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Unpopular Ancient Roman Emperor – Caligula Part 1
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  8/30/12
By: Yona Williams

Upon the death of his second cousin Tiberias, Caligula (also known as Gaius) became emperor of Rome – starting in 37 AD. The death of his cousin was suspicious and rumor had it that Caligula had the head of the Praetorian Guard smother the man with a pillow. In this article, you will learn why the leader was not a popular leader of the Roman people.

When Caligula took to the throne, the empire was initially happy. The first seven months of his reign was met with love and admiration. He paid the military generous bonuses so that they would stay on his side and brought back many of the people that Augustus and Tiberias had sent to exile. However, the emperor became very ill in 37 AD with an illness that hasn’t been concretely identified. Some believed that leading a life of excess (women, food and wine) was the reason behind his sickness. After overcoming the disease and fully recovering, Caligula was a changed man – he started to show sign of becoming the most evil man in history. His actions were so bad that some historians believe that he was possessed by a demon.

His actions became increasingly insane, disgusting, and uncaring towards human life. For starters, he began ordering the deaths of anyone who had ever crossed him or even disagreed with his thoughts on the most ridiculous of matters. He sent his own wife into exile and proclaimed himself a god – even going as far as to dress up as Apollo, Mercury, Hercules, and even the goddess Venus. He wanted everyone to refer to him as divine when they were in his presence, and that included public crowds, senators, guards and guests of his palace.

Caligula liked to inflict pain on others and one of his favorite methods was to use a saw. He knew how to cut people so that they were unable to pass out because they had excess blood to the brain. He'd filet the spine and spinal cord from crotch to chest using the blade of the saw. He's also said to have his victims restrained upside down while he chewed on the testicles without biting them off from the body.
 
Many of Caligula's actions led people to believe that he was completely insane or possessed. Self-absorbed and full of anger, the emperor wouldn’t hesitate to kill on a whim. He also liked spending money and having sex – oftentimes with the wives of other men. On numerous occasions, Caligula had been accused of sleeping with married women and then bragging about his conquests. When there were no criminals to be prosecuted during one of his games, he ordered his guards to toss an entire section of the crowd into the arena during intermission to be eaten by animals just because he was bored.

The emperor was a real livewire and there was nothing that didn’t seem too outrageous for him to achieve. It seemed that he broke every rule of morality and decency. He even had public sex with his three sisters at banquets and games.


 

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