Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Caligula: Crazed, Running Amok, and Looking FABULOUS!

In January of 41 AD, the Roman Emperor Caligula was assassinated by his own Praetorian Guards. This, of course, raised some doubts about his "living god" status, not to mention ruined his favorite designer toga. Caligula is widely considered to be one of the worst Roman emperors of all time, indeed one of the worst leaders of any culture. Some say this was in part due to his addiction to violent video games, other say that he may have suffered from brain inflammation or epilepsy. In any case, psychics report that his spirit is jealous that googling "worst leader ever" comes up with so many Bush hits, when he worked so hard to achieve that honor.

What was so bad about the "Caligster" you might ask? After all, did he not do much for animal-rights by building a mansion for his horse? Well, here are some highlights from his distinguished career (note - many of these may be more legend than fact, think of a giant 2,000 year sewing circle):

- Born August 31, 12 AD. His first words were "What, no cake?"

- At a young age, his father Germanicus brought him on military campaigns, dressing him up in miniature armor. He earned the nickname "Caligula" from this, which means "little boot"

- After the death of Tiberius in 37, Caligula ascended to the throne with much pomp and ado. He had a two mile bridge of pontoons built, which he rode his horse across wearing the supposed breastplate of Alexander the Great. His first several months were said to be extremely delightful and prosperous before taking a turn for the worst. Some sources see an uncanny similarity to most marriages.

-Became seriously ill in October of 37. Although he fully recovered, the "salad" days were gone, replaced by the "So, you-guys-think-you-can-party, I'll-show-you-a-party!" days.

- In 39 replaced the Consuls without Senate permission. To make more friends, he forced some Senators to run along his chariot in public like horses.

- Declared himself a god, and demanded to be worshiped accordingly. He had the heads of many divinity statues replaced with his own, including female goddesses. Freud later seen drooling with delight.

- Held auctions of Senator's wives during his "parties". He would often take the wives himself, later bragging about it in front of the helpless husbands. Some say this resulted from a comedy act in which he took the phrase "Take my wife, please!" slightly too literally.

- Had incestuous relations with all three of his sisters, making numerous appearances on the popular "Jerrius Springerus" show.

- Declared his horse a priest, built it a mansion and lavished it with jeweled necklaces.

- When convicts ran out for the lions, he would sometimes throw in random spectators.

- Claimed, "Let them hate me, so long as they fear me." Earliest recorded mention of the neo-con philosophy.

- Held an oratory contest in which the losers had to erase their wax tablets with their tongues (you read right).

- Had insomnia, and would often "order the sun to rise" when he couldn't sleep. Impressively, this usually worked if he waited long enough.

- Opened a brothel in the imperial palace. Considered changing his name to "C-Diddy"

- He was sensitive about his balding head and abundant body-hair. He made it a crime to look down on him from above, or mention goats in his presence.

- 41 ad Caligula, his wife Caesonia, and his daughter were killed by his own Praetorian Guard. His last words were "Hey, you call that a stabbing?"

Well, there you have it. Good ol' Caligula. The big "C". The man whose mere mention brings up sounds of bongo drums and images of giant feather fans. If he were alive today, he would either become a tabloid dirt editor, or a well-respected member of the Senate. Either way, I'm sure after several minutes of watching TV he would say "I just LOVE you guys!"


Mike said...

A fine analysis.

I was reminded of another nefarious character, the Marquis De Sade. He was much more functional than Caligula, and surprisingly popular until he was arrested and imprisoned without a trial in 1801. He was the deviant personality from which the word 'sadist' originates.

Jarod said...

Indeed. Imagine the Marquis and Caligula out for a "night on the town." It would cause more ruin than Pompeii.

Andy Coon said...

Wow, power really does corrupt people. Fear and power, remember the days back in kindergarten when you used to run around like Caligula and rule the garten... Those were the days.

Mike said...

There's something about corruption that scares me more than...well, more than zombies, for one.

BlondebutBright said...

You have a great way of telling about this guy´s life. I´m sure glad I didn´t get to meet him! Do you teach? I have no doubt that you could enthrall sleepy undergrads with these tidbits.

Jarod said...

Cheers, BbB. I never taught, but I spent years in the education department at my old museum designing programs. Hopefully these are just a little light fun for people! :)

(Shameless plug: for some excellent writing check out BbB's blog through my links)

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Extremely entertaining. Thanks for this lite look at a heavy character.

Jarod said...

Thanks, EST. I like your blog!