third Roman emperor (AD 12-41) (r. AD 37-41)

Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, 31 August 12 – 24 January 41) was the third Roman Emperor. He reigned from AD 37. After only four years, he was assassinated by members of his bodyguard and the Roman Senate. During his reign, many innocent people were killed without fair trials.[1] Even with all that, he was popular with the Roman public in his time.

Emperor of the Roman Empire
Bust of the Emperor Gaius, known as Caligula
3rd Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign18 March AD 37 – 24 January AD 41
(3 years, 10 months)
PredecessorTiberius, great-uncle and adoptive grandfather
SuccessorClaudius, uncle
Born31 August AD 12
Antium (modern Anzio and Nettuno), Italy
Died24 January AD 41 (aged 28)
Palatine Hill, Rome
Full name
Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus (birth)
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (as emperor)
HouseJulio-Claudian dynasty
MotherAgrippina the Elder
Religionancient Roman religion

Life change

Caligula's father Germanicus was the nephew and adoptive son of emperor Tiberius. He was a very successful general. He was one of Rome's most beloved public figures.

When Germanicus died at Antioch in 19 AD, his mother Agrippina the Elder returned to Rome with her six children. She had a bitter feud with Tiberius. That eventually led to the destruction of her family. Caligula was the only male survivor. In 31, he joined the emperor on the island of Capri. Tiberius had gone there five years earlier. When Tiberius died in 37, Caligula became emperor.

There are few surviving sources on Caligula's reign. 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.

Caligula worked to give more authority to the emperor. He put a lot of his effort into ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself. He started the construction of two new aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire took over the Kingdom of Mauretania and made it into a province.

In early 41, Caligula was assassinated. There was a conspiracy involving officers of the Praetorian Guard, members of the Roman Senate and members of the imperial court. After Caligula's death, the conspirators' tried to bring back the Roman Republic, but they were unsuccessful. The Praetorian Guard declared Caligula's uncle Claudius emperor in his place.

Ancestry change

Insanity? change

There are stories about Caligula that show cruelty and insanity. He was accused of killing just for amusement.[2] He was accused of committing incest with his sisters and prostituting them with other men.[3] He was accused of turning the palace into a brothel.[4]

Caligula appeared in public dressed as various gods. He demanded to be worshipped as a god.[5] There was a legend that he appointed a horse to the priesthood.[6][7]

It is difficult to know anything for certain about Caligula. Only two sources from his time still exist. Those are the works of Philo and Seneca. They give mostly anecdotes. At one time, there were detailed histories on Caligula. Now they are lost. Caligula's sister, Agrippina the Younger, wrote an autobiography which certainly had a lot of information about Caligula's reign. It is also lost. No surviving source paints Caligula in a favorable light. It is not known whether Caligula was insane.

Relics change

In 2017 a mosaic from one of Caligula's Lake Nemi pleasure ships was discovered in New York City[8]

References change

  1. Barrett, Anthony A. 1989. Caligula: the corruption of power. Batsford, London. ISBN 0-7134-5487-3
  2. Seneca the Younger, On Anger III.xviii.1.
  3. Cassius Dio, Roman History LIX.11, LIX.22; Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Caligula 24.
  4. Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Caligula 41
  5. Cassius Dio, Roman History LIX.26-28.
  6. Tom Meltzner (June 30, 2013). "Caligula with Mary Beard – TV review". Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  7. Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Caligula 55; Cassius Dio, Roman History LIX.14, LIX.28.
  8. NBC NewsOct 20, 2017

Other websites change

Born: 31 August AD 12 Died: 24 January AD 41
Royal titles
Preceded by
Roman Emperor
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Gnaeus Acerronius Proculus, and
Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus

as Ordinary consuls
Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
with Claudius
Succeeded by
Aulus Caecina Paetus, and
Gaius Caninius Rebilus

as Suffect consuls
Preceded by
Servius Asinius Celer,
and Sextus Nonius Quinctilianus

as Suffect consuls
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Lucius Apronius Caesianus
Succeeded by
Quintus Sanquinius Maximus
as Suffect consul
Preceded by
Aulus Didius Gallus,
and Gnaeus Domitius Afer

as Suffect consuls
Consul of the Roman Empire
sine collega
Succeeded by
Gaius Laecanius Bassus,
and Quintus Terentius Culleo

as Suffect consuls
Preceded by
Gaius Laecanius Bassus,
and Quintus Terentius Culleo

as Suffect consuls
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus
Succeeded by
Quintus Pomponius Secundus
as Suffect consul