberius deteriorated. Tiberius would not allow Agrippina to remarry for fear her husband would be a rival. Agrippina and Caligula's brother, Nero, were banished in AD 29 on charges of treason.

The adolescent Caligula was then sent to live first with his great-grandmother (and Tiberius's mother) Livia
Livia
Livia Drusilla, , after her formal adoption into the Julian family in AD 14 also known as Julia Augusta, was a Roman empress as the third wife of the Emperor Augustus and his adviser...

. Following Livia's death, he was sent to live with his grandmother Antonia. In AD 30, his brother, Drusus Caesar, was imprisoned on charges of treason and his brother Nero died in exile from either starvation or suicide. Suetonius writes that after the banishment of his mother and brothers, Caligula and his sisters were nothing more than prisoners of Tiberius under the close watch of soldiers.

In AD 31, Caligula was remanded to the personal care of Tiberius on Capri
Capri
Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy...

, where he lived for six years. To the surprise of many, Caligula was spared by Tiberius. According to historians, Caligula was an excellent natural actor and, recognizing danger, hid all his resentment towards Tiberius. An observer said of Caligula, "Never was there a better servant or a worse master!" After he became Emperor, Caligula claimed to have planned to kill Tiberius with a dagger
Dagger
A dagger is a fighting knife with a sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. The design dates to human prehistory, and daggers have been used throughout human experience to the modern day in close combat confrontations...

 in order to avenge his mother and brother: however, having brought the weapon into Tiberius's bedroom he did not kill the Emperor but instead threw the dagger down on the floor. Supposedly Tiberius knew of this but never dared to do anything about it. Suetonius claims that Caligula was already cruel and vicious: he writes that, when Tiberius brought Caligula to Capri, his purpose was to allow Caligula to live in order that he "...prove the ruin of himself and of all men, and that he was rearing a viper for the Roman People and a Phaëton
Phaëton
In Greek mythology, Phaëton or Phaethon was the son of Helios and the Oceanid Clymene. Alternate, less common genealogies make him a son of Clymenus by Merope, of Helios and Rhode or of Helios and Prote....

 for the world."

In AD 33, Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

ship, a position he held until his rise to Emperor. Meanwhile, both Caligula's mother and his brother Drusus died in prison. Caligula was briefly married to Junia Claudilla in 33, though she died in childbirth the following year. Caligula spent time befriending the Praetorian Prefect, Naevius Sutorius Macro
Naevius Sutorius Macro
Quintus Naevius Cordus Sutorius Macro was a prefect of the Praetorian Guard, from 31 until 38, serving under the Roman Emperors Tiberius and Caligula...

, an important ally. Macro spoke well of Caligula to Tiberius, attempting to quell any ill will or suspicion the emperor felt towards Caligula.

In AD 35, Caligula was named joint heir to Tiberius's estate along with Tiberius Gemellus
Tiberius Gemellus
Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, known as Tiberius Gemellus was the son of Drusus and Livilla, the grandson of the Emperor Tiberius, and the cousin of the Emperor Caligula. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin"...

.

Early reign


When Tiberius died on 16 March AD 37, his estate and the titles of the Principate
Principate
The Principate is the first period of the Roman Empire, extending from the beginning of the reign of Caesar Augustus to the Crisis of the Third Century, after which it was replaced with the Dominate. The Principate is characterized by a concerted effort on the part of the Emperors to preserve the...

 were left to Caligula and Tiberius's own grandson, Gemellus
Tiberius Gemellus
Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, known as Tiberius Gemellus was the son of Drusus and Livilla, the grandson of the Emperor Tiberius, and the cousin of the Emperor Caligula. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin"...

, who were to serve as joint heirs. Although Tiberius was 77 and on his death bed, some ancient historians still conjecture that he was murdered. Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 writes that the Praetorian Prefect
Praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect was the title of a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides...

, Macro
Naevius Sutorius Macro
Quintus Naevius Cordus Sutorius Macro was a prefect of the Praetorian Guard, from 31 until 38, serving under the Roman Emperors Tiberius and Caligula...

, smothered Tiberius with a pillow to hasten Caligula's accession, much to the joy of the Roman people, while Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 writes that Caligula may have carried out the killing, though this is not recorded by any other ancient historian. Both Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

, who wrote during Tiberius's reign, and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 record Tiberius as dying a natural death. Backed by Macro, Caligula had Tiberius' will nullified with regards to Gemellus on grounds of insanity, but otherwise carried out Tiberius' wishes.
Caligula accepted the powers of the Principate as conferred by the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 and entered Rome on 28 March amid a crowd that hailed him as "our baby" and "our star," among other nicknames. Caligula is described as the first emperor who was admired by everyone in "all the world, from the rising to the setting sun." Caligula was loved by many for being the beloved son of the popular Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, and because he was not Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

. It was said by Suetonius that over 160,000 animals were sacrificed during three months of public rejoicing to usher in the new reign. Philo describes the first seven months of Caligula's reign as completely blissful.

Caligula's first acts were said to be generous in spirit, though many were political in nature. To gain support, he granted bonuses to those in the military including the Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

, city troops and the army outside Italy. He destroyed Tiberius's treason papers, declared that treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 trials were a thing of the past and recalled those who had been sent into exile. He helped those who had been harmed by the Imperial tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

 system, banished certain sexual deviants, and put on lavish spectacles for the public, such as gladiator battles. Caligula collected and brought back the bones of his mother and of his brothers and deposited their remains in the tomb of Augustus. He had his cousin and adopted son Tiberius Gemellus
Tiberius Gemellus
Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, known as Tiberius Gemellus was the son of Drusus and Livilla, the grandson of the Emperor Tiberius, and the cousin of the Emperor Caligula. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin"...

 executed – an act that outraged Caligula's and Gemellus's mutual grandmother Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor , also known as Antonia the Younger or simply Antonia was the younger of two daughters of Roman politician Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. Tacitus Ann. 4.44.2 and 12.54.2 may have confused the two Antonia sisters...

. She is said to have committed suicide, although Suetonius hints that Caligula actually poisoned her. He had his father in law Marcus Junius Silanus and his brother-in-law Marcus Lepidus
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (executed 39)
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, was the son of consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus. He and his sister Aemilia Lepida were both married to siblings of the Emperor Caligula...

 executed as well. His uncle Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

 was spared only because Caligula kept him as a laughing stock. His favorite sister Julia Drusilla died in AD 38 of a fever: his other two sisters, Livilla and Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, were exiled. He hated the fact that he was the grandson of Agrippa, and slandered Augustus by repeating a falsehood that his mother was actually the result of an incestuous relationship between Augustus and his daughter Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

.

Public reform


In AD 38, Caligula focused his attention on political and public reform. He published the accounts of public funds, which had not been made public during the reign of Tiberius. He aided those who lost property in fires, abolished certain taxes, and gave out prizes to the public at gymnastic events. He allowed new members into the equestrian and senatorial orders.

Perhaps most significantly, he restored the practice of democratic elections. Cassius Dio said that this act "though delighting the rabble, grieved the sensible, who stopped to reflect, that if the offices should fall once more into the hands of the many ... many disasters would result".

During the same year, though, Caligula was criticized for executing people without full trials and for forcing his helper Macro to commit suicide.

Financial crisis and famine


According to Cassius Dio, a financial crisis emerged in AD 39. Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 places the beginning of this crisis in 38. Caligula's political payments for support, generosity and extravagance had exhausted the state's treasury. Ancient historians state that Caligula began falsely accusing, fining and even killing individuals for the purpose of seizing their estates. A number of other desperate measures by Caligula are described by historians. In order to gain funds, Caligula asked the public to lend the state money. Caligula levied taxes on lawsuits, marriage and prostitution. Caligula began auctioning the lives of the gladiators at shows. Wills that left items to Tiberius were reinterpreted to leave the items instead to Caligula. Centurions who had acquired property during plundering were forced to turn over spoils to the state. The current and past highway commissioners were accused of incompetence and embezzlement and forced to repay money. According to Suetonius, in the first year of Caligula's reign he squandered 2,700,000,000 sesterces that Tiberius had amassed. His nephew Nero Caesar
Nero Caesar
Nero Julius Caesar Germanicus was a close relative of the Roman Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.Nero was born around AD 6, to Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder. His paternal grandparents were Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor...

 both envied and admired the fact that Gaius had run through the vast wealth Tiberius had left him in so short a time.
A brief famine of an unknown size occurred, perhaps caused by this financial crisis, but according to Suetonius a result of Caligula's seizure of public carriages, according to Seneca because grain imports were disturbed by Caligula using boats for a pontoon bridge.

Construction


Despite financial difficulties, Caligula embarked on a number of construction projects during his reign. Some were for the public good, while others were for himself.

Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 describes as Caligula's greatest contribution to have improved the harbours at Rhegium and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, thereby allowing grain imports from Egypt to increase. These improvements may have been made in response to the famine.

Caligula completed the temple of Augustus
Temple of Divus Augustus
The Temple of Divus Augustus was a major temple originally built to commemorate the deified first Roman emperor, Augustus. It was built between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, behind the Basilica Julia, on the site of the house that Augustus had inhabited before he entered public life in the...

 and the theatre of Pompey
Theatre of Pompey
The Theatre of Pompey was a structure in Ancient Rome built during the later part of the Roman Republican era. It was completed in seven years, starting from 55 BC, and was dedicated early in 52 BC before the structure was fully completed...

 and began an amphitheatre beside the Saepta. He had the imperial palace expanded. He began the aqueducts Aqua Claudia
Aqua Claudia
Aqua Claudia was an aqueduct of ancient Rome that, like the Anio Novus, was begun by emperor Caligula in 38 AD and completed by Emperor Claudius in 52 AD. Its main springs, the Caeruleus and Curtius, were situated 300 paces to the left of the thirty-eighth milestone of the Via Sublacensis...

 and Anio Novus
Anio Novus
Anio Novus is an aqueduct of Rome. Together with the Aqua Claudia, it was begun by emperor Caligula in 38 AD and completed in 52 AD by Claudius, who dedicated them both on August 1.-Details:...

, which Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 considered engineering marvels. He built a large racetrack known as the circus of Gaius and Nero and had an Egyptian obelisk (now known as the Vatican Obelisk) transported by sea and erected in the middle of Rome. At Syracuse, he repaired the city walls and the temples of the gods. He had new roads built and pushed to keep roads in good condition. He had planned to rebuild the palace of Polycrates at Samos, to finish the temple of Didymaean Apollo at Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

 and to found a city high up in the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

. He planned to dig a canal through the Isthmus in Greece and sent a chief centurion to survey the work.

In 39, Caligula performed a spectacular stunt by ordering a temporary floating bridge
Pontoon bridge
A pontoon bridge or floating bridge is a bridge that floats on water and in which barge- or boat-like pontoons support the bridge deck and its dynamic loads. While pontoon bridges are usually temporary structures, some are used for long periods of time...

 to be built using ships as pontoons
Pontoon (boat)
A pontoon is a flotation device with buoyancy sufficient to float itself as well as a heavy load. A pontoon boat is a flattish boat that relies on pontoons to float. Pontoons may be used on boats, rafts, barges, docks, floatplanes or seaplanes. Pontoons may support a platform, creating a raft. A...

, stretching for over two miles from the resort of Baiae
Baiae
Baiae , a frazione of the comune of Bacoli) in the Campania region of Italy was a Roman seaside resort on the Bay of Naples. It was said to have been named after Baius, who was supposedly buried there. Baiae was for several hundred years a fashionable resort, especially towards the end of the Roman...

 to the neighboring port of Puteoli. It was said that the bridge was to rival that of Persian King Xerxes' crossing of the Hellespont. Caligula, a man who could not swim, then proceeded to ride his favorite horse, Incitatus
Incitatus
Incitatus was the favored horse of Roman emperor Caligula. Its name is a Latin adjective meaning "swift" or "at full gallop".According to Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Incitatus had a stable of marble, with an ivory manger, purple blankets, and a collar of precious stones...

, across, wearing the breastplate of Alexander the Great. This act was in defiance of a prediction by Tiberius's soothsayer Thrasyllus of Mendes
Thrasyllus of Mendes
Thrasyllus of Mendes, whose full name was Tiberius Claudius Thrasyllus , was an Egyptian Greek grammarian and literary commentator from Mendes, Egypt...

 that Caligula had "no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae".

Caligula had two large ships
Nemi ships
The Nemi Ships were ships built by the Roman emperor Caligula in the 1st century AD at Lake Nemi. Although the purpose of the ships is only speculated on, the larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace, which contained quantities of marble, mosaic floors, heating and plumbing such as...

 constructed for himself, which were recovered from the bottom of Lake Nemi
Lake Nemi
Lake Nemi is a small circular volcanic lake in the Lazio region of Italy south of Rome, taking its name from Nemi, the largest town in the area, that overlooks it from a height.-Archaeology and history:The lake is most famous for its sunken Roman ships...

 during the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. The ships are among the largest vessels in the ancient world. The smaller ship was designed as a temple dedicated to Diana
Diana (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy...

. The larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace that counted marble floors and plumbing among its amenities. Thirteen years after being raised, the ships were burned during an attack in the Second World War, and almost nothing remains of the hulls, though many archeological treasures remain intact in the museum at Lake Nemi.

Feud with the Senate


In AD 39, relations between Caligula and the Roman Senate deteriorated. The subject of their disagreement is unknown. A number of factors, though, aggravated this feud. The Senate had become accustomed to ruling without an emperor between the departure of Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

 for Capri in AD 26 and Caligula's accession. Additionally, Tiberius's treason trials had eliminated a number of pro-Julian senators such as Asinius Gallus
Gaius Asinius Gallus
Gaius Asinius Gallus Saloninus was an ambitious Roman Senator with family connections to the Julio-Claudian house. Asinius Gallus was consul in 8 BC, and proconsul of Asia in 6 BC/5 BC. He was a friend of Emperor Augustus and opposed Emperor Tiberius. He introduced measures to the senate to...

.

Caligula reviewed Tiberius's records of treason trials and decided that numerous senators, based on their actions during these trials, were not trustworthy. He ordered a new set of investigations and trials. He replaced the consul and had several senators put to death. Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 reports that other senators were degraded by being forced to wait on him and run beside his chariot.

Soon after his break with the Senate, Caligula was met with a number of additional conspiracies against him. A conspiracy involving his brother-in-law
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (executed 39)
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, was the son of consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus. He and his sister Aemilia Lepida were both married to siblings of the Emperor Caligula...

 was foiled in late 39. Soon afterwards, the governor of Germany, Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus
Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus
Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus was a Roman general and politician. He was involved in a plot against the emperor Caligula and was executed after its discovery.-Biography:...

, was executed for connections to a conspiracy.

Western expansion


In AD 40, Caligula expanded the Roman Empire into Mauretania
Mauretania
Mauretania is a part of the historical Ancient Libyan land in North Africa. It corresponds to present day Morocco and a part of western Algeria...

 and made a significant attempt at expanding into Britannia
Britannia
Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a female personification of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the...

 – even challenging Neptune
Neptune (mythology)
Neptune was the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology and religion. He is analogous with, but not identical to, the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over one of the three realms of the universe,...

 in his campaign. The conquest of Britannia was fully realized by his successors.

Mauretania was a client kingdom of Rome ruled by Ptolemy of Mauretania
Ptolemy of Mauretania
Ptolemy of Mauretania was a prince and the last Roman client King of Mauretania.-Family and early life:Ptolemy was the son of King Juba II and Queen Cleopatra Selene II of Mauretania. He had a younger sister called Drusilla of Mauretania...

. Caligula invited Ptolemy to Rome and then had him suddenly executed. Mauretania was annexed by Caligula and divided into two provinces. This annexation of Mauretania led to a rebellion of some magnitude that was put down under Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

. Details on these events are unclear. Cassius Dio had written an entire chapter on the annexation of Mauretania by Caligula, but it is now lost.

There seemed to be a northern campaign to Britannia that was aborted. This campaign is derided by ancient historians with accounts of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

s dressed up as Germanic tribesmen at his triumph and Roman troops ordered to collect seashells as "spoils of the sea". The few primary sources disagree on what precisely occurred. Modern historians have put forward numerous theories in an attempt to explain these actions.[Most likely explanation is that seashells are Calcium Carbonate, burnt and used for the building of the Lighthouse] This trip to the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 could have merely been a training and scouting mission. The mission may have been to accept the surrender of the British chieftain Adminius
Adminius
Adminius, Amminius or Amminus was a son of Cunobelinus, ruler of the Catuvellauni, a tribe of Iron Age Britain. His name can be interpreted as Celtic *ad-mindios, "to be crowned"....

. "Seashells", or conchae in Latin, may be a metaphor for something else such as female genitalia (perhaps the troops visited brothels) or boats (perhaps they captured several small British boats).

Claims of divinity


When several kings came to Rome to pay their respects to him and argued about their nobility of descent, he cried out "Let there be one Lord, one King". In AD 40, Caligula began implementing very controversial policies that introduced religion into his political role. Caligula began appearing in public dressed as various gods and demigods such as Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

, Mercury
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

, Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

 and Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

. Reportedly, he began referring to himself as a god when meeting with politicians and he was referred to as Jupiter on occasion in public documents. A sacred precinct was set apart for his worship at Miletus in the province of Asia and two temples were erected for worship of him in Rome. The Temple of Castor and Pollux
Temple of Castor and Pollux
The Temple of Castor and Pollux is an ancient edifice in the Roman Forum, Rome, central Italy. It was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus . Castor and Pollux were the Dioscuri, the "twins" of Gemini, the twin sons of Zeus and Leda...

 on the Forum was linked directly to the Imperial residence on the Palatine and dedicated to Caligula. He would appear here on occasion and present himself as a god to the public. Caligula had the heads removed from various statues of gods and replaced with his own in various temples. It is said that he wished to be worshipped as Neos Helios, the New Sun. Indeed, he was represented as a sun god on Egyptian coins.

Caligula's religious policy was a departure from that of his predecessors. According to Cassius Dio, living Emperors could be worshipped as divine in the east and dead Emperors could be worshipped as divine in Rome. Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 had the public worship his spirit
Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Res Gestae Divi Augusti, is the funerary inscription of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, giving a first-person record of his life and accomplishments. The Res Gestae is especially significant because it gives an insight into the image Augustus portrayed to the Roman people...

 on occasion, but Dio describes this as an extreme act that emperors generally shied away from. Caligula took things a step further and had those in Rome, including Senators, worship him as a physical living god.

Eastern policy


Caligula needed to quell several riots and conspiracies in the eastern territories during his reign. Aiding him in his actions was his good friend, Herod Agrippa, who became governor of the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis after Caligula became emperor in AD 37.

The cause of tensions in the east was complicated, involving the spread of Greek culture, Roman law and the rights of Jews.

Caligula did not trust the prefect of Egypt, Aulus Avilius Flaccus. Flaccus had been loyal to Tiberius, had conspired against Caligula's mother and had connections with Egyptian separatists. In 38, Caligula sent Agrippa to Alexandria unannounced to check on Flaccus. According to Philo, the visit was met with jeers from the Greek population who saw Agrippa as the king of the Jews. Flaccus tried to placate both the Greek population and Caligula by having statues of the emperor placed in Jewish synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s. As a result, riots broke out in the city. Caligula responded by removing Flaccus from his position and executing him.
In 39, Agrippa accused Herod Antipas
Herod Antipas
Herod Antipater , known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century AD ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch...

, the tetrarch
Tetrarchy (Judea)
The Tetrarchy of Judea was formed following the death of Herod the Great in 4 BCE, when his kingdom was divided between his sons as an inheritance...

 of Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 and Perea
Perea (Holy Land)
Perea , a portion of the kingdom of Herod the Great occupying the eastern side of the Jordan River valley, from about one third the way down from the Sea of Galilee to about one third the way down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea; it did not extend too far inland...

, of planning a rebellion against Roman rule with the help of Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

. Herod Antipas confessed and Caligula exiled him. Agrippa was rewarded with his territories.

Riots again erupted in Alexandria in AD 40 between Jews and Greeks. Jews were accused of not honoring the emperor. Disputes occurred in the city of Jamnia. Jews were angered by the erection of a clay altar and destroyed it. In response, Caligula ordered the erection of a statue of himself in the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, a demand in conflict with Jewish monotheism. In this context, Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 wrote that Caligula "regarded the Jews with most especial suspicion, as if they were the only persons who cherished wishes opposed to his".

The governor
Roman governor
A Roman governor was an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of Roman law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the Roman Empire...

 of Syria, Publius Petronius, fearing civil war if the order were carried out, delayed implementing it for nearly a year. Agrippa finally convinced Caligula to reverse the order.


Scandals



Surviving sources present a number of stories about Caligula that illustrate cruelty and insanity.

The contemporary sources, Philo of Alexandria and Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

, describe an insane emperor who was self-absorbed, angry, killed on a whim, and who indulged in too much spending and sex. He is accused of sleeping with other men's wives and bragging about it, killing for mere amusement, deliberately wasting money on his bridge, causing starvation, and wanting a statue of himself erected in the Temple of Jerusalem for his worship. Once at some games at which he was presiding, he ordered his guards to throw an entire section of the crowd into the arena during intermission to be eaten by animals because there were no criminals to be prosecuted and he was bored.

While repeating the earlier stories, the later sources of Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 and Cassius Dio provide additional tales of insanity. They accuse Caligula of incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

 with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, Drusilla and Livilla
Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla was the youngest child of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder and the youngest sister of the Emperor Caligula.-Life:Livilla was the youngest great granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, great-niece and adoptive granddaughter...

, and say he prostituted them to other men. They state he sent troops on illogical military exercises, turned the palace into a brothel, and most famously, planned or promised to make his horse, Incitatus
Incitatus
Incitatus was the favored horse of Roman emperor Caligula. Its name is a Latin adjective meaning "swift" or "at full gallop".According to Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Incitatus had a stable of marble, with an ivory manger, purple blankets, and a collar of precious stones...

, a consul,
and actually appointed him a priest.

The validity of these accounts is debatable. In Roman political culture, insanity and sexual perversity were often presented hand-in-hand with poor government.

Assassination and aftermath



Caligula's actions as emperor were described as being especially harsh to the Senate, the nobility and the equestrian order. According to Josephus, these actions led to several failed conspiracies
Conspiracy (political)
In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of persons united in the goal of usurping or overthrowing an established political power. Typically, the final goal is to gain power through a revolutionary coup d'état or through assassination....

 against Caligula. Eventually, a successful murder was planned by officers within the Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

 led by Cassius Chaerea
Cassius Chaerea
Cassius Chaerea was a centurion in the army of Germanicus and served in the Praetorian Guard under the emperor Caligula, whom he eventually assassinated....

. The plot is described as having been planned by three men, but many in the Senate, army and equestrian order were said to have been informed of it and involved in it.

According to Josephus, Chaerea had political motivations for the assassination. Suetonius sees the motive in Caligula calling Chaerea derogatory names. Caligula considered Chaerea effeminate because of a weak voice and for not being firm with tax collection. Caligula would mock Chaerea with watchwords like "Priapus
Priapus
In Greek mythology, Priapus or Priapos , was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his absurdly oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism...

" and "Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

".

On 24 January 41, Chaerea and other guardsmen accosted Caligula while he was addressing an acting troupe of young men during a series of games and dramatics held for the Divine Augustus. Details on the events vary somewhat from source to source, but they agree that Chaerea was first to stab Caligula, followed by a number of conspirators. Suetonius records that Caligula's death was similar to that of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

. He states that both the elder Gaius Julius Caesar (Julius Caesar) and the younger Gaius Julius Caesar (Caligula) were stabbed 30 times by conspirators led by a man named Cassius (Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus was a Roman senator, a leading instigator of the plot to kill Julius Caesar, and the brother in-law of Marcus Junius Brutus.-Early life:...

 and Cassius Chaerea). The cryptoporticus
Cryptoporticus
In Ancient Roman architecture a cryptoporticus is a covered corridor or passageway. The usual English is "cryptoportico". The cryptoportico is a semi-subterranean gallery whose vaulting supports portico structures aboveground and which is lit from openings at the tops of its arches...

 (underground corridor) where this event would have taken place was discovered beneath the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill. By the time Caligula's loyal Germanic guard responded, the emperor was already dead. The Germanic guard, stricken with grief and rage, responded with a rampaging attack on the assassins, conspirators, innocent senators and bystanders alike.

The Senate attempted to use Caligula's death as an opportunity to restore the Republic. Chaerea attempted to convince the military to support the Senate. The military, though, remained loyal to the office of the emperor. The grieving Roman people assembled and demanded that Caligula's murderers be brought to justice. Uncomfortable with lingering imperial support, the assassins sought out and stabbed Caligula's wife, Caesonia
Caesonia
Milonia Caesonia was the fourth and last wife of the Roman Emperor Caligula.-Life:Milonia Caesonia was born between 2 and 4 June in an unknown year....

, and killed their young daughter, Julia Drusilla, by smashing her head against a wall. They were unable to reach Caligula's uncle, Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

, who was spirited out of the city, after being found by a soldier, to a nearby Praetorian camp. Claudius became emperor after procuring the support of the Praetorian guard and ordered the execution of Chaerea and any other known conspirators involved in the death of Caligula. According to Suetonius, Caligula's body was placed under turf until it was burned and entombed by his sisters. He was buried within the Mausoleum of Augustus
Mausoleum of Augustus
The Mausoleum of Augustus is a large tomb built by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome, Italy. The Mausoleum, now located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, is no longer open to tourists, and the ravages of time and carelessness have stripped the ruins bare...

; in 410 during the Sack of Rome
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 the tomb's ashes were scattered.

Historiography


The history of Caligula's reign is extremely problematic as only two sources contemporary with Caligula have survived — the works of Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 and Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

. Philo's works, On the Embassy to Gaius and Flaccus, give some details on Caligula's early reign, but mostly focus on events surrounding the Jewish population in Judea and Egypt with whom he sympathizes. Seneca's various works give mostly scattered anecdotes on Caligula's personality. Seneca was almost put to death by Caligula in 39 likely due to his associations with conspirators.

At one time, there were detailed contemporaneous histories on Caligula, but they are now lost. Additionally, the historians who wrote them are described as biased, either overly critical or praising of Caligula. Nonetheless, these lost primary sources, along with the works of Seneca and Philo, were the basis of surviving secondary and tertiary histories on Caligula written by the next generations of historians. A few of the contemporaneous historians are known by name. Fabius Rusticus
Fabius Rusticus
Fabius Rusticus was a Roman historian who was quoted on several occasions by Tacitus. Tacitus couples his name with that of Livy and describes him as "the most graphic among ancient and modern historians." Tacitus also said that he embellished matters with his eloquence...

 and Cluvius Rufus
Cluvius Rufus
Marcus Cluvius Rufus was a Roman consul, senator, governor, and historian who was mentioned on several occasions by Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio, Josephus and Plutarch.-Career:...

 both wrote condemning histories on Caligula that are now lost. Fabius Rusticus was a friend of Seneca who was known for historical embellishment and misrepresentation. Cluvius Rufus was a senator involved in the assassination of Caligula. Caligula's sister, Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, wrote an autobiography that certainly included a detailed explanation of Caligula's reign, but it too is lost. Agrippina was banished by Caligula for her connection to Marcus Lepidus
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (executed 39)
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, was the son of consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus. He and his sister Aemilia Lepida were both married to siblings of the Emperor Caligula...

, who conspired against Caligula. The inheritance of Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

, Agrippina's son and the future emperor, was seized by Caligula. Gaetulicus
Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus
Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus was a Roman general and politician. He was involved in a plot against the emperor Caligula and was executed after its discovery.-Biography:...

, a poet, produced a number of flattering writings about Caligula, but they too are lost.

The bulk of what is known of Caligula comes from Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 and Cassius Dio. Suetonius wrote his history on Caligula 80 years after his death, while Cassius Dio wrote his history over 180 years after Caligula's death. Cassius Dio's work is invaluable because it alone gives a loose chronology of Caligula's reign.

A handful of other sources add a limited perspective on Caligula. Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 gives a detailed description of Caligula's assassination. Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 provides some information on Caligula's life under Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

. In a now lost portion of his Annals, Tacitus gave a detailed history of Caligula. Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

's Natural History has a few brief references to Caligula.

There are few surviving sources on Caligula and no surviving source paints Caligula in a favorable light. The paucity of sources has resulted in significant gaps in the reign of Caligula. Little is written on the first two years of Caligula's reign. Additionally, there are only limited details on later significant events, such as the annexation of Mauretania
Mauretania
Mauretania is a part of the historical Ancient Libyan land in North Africa. It corresponds to present day Morocco and a part of western Algeria...

, Caligula's military actions in Britannia
Britannia
Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a female personification of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the...

, and his feud with the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

.

Health


All surviving sources, except Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, characterize Caligula as insane. However it is not known whether they are speaking figuratively or literally. Additionally, given Caligula's unpopularity among the surviving sources, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Recent sources are divided in attempting to ascribe a medical reason for Caligula's behavior, citing as possibilities encephalitis
Encephalitis
Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain. Encephalitis with meningitis is known as meningoencephalitis. Symptoms include headache, fever, confusion, drowsiness, and fatigue...

, epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

 or meningitis
Meningitis
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs...

. The question of whether or not Caligula was insane remains unanswered.

Philo of Alexandria, Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 and Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

 state Caligula was insane, but describe this madness as a personality trait that came through experience. Seneca states that Caligula became arrogant, angry and insulting once becoming emperor and uses his personality flaws as examples his readers can learn from. According to Josephus, power made Caligula incredibly conceited and led him to think he was a god. Philo of Alexandria reports that Caligula became ruthless after nearly dying of his illness in 39. Juvenal
Juvenal
The Satires are a collection of satirical poems by the Latin author Juvenal written in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.Juvenal is credited with sixteen known poems divided among five books; all are in the Roman genre of satire, which, at its most basic in the time of the author, comprised a...

 reports he was given a magic potion that drove him insane.

Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 said that Caligula suffered from "falling sickness", or epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

, when he was young. Modern historians have theorized that Caligula lived with a daily fear of seizures. Despite swimming being a part of imperial education, Caligula could not swim. Epileptics are encouraged not to swim in open waters because unexpected fitting in such difficult rescue circumstances can be fatal. Additionally, Caligula reportedly talked to the full moon. Epilepsy was long associated with the moon.

Some modern historians think that Caligula suffered from hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is the term for overactive tissue within the thyroid gland causing an overproduction of thyroid hormones . Hyperthyroidism is thus a cause of thyrotoxicosis, the clinical condition of increased thyroid hormones in the blood. Hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis are not synonymous...

. This diagnosis is mainly attributed to Caligula's irritability and his "stare" as described by Pliny the Elder.

Rediscovery of burial site?


On 17 January 2011, police in Nemi
Nemi
Nemi is a town and comune in the province of Rome , in the Alban Hills overlooking Lake Nemi, a volcanic crater lake. It is 6 km NW of Velletri and about 30 km southeast of Rome....

, Italy, announced that they believed they had discovered the site of Caligula's burial, after arresting a thief caught smuggling a statue which they believed to be of the emperor. The claim has been met with skepticism by professional historian Mary Beard
Mary Beard (classicist)
Winifred Mary Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Newnham College. She is the Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and author of the blog "", which appears in The Times as a regular column...

.

In popular culture


Caligula, by French author Albert Camus
Albert Camus
Albert Camus was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.Camus was awarded the 1957...

, is a play in which Caligula returns after deserting the palace for three days and three nights following the death of his beloved sister, Drusilla. The young emperor then uses his unfettered power to 'bring the impossible into the realm of the likely'.

In the novel I, Claudius
I, Claudius
I, Claudius is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. As such, it includes history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in AD 41...

by English writer Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

, Caligula is presented as being a murderous sociopath from his childhood, who became clinically insane early in his reign. At the age of only seven, he drove his father Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

 to despair and death by secretly terrorizing him. Graves's Caligula commits incest with all three of his sisters and is implied to have murdered Drusilla.

American actor Jay Robinson
Jay Robinson
Jay Robinson is an American actor specialising in character roles. He was born in New York City.-Career:Robinson began his acting career in summer stock theatre and repertory companies, and eventually made his way to the Broadway stage, where he appeared in Shakespeare's As You Like It and Much...

 famously portrayed a sinister and scene-stealing Caligula in two epic films of the 1950s, The Robe
The Robe (film)
The Robe is a 1953 American Biblical epic film that tells the story of a Roman military tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus. The film was made by 20th Century Fox and is notable for being the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope.It was directed by Henry Koster...

(1953) and its sequel Demetrius and the Gladiators
Demetrius and the Gladiators
Demetrius and the Gladiators is a 1954 sword and sandal drama film and a sequel to The Robe. It was made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Delmer Daves and produced by Frank Ross. The screenplay was by Philip Dunne based on characters created by Lloyd C...

(1954).

Caligula has been played by Ralph Bates
Ralph Bates
Ralph Bates was an English film and television actor, known for his role in the British sitcom Dear John and for being one of Hammer Horror's best-known actors from the latter period of the company....

 in the 1968 ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 television series The Caesars
The Caesars (TV series)
The Caesars is a British television series produced by Granada Television for the ITV network in 1968. Made in black-and-white and written and produced by Philip Mackie, it covered similar dramatic territory to the later BBC adaptation of I, Claudius, dealing with the lives of the emperors of...

; John Hurt
John Hurt
John Vincent Hurt, CBE is an English actor, known for his leading roles as John Merrick in The Elephant Man, Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Mr. Braddock in The Hit, Stephen Ward in Scandal, Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant and An Englishman in New York...

 in the 1976 BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 television series I, Claudius
I, Claudius (TV series)
I, Claudius is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Written by Jack Pulman, it proved one of the corporation's most successful drama serials of all time...

; John McEnery in the 1985 miniseries A.D.; Szabolcs Hajdu in the 1996 film Caligula; and John Simm
John Simm
John Simm is an English stage and screen actor. In recent years he is best known for his roles as Sam Tyler in the detective drama Life on Mars and as The Master in the revival of the science fiction series Doctor Who, but he has also starred in many highly acclaimed award-winning television...

 in the 2004 miniseries Imperium Nerone. In Muriel Spark
Muriel Spark
Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was an award-winning Scottish novelist. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".-Early life:...

's 1976 novel The Takeover
The Takeover (novel)
The Takeover is a novel by the Scottish author Muriel Spark. It was first published in 1976.It is set in Nemi, Italy between 1973 and 1975. The author had moved to Italy as a permanent resident in the late 1960s.-Plot summary:...

the eccentric Hubert Mallindaine believes himself to be a direct descendant of Caligula.

In 1978, British comic 2000AD ran a Judge Dredd comic strip featuring Chief Judge Cal, loosely based on the real life Roman emperor.

A feature-length historical film Caligula
Caligula (film)
Caligula is a 1979 American-produced Italian biographical film directed by Tinto Brass, with additional scenes filmed by Giancarlo Lui and Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. The film concerns the rise and fall of Roman Emperor Gaius Caesar Germanicus, better known as Caligula...

was completed in 1979
1979 in film
The year 1979 in film involved some significant events.- Major events :* March 5 - Production begins on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.* May 25 - Alien, a landmark of the science fiction genre, is released....

, in which Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell is an English actor with a career spanning over forty years.McDowell is principally known for his roles in the controversial films If...., O Lucky Man!, A Clockwork Orange and Caligula...

 played the lead role. The film alienated audiences with extremely explicit sex and violence and received extremely negative reviews. Emlyn Williams
Emlyn Williams
George Emlyn Williams, CBE , known as Emlyn Williams, was a Welsh dramatist and actor.-Biography:He was born into a Welsh-speaking, working class family in Mostyn, Flintshire....

 was cast as Caligula in the never-completed 1937 film I, Claudius
I, Claudius (film)
I, Claudius was the proposed 1937 film of the book I, Claudius. It was to have been produced by Alexander Korda, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Charles Laughton , Emlyn Williams , Flora Robson , and Merle Oberon , but it was dogged by ill-luck, culminating in a car accident involving...

, and Courtney Love
Courtney Love
Courtney Michelle Love is an American rock musician. Love is the lead vocalist, lyricist, and rhythm guitarist for alternative rock band Hole, which she formed in 1989, and is an actress who has moved from bit parts in Alex Cox films to significant and acclaimed roles in The People vs...

 appeared as Caligula in a fake trailer for Gore Vidal's Caligula, ostensibly a remake of the 1979 film, but actually a parodic short film by conceptual artist Francesco Vezzoli.

The Smiths
The Smiths
The Smiths were an English alternative rock band, formed in Manchester in 1982. Based on the song writing partnership of Morrissey and Johnny Marr , the band also included Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce...

 song Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" is a single by The Smiths that reached #10 on the UK Singles Chart in June 1984 before its inclusion on the compilation album, Hatful of Hollow...

 refers to Caligula.

The play The Reckoning of Kit and Little Boots by Nat Cassidy, examines the lives of the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

 and Caligula, with the fictional conceit that Marlowe was working on a play about Caligula around the time of his own murder. It emphasizes the similarities between the two characters—both stabbed to death at 29, both in part as a result to their controversial perspectives on religion. The play focuses on Caligula's love for his sister Drusilla, and his deep-rooted loathing for Tiberius. It received its world premiere in New York City in June 2008.

In 2011 Avatar Press
Avatar Press
Avatar Press is an independent American publisher of comic books, founded in 1996 by William A. Christensen, and based in Rantoul, Illinois.Avatar initially published only mini-series; however, they have since begun to branch out...

 started publishing a comic book Caligula written by horror comic writer David Lapham
David Lapham
David Lapham is an Eisner Award winning American comic book writer, artist, and cartoonist, best known for his work on his groundbreaking independent comic book Stray Bullets.-Biography:...

.

External links