Favourite Caligula story

Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#32
Suetonius:
"He used to send his soldiers on the day before the games and order silence in the neighborhood, to prevent the horse Incitatus from being disturbed. Besides a stall of marble, a manger of ivory, purple blankets and a collar of precious stones, he even gave this horse a house, a troop of slaves and furniture, for the more elegant entertainment of the guests invited in his name; and it is also said that he planned to make him consul."

Cassius Dio:
"One of the horses, which he named Incitatus, he used to invite to dinner, where he would offer him golden barley and drink his health in wine from golden goblets; he swore by the animal's life and fortune and even promised to appoint him consul, a promise that he would certainly have carried out if he had lived longer."

There's no evidence Incitatus ever actually BECAME a consul. Most historians that I've read interpret the suggestion that he COULD be ... as an insult to the senators.

It just occurred to me. Either Suetonius or Cassius Dio *COULD* have said "Incitatus was made a consul." If they were intentionally painting a bad image of Caligula, why not? It's just one more crazy thing. The fact that they didn't actually adds a little more credence to the stories they tell where he *DID* do something crazy.
 
Last edited:
Sep 2012
910
Spring, Texas
#36
He got his sister pregnant and then decided to see what the baby looked like before it had reached term. He had her put on manacles, had her pulled up and then cut open. William Hurt seemed to be enjoying himself when he dressed up as Aphrodite and had his Uncle Claudius fall down to worship him. "I Claudius" and "Claudius the God" were great.

While his expedition to the Channel is presented as a great farce, it built a base for Claudius to invade Britain.

Pruitt
 
Likes: MagnusStultus
Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#37
I wondered about that story. In "I, Claudius" it's implied that Caligula is imitating Cronus and/or Saturn eating their children. Robert Grave's was one of the most foremost translators of that period of Roman history, but I haven't stumbled across that story yet. I honestly don't know if it's a Graves invention, or something in a Roman history.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,092
#39
I wondered about that story. In "I, Claudius" it's implied that Caligula is imitating Cronus and/or Saturn eating their children. Robert Grave's was one of the most foremost translators of that period of Roman history, but I haven't stumbled across that story yet. I honestly don't know if it's a Graves invention, or something in a Roman history.
There is a story that Caligula got his sister pregnant and fearing the child would be more powerful than him - due to the parallel with greek myth - he cut the child out and consumed it. It's a rather horrific story if taken at face value and might well be another misinterpretation of what actually happened. The anecdotal quality of the tale is by nature dubious and no verification is hinted at.
 
#40
Dios said
It just occurred to me. Either Suetonius or Cassius Dio *COULD* have said "Incitatus was made a consul." If they were intentionally painting a bad image of Caligula, why not? It's just one more crazy thing. The fact that they didn't actually adds a little more credence to the stories they tell where he *DID* do something crazy.
I find virtually all of the anecdotes about Caligula all too believable. All surviving sources indicate that Caligula was insane. Being given absolute power and incredible wealth at such a young age, might drive anyone insane. To my mind, he wasn't very intelligent. He seems to have accepted at face value, like a naive schoolboy, the existence of the Roman gods, and the stories of their behaviour. He thought he could do exactly what he liked - so he did. Any talk of him having an undelying political aim in insulting the senators is ridiculous, he was simply fascinated by his own power and he enjoyed letting everyone know about it. He was too stupid to realise that he had to cultivate good relationships with people who would eventually support him in time of need. As it was, he made too many enemies, who eventually got rid of him, after a fairly short reign, and everybody, except perhaps his sisters, was glad to see him gone.

At this distance of time we may laugh at his actions, but the stupidity, the waste and above all the cruelty of his reign sickens me. It was the imperial system itself that spawned such a disgusting ruler, and sure enough another of the same kind would soon arise, named Nero.
 

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