Favourite Caligula story

Aug 2011
79
The Castle Anthrax
#51
I just read yesterday in Josephus the story of how his statue was never erected in the temple at Jerusalem despite Caius's determination. Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII

And thus did Agrippa venture to cast the die upon this occasion: so great was the affair in his opinion, and in reality: though he knew how dangerous a thing it was so to speak.
I was intrigued by the story of Petronius disobeying Caius and the arrival of Caius's letter to Petronius, instructing him to kill himself, after the letter announcing Caius's death. Which effectively spared Petronius.

He wrote thus to Petronius: “Seeing thou esteemest the presents made thee by the Jews to be of greater value than my commands; and art grown insolent enough to be subservient to their pleasure, I charge thee to become thy own judge; and to consider what thou art to do, now thou art under my displeasure.
This was the epistle which Caius wrote to Petronius. But Petronius did not receive it while Caius was alive: that ship which carried it sailing so slow, that other letters came to Petronius before this; by which he understood that Caius was dead.
 
#52
That's another episode showing how mad Caligula was.

By the way, there is no need to represent the text of Josephus in old English from 300 years ago. There are more modern translations available.
 
#53
Maybe there are indications that Caligula had good intentions at first, because he attempted to revive the people's assembly and offices but apparently almost no-one came forward (probably out of fear). Even so I think most rulers have a "honeymoon" period when people have become tired of the late ruler and hope for a better future. As regards the "moment", Suetonious does mention that a plot against him was discovered and from then on he became a monster. Maybe his sickness played a part, but is there any condition which can turn a mind from being reasonably stable to wantonly sadist?
I read in Seutonius The Twelve Caesars that Caesonia Caligula's wife might poisoned him with some love potion. I kinda believe in this because Seutonius said that Caesonia wasnt so pretty and that she already had 2 daughters. Even with this Caligula wasnt so good person as we know in The Twelve Caesars when Tiberius called him on Capri, Caligula enjoyed watching tortures.
In conclusion I think that Caligula would maybe be like Tiberius if not, than a bit better than him but still cruel like him.
 
#54
I believe Tiberius was far superior, in experience and ability. He was not habitually cruel (no more than most emperors anyway). In his old age he became weird (after Livia showed him letters severely criticising him) and went to live on an island; I assume that many people, unable to see what Tiberius was doing, let their imagination run riot and invented all sorts of exotic (and erotic) goings-on, and some of these tales, I think, were reported by Suetonious.

There are 2 things that Tiberius did very wrong, first was the abolition of the citizens' assembly, second naming Caligula as his successor.
 
#55
I believe Tiberius was far superior, in experience and ability. He was not habitually cruel (no more than most emperors anyway). In his old age he became weird (after Livia showed him letters severely criticising him) and went to live on an island; I assume that many people, unable to see what Tiberius was doing, let their imagination run riot and invented all sorts of exotic (and erotic) goings-on, and some of these tales, I think, were reported by Suetonious.

There are 2 things that Tiberius did very wrong, first was the abolition of the citizens' assembly, second naming Caligula as his successor.
With that naming Caligula for his successor, Tiberius hadnt any other person who will succeed throne. His grandson Gemellus was too young for that (actually Gemellus was 18 when Tiberius died). Sejanus also killed Caligula's 2 brothers Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar that should succeed throne (or that did Tiberius I am not sure).
So I dont believe to those rumors about Tiberius on Capri, I think that Tiberius wasnt interested in politics so he went on Capri to be alone (I understand that feeling).
However Tiberius even didnt name Caligula for his successor, he gave throne to Gemellus and Caligula. But Caligula killed Gemellus. Again very strange because Caligula adopted Gemellus.
 
Aug 2011
79
The Castle Anthrax
#56
Actually, according to Josephus, Tiberius did through divination name Caligula. Josephus XIIX ch.6.

Hereupon he bid Euodus, who was that freed man whom he most of all respected, to bring the children19 to him; for that he wanted to talk to them before he died. Now he had at present no sons of his own alive. For Drusus, who was his only son, was dead: but Drusus’s son Tiberius was still living: whose additional name was Gemellus. There was also living Caius, the son of Germanicus, who was the son of his brother [Drusus].
But when Tiberius had given order to Euodus to bring the children to him the next day in the morning, he prayed to his countrey gods to shew him a manifest signal, which of those children should come to the government. Being very desirous to leave it to his son’s son: but still depending upon what God should foreshew concerning them, more than upon his own opinion and inclination. So he made this to be the omen; that the government should be left to him who should come to him first the next day. When he had thus resolved within himself, he sent to his grandson’s tutor, and ordered him to bring the child to him early in the morning: as supposing that God would permit him to be made Emperor. But God proved opposite to his designation. For while Tiberius was thus contriving matters, and as soon as it was at all day, he bid Euodus to call in that child which should be there ready. So he went out, and found Caius before the door: for Tiberius was not yet come, but stayed waiting for his breakfast. For Euodus knew nothing of what his lord intended. So he said to Caius, “Thy father calls thee,” and then brought him in.
I won't quote more, it's there in verses 9&10. Tiberius gives the government to Caius and Tiberius (the younger) but apparently only instructs Caius, telling him, among other things, that Tiberius will be a security to Caius. As has been stated, Tiberius/Gemellus was killed shortly thereafter in a secret plot.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,039
#57
Keep in mind, that Caligula was not well liked by the historians who wrote about him, and some of the stories about Caligula could be a smear campaign to justify his assassination.

There may be a lot of Truth in these stories, but it would be in the interest of some to spread the stories about, or make them worse to justify the killing of Caligula. Of course, it is hard to see how the historians could get away reporting such stories if there was no truth at all to them.
 
#58
I don't see merit in the idea that the stories were from people to justify Caligula's assassination. Claudius, his successor, was his uncle, so if Caligula had any worth, Claudius, being alarmed at the killing of one of his close family who had also been Augustus, could presumably have arranged propaganda to play up Caligula's qualities, and trash the memory of anyone involved in the assassination. He annulled all the acts of Caligula. He did, of course, have a few of the main conspiritors killed, because they also wanted to kill the whole family, including Claudius, but he basically tried to blot out commemoration of the events around his nephew's killing. For example, he wouldn't allow a festival at the anniversary of his own accession, because (Suetonius implies) that was when Caligula died and he didn't want that time memorialised. "Even in the case of Gaius, while he annulled all his acts, yet he would not allow the day of his death to be added to the festivals, although it was also the beginning of his own reign. " Suetonious, Claudius 11.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,039
#59
I don't see merit in the idea that the stories were from people to justify Caligula's assassination. Claudius, his successor, was his uncle, so if Caligula had any worth, Claudius, being alarmed at the killing of one of his close family who had also been Augustus, could presumably have arranged propaganda to play up Caligula's qualities, and trash the memory of anyone involved in the assassination. He annulled all the acts of Caligula. He did, of course, have a few of the main conspiritors killed, because they also wanted to kill the whole family, including Claudius, but he basically tried to blot out commemoration of the events around his nephew's killing. For example, he wouldn't allow a festival at the anniversary of his own accession, because (Suetonius implies) that was when Caligula died and he didn't want that time memorialised. "Even in the case of Gaius, while he annulled all his acts, yet he would not allow the day of his death to be added to the festivals, although it was also the beginning of his own reign. " Suetonious, Claudius 11.
Ok, that is a valid point. And it is would seem unlikely for historians to make up such stories that was relatively recent history, where someone could say - "Hey, my grandfather was around t hen, and what you say just plain didn't happen".
 
Aug 2015
2,323
uk
#60
No doubt some of the things he did were true, some mis-interpreted (perhaps deliberately so) some exaggerated and some completely untrue. Which is which is hard to tell. History is written by the victors, and it is clear that most (all?) did not like Caligula.

Was he mad? I doubt it; he would not have been made Emperor if he was. Likely he was a young man, with all the power and the money in the world. He could do anything to anyone, and no-one would lift a finger to stop him. Is it any wonder that it went to his head?
 

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