caligula

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The Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known to history as Caligula, was born into the imperial family in 12 AD. His father, the popular Roman general Germanicus, died when he was young. His mother and two older brothers were then killed during the bloody intrigues that wracked the Roman nobility during the reign of Tiberius.

Caligula and his three sisters managed to survive, and he succeeded Tiberius in 37 AD. After what is widely considered to have been a good first couple of years on the throne, the latter part of his reign has gone down in history as a time of madness and murder that scandalized Rome. But were the ancient historians doing Caligula a disservice? His behavior was certainly outlandish, but was the young emperor’s bizarre behavior all trying to make a point about the rotten state of Roman politics?


recommended reading

For a revisionist take on the traditional view of Caligula’s reign, check out Caligula: A Biography by Aloys Winterling.


A replica bust of Caligula, with traces of paint from an ancient statue used to recreate the face of the young emperor.

A replica bust of Caligula, with traces of paint from an ancient statue used to recreate the face of the young emperor.