Caligula

Reece Period attributed: Period 1

Obverse image of a coin of Caligula

Member of the Julio-Claudians dynasty.

Coins for this issuer were issued from 37 until 41.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (August 31, 12 - January 24, 41), most commonly known as Caligula, was the third Roman Emperor and a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, ruling from 37 to 41. Known for his extreme extravagance, eccentricity, depravity and cruelty, he is remembered as a despot. He was assassinated in 41 by several of his own guards.

The Roman historian Suetonius referred to Caligula as a "monster", and the surviving sources are universal in their condemnation. One popular tale, often cited as an example of his insanity and tyranny, is that Caligula appointed his favorite horse, Incitatus, to a seat on the senate and attempted to appoint it to the position of consul. The story, however, owes its unrelenting currency to its charm: it is based on a single misunderstood near-contemporary reference, in which Suetonius merely repeats an unattributed rumour that Caligula was thinking about doing it (Suet. Cal. 55.3).

Caligula is often alleged to have had incestuous relationships with his sisters, most notably his younger sister Drusilla, but there is no credible evidence to support such claims either. In short, the surviving sources are filled with anecdotes of Caligula's cruelty and insanity rather than an actual account of his reign, making any reconstruction of his time as Princeps nearly impossible. What does survive is the picture of a depraved, hedonistic ruler, an image that has made Caligula one of the most widely recognizable, if poorly documented, of all the Roman Emperors; the name "Caligula" itself has become synonymous with wanton hedonism, cruelty, tyranny, and insanity.

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Information from Wikipedia

  • Preferred label: Caligula
  • Full names:
    • Caligula
    • *Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus (birth name)
    • *Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (as emperor)
  • Title: Consul of the Roman Empire
  • Predecessor: Great uncle, Tiberius
  • Successor: Claudius
  • Definition: Caligula (/kəˈlɪɡjᵿlə/) was the popular nickname of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (31 August AD 12 – 24 January AD 41), Roman emperor (AD 37–41). Born Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus (not to be confused with Julius Caesar), Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's biological father was Germanicus, and he was the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius. The young Gaius earned the nickname "Caligula" (meaning "little soldier's boot", the diminutive form of caliga, hob-nailed military boot) from his father's soldiers while accompanying him during his campaigns in Germania. When Germanicus died at Antioch in AD 19, his wife Agrippina the Elder returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. The conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. Untouched by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted the invitation to join the Emperor in AD 31 on the island of Capri, where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. With the death of Tiberius in AD 37, Caligula succeeded his grand uncle and adoptive grandfather as emperor. There are few surviving sources about the reign of Emperor Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate ruler during the first six months of his reign. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversity, presenting him as an insane tyrant. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, and initiated the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire annexed the Kingdom of Mauretania as a province. In early AD 41, Caligula was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by officers of the Praetorian Guard, senators, and courtiers. The conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic was thwarted: on the day of the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorian Guard declared Caligula's uncle, Claudius, the next Roman emperor.
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  • Other title(s):
    • List of Roman Emperors
    • Consul of the Roman Empire
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