Caligula (AD 12-41)
So this is a name I have heard many times.
Whether it be in childhood in reference to understanding the great historical past of the Roman
Caesars or as a modern reference to some type of incorrigible debauchery, Caligula is a name
that most average Americans will be familiar with. However, it occurred to me that I really know
nothing about this so called king of sin…which thus made me immediately curious….for some reason.
Caligula, the name, actually means or is synonymous with “Little Boot,” a name bestowed on
Gaius Caesar in his youth due to the favoritism showed him by his father’s army. Just in case
you are a genuine trivia buff, his father’s name was Germanicus Caesar.
Well, eventually through numerous deaths and illnesses, and strange inter-family sexual
relationships, Little Boot became the ruler of Rome. However, for the first 6 months or so,
he was not the ruler we have learned to grow and love.
It wasn’t until Caligula fell deathly ill with a fever or encephalitis and then miraculously
recovered, in a state of insanity and epilepsy (phew), when he earned the name which now
adorns many a strip club (adult supervision required please: http://www.caligulaxxi.com/)
across middle America or graces thousands of essays in middle schools (whatever your pleasure).
Caligula succeeded in squandering one of the largest state treasury collections in the history of
Rome and in return, in order to make up for his excess, reportedly required all inheritances
and estates within the empire to become his. This was just the beginning.
Caligula ordered people to commit suicide, had people whipped to death while he ate dinner,
proclaimed his horse a priest, and dissolved pearls in vinegar followed by drinking the liquid.
In 41 AD, Caligula and his armies invaded Gaul and after victory he had his entire army collect
seashells in their helmets, explaining that these were the spoils of the conquered ocean, his victory
over the gods of the sea. Cute.
Due to his devoted following, Caligula was murdered by a conspiracy organized by the Roman
Praetorians in January 41 AD at the Palatine games.
Here is a good Caligula reference, a real one, trust me.