Caligula (/kəˈlɪɡjʊlə/; Latin: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 31 August 12 – 24 January 41 AD) was Roman emperor from AD 37 to AD 41. The son of the popular Roman general Germanicus and Augustus' granddaughter Agrippina the Elder, Caligula was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire, conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Germanicus' uncle and adoptive father, Tiberius, succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome in AD 14.
Although he was born Gaius Caesar, after Julius Caesar, he acquired the nickname "Caligula" (meaning "little soldier's boot", the diminutive form of caliga) from his father's soldiers during their campaign in Germania. When Germanicus died at Antioch in AD 19, Agrippina returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. The conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. Untouched by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted an invitation in AD 31 to join the emperor on the island of Capri, where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded his adoptive grandfather as emperor in AD 37.
There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, 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. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, and initiated the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire annexed the client kingdom of Mauretania as a province.
In early AD 41, Caligula was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by officers of the Praetorian Guard, senators, and courtiers. The conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic was thwarted, however. On the day of the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorians declared Caligula's uncle, Claudius, the next Roman emperor. Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire until the fall of his nephew Nero in AD 68, Caligula's death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares in the male line.
Bust of the Emperor Caligula
|Emperor of the Roman Empire|
|Reign||16 March 37 – 24 January 41 |
(3 years and 10 months)
|Born||Gaius Julius Caesar|
31 August AD 12
|Died||24 January AD 41 (aged 28)|
Palatine Hill, Rome
|Mother||Agrippina the Elder|
|Religion||ancient Roman religion|
|Roman imperial dynasties|
|Augustus||27 BC – AD 14|
Julio-Claudian family tree
Year of the Four Emperors
Gaius Julius Caesar (named in honor of his famous relative) was born in Antium (modern Anzio and Nettuno) on 31 August 12 AD, the third of six surviving children born to Germanicus and his second cousin Agrippina the Elder. Gaius had two older brothers, Nero and Drusus, as well as three younger sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Julia Drusilla and Julia Livilla. He was also a nephew of Claudius, Germanicus' younger brother and the future emperor.
Agrippina the Elder was the daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder. She was a granddaughter of Augustus and Scribonia on her mother's side. Through Agrippina, Augustus was the maternal great-grandfather of Gaius.
As a boy of just two or three, Gaius accompanied his father, Germanicus, on campaigns in the north of Germania. The soldiers were amused that Gaius was dressed in a miniature soldier's outfit, including boots and armour. He was soon given his nickname Caligula, meaning "little (soldier's) boot" in Latin, after the small boots (caligae) he wore. Gaius, though, reportedly grew to dislike this nickname.
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 29 AD on charges of treason.
The adolescent Caligula was then sent to live with his great-grandmother (and Tiberius's mother) Livia. After her death, he was sent to live with his grandmother Antonia Minor. In 30 AD, 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 31 AD, Caligula was remanded to the personal care of Tiberius on Capri, 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!"
Caligula claimed to have planned to kill Tiberius with a dagger 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 Phaethon for the world."
In 33 AD, Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestorship, 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, an important ally. Macro spoke well of Caligula to Tiberius, attempting to quell any ill will or suspicion the Emperor felt towards Caligula.
When Tiberius died on 16 March 37 AD, his estate and the titles of the principate were left to Caligula and Tiberius's own grandson, Gemellus, 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 writes that the Praetorian Prefect, Macro, smothered Tiberius with a pillow to hasten Caligula's accession, much to the joy of the Roman people, while Suetonius writes that Caligula may have carried out the killing, though this is not recorded by any other ancient historian. Seneca the Elder and Philo, who both wrote during Tiberius's reign, as well as Josephus, record Tiberius as dying a natural death. Backed by Macro, Caligula had Tiberius's will nullified with regard to Gemellus on grounds of insanity, but otherwise carried out Tiberius's wishes.
Caligula accepted the powers of the principate as conferred by the Senate 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, and because he was not Tiberius. Suetonius said 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 the military, including the Praetorian Guard, city troops and the army outside Italy. He destroyed Tiberius's treason papers, declared that treason 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 system, banished certain sexual deviants, and put on lavish spectacles for the public, including gladiatorial games. Caligula collected and brought back the bones of his mother and of his brothers and deposited their remains in the tomb of Augustus.
In October 37 AD, Caligula fell seriously ill, or perhaps was poisoned. He soon recovered from his illness, but many believed that the illness turned the young emperor toward the diabolical: he started to kill off or exile those who were close to him or whom he saw as a serious threat. Perhaps his illness reminded him of his mortality and of the desire of others to advance into his place. He had his cousin and adopted son Tiberius Gemellus executed – an act that outraged Caligula's and Gemellus's mutual grandmother Antonia Minor. 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 executed as well. His uncle Claudius was spared only because Caligula preferred to keep him as a laughing stock. His favourite sister Julia Drusilla died in 38 AD of a fever: his other two sisters, Livilla and Agrippina the Younger, were exiled. He hated being the grandson of Agrippa and slandered Augustus by repeating a falsehood that his mother was actually conceived as the result of an incestuous relationship between Augustus and his daughter Julia the Elder.
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 supporter Macro to commit suicide.
According to Cassius Dio, a financial crisis emerged in AD 39. Suetonius 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.
Historians describe a number of Caligula's other desperate measures. In order to gain funds, Caligula asked the public to lend the state money. He levied taxes on lawsuits, weddings 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 by plunder 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 2.7 billion sesterces that Tiberius had amassed. His nephew Nero Caesar both envied and admired the fact that Gaius had run through the vast wealth Tiberius had left him in so short a time.
However, some historians have shown skepticism towards the large number of sesterces quoted by Suetonius and Dio. According to Wilkinson, Caligula's use of precious metals to mint coins throughout his principate indicates that the treasury most likely never fell into bankruptcy. He does point out, however, that it is difficult to ascertain whether the purported 'squandered wealth' was from the treasury alone due to the blurring of "the division between the private wealth of the emperor and his income as head of state." Furthermore, Alston points out that Caligula's successor, Claudius, was able to donate 15,000 sesterces to each member of the praetorian guard in AD 41, suggesting the Roman treasury was solvent.
A brief famine of unknown extent occurred, perhaps caused by this financial crisis, but Suetonius claims it resulted from Caligula's seizure of public carriages; according to Seneca, grain imports were disrupted because Caligula re-purposed grain boats for a pontoon bridge.
Despite financial difficulties, Caligula embarked on a number of construction projects during his reign. Some were for the public good, though others were for himself.
Josephus describes Caligula's improvements to the harbours at Rhegium and Sicily, allowing increased grain imports from Egypt, as his greatest contributions. These improvements may have been in response to the famine.
Caligula completed the temple of Augustus and the theatre of Pompey and began an amphitheatre beside the Saepta. He expanded the imperial palace. He began the aqueducts Aqua Claudia and Anio Novus, which Pliny the Elder 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 and to found a city high up in the Alps. He planned to dig a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece and sent a chief centurion to survey the work.
In 39, Caligula performed a spectacular stunt by ordering a temporary floating bridge to be built using ships as pontoons, stretching for over two miles from the resort of Baiae to the neighbouring port of Puteoli. It was said that the bridge was to rival the Persian king Xerxes' pontoon bridge crossing of the Hellespont. Caligula, who could not swim, then proceeded to ride his favourite horse, Incitatus, across wearing the breastplate of Alexander the Great. This act was in defiance of a prediction by Tiberius's soothsayer Thrasyllus of Mendes that Caligula had "no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae".
Caligula had two large ships constructed for himself (which were recovered from the bottom of Lake Nemi around 1930). The ships were among the largest vessels in the ancient world. The smaller ship was designed as a temple dedicated to Diana. The larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace with marble floors and plumbing. The ships were burned in 1944 during an attack in the Second World War; almost nothing remains of their hulls, though many archaeological treasures remain intact in the museum at Lake Nemi and in the Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Massimo) at Rome.
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 for Capri in AD 26 and Caligula's accession. Additionally, Tiberius' treason trials had eliminated a number of pro-Julian senators such as Asinius Gallus.
Caligula reviewed Tiberius' records of treason trials and decided, based on their actions during these trials, that numerous senators were not trustworthy. He ordered a new set of investigations and trials. He replaced the consul and had several senators put to death. Suetonius 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 faced a number of additional conspiracies against him. A conspiracy involving his brother-in-law was foiled in late 39. Soon afterwards, the Governor of Germany, Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, was executed for connections to a conspiracy.
In AD 40, Caligula expanded the Roman Empire into Mauretania and made a significant attempt at expanding into Britannia – even challenging Neptune 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. Caligula invited Ptolemy to Rome and then suddenly had him executed. Mauretania was annexed by Caligula and subsequently divided into two provinces, Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis, separated by the river Malua. Pliny claims that division was the work of Caligula, but Dio states that in AD 42 an uprising took place, which was subdued by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus and Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, and the division only took place after this. This confusion might mean that Caligula decided to divide the province, but the division was postponed because of the rebellion. The first known equestrian governor of the two provinces was Marcus Fadius Celer Flavianus, in office in AD 44.
Details on the Mauretanian events of 39–44 are unclear. Cassius Dio wrote an entire chapter on the annexation of Mauretania by Caligula, but it is now lost. Caligula's move seemingly had a strictly personal political motive – fear and jealousy of his cousin Ptolemy – and thus the expansion may not have been prompted by pressing military or economic needs. However, the rebellion of Tacfarinas had shown how exposed Africa Proconsularis was to its west and how the Mauretanian client kings were unable to provide protection to the province, and it is thus possible that Caligula's expansion was a prudent response to potential future threats.
There seems to have been a northern campaign to Britannia that was aborted. This campaign is derided by ancient historians with accounts of Gauls 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. This trip to the English Channel could have merely been a training and scouting mission. The mission may have been to accept the surrender of the British chieftain Adminius. "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).
When several client kings came to Rome to pay their respects to him and argued about their nobility of descent, he allegedly cried out the Homeric line: "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, Mercury, Venus and Apollo. 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 on the forum was linked directly to the imperial residence on the Palatine and dedicated to Caligula. He would appear there on occasion and present himself as a god to the public. Caligula had the heads removed from various statues of gods located across Rome and replaced them with his own. 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 had the public worship his spirit 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 tangible, living god.
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.
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 AD 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 synagogues. As a result, riots broke out in the city. Caligula responded by removing Flaccus from his position and executing him.
In AD 39, Agrippa accused Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, of planning a rebellion against Roman rule with the help of Parthia. 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 honouring 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 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 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. However, Caligula issued a second order to have his statue erected in the Temple of Jerusalem. In Rome, another statue of himself, of colossal size, was made of gilt brass for the purpose. The Temple of Jerusalem was then transformed into a temple for Caligula, and it was called the Temple of Illustrious Gaius the New Jupiter.
Philo of Alexandria and Seneca the Younger, contemporaries of Caligula, describe him as an insane emperor who was self-absorbed, was angry, killed on a whim, and 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 was said to have ordered his guards to throw an entire section of the audience into the arena during the intermission to be eaten by the wild beasts because there were no prisoners to be used and he was bored.
While repeating the earlier stories, the later sources of Suetonius and Cassius Dio provide additional tales of insanity. They accuse Caligula of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla, and Livilla, 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, 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.
Caligula's actions as emperor were described as being especially harsh to the senate, to the nobility and to the equestrian order. According to Josephus, these actions led to several failed conspiracies against Caligula. Eventually, officers within the Praetorian Guard led by Cassius Chaerea succeeded in murdering the emperor. 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.
The situation had escalated when, in 40 AD, Caligula announced to the Senate that he planned to leave Rome permanently and to move to Alexandria in Egypt, where he hoped to be worshiped as a living god. The prospect of Rome losing its emperor and thus its political power was the final straw for many. Such a move would have left both the Senate and the Praetorian Guard powerless to stop Caligula's repression and debauchery. With this in mind Chaerea convinced his fellow conspirators, who included Marcus Vinicius and Lucius Annius Vinicianus, to put their plot into action quickly.
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 names like "Priapus" and "Venus".
On 22 January 41 AD (Suetonius gives the date as 24 January), Cassius Chaerea and other guardsmen accosted Caligula as he addressed an acting troupe of young men beneath the palace, during a series of games and dramatics being held for the Divine Augustus. Details recorded on the events vary somewhat from source to source, but they agree that Chaerea stabbed Caligula first, followed by a number of conspirators. Suetonius records that Caligula's death resembled that of Julius Caesar. 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 and Cassius Chaerea). 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. These wounded conspirators were treated by the physician Arcyon.
The senate attempted to use Caligula's death as an opportunity to restore the Republic. Chaerea tried to persuade the military to support the Senate. The military, though, remained loyal to the idea of imperial monarchy. 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 killed Caligula's wife, Caesonia, and killed their young daughter, Julia Drusilla, by smashing her head against a wall. They were unable to reach Caligula's uncle, Claudius. After a soldier, Gratus, found Claudius hiding behind a palace curtain, he was spirited out of the city by a sympathetic faction of the Praetorian Guard to their nearby camp.
Claudius became emperor after procuring the support of the Praetorian Guard. He ordered the execution of Chaerea and of 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; in 410, during the Sack of Rome, the ashes in the tomb were scattered.
The history of Caligula's reign is extremely problematic as only two sources contemporary with Caligula have survived – the works of Philo and Seneca. 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 AD 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 and Cluvius Rufus 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, 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, who conspired against him. The inheritance of Nero, Agrippina's son and the future emperor, was seized by Caligula. Gaetulicus, a poet, produced a number of flattering writings about Caligula, but they are lost.
The bulk of what is known of Caligula comes from Suetonius 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 gives a detailed description of Caligula's assassination. Tacitus provides some information on Caligula's life under Tiberius. In a now lost portion of his Annals, Tacitus gave a detailed history of Caligula. Pliny the Elder's Natural History has a few brief references to Caligula.
There are few surviving sources on Caligula and none of them paints Caligula in a favourable light. The paucity of sources has resulted in significant gaps in modern knowledge of 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, Caligula's military actions in Britannia, and his feud with the Roman Senate.
All surviving sources, except Pliny the Elder, 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 his behavior, citing as possibilities encephalitis, epilepsy or meningitis. The question of whether or not Caligula was insane (especially after his illness early in his reign) remains unanswered.
Philo of Alexandria, Josephus and Seneca state that 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 he became 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 an illness in the eighth month of his reign in AD 37. Juvenal reports he was given a magic potion that drove him insane.
Suetonius said that Caligula suffered from "falling sickness", or epilepsy, 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 discouraged from swimming in open waters because unexpected fits in such difficult rescue circumstances can be fatal. Additionally, Caligula reportedly talked to the full moon: Epilepsy was long associated with the moon.
On physical appearance and health, Suetonius described Caligula as sickly-looking, skinny and pale: "he was tall, very pale, ill-shaped, his neck and legs very slender, his eyes and temples hollow, his brows broad and knit, his hair thin, and the crown of the head bald. The other parts of his body were much covered with hair ... He was crazy both in body and mind, being subject, when a boy, to the falling sickness. When he arrived at the age of manhood he endured fatigue tolerably well; but still, occasionally, he was liable to a faintness, during which he remained incapable of any effort". Based on scientific reconstructions of his official painted busts, Caligula had brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin.
On 17 January 2011, police in Nemi, 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 scepticism by Cambridge historian Mary Beard.
|Ancestors of Caligula|
A feature-length historical film Caligula was completed in 1979, in which Malcolm McDowell played the lead role. The film alienated audiences with explicit sex and violence, but despite negative reviews is considered a cult classic.
Caligula, by French author Albert Camus, 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 by English writer Robert Graves, Caligula is presented as being a murderous sociopath from his childhood, who became clinically insane early in his reign. At the age of only ten, he drove his father Germanicus to despair and death by secretly terrorising him. Graves's Caligula commits incest with all three of his sisters and is implied to have murdered Drusilla. 
Caligula has been portrayed in a number of television series:
CaligulaBorn: 31 August AD 12 Died: 24 January AD 41
| Roman Emperor
Gnaeus Acerronius Proculus, and
Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus
as Ordinary consuls
| Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
Aulus Caecina Paetus, and
Gaius Caninius Rebilus
as Suffect consuls
Servius Asinius Celer,
and Sextus Nonius Quinctilianus
as Suffect consuls
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Lucius Apronius Caesianus
Quintus Sanquinius Maximus
as Suffect consul
Aulus Didius Gallus,
and Gnaeus Domitius Afer
as Suffect consuls
| Consul of the Roman Empire
Gaius Laecanius Bassus,
and Quintus Terentius Culleo
as Suffect consuls
Gaius Laecanius Bassus,
and Quintus Terentius Culleo
as Suffect consuls
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus
Quintus Pomponius Secundus
as Suffect consul
| Head of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty
37 AD – 41 AD
Agrippina the Younger (Latin: Julia Agrippina; 6 November AD 15 – 23 March AD 59), also referred to as Agrippina Minor (Minor, which is Latin for "the Younger") was a Roman empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Her father was Germanicus, a popular general and one-time heir apparent to the Roman Empire under Tiberius; and her mother was Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of the first Roman emperor Augustus. She was also the younger sister of Caligula, as well as the niece and fourth wife of Claudius.
Both ancient and modern sources describe Agrippina's personality as ruthless, ambitious, violent, and domineering. Physically she was a beautiful and reputable woman; according to Pliny the Elder, she had a double canine in her upper right jaw, a sign of good fortune. Many ancient historians accuse Agrippina of poisoning her husband Claudius, though accounts vary. In AD 59 Agrippina was executed on the orders of her son, the emperor Nero.Ancients Behaving Badly
Ancients Behaving Badly is a British and Canadian produced documentary series that aired from November to December 2009 on the Canadian The History Channel and the American The History Channel. The show focuses on the misdeeds of famous historical figures using forensic investigation, animated sequences, and historian interviews. Although events are depicted in a serious manner, the series has an occasionally tongue-in-cheek narrative style.Caligula (TV series)
Caligula (Japanese: カリギュラ, Hepburn: Karigyura) is an anime television series adaptation of the video game The Caligula Effect. It is produced by studio Satelight, and aired from April 8 to June 24, 2018.Caligula (film)
Caligula (Italian: Caligola) is a 1979 Italian-American erotic historical drama film focusing on the rise and fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, John Steiner and John Gielgud. It is the only feature film produced by the men's magazine Penthouse. Producer Bob Guccione, the magazine's founder, intended to produce an explicit pornographic film with a feature film narrative and high production values. He also cast Penthouse Pets as extras in unsimulated sex scenes filmed during post-production by himself and Giancarlo Lui.
Guccione hired screenwriter Gore Vidal to draft the film's script and Tinto Brass to direct the film. Brass extensively altered Vidal's original screenplay, leading Vidal to disavow the film. The final screenplay focuses on the idea that "absolute power corrupts absolutely". However, both Brass and Vidal disagreed over Guccione's use of unsimulated sexual content, which Brass refused to film. Because the producers did not allow Brass to edit the film, they changed its tone and style significantly and added hardcore sex scenes not filmed by Brass, thus turning Caligula into a pornographic drama that disregarded the director's intentions to present the film as a political satire. As a result, Brass also disavowed the film.
Caligula's release was met with legal issues and controversies over its violent and sexual content. Its uncut form remains banned in several countries. Although reviews were overwhelmingly negative (though McDowell's performance as the title character and O'Toole's performance as Tiberius were praised), Caligula is now considered to be a cult classic in retrospect, and its political content is considered to have significant merit.
The script was later adapted into a novelization written by William Johnston under the pseudonym William Howard.In 2018, Penthouse announced that a new cut of the film was being edited by Alexander Tuschinski, with the approval of Brass's family.Caligula (horse)
Caligula (1917 – after 1936) was an Irish-bred British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. He was unraced as a two-year-old in 1919 before emerging as a top-class stayer in the following year. In his first eight races as a three-year-old he won a minor race at Newmarket and the Ascot Derby but looked outpaced when tried over shorter distances. He recorded his biggest win on his final appearance when he recorded an upset victory over a strong field in the St Leger. After being briefly exported to India he stood as a breeding stallion at various European locations but had little success as a sire of winners.Caligula (play)
Caligula is a play written by Albert Camus, begun in 1938 (the date of the first manuscript 1939) and published for the first time in May 1944 by Éditions Gallimard. The play was later the subject of numerous revisions. It was part of what the author called the "Cycle of the Absurd", with the novel The Stranger (1942) and the essay The Myth of Sisyphus (1942). A number of critics have reported the piece to be existentialist; however, Camus always denied belonging to this philosophy. Its plot revolves around the historical figure of Caligula, a Roman Emperor famed for his cruelty and seemingly insane behavior.Circus of Nero
Not to be confused with the older and larger Circus Maximus.
The Circus of Nero or Circus of Caligula was a circus in ancient Rome, located mostly in the present-day Vatican City.Claudius
Claudius (; Latin: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54 ) 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, the first (and until Trajan, only) Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.
Claudius' infirmity probably saved him from the fate of many other nobles during the purges of Tiberius's and Caligula's reigns; potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last man of his family. Despite his lack of experience, Claudius proved to be an able and efficient administrator. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals across the Empire. During his reign the Empire began the conquest of Britain (if the earlier invasions of Britain by Caesar and Caligula's aborted attempts are not counted).
Having a personal interest in law, he presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day. He was seen as vulnerable throughout his reign, particularly by elements of the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position; this resulted in the deaths of many senators. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers, though more recent historians have revised this opinion. Many authors contend that he was murdered by his own wife. After his death in 54 AD (at the age of 63), his grand-nephew, step-son, and adopted son Nero succeeded him as Emperor. His 13-year reign (slightly longer than Nero's) would not be surpassed by any successors until that of Domitian, who reigned for 15 years.
He was a descendant of the Octavii Rufi (through Gaius Octavius), Julii Caesares (through Julia Minor and Julia Antonia), and the Claudii Nerones (through Nero Claudius Drusus). He was a step-grandson (through his father Drusus) and great-nephew (through his mother Antonia Minor) of Augustus. He was a nephew of Tiberius through his father, Tiberius' brother. Through his brother Germanicus, Claudius was an uncle of Caligula and a great-uncle of Nero.Dark Funeral
Dark Funeral is a Swedish black metal band from Stockholm, Sweden, founded by guitarists Blackmoon and Lord Ahriman in 1993. They emerged during the second wave of black metal.
Their lyrical themes have traditionally pertained to Satanism and anti-Christianity. Certain past and present members including Blackmoon, Ahriman, Caligula and Chaq Mol have each declared an affinity for Satanism, with Ahriman and Caligula notably being practitioners of LaVeyan Satanism. In their earlier years, their lyrical themes usually revolved specifically around depictions of Hell and Satan. After Emperor Magus Caligula joined the band, their lyrics came to focus more on blasphemy and anti-Christian rhetoric, although there have been several exceptions to this.
The group have released six full-length albums and are one of the most prominent acts in the Swedish black metal scene.Demetrius and the Gladiators
Demetrius and the Gladiators is a 1954 Biblical drama film and a sequel to The Robe. The picture was made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Delmer Daves and produced by Frank Ross. The screenplay was written by Philip Dunne based on characters created by Lloyd C. Douglas in The Robe.
The movie presents Victor Mature as Demetrius, a Christian slave made to fight in the Roman arena as a gladiator, and Susan Hayward as Messalina, a reprobate woman who is the wife of Claudius, the uncle of the depraved emperor Caligula. The cast also features Ernest Borgnine, William Marshall, Michael Rennie, Jay Robinson as Caligula, Debra Paget, Anne Bancroft in one of her earlier roles, and Julie Newmar as a briefly seen dancing entertainer. The film is in Technicolor and CinemaScope.Herod Antipas
Herod Antipater (Greek: Ἡρῴδης Ἀντίπατρος, Hērǭdēs Antipatros; born before 20 BC – died after 39 AD), known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch ("ruler of a quarter") and is referred to as both "Herod the Tetrarch" and "King Herod" in the New Testament although he never held the title of king. He is widely known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.
After being recognized by Augustus upon the death of his father, Herod the Great (c. 4 BC/AD 1), and subsequent ethnarch rule by his brother, Herod Archelaus, Antipas officially ruled Galilee and Perea as a client state of the Roman Empire. He was responsible for building projects at Sepphoris and Betharamphtha, and more important for the construction of his capital Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Named in honor of his patron, the emperor Tiberius, the city later became a center of rabbinic learning.
Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, in favour of Herodias, who had formerly been married to his half-brother Herod II. (Antipas was Herod the Great's son by Malthace, while Herod II was his son by Mariamne II.) According to the New Testament Gospels, it was John the Baptist's condemnation of this arrangement that led Antipas to have him arrested; John was subsequently put to death in Machaerus. Besides provoking his conflict with the Baptiser, the tetrarch's divorce added a personal grievance to previous disputes with Aretas over territory on the border of Perea and Nabatea. The result was a war that proved disastrous for Antipas; a Roman counter-offensive was ordered by Tiberius, but abandoned upon that emperor's death in 37 AD. In 39 AD Antipas was accused by his nephew Agrippa I of conspiracy against the new Roman emperor Caligula, who sent him into exile in Gaul. Accompanied there by Herodias, he died at an unknown date.
The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was first brought before Pontius Pilate for trial, since Pilate was the governor of Roman Judea, which encompassed Jerusalem where Jesus was arrested. Pilate initially handed him over to Antipas, in whose territory Jesus had been most active, but Antipas sent him back to Pilate's court.I, Claudius
I, Claudius (1934) is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Accordingly, it includes the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and the Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in 41 AD.
The 'autobiography' of Claudius continues (from Claudius' accession after Caligula's death, to his own death in 54) in Claudius the God (1935). The sequel also includes a section written as a biography of Herod Agrippa, contemporary of Claudius and future King of the Jews. The two books were adapted by the BBC into an award-winning television serial, I, Claudius.
In 1998 the Modern Library ranked I, Claudius fourteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2005, the novel was chosen by Time as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present.Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla (Classical Latin: IVLIA•DRVSILLA) (16 September AD 16 – 10 June AD 38) was a member of the Roman imperial family, the second daughter and fifth child of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder to survive infancy. She had two sisters, Julia Livilla and the Empress Agrippina the Younger, and three brothers, Emperor Caligula, Nero Julius Caesar, and Drusus. She was a great-granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus, grand-niece of the Emperor Tiberius, niece of the Emperor Claudius, and aunt of the Emperor Nero.Julio-Claudian dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty was the first Roman imperial dynasty, consisting of the first five emperors—Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero—or the family to which they belonged. They ruled the Roman Empire from its formation under Augustus in 27 BC, until AD 68 when the last of the line, Nero, committed suicide. The name "Julio-Claudian dynasty" is a historiographical term derived from the two main branches of the imperial family: the gens Julia (Julii Caesares) and gens Claudia (Claudii Nerones).
Primogeniture is notably absent in the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Neither Augustus, Caligula, nor Nero fathered a natural and legitimate son. Tiberius' own son, Drusus predeceased him. Only Claudius was outlived by his son, Britannicus, although he opted to promote his adopted son Nero as his successor to the throne. Adoption ultimately became a tool that most Julio-Claudian emperors utilized in order to promote their chosen heir to the front of the succession. Augustus—himself an adopted son of his great-uncle, the Roman dictator Julius Caesar—adopted his stepson Tiberius as his son and heir. Tiberius was, in turn, required to adopt his nephew Germanicus, the father of Caligula and brother of Claudius. Caligula adopted his cousin Tiberius Gemellus (grandson of the emperor Tiberius) shortly before executing him. Claudius adopted his great-nephew and stepson Nero, who, lacking a natural or adopted son of his own, ended the reign of the Julio-Claudian dynasty with his fall from power and subsequent suicide.
The ancient historians who dealt with the Julio-Claudian period—chiefly Suetonius (c. 69 – after 122 AD) and Tacitus (c. 56 – after AD 117)—write in generally negative terms about their reign. In Tacitus's historiography of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he states:
But the successes and reverses of the old Roman people have been recorded by famous historians; and fine intellects were not wanting to describe the times of Augustus, till growing sycophancy scared them away. The histories of Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, and Nero, while they were in power, were falsified through terror, and after their death were written under the irritation of a recent hatred.List of manuscripts in the Cotton library
This is an incomplete list of some of the manuscripts from the Cotton library that today form the Cotton collection of the British Library. Some manuscripts were destroyed or damaged in a fire at Ashbunham Housein 1731, and a few are kept in other libraries and collections.
Robert Bruce Cotton organized his library in a room 26 feet (7.9 m) long by six feet wide filled with bookpresses, each with the bust of a figure from classical antiquity on top. Counterclockwise, these were Julius Caesar, Augustus, Cleopatra, Faustina, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. (Domitian had only one shelf, perhaps because it was over the door). In each press, each shelf was assigned a letter; manuscripts were identified by the bust over the press, the shelf letter, and the position of the manuscript (in Roman numerals) counting from the left side of the shelf. Thus, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Nero B.iv, was the fourth manuscript from the left on the second shelf (shelf B) of the press under the bust of Nero. For Domitian and Augustus, which had only one shelf each, the shelf letter was left out of the press-mark. The British Museum retained Cotton's press-marks when the Cotton collection became one of the foundational collections of its library, so manuscripts are still designated by library, bookpress, shelf, and number (even though they are no longer stored in that fashion). For example, the manuscript of Beowulf is designated Cotton MS Vitellius A.xv, and the manuscript of Pearl is Cotton MS Nero A.x.Raziel (wrestler)
Raziel (born February 8, 1973) is the ring name of a Mexican Luchador Enmascarado, or masked professional wrestler, who is working for the Mexican wrestling promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). Raziel's real name is not a matter of public record, as is often the case with masked wrestlers in Mexico where their private lives are kept a secret from the wrestling fans. He previously worked as Caligula for many years, forming the team Los Romanos along with Messala (who is now known as Cancerbero). The name "Raziel" is taken from the Archangel Raziel in Jewish mysticism and is sometimes also written as "Raciel".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 is responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus. The film was released by 20th Century Fox and was the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope. Like other early CinemaScope films, The Robe was shot with Henri Chrétien's original Hypergonar anamorphic lenses.
The film was directed by Henry Koster and produced by Frank Ross. The screenplay was adapted by Gina Kaus, Albert Maltz, and Philip Dunne from Lloyd C. Douglas' eponymous 1942 novel. The score was composed by Alfred Newman, and the cinematography was by Leon Shamroy.
The film stars Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, and Michael Rennie and co-stars Dean Jagger, Jay Robinson, Richard Boone, and Jeff Morrow. The Robe had a 1954 sequel Demetrius and the Gladiators.The Twelve Caesars
De vita Caesarum (Latin; lit. "About the Life of the Caesars"), commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.
The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius, at that time Hadrian's personal secretary, and is the largest among his surviving writings. It was dedicated to a friend, the Praetorian prefect Gaius Septicius Clarus.
The Twelve Caesars was considered very significant in antiquity and remains a primary source on Roman history. The book discusses the significant and critical period of the Principate from the end of the Republic to the reign of Domitian; comparisons are often made with Tacitus, whose surviving works document a similar period.Tiberius
Tiberius (; Latin: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March 37 AD) was Roman emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD, succeeding the first emperor, Augustus.
Born to Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla in a Claudian family, he was given the personal name Tiberius Claudius Nero. His mother divorced Nero and married Octavian—later to ascend to Emperor as Augustus—who officially became his stepfather. Tiberius would later marry Augustus' daughter (from his marriage to Scribonia), Julia the Elder, and even later be adopted by Augustus. Through the adoption, he officially became a Julian, assuming the name Tiberius Julius Caesar. The emperors after Tiberius would continue this blended dynasty of both families for the following thirty years; historians have named it the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His relationship to the other emperors of this dynasty was as follows: Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, grand-uncle of Caligula, paternal uncle of Claudius, and great-grand uncle of Nero. His 22-and-a-half-year reign would be the longest after Augustus's until Antoninus Pius, who surpassed his reign by a few months.
Tiberius was one of the greatest Roman generals; his conquest of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Raetia, and temporarily, parts of Germania, laid the foundations for the northern frontier. Even so, he came to be remembered as a dark, reclusive and sombre ruler who never really desired to be emperor; Pliny the Elder called him "the gloomiest of men." After the death of his son Drusus Julius Caesar in 23 AD, Tiberius became more reclusive and aloof. In 26 AD he removed himself from Rome and left administration largely in the hands of his unscrupulous Praetorian prefects Lucius Aelius Sejanus and Quintus Naevius Sutorius Macro. When Tiberius died, he was succeeded by his grand-nephew and adopted grandson, Caligula.