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CALIGULA

To what extent are our sources fair in their presentation of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus?

Introduction

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born on the Thirty-first day of August, 12 AD at Antium. He was the third Roman Emperor after Augustus and Tiberius. His reign as emperor lasted four years 37-41 AD, (Barnes 2013). Caligula was a known member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His father Germanicus was one of Rome’s most decorated generals and a beloved public figure. His father was the adopted son and also a nephew of Tiberius. The term Caligula was a nickname forged by Gaius’ father soldiers to mean a little soldier’s boots. This was during their match to campaigns in Germania. Upon the death of his father, his mother Agrippina moved together with her six children to Rome. There she had severe disagreements with Tiberius which led to the destruction of her entire family. However, Caligula survived as the only male surviving descendant. Caligula was taken in by Tiberius as an adoptive grandson to the emperor. He moved to the island of Capri where Tiberius had moved half a decade earlier. Upon the death of Tiberius in 37 AD, Caligula succeeded his grandfather and became the third emperor of Rome (Pitcher, 2009).

There are quite a few sources that describe Caligula’s reign that are surviving. He is, however, broadly describes as a ruler who was both noble and moderate in the first couple of years of his rule. Thereafter, these sources are focused on his vices of cruelty, sexual perversity, extravagance, and tyranny. Although there is not much information on the nature of his rule and the sources give detailed yet inconsistent accounts of his reign (Pickard 2013). One thing that is for sure is that there is an account on the emperor working tirelessly to increase the personal powers of an emperor. This was opposed to delegating the powers to the principate. Most of his attention was focused on construction projects that were notoriously luxurious and ambitious. The constructions projects were as personal presents to himself. He however also built to new aqueducts in Rome. He also annexed the kingdom of Mauretania and made it one of the empire’s provinces (Barnes 2013).

In 41 AD, Caligula became the first emperor to be assassinated. This happened following a conspiracy involving officers of the Praetorian Guard, members of the imperial court and the roman senate. It was done in an attempt to restore the roman public but was thwarted simultaneously as the Praetorian Guard named Claudius emperor. Claudius was Caligula’s uncle and ruled thirteen years. He was emperor at the times of Jesus Christ. Caligula died on the twenty-fourth day of January, 41 AD after a brief reign of four years (Philo of Alexandria, 1962).

Many Different Representations

People who perceive Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula) today review occurrences of torment and sheer cruelty. They likely will neither be capable of describing any of his accomplishments nor tell precisely who the originators of such striking, negative stories (Barnes 2013). Some of the assumptions of the evils associated with Caligula are ordinarily experienced in the disentangled way people today recall authentic figures. Obviously, Caligula is not exceptional amongst the various Roman sovereigns. He does not appear as a person who is dependable and true. For some individuals today, Nero right away evokes dreams relating to Christian mistreatments. Commodus is frequently recognized as a conveying disgrace to his father, Marcus Aurelius, for his gathered offenses. Such assumptions frequently affect the chronicled record and can bring about issues while remaking the stories in essential sources. It is hence basic to reproduce these accounts effectively (Potter 2009). Thus, the emperors all have a common way that people perceive them.

Modern presentation of Caligula

Maybe there is no other quality associated with Caligula's character more than that of madness. Being rationally precarious could clarify why the ruler conferred a significant number of the barbarities. This is according to the testaments of several authors. Deciding precisely how rationally or physically unfit Caligula was is to some degree, troublesome. Suetonius mentions that Augustus was sufficiently concerned about Caligula's wellbeing in AD 14. As a result, he appointed two specialists to take care of his epileptic seizures. The sources additionally guarantee that he had a sleeping disorder. He also experienced bad dreams. He stowed away under his bed in the event of electrical storms and had different afflictions. These cases, however, show up in different records on the ruler. Additionally, it is stressed that such stories were regularly described by scholars within the nineteenth century (Pitcher 2009). The scholars at that time saw Caligula simply as a maniac, debased and pitiless. This was a perspective that originated from the abstract sources themselves. These scientists raised questions on the way that the sources portray how Caligula would drink a mixture (elixirs) arranged by Caesonia (his wife) that made him rationally precarious. Barrett (1996) recommends that this case can be disregarded. However, there are different Romans who have gotten distraught from drinking elixirs. Tragically, these early researchers kept on influencing how present day mainstream cultures visualize Caligula.

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