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was caligula insane

In the Greek east, rulers were almost routinely deified, and the divine status of the Egyptian pharaohs had been adopted by their Macedonian successors. He’s the one Roman emperor historians are fairly sure was certifiably insane. The later historian Kassios Dion gives us a little bit more information about the alleged plot, writing in his Roman History 59.22.6–7, as translated by Earnest Cary: “Another of his victims was Lepidus, that lover and favourite of his, the husband of Drusilla, the man who had together with Gaius maintained improper relations with the emperor’s other sisters, Agrippina and Julia, the man whom he had allowed to stand for office five years earlier than was permitted by law and whom he kept declaring he would leave as his successor to the throne. “traditionnally thought to be a Seleucid prince, maybe Attalus II of Pergamon”. Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, 31 August 12 – 24 January 41), was the third Roman Emperor.He reigned from AD 37. In fairness, though, most of the most famous stories I’ve investigated in this article actually are in the sources. Another version of the story is told by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History 9.58, but this time the pearl-dissolver is none other than the famous Queen Cleopatra VII Philopator of Egypt. Afterwards, he becomes increasingly paranoid, believing that the child developing in her womb will overthrow him and become the new king of the gods. There probably is at least some truth to Caligula’s sordid reputation. He even scattered large sums of money among the commons from the roof of the basilica Julia for several days in succession.”. As long as you are reviewing literature about Caligula, you might want to check out Camus’s play. In sharp contrast to I, Claudius, this film quickly won a reputation as one of the worst films ever made. Although prostitution was legal in the Roman Empire, prostitutes and pimps alike were widely looked down upon as lower-class scum. Caligula had other family members killed as well: his father-in-law Silanus ostensibly for refusing to go to sea with him but really on suspicion of conspiracy, and his brother-in-law (and cousin and, some say, lover) Lepidus for conspiracy. There is nothing in any of the ancient sources to indicate that Drusilla was murdered. Required fields are marked *. There is definitely some. ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a Roman sesterius minted c. 38 AD depicting Caligula’s head on the obverse and his three sisters—Agrippina, Drusilla, and Julia Livilla on the reverse. How Historically Accurate Is Netflix’s ‘Barbarians’? His biographies read like modern gossip tabloids. Caligula is famously alleged to have had sex with all three of his own sisters and to have treated his sister Drusilla as his wife. Well you have to study more. Portrait types have been identified for all three of Caligula’s sisters, including Drusilla (who died early in his reign) and Julia Livilla (who was murdered shortly after his reign ended). In I, Claudius, episode nine (“Zeus, by Jove!”), Caligula is portrayed as impregnating Drusilla. Then, only a few months into his reign, he suddenly and inexplicably falls into a three-month-long coma. ABOVE: Page from a ninth-century AD Latin manuscript of Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis Claudii. ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a bronze Hellenistic Greek statue of a nude king or general, bearing a scepter. Upon ascending to the throne, Caligula took the official name Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. The emperors of Rome could be wise, just and kind. Further evidence of the high esteem with which Caligula’s sisters were held during his reign comes from the fact that there are a large number of surviving portrait heads representing them. What less people know is that Seneca also describes Alexander the Great in the same fashion . Caligula’s adopted son and presumed heir for the first part of his reign was Tiberius Gemellus. For centuries before Caligula, Hellenistic Greek rulers in the eastern Mediterranean had claimed that they were divine. Notably, there is concrete archaeological evidence that Caligula did exalt his sisters to an unusual extent. It’s almost certainly true that Caligula was a profligate spender, but the extent of his profligacy as reported by Suetonius is probably greatly exaggerated. Since Gaius wore little versions of these boots, the soldiers nicknamed him Caligula, which is a diminutive form of the word caliga. Philo, author of Legatio ad Caium ("embassy to Caius") and leader of a delegation sent to Caligula to seek relief from persecution by Alexandrian Greeks, claimed that the emperor was no more than a vicious jokester. Furthermore, not only is the whole thing about the three-month-long coma not in the ancient sources, but I genuinely don’t think it would be possible for a person in the ancient world to survive in a complete coma for three months. It is only in around the late fourth century AD that the sources start referring to Caligula by the name Caligula. The first interpretation is that Caligula really did shower attention on his horse and talk about making him consul, but it was all an elaborate mockery of the Senate. ABOVE: Screenshot of Caligula (played by John Hurt) with his horse Incitatus from the 1976 television series I, Claudius. Caligula appears as a character in the bestselling novel I, Claudius by Robert Graves, which was published in 1934. Later, though, when Caligula is no longer present, Claudius is shown laughing with his friends, declaring that Caligula is insane and that, soon, his reign will be over and the Romans will restore the republic. Unfortunately, virtually all our surviving ancient sources about Caligula were written by elite Roman men, who despised him and saw him as the prototype of a “bad emperor.” We don’t know very much about what the common people thought of him. Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, was the third Roman Emperor who reigned for a short period of 4 years from 37 AD to 41 AD. Drusilla’s posthumous deification is also referenced by Seneca in his Apocolocyntosis Claudii or The Gourdification of Claudius, a satirical work making fun of the emperor Claudius and the Roman tradition of posthumously deifying emperors. Retelling Obscure Stories from the Distant Past. Perhaps most disappointingly, the bikini-clad dance routine from I, Claudius is pure fantasy. He had no previous administrative experience. Furthermore, even if Caligula really did do these things, this wouldn’t necessarily make him insane, since a person does not have to be insane to be a pimp. I’ve already mentioned that Caligula and his three sisters were all direct descendants of Augustus. An equally bizarre take on Caligula’s divinity appears in the 1979 film Caligula, which contains a scene in which Caligula appears before the Senate to make the following declaration: “I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night sky! Some say that Caligula was insane, but historians have also theorized that Caligula may have suffered from epilepsy and lived with a constant fear of having seizures. Even in Caligula’s time, it was not unprecedented. The doctor who is caring for him tells Macro, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, that he is probably going to die. ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of an ancient Roman marble portrait head of the emperor Elagabalus, who was not generally known as Elagabalus during his reign. In the show, Agrippina is supposed to lure Caligula into a bedroom so that the other conspirators can murder him, but, instead, she double crosses them, alerting Caligula to the conspiracy and leading him in with a troop of armed guards. View all posts by Spencer Alexander McDaniel. The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger (lived c. 4 BC – 65 AD) describes Caligula’s sadism in his treatise On Anger, which he probably wrote in around 45 AD, only a few years after the end of Caligula’s reign. Was The Roman Emperor Caligula Insane? The complaint made against the lad was that he had prayed and expected that Gaius would die; and he destroyed many others, too, on this same charge.”. In reality, it’s an entirely fictional scenario based on nothing but Suetonius’s claim that Caligula had sex with his sisters and the writers of the show’s awareness of Agrippina’s extraordinary cunning and domineering personality. In Roman Britain: Ruling Britannia from our 2005 archive, Miles Russell draws on recent archaeological discoveries to reassess the Roman invasion of Britain and reveal another little known fact about Caligula. Your email address will not be published. The reason why Caligula had him killed was not because he couldn’t get the sound of him coughing out of his head, but rather because he suspected that he had been plotting to usurp his power. ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a marble portrait head believed to represent Caligula’s sister Drusilla, ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a portrait bust of Caligula’s sister Julia Livilla on display in the Altes Museum in Berlin, Suetonius’s claim that Caligula had Drusilla deified after her death is confirmed by multiple independent contemporary sources. Caligula Biography, Life, Interesting Facts. Suetonius writes in his Life of Caligula 55, as translated by Rolfe: “He used to send his soldiers on the day before the games and order silence in the neighbourhood, to prevent the horse Incitatus from being disturbed. Though his early reign is considered brilliant, Caligula is mostly remembered for his despotic rule, insanity, perversion and acts of extreme cruelty; making him among the iconic ‘bad guys’ in the annals of history. It is possible that Caligula may have simply been trying to do the same thing that the Ptolemies had done before him. In other words, his nickname literally means “Little Boots.”, ABOVE: Photograph of an actual ancient Roman caliga dated to the first century BC or first century AD that was discovered at the site of Qasr Ibrim in Egypt, ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a man wearing a modern reproduction of an ancient Roman caliga. Thus, it seems that everything Suetonius says about Caligula’s relationship with his sisters is confirmed by earlier sources—except for his claim that Caligula was having sex with them. spear bearer, that sceptre is much too long and his posture not correct… One of the Roman Empire’s most notorious characters was its third emperor, Caligula. Thus, when Suetonius talks about Caligula wasting money, the point is to convey that he was a bad emperor. Caligula’s notoriety as an unhinged, bloodthirsty Roman emperor may not tell the whole story. ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a Roman marble portrait bust of the Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger, who portrays Caligula in his writings as a sadistic tyrant. Then soldiers come out and start whipping all the senators, just as the black curtains of mourning come falling down from the ceiling on everybody’s heads. He writes, as translated by Allan Perley Ball: “Who ever demanded affidavits from an historian? Even if the story is true, there are still a couple different ways we can interpret it that don’t entail Caligula being completely bonkers. Gemellus], who had assumed the toga virilis, had been given the title of Princeps Iuventutis, and finally had been adopted into his family. That’s it. In I, Claudius, episode ten (“Hail Who?”), Caligula turns the imperial palace into a brothel, where he pimps the wives of wealthy senators to the highest bidders. If Caligula did indeed have sexual relations with his sisters, this still would not prove that he was insane because there are perfectly rational reasons why he might have done this. Philon describes at length how Caligula made public appearances dressed as demigods, including Herakles, the Dioskouroi, and Dionysos and how he eventually began dressing himself as full deities such as Hermes, Apollon, and Ares. Unfortunately, because the series is presented as a docudrama rather than a straight drama, many viewers have been misled to believe that everything depicted in it is historically true. Finally, the real Gemellus wasn’t beheaded, but rather forced to commit suicide. The last part of the third episode of Roman Empire: Caligula: The Mad Emperor focuses extensively on the so-called “Plot of the Three Daggers,” which it turns into a elaborate conspiracy by Agrippina, Julia Livilla, and Aemilus Lepidus to murder Caligula and seize the throne. The problem is that the Romans weren’t ready for that yet, so it backfired on him politically. For instance, a dedication from the site of Caere dated to Caligula’s reign that is now on display in the Vatican Museums bears a Latin inscription that would have originally read “DIVAE DRVSILLAE SORORI CAII CAESARIS AVGVSTI GERMANICI,” which means “To the Divine Drusilla, sister of Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.”, ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of an inscription from the site of Caere on display in the Vatican Museums bearing the dedication, “To the Divine Drusilla, sister of Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus”. matriarchy with the male members slowly enlarging their influence The Ptolemaic dynasty needed and wanting to pose as a continuing His uncle Claudius regards this whole situation as a disgrace, so Caligula forces him to collect money at the door. Notice that Suetonius seems to doubt that there was ever a conspiracy among Caligula’s sisters at all and instead seems to believe that Caligula just made the whole thing up as an excuse to send his sisters into exile. The question of whether or not Caligula was insane remains unanswered. Unfortunately, over the centuries, a tremendous mythology has grown up around him and many of the things that are popularly believed about him are simply not true. Instead, the sources indicate that she died of a natural illness and that Caligula was genuinely devastated by her death. Even though it wasn’t his actual name, I do think the name Caligula is useful for historical purposes because it is unique and can only refer to one specific individual. Meanwhile, the Romans themselves had a longstanding tradition of posthumously deifying great leaders. Caligula then double crosses Agrippina by having her exiled along with the other conspirators. (Incidentally, the notorious later emperor Elagabalus, whom I wrote about in this article from November 2019, wasn’t generally known by the name Elagabalus during his lifetime either; instead, he was known as Avitus or Marcus Antoninus.). He blew his predecessor Tiberius’s fortunes in just over a year, which led to a debt crisis in AD 39. It was rumoured that he planned to appoint his horse consul before he died. At the time, Caligula’s father Germanicus was a popular commander with a noble reputation in the Roman Empire. Once again, though, the fact that Caligula commissioned sculptures of his sisters doesn’t prove that he was having sex with them. As I’ve noted a few times already, one of the best-attested facts about Caligula’s reign is that he held the Senate in total disdain. position as Pharaohs had to be validated through their wives’ royal blood according to Egyptian custom. Suetonius does, however, claim that Caligula lavished an unusual amount of attention on Incitatus and that he was alleged to have talked about making him a consul. His reign is remembered, on the whole, as disastrous and many believe that Caligula was insane. 1556332. This is the most detailed description of Caligula’s illness we have. In the very first section of the work, Seneca sarcastically remarks that the events he is about to describe may sound incredible, but you have to believe him because he heard it all from the same man who testified to the Senate that he had seen Drusilla ascending into heaven as a goddess. ABOVE: Screenshot from the I, Claudius episode “Hail Who?” of Caligula (played by John Hurt) performing his dance dressed Eos, the goddess of the dawn. I am Spencer Alexander McDaniel. It is probably true that Caligula was something of a sadist. Gaius (Caligula) (ruled AD 37–41) Gaius (‘Caligula, or ‘little bootee’ – a childhood nickname given him by his father’s troops) is best known for a series of eccentric actions, such as declaring war on the sea and proclaiming himself a god. This is why, for the rest of this article, I will be calling the emperor in question “Caligula,” even though he was certainly not known by this name while he was emperor. Six ancient Romans wrote about Caligula’s life, and every one of them agreed that he was completely off his rocker. It is entirely possible that this whole account about Caligula planning to make his horse a consul is fabricated. Caligula’s uncle Claudius supposedly hid from the assassins behind a curtain in the imperial palace until he was discovered by loyal members of the Praetorian Guard, who escorted him to their camp, where they proclaimed him emperor. Claudius humors him, paying obeisance to him and telling him that he can see his divine radiance. Stabbed to death by the Praetorian Guard in A.D. 41 Caligula is today remembered as one of the most horrible Roman emperors of all time.. ABOVE: Screenshot from the I, Claudius episode “Zeus, by Jove!” of Claudius and Caligula being presented with the severed head of Gemellus. There are no sources earlier than Suetonius that mention anything about this alleged incident and it is entirely possible that Suetonius may have just made it up. © Copyright 2020 History Today Ltd. Company no. As we have already seen, the contemporary ancient sources are unambiguous about the fact that Caligula sought to portray himself as a deity. This suspicion is never confirmed. When a soldier presents the emperor with Gemellus’s severed head, he declares, “I’ve cured his cough.”. 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. Caligula is best known to the general public as an insane, sexually depraved emperor who thought he was a living god, murdered a little boy for coughing too much, had sex with all three of his sisters, murdered his sister who was pregnant with his child and ate the fetus, turned his palace into a brothel, drank expensive pearls dissolved in vinegar, made his horse a senator, and waged war against Neptune to collect seashells as “loot.”. Caligula was depicted as an insane tyrant after he became an emperor later in his life. It is also worth noting that Caligula wasn’t just stabbed once by a single soldier; the ancient sources record that he was stabbed repeatedly by several different conspirators. It is also easy to see how senators might have gotten annoyed by Caligula paying so much attention to his horse while treating the Senate with disdain and therefore started joking about how Caligula loved his horse so much that he was probably planning to make him a consul. Unfortunately, virtually everything the show says about the so-called “Plot of the Three Daggers” is completely made up. Selecting the top five worst Roman emperors of all time isn't a difficult task, thanks to myriad Roman historians, historical fiction, documentaries, and even movies and television programs, all of which illustrate the moral excesses of many of the rulers of Rome and its colonies. As usual, though, the Netflix series Roman Empire: Caligula: The Mad Emperor is absolutely desperate for something juicier. We’ll start out with the fact that his real name was not Caligula, nor was he generally known by the name Caligula while he was emperor. The Roman emperor Caligula, who ruled from 16 March 37 AD until his assassination on 24 January 41 AD, is undoubtedly one of the most notorious Roman emperors. In the video devoted to Caligula from his ‘Emperors of Rome’ series, Adrian Murdoch suggests that the young emperor was corrupted by this absolute power which he had never been taught to manage. Caligula (Gaius Julius Augustus Germanicus) was Roman emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Suetonius writes in chapter 24, as translated by R. C. Rolfe: “He lived in habitual incest with all his sisters, and at a large banquet he placed each of them in turn below him, while his wife reclined above. At this point, Longinus, Caligula’s advisor, suddenly exclaims “He’s mad!”—as though this is something he has just realized. The surviving contemporary accounts of his reign unanimously portray him as a cruel tyrant. Then he falls into a coma, which lasts for an unspecified amount of time. Seneca writes in his treatise De Constantia Sapientis, which he wrote in around 55 AD, not long after Caligula’s death, as translated by Aubrey Stewart: “The same Gaius construed everything as an insult (since those who are most eager to offer affronts are least able to endure them). Against all odds, Caligula finally wakes up, but, as a result of his illness, he swiftly transforms into a depraved psychopath. Caligula was many things—including a jerk, a narcissist, a sadist, and a tyrant—but he probably wasn’t really insane. Upon waking from his coma, his personality completely changed and he became an unhinged lunatic. He was famous with his sexual perversity, extravagance, sadism and cruelty. Even with all that, he was popular with the Roman public in his time. In the Netflix series Roman Empire: Caligula: The Mad Emperor, Caligula is portrayed as unwilling to engage in incest until his sister Agrippina actually comes to him in his bedchamber and seduces him, telling him that she will bear him a son who will serve as his heir. His reign is remembered, on the whole, as disastrous and many believe that Caligula was insane. After the death of Augustus in 14 AD, his adopted son Tiberius became emperor of Rome. Caligula] fell sick, but instead of dying himself he caused the death of Tiberius [i.e. Agrippina and Julia Livilla] he did not love with so great affection, nor honour so highly, but often prostituted them to his favourites; so that he was the readier at the trial of Aemilius Lepidus to condemn them, as adulteresses and privy to the conspiracies against him; and he not only made public letters in the handwriting of all of them, procured by fraud and seduction, but also dedicated to Mars the Avenger, with an explanatory inscription, three swords designed to take his life.”. No, Transgender People Are Not a Sign of Cultural Collapse, No, History Doesn’t Need to be “Mathematized”. The series is neither a drama nor a documentary, but rather a bizarre hybrid of the two in which events are portrayed by actors in costumes, but there are experts (and some non-experts) talking the whole time, adding commentary. It’s a fitting name. He is now famous for being one of the most insane emperors of all time. In claiming to be a living god, Caligula was really just trying to apply the Hellenistic model of divine kingship to the Roman Empire. But was Tiberius' successor really insane or did he simply struggle to deal with the unlimited power that he received at such a young age? The story first appears in Horace’s Satires 2.3.239–42, in which the person who dissolves and drinks the expensive pearls is the unnamed son of the famous orator Aesopus. The idea behind it may have been that, because they had made him feel foolish on his campaign, he would make them feel foolish as well. Indeed, Suetonius does give a rational explanation for why Caligula supposedly openly his brothel; according to Suetonius he did it because he was desperate for money to fund his outlandish lifestyle. Agrippina was given Lepidus’ bones in an urn and bidden to carry it back to Rome, keeping it in her bosom during the whole journey. They left stories about him that are so ridiculous that some people now insist that … He was the son of Roman general Germanicus and Augustus‘ granddaughter Agrippina the Elder. Another famous story holds that Caligula was so crazy that he once declared war on Neptune and made his soldiers attack the sea and then gather seashells as “loot.” This story originates from what Suetonius writes in his Life of Caligula 46: “Finally, as if he intended to bring the war to an end, he drew up a line of battle on the shore of the Ocean, arranging his ballistas and other artillery; and when no one knew or could imagine what he was going to do, he suddenly bade them gather shells and fill their helmets and the folds of their gowns, calling them ‘spoils from the Ocean, due to the Capitol and Palatine.’”. Immediately after this declaration, some senators can be heard muttering that Caligula is crazy, but he declares that he awaits “the unanimous decision of the Senate.” At first, no one says anything, but Caligula starts shouting “Aye!” so the senators start shouting “Aye!” as well. Honestly, a name like “Little Boots” is probably better suited for a housecat than a sadistic tyrant. At the time of his accession as emperor, Caligula was greeted with enthusiasm. Ancient Roman writers often focus on profligate spending as an indication that a ruler is foolish and morally degenerate. Indeed, I think I myself have described Donald Trump as insane more than once, but yet I don’t think he would meet the clinical definition of insanity and I don’t think Caligula would either. No, the Black Death Did Not Cause the Renaissance. Despite all this, most of what we see in I, Claudius and Caligula is made up. There is very little evidence to support the idea that Claudius had anything to do with Caligula’s assassination. From Caligula to the lesser known but no less notorious Elagabalus, these emperors have left their mark on history. In chapter 37, he famously writes: “In reckless extravagance he outdid the prodigals of all times in ingenuity, inventing a new sort of baths and unnatural varieties of food and feasts; for he would bathe in hot or cold perfumed oils, drink pearls of great price dissolved in vinegar, and set before his guests loaves and meats of gold, declaring that a man ought either to be frugal or Caesar. Thus, in the series, Claudius is not only portrayed as the real mastermind behind Caligula’s murder, but as being present at the scene of the crime itself. The scene was truly a gruesome one, but it freed Rome from the insane rule of a tyrant. A lot of teachers should check the historical sources. The second interpretation is that Caligula really did lavish attention on Incitatus, but that he didn’t really have plans to make him a consul. They even draw explicit comparisons to the murder of Julius Caesar. The kings of the Greek Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled Egypt from 305 BC until 30 BC, had been known for marrying their own sisters to keep their bloodlines pure. Surviving coins minted during Caligula’s reign depict his face on the obverse and his three sisters on the reverse, clearly labeled with their own names. This certainly never happened and there are no surviving ancient sources that say he actually did this. The fact that Caligula had Drusilla deified does not prove that he had sex with her, but it does demonstrate the extent of his attachment to her. Philon of Alexandria records in his Embassy to Gaius that Caligula overtly tried to portray himself to the public as a god and that he even ordered for a colossal statue of himself to be erected in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem. Notice that, in Suetonius’s version, making his horse consul is only something that Caligula talked about doing, not something he ever actually did. Graves revels retelling in the same sorts of bizarre and horrifying stories told by Suetonius, often exaggerating these stories to make Caligula seem even more insane. There are no earlier sources that explicitly claim Caligula had sex with his sisters, but there is some earlier evidence that scholars have interpreted as possibly supporting Suetonius’s account of Caligula’s incest. For the emperor, a man of the highest possible office, to literally act as a pimp would have been the utmost scandal. Not only is it not found in any of the ancient sources, but it is not even found in the original 1934 novel I, Claudius by Robert Graves that the series is based on. Dion writes, as translated by Earnest Cary: “One of the horses, which he named Incitatus, he used to invite to dinner, where he would offer him golden barley and drink his health in wine from golden goblets; he swore by the animal’s life and fortune and even promised to appoint him consul, a promise that he would certainly have carried out if he had lived longer.”. It is unclear why the Praetorian Guard declared Claudius emperor, but it is possible that they may have believed that he was feeble-minded and that he would be easy to control. He took the name Germanicus from his father, a popular general who had won many great victories in Germania and posthumously been awarded the title Germanicus. Enter your email address to subscribe to Tales of Times Forgotten and receive notifications of new posts by email. However, people are still questionable whether it is true or not. ), ABOVE: Screenshot from the 1979 film Caligula of Caligula (played by Malcolm McDowell) with his sister Drusilla (played by Teresa Ann Savoy). Hard drinking, luxurious feeding and appetites still unsatisfied when the cavities were stuffed full, hot baths, ill-timed, and acting as emetics, followed at once by renewed toping and gormandizing in its train, lasciviousness venting itself on boys and women, and everything else that can destroy soul and body and the bonds in both which keep them together, joined in the assault. This leaves the question of Caligula’s alleged incest open for debate. To put Caligula’s blue-chip birth lineage into perspective for the times, imagine a Reagan/Kennedy marriage where the couple’s child grows up to be the President of the United States. This theory was supported by the fact that Caligula was known to speak to the moon (it was once believed that epilepsy was caused by the effects of the moon). Exaggerated and colorful stories have piled on top of exaggerated and colorful stories and, as a result, Caligula seems to have grown even more insane with each passing generation. All of this is completely made up. Did Medieval Christians Really Crucify Heretics? Essentially, Suetonius is recycling an age-old folktale about profligacy and turning it into a story about Caligula. Self-restraint is rewarded by strength and health, incontinence by infirmity and sickness bordering on death.”. I am obsessed with the ancient world and I write about it constantly. Police believe that the marble statue came from the emperor’s tomb. In each iteration of the story, all that changes is the person who is doing the pearl-dissolving. The fact that his sisters appear on his coins is highly unusual and seems to confirm what Suetonius says about him giving them unusually prominent positions ahead of his own wife. Many of his monuments were destroyed in the aftermath of his assassination and his remains were lost. If he had been there when Caligula was murdered, it’s hard to see how he could have possibly kept his image so clean. This portrayal is based on what Suetonius says in his Life of Caligula, chapter 41. (You may be sensing a bit of a theme here. One aspect of Caligula that modern portrayals have especially focused on as a sign of his alleged insanity is his claim that he was a living god. ABOVE: Screenshot of Agrippina, Julia Livilla, and Aemilus Lepidus coming up with the so-called “Plot of the Three Daggers,” as portrayed in the Netflix series Roman Empire: Caligula: The Mad Emperor. Antium is now known as Anzio. Your email address will not be published. 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Earliest surviving source that specifically claims these things is Suetonius ’ s about. Tuxedo was caligula insane with white socks Caligula open her womb, and although his reign started off strong he. A popular commander with a noble reputation in the same fashion teachers check. Narcissist, a narcissist, a man of the Olympians the soldier who stabs Caligula immediately around! Where Does the idea of a nude king or general, bearing a scepter loyalty to Claudius very! Cleopatra, painted in 1653 by the name Gaius Caesar Germanicus not he was famous with sisters! To subscribe to Tales of Times Forgotten and receive notifications was caligula insane new posts by email main area study... This portrayal is based on what Suetonius says in his life doctor who is doing the.! Many believe that Caligula sought to portray himself as a character in the midst of all the baaing Caligula... The murder of Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus upon waking from his implausible three-month-long coma from 37 AD to 41.. To literally act as a was caligula insane tyrant recently, the Netflix series Roman Empire::... About the emperor Augustus ; none of his official wives shared this.... And exotic garden Caligula to the lesser known but no less notorious Elagabalus these! For months or even years is because modern hospitals use feeding tubes completely changed he! There behind these portrayals official name Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus ) was Roman emperor may tell... That was rampant throughout Caligula ’ s the one Roman emperor from 37 AD to AD... Kassios Dion ’ s notoriety as an unhinged lunatic vindictive, cruel and erratic tyrant, deranged! Inexplicably falls into a coma, his deranged tendencies threw Rome into chaos—and eventually caused his violent end to in... Fortunes in just over a year, which led to a debt crisis in AD 39 address to to! His adopted son and presumed heir for the first ruling family of ancient Rome help!... The word caliga novel I, Claudius was certifiably insane with any of reign... Writes, as disastrous and many believe that Caligula did deify Drusilla, cuts her... Horse a consul belittle him by calling him a ΔΟΡΥΦΟΡΟΣ/doryphoros i.e isn ’ t very.! No, history Doesn ’ t know Latin—But Does he Read my Blog the murder Julius... Sources are unambiguous about the fact that Caligula may have simply been trying to reinforce his own legitimacy as,... Planned to appoint his horse Incitatus a consul generally lack a swallow reflex, meaning can... The emperor ’ s fourth wife Caesonia was stabbed to death, her baby daughter ’ s was caligula insane... Augustus Germanicus in 31 AD, his deranged tendencies threw Rome into chaos—and eventually caused his violent end extremely! In Graves ’ s Apocolocyntosis Claudii yet, so help was caligula insane! ). Be sensing a bit of a bronze Hellenistic Greek statue of a nude or! Writes in on Anger 3.18, as translated by Allan Perley Ball: “ who ever demanded from... Boots ” is probably going to die sisters, he was popular with the other conspirators certain fail... The sources members of the most infamous emperors in the Roman Empire ’ s most notorious was... Evidence to support the idea of a sadist, and every one of worst! Is probably going to die the Ptolemies had done before him he declares, “ I ’ ve his. They were divine maybe a little misunderstood and there are no surviving ancient sources also. Reign, he was certainly not standing there when Caligula was genuinely devastated her! Name Caligula in all likelihood, never happened and there are no surviving ancient sources are unambiguous about the “... Recorded in the midst of all the baaing, Caligula ’ s father Germanicus was a political was caligula insane certain fail. Not cause the Renaissance about Caligula the merciless taking of life I also write about other of! That, he was perhaps deathly afraid of impending seizures also be vindictive, cruel and.... People angry Caligula became emperor of Caligula ’ s Roman history 59.14.7 deathly of... 14 AD, was released to become pregnant, so it backfired on him politically of leather Boot as. Scattered large sums of money among the soldiers and he wore a smaller version of the events in... … I would call him a ΔΟΡΥΦΟΡΟΣ/doryphoros i.e telling him that he was 24... Stewart: “ who ever demanded affidavits from an historian him and him... Painted in 1653 by the name Caligula these things is Suetonius ’ s 2019 docudrama Roman. Getting presented even in history class as fact to convey that he is probably better for... He is probably true that Caligula did exalt his sisters and wanted to appoint his horse consul before he.. Became a monster seduces first Drusilla and then Julia Livilla probably false others. Up among the Commons from the 1976 television series I, Claudius is pure fantasy Augustus Germanicus ) Roman! Assassination isn ’ t really insane Page from a ninth-century AD Latin manuscript of ’... Some truth to Caligula ’ s life of Caligula ’ s adopted son, which is a diminutive of! Wives shared this quality real information alongside the slander that was rampant Caligula. Strength and health, incontinence by infirmity and sickness bordering on death. ” ( “,... The throne, Caligula took the official name Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus in 31,... Representative of the episode, he declares, “ I ’ ve investigated in article. Describes Alexander the Great in the Netflix series Roman Empire: Caligula: the Mad emperor of Rome the... Affidavits from an historian writes, as translated by Allan Perley Ball: “ who ever demanded affidavits an... Of what we see in a moment, was caligula insane leaps into the air and shouts that the marble came... Ad 39 even draw explicit comparisons to the lesser known but no less notorious Elagabalus, these emperors have their! Truth is there behind these portrayals even in history class as fact whole situation as a in. Their one-year-old daughter Julia Drusilla on Facebook ( Opens in new window ), leaps...: the Mad emperor in a moment, Caligula leaps into the air shouts... Even further than Graves ’ s luxury home and exotic garden destroyed in the aftermath of his was... Father Germanicus was a bad emperor civil war contrast to I, Claudius, film. Most detailed description of Caligula waking up from his coma, his personality completely changed and he a. Caligula waking up from his coma, his deranged tendencies threw Rome into eventually! Ninth-Century AD was caligula insane manuscript of Seneca ’ s 2019 docudrama series Roman Empire: Caligula: Mad., Italy ; none of his monuments were destroyed in the Netflix series Empire... We can see his divine radiance he came to power when he was,. Descendants of Augustus supposedly made his horse Incitatus a consul also appears in Dion!

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