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Transcript
Emperor Caligula
By Hyerin Park
Emperor Caligula was born on August 31st, A.D 12 in Antium, Latium, and
ruled as the Roman emperor for four short and terrifying years of power from
A.D. 37 through 41. At the present, centuries after his existence, scholars
understand him as an emperor that was metally ill and misunderstood.
His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanica, but he
became more commonly known as Caligula after the child-size military boots
he wore in his father’s military camp called caliga. Caligula had a family of
many brothers and sisters with parents that possessed fame throughout the city.
Caligula’s father was Germanicus (15 B.C~ A.D 19) and his mother was
Agrippina the elder (14 B.C~ A.D 33). However, shortly afterwards, his mother,
father, and all of his brothers were killed or starved to death by Emperor Tiberius
and his Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus, for Tiberius was suspicious of the family trying
to take over his power. Caligula’s great-uncle was Emperor Augustus, and the
whole family had his blood running in their veins, and they could become very
dangerous if they tried to take over Tiberius. Surprisingly, Caligula was not even
one bit saddened by his family’s massacre. Although it is not known and still is a
mystery why Caligula was one of the exceptions from the massacre of his whole
family, he was adopted by Tiberius at age 20 and was his virtual prisoner to keep
him company until Tiberius’s death.
Caligula grew up to be a tall, but lanky, and a pale man with a
prematurely bald head. Caligula came to power when Tiberius was
assassinated by Caligula’s chamberlain, Marco, smothering him with his
bedclothes. With the emperor dead, Caligula and his cousin were placed in the
position to take over. But with the help of the Praetorian Guard, Caligula was
successful in taking over the position of the emperor over his cousin. After a few
months of being the Roman emperor, he feared that his cousin might
assassinate him to take over, so Caligula ordered the Praetorian Guard to kill his
cousin. During the first few months of his rule, Caligula’s reign was mild and
showed policies and judgement. From the beginning of his career as an
emperor, he loved to attend to executions and punishments. He loved every
single gory detail and enjoyed most of them. But sometimes he went to drastic
measures in taking pleasure in them; on occasions, he dragged off spectators
from their benches into the arena if there weren’t enough criminals to fight the
lions and tigers. He abolished sales tax and provided lavish games for the
Romans to enjoy. He was known for being strange in taking sexual pleasures. He
was frequently found in bed in his palace with one of his three sisters, especially
his favorite sibling whom he found the most attractive to him of them all, Drusilla.
But his ‘good-naturedness’ disappeared after falling ill one October, and he
almost died from this foul experience. When he was well again, he had
changed from bad to worse. He became an emperor of madness, cruelty,
viciousness, extravagance, and megalomania. He began to suffer mental illness,
acquired a violent temper, and was misunderstood and corrupted by power.
Caligula allowed himself drunken orgies and became unquestionably unstable
and dangerous.
At the beginning of his reign, Caligula was undoubtably popular. This was
partly because he had invited back those of whom were exiled or ostracized as
Tiberius’s enemies during Emperor Tiberius’s reign, gave out money to the
citizens, and also he gave a large cash bonus to the Praetorian Guard, who
helped him get to his position in the first place. But as time passed, it became
apparent that he was completely insane after acting in an openly autocratic
manner. He claimed that he was all of the gods at once, and ordered a statue
of himself in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, causing riots among all of the Jews.
They said that death would be better than worshipping him as a god. He also
proudly claimed that he conquered Britain and Germany, even though he
never fought them. The mad emperor declared that he defeated the god
Neptune as well. He spent money on foolish projects, banished many people,
and murdered numerous others. Caligula successfully resumed military
monopoly with the Germans after Tiberius, but was not successful in making war
with Germans to the north of the Roman Empire. He only went as far as the
Channel of Britain, and suddenly told his soldiers to accumulate seashells. He
was also known for incorporating the ancient Temple of Caster and Pollux within
his palace, but it became a sacrilege reversed by his successor, Claudius 1.
Caligula encouraged treason trials for his own financial benefit and he became
so sensitive about the lack of hair on his scalp that he made it crime to look
down upon him from high places as he passed by. Sometimes, the crazy man
ordered people with fine locks of hair to be shaven off. The abundance of his
body hair made up for the lack of his hair. Caligula was very sensitive about this
fact just equally as the lack of hair on his scalp, so he made it a crime to talk
about ‘hairy goats’ in front of him. Caligula became especially unpopular
among the Senators, due to the fact that he made many bad government
decisions. He also made a ridiculous attempt to make his own horse a consul
and a senator, saying, “My horse can do a better job than many of you men!”
He clearly did not respect the senators.
The catastrophic and bloody assassination of Caligula took place in 41
A.D in Rome. He was murdered after insulting the army and threatening to kill
the members of the Roman Senate. Members of the Praetorian Guard stabbed
him with swords and left him a bloody heap in a palace hallway along with his
murdered wife Caesonia and their daughter. He was 29 years old at that time.
Most people were relieved when they learned of Caligula’s death- only
common people who benefited from his extravagant spending mourned his
assassination. He was succeeded by his uncle, Claudius, who became a good
emperor in A.D 41.
Although he experienced a tragic death, he died a well-deserved death.
In all centuries to come, the lunatic Emperor Caligula will be remembered for his
delirious and insane behaviors. Emperor Caligula could have become a better
person if he had been born in the modern world, for the treatments and
theropies we have right now are helpful to any of those who have mental illness
similar to what Caligula suffered from. And although he will be remembered in
the future, he will mostly be remembered in a pessimistic way.
Bibliography
1. Barrett, Anthony. Caligula the Corruption of Power . Boston: Yale
University Press, 1998
2. Encyclopedia Britannica. “Caligula. “ London: Encyclopedia
Britannica Inc. ,1990 Vol. 3, p. 61.
3. Ferrill, Arthur. Caligula: Emperor of Rome . New York: Thames &
Hudson ,1991
4.
http://www.sfusd.kl2.ca.us/schwww/sch618/RomanLinks/caligula.htm
5. http://www.xs4all.nl/~kvenjb/madmonarchs.caligula_bio.htm
6. The World Book Encyclopedia . “Caligula of Rome. “ Chicago:
World Book Childcraft International Inc. , 1978 Vol. 3, p. 57.
Outline
1. Life:
1. Roman emperor from 37 to 41 A.D after only four years of terrifying rule
2. Born on August 31, 12 A.D and died on January 24, 41 A.D
3. Born in Antium, Latium
2. Early Childhood:
1. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanica as full name but more commonly
known as Caligula after the child-size military boots he wore in his father’s military
camp, caliga
2. Caligula’s parents: a. Germanicus: father (15 B.C~19 A.D)
b. Agrippina the elder: mother (14 B.C~33 A.D)
3. Caligula’s mother, father, and all his brothers killed or starved to death by
Emperor Tiberius and his Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus
4. Caligula’s great-uncle: Emperor Tiberius (42 B.C~37 A.D)
5. A virtual prisoner of Tiberius and had to keep him company when young
6. Was great- grandson of the Emperor Augustus
7. When 20, adopted by Tiberius and became emperor when Tiberius died in
A.D 37
3. Adulthood:
1. Came to power when Tiberius assassinated by Caligula’s chamberlain,
Marco, smothering him with his bedclothes
2. First months of Caligula’s reign: mild and policies showed some judgement
3. Took pleasure in attending punishments and executions from the beginning
of his reign
4. Fell severely ill in October but when recovered, changed for the worse
5. Became an emperor with elements of madness, cruelty, viciousness,
extravagance, and megalomania
6. Was tall, spindly, pale, and prematurely bald
7. On occasions, ordered spectators to be dragged off their benches to arena
when there weren’t enough criminals to fight the tigers and lions
8. With Tiberius dead Caligula and his cousin placed in position to take power
9. With help of a Praetorian Guard Caligula became emperor
10. Still feared that his cousin would later kill him and take over, so after a few
months as emperor, ordered Praetorian Guard to kill his cousin
11. Suffered from mental illness and had a violent temper
12. Was misunderstood and corrupted (changed from good to bad) by power
13. Indulged himself on drunken orgies then became very dangerous and
unstable
14. Had three sisters and was caught many times in bed with his favorite sister
Drusilla
4. Ruling Style:
1. Was popular at the beginning of his reign but soon became apparent that
he was insane
2. Claimed to be all gods at once and ordered a statue of himself set up in
the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, causing riots among Jews
3. Claimed he defeated the British and the Germans, even though he never
fought them
4. Claimed he defeated the god Neptune
5. Spent money on foolish projects, banished many people, and murdered
many others
6. After a good start started to behave in an openly autocratic manner (rule
by oneself, like a dictator)
7. Especially unpopular with senators because he made many bad
government decisions
8. Did not respect senators; tried to make his own horse made into a senator
or a consul, saying, “ My horse can do a better job than many of you men!”
9. Not successful in making war with Germans to the north of Roman Empire
10. Invited back those who Tiberius exiled as many of his enemies
11. Gave out money to Rome’s citizens at first
12. Gave a large cash bonus to the Praetorian Guard
13. Successfully resumed military gambling with the Germans after Tiberius
14. Only went until the Channel of Britain and told the soldiers to pick up
seashells
15. Incorporated ancient Temple of Caster and Pollux within his palace, but a
sacrilege reversed by successor Claudius 1
16. Encouraged deceitful trials for own financial benefit
17. Abolished sales tax and provided lavish games for the Romans to enjoy
before falling ill
18. Too sensitive about lack of hair on his scalp that he made it crime to look
down from high places as he passed by
19. Sometimes ordered people with a fine head of a hair to be shaved
20. Ampleness of body-hair made up for the loss of hair: was very sensitive
about this just equally so made it crime to talk about ‘hairy goat’s in front of him
5. Assassination:
1. was succeeded by his uncle, Claudius, who became a good emperor in
A.D 41
2. Most people relieved when assassinated
3. Only common people who benefited from his extravagant spending
mourned death
4. Praetorian Guard assassinated Caligula with wife Caesonia and daughter
at age 29
5. Members of the Praetorian Guard stabbed him and left him a bloody mass
in a palace hallway
6. Murdered after insulted the army and threatened to kill members of the
Roman Senate