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Unpopular Ancient Roman Emperor – Caligula Part 2
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  8/30/12
By: Yona Williams

The ruthlessness of Caligula did not stop with incestuous relationships with his sisters and horrific torture methods, he showed no mercy for the innocent. In this article, you will learn about an incident that tore the public to pieces, as well as some of the participants in his assassination.

Once, a man who had thrown insults at the emperor was not only publicly executed, but his entire family shared the same fate. He first killed the mother and father – making the children watch. He then went to kill the children – from oldest to youngest. The last child was a 12-year-old girl who was hysterically in tears. Someone in the crowd noted that she was a virgin and should have been spared the fate of the rest of her family. Caligula only smiled at this, ordered the executioner to rape the girl, and then strangle her to death.

The details of Caligula's death vary from source to source. Finally, after reigning for four years, the Praetorian Guard and a handful of senators played a role in killing Caligula as he was leaving a performance in town. They say that his death is quite similar to the way Julius Caesar was assassinated.

The first person to stab Caligula was Chaerea, which was followed by other conspirators. It is estimated that the emperor received 30 stab wounds to his body. His death is believed to have taken place in an underground corridor located beneath the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill. By the time, loyal guards reached Caligula, he was already dead. The Germanic guard became enraged and stricken with grief. They proceeded to attack the assassins and conspirators. Innocent senators and bystanders that got in the way were also hurt in the process.

The Senate saw the death of Caligula as a way to restore the Republic and with Chaerea asking for the support of the military, the Senate thought they would be successful. However, the military stayed loyal to the office of the emperor. The Roman people gathered and grieved for their fallen leader, and wanted Caligula's murderers to answer for what they had done. The assassins decided to tie up loose ends, and stabbed Caligula's wife, Caesonia, as well as killed their young daughter Julia Drusilla. However, they were unsuccessful in getting a hold of Caligula's uncle, Claudius, who fled the city. He raced to a nearby Praetorian camp.

In the end, Claudius became emperor of Rome once he received support of the Praetorian guard. He then ordered the execution of Chaerea and any other known conspirators that played a role in the death of Caligula. Some say that Caligula's body was left in the street to rot, where the stray dogs fed upon his flesh. Others state that his body was placed under turf and burned – entombed by his sisters afterwards. His original burial location is inside of the Mausoleum of Augustus. Unfortunately, during the Sack of Rome in 410, the tomb was disrupted and his ashes scattered about town.


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