Legends of the Ancient World

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Book Details

Author  Charles River Editors
Publisher  Charles River Editors
Publication Date   February 13, 2013
ISBN 
Pages  56

Description

*Includes pictures of historic art depicting Caligula and important people and places in his life.
*Discusses the facts and legends surrounding Caligula's madness and the excesses of his turbulent reign.
*Includes Suetonius' account of Caligula's life.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a Table of Contents.

“He seldom had anyone put to death except by numerous slight wounds, his constant order, which soon became well-known, being: ‘Strike so that he may feel that he is dying.’ When a different man than he had intended had been killed, through a mistake in the names, he said that the victim too had deserved the same fate. He often uttered the familiar line of the tragic poet: ‘Let them hate me, so they but fear me.’"– Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Throughout the history of the Roman Empire, many rulers held the reins of ultimate power. Some of them, like Octavian, Trajan, Hadrian, Constantine, and Marcus Aurelius, are still celebrated and considered among antiquity’s great statesmen, generals and thinkers. But the Roman Empire also had its fair share of notorious villains, from the sadistic Nero to the debauched Commodus. And yet, all of Rome’s poor rulers pale in comparison to the record and legacy of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, a young man remembered by posterity as Caligula.

Given how bad some of Rome’s emperors were, it’s a testament to just how insane and reviled Caligula was that he is still remembered nearly 2,000 years later as the epitome of everything that could be wrong with a tyrant. The Romans had high hopes for him after he succeeded Tiberius in 37 A.D., and by all accounts he was a noble and just ruler during his first few months in power. But after that, he suffered some sort of mysterious illness that apparently rendered him insane. Indeed, the list of Caligula’s strange actions is long. Among other things, Caligula began appearing in public dressed as gods and goddesses, and his incest, sexual perversion, and thirst for blood were legendary at the time, difficult accomplishments considering Roman society was fairly accustomed to and tolerant of such things.

In fact, the Romans were so taken aback by some of Caligula’s behavior that historians catalogued some of his strangest antics. Suetonius wrote that as Caligula’s relationship with the Senate deteriorated, he ordered that Incitatus be made a member of the Roman Senate and a Consul. Incitatus, Latin for “swift,” was Caligula’s favorite horse. But far from simply being a way to stick it to the Senate, Caligula invited guests to dine with Incitatus and had the horse’s stables made of marble, suggesting Caligula was simply mentally unstable himself.

Caligula has always fascinated people, and people have speculated for centuries whether the stories about his misdeeds are true. What is clear is that the Romans had more than enough by 41 A.D., when the Praetorian Guard turned on the young emperor and assassinated him. Caligula’s reign was so traumatic to the Romans that they even considered restoring the Republic, but military officials ultimately installed Claudius, the only male left in the Julian family line, as emperor.

Legends of the Ancient World: The Life and Legacy of Caligula chronicles the life, stories, and legacy of the famous Roman emperor. Along with pictures of art depicting important people and places, as well as a bibliography and Table of Contents, you will learn about Caligula like you never have before, in no time at all.

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