The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. — Robert Conquest

Caligula

(Caius Caesar Germanicus)

12–41
Civilization: Roman — Rome
   Field of Renown:  monarch — Emperor
Era:  Early Empire

caligula
CAESONIA GAVE HIM A LOVE-POTION
Caligula was the son of Germanicus and grew up in camp on the Rhine. When Germanicus died suddenly in Syria, foul play was suspected, and Caligula's mother made accusations against Tiberius. This estrangement resulted many years later in the imprisonment and death of Caligula's mother and brothers, but Caligula himself was spared.

Caligula succeeded to the imperial throne on the death of Tiberius, at the age of 25 and for the first few months of his reign all went well. He soon came down with a very severe fever and it is generally believed that after this illness he became insane. He quickly thereafter became a sadistic autocrat, who began to kill, and execute, and torture his subjects in a bizarre manner. His reign is full of stories of atrocities and blasphemous incidents, including random massacres and the elevation of his horse to an office of state. Though he had enjoyed great popularity at the beginning of his reign, when he was assassinated by his praetorian guard, there was universal relief. He was succeeded by his uncle Claudius.


Key events during the life of Caligula:


Year
Event
37
Ascended to imperial throne after death of Tiberius.
37
Suffered illness that was thought to affect his sanity.
38
Murdered Marco, who had helped him gain the throne. Begins reckless purges.
39
Continues bizarre behavior. Has horse deified.
40
Caligula deifies himself. Ordered statue of himself to be placed in temple in Jerusalem.
41
Murdered by the praetorian guard.

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Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Assassination of Caligula  in  Nero  by  Jacob Abbott
Madman on the Throne  in  Pictures from Roman Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Wild Caligula  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
How Caligula Conquered Britain  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Imperial Monster  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

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Image Links


Caesonia
 in Nero

Caligula
 in Pictures from Roman Life and Story

Caesonia gave him a love-potion.
 in Pictures from Roman Life and Story

Rulers of the Early Empire
 in Pictures from Roman Life and Story


Contemporary
Short Biography
Claudius Fourth emperor. Manipulated by wicked wives, Messalina and Agrippina.
Agrippina the Elder Granddaughter of Augustus Caesar; accused Tiberius of killing her husband Germanicus.