Posted on 26th December 2020
Born ‘Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus’ in 12AD, he was the great grandson of Augustus.
Much of Caligula’s early life was spent with his father Germanicus and his legions. At this time, he was given the nickname ‘Caligula’ (little boots).
His father Germanicus died in 19AD, possibly murdered on the orders of Tiberius. Caligula then went to live with his mother Agrippina the Elder. Tiberius and Agrippina did not have a good relationship and this deteriorated further to the point where she along with many of her family and children were accused of treason and imprisoned or exiled. Caligula then lived with his great grandmother Livia and following her death, with his grandmother Antonia.
In 31AD Caligula was moved to Capri to live with Tiberius, his adoptive grandfather. Tiberius had spared Caligula but was still wary of him and his popularity in Rome; many believe he treated Caligula more as a prisoner.
Tiberius died aged seventy-seven in 37AD Caligula became Emperor.
Emperor 37AD – 41AD
In the early months of his rule Caligula was very popular with the people and he provided games for the Romans to enjoy, including chariot races, gladiator shows and plays.
Seven months into his reign, Caligula became very ill. When recovering from this illness his character changed dramatically; he became a different man and ruler. Caligula started to enjoy humiliating people, especially the senate.
Tortured by headaches and unable to sleep Caligula suffered delusions and irrational and violent outbursts. He dressed in women’s clothing, and wore wigs and make up. He also named himself ‘a god’.
Caligula was out of control and squandering money; he created new taxes to finance his lavish spending, with no thought of the people. The senate believed him to be completely mad.
Caligula kept his favourite horse Incitatus, inside the palace in a stable box made of ivory and marble; he would invite the horse to dine with him and his guests. He is said to have ‘considered making the horse consul’, some even believe he did make the horse consul of Rome. His madness was out of control.
In 39AD Caligula set out on campaign. He had become a suspicious madman and believed that people were constantly plotting his assassination. Many attempts on his life had failed, but on 24 January 41AD the emperor was attacked in a corridor of the palace.
He was killed along with his wife and daughter, Caligula himself being stabbed up to thirty times.
Cassius Dio (Roman Statesman) stated of Caligula ‘He learned by actual experience that he was not a god’.
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Rome
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