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Caligula. "Let them hate me, so long as they fear me.". Madison Adams. Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. Rome’s 3 rd emperor Successor to Tiberius Considered by many the most tyrannical emporer. Childhood. Born August, 12 AD

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"Let them hate me, so long as they fear me."

Madison Adams

gaius julius caesar germanicus
Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus
  • Rome’s 3rd emperor
  • Successor to Tiberius
  • Considered by many the most tyrannical emporer
  • Born August, 12 AD
  • Son of Germanicus & great-grandson of Augustus, two popular figures in Rome
  • From age 2-4, he lived with his father’s armies in the Rhine
  • Wore specially made battle armor, earning him the nickname “little boot”

A caliga

life in capri
Life in capri
  • In 31 AD, 19 year old Caligula was sent to live with Tiberius, now emperor, at his Villa Jovis on the island of Capri.
life in capri1
Life In Capri
  • Tiberius lived a life of depravity, and kept his villas full of nude boys and girls, Egpytian sex manuscripts, and pornographic art.
  • He hosted orgies and kept specially trained “minnows,” who “played” with him in the imperial pool. It is likely that Caligula became involved in these acts.

"I am nursing a viper for the Roman people.”

Even Tiberius could see that Caligula was mentally unhinged.

death of tiberius
Death of Tiberius
  • Life continued as such for six years, until Tiberius died in 37 AD

“upon the news of his death the crowd rejoiced, only to become suddenly silent upon hearing that he had recovered, and rejoiced again at the news that Caligula and Macro had smothered him.”

  • Through some colluding, Caligula became the third emperor of Rome

Jean-Paul Laurens,

The Death of Tiberius

  • After the rule of much-hated Tiberius, the Roman people embraced Caligula as emperor. It also helped that his father, Germanicus, had been so popular.
  • On March 28, Caligula was greeted by crowds that hailed him as “our star” and “our baby”
  • Over 160,000 animals were sacrificed as thanks in the first 3 months of his reign
early reign
Early Reign
  • The first few months of Caligula’s reign were “blissful”
  • Caligula granted bonuses to those in the military, eliminated an unpopular tax, and freed citizens unjustly imprisoned by Tiberius.
  • He built many public works and hosted games, which made him popular with the public

An Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula, then made the centerpiece of a racetrack

  • In October of 37 AD, just months after his coronation, Caligula fell ill.
    • Then described as a “brain fever”
  • he was bedridden and it appeared he was close to death
  • After a month, he recovered, but it was quickly apparent that he was not the same person, and thereafter was tormented by debilitating headaches and nightmares.
  • During this time a number of people attained considerable power & influence
    • Helicon, his chamberlain; Apelles, a tragic actor; and most of all Callistus, a kind of imperial secretary
  • Caligula was convinced that his illness was Jupiter’s reincarnation into his body. He ordered temples to Jupiter be built so that he could have more private conversation with the God
  • He began executing those he suspected of disloyalty
    • Gaius Silanus, his father-in-law
    • Gemellus, grandson of Tiberius
    • Macro, prefect of the praetorian guard

Many of Caligula’s acts mocked tradition

  • He worked to humiliate the Senate, and intended to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul
  • he ordered silence in the entire neighborhood, to prevent the horse from being disturbed
  • Lavish spending had drained the country so he revived treason trials
  • He arranged an oratory competition in which the losers had to erase their wax tablets with their tongues
german british campaigns
German & British Campaigns
  • In 39-40 AD, Caligula campaigned in Germany and then Britain, as his father had done
  • When he reached the British Channel, he stopped and ordered troops to gather seashells, which he claimed as the spoils of his “campaign”
  • It was reported that he returned with slaves disguised as Germans
  • He seemed to want Military glory but have no real interest in going to war

German & British Campaigns

Coin portraying Caligula commanding soldiers

many of caligula s acts mocked tradition
Many of Caligula’s acts mocked tradition
  • Once, a soothsayer had told Tiberius that there was “no more chance of Caligula becoming emperor than of him riding a horse through the Bay of Naples.” As Emperor, Caligula ordered the construction of a pontoon bridge over the Bay purely so that he could gallop his horse across it.
  • Caligula was suspected of committing

incest with his 3 sisters Drusilla,

Agrippina, and Livilla

  • He attempted to deify each of them
  • It is said that Caligula impregnated his favorite sister, and, in keeping with early Roman myths, believed that the child would eventually usurp him (remember, he believed he was Zeus’ reincarnation).
  • He reputedly cut the child out from her womb, and both mother and child died.

Caligula had coins minted in his sisters’ honor, portraying them with symbols of various goddesses

self deification
Self- Deification
  • In 40 AD, Caligula declared himself deified, rebutting Roman tradition
  • This was a stark contrast to Augustus’ reluctance to call himself a God
  • Ordered statues of himself be placed in the Temple of Jerusalem and the Jews be made to worship him

Cameo depicting Caligula and a personification of Rome

death january 21 41 ad
Death – January 21, 41 AD
  • Assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard during a series of Games in his own honor
  • Conspiracy with Senators
    • Exiled Julia livlla’s ex-husband
  • Caligula's wife, Caesonia, and their daughter were also killed

Cryptoporticus under the Palatine Hill

theories explanations
Theories & Explanations
  • Most agree that he was insane, clinically or otherwise, but the root cause is still debated
  • Absolute Power
    • Augustus and Tiberius were just as powerful, but “cloaked it”
  • Illness
    • temporal lobe epilepsy, hyperthyroidism or Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder that can cause mental instability

"Remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody." 

collected by Caligula’s biographer Suetonius.

"Let them hate me, so long as they fear me."