Caligula, The Mad Emperor?

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Dan Cruikshank Paper Ancient Greece and Rome 4/24/17 Caligula, The ‘Mad’ Emperor? Throughout the period of Rome’s history there have been many leaders that have been everlastingly glorified because of their major contributions to the Empire of Rome. Names like Julius and Augustus Caesar for instance stick out in the minds of most people still today. However, some who have lead the Roman Empire, have not been so lucky in this deity-like glorification after their deaths. Emperor Caligula, for instance is pegged as being the “Mad” Emperor of Rome. There are many accounts of ancient scholars depicting Caligula as acting insane and illogical. Although unethical Caligula may have been, while he was Emperor, there may still have been a reasoning…show more content…
This included his incestuous relationship with his sisters as well as the glorification of his deceased family members. Caligula’s extravagant lifestyle also showed his turn towards Hellenism, as this was a widespread practice among rulers in the East. Ultimately, Caligula’s downfall was his Hellenistic practices and inexperience in Roman politics, military affairs, and of Rome itself. Aloys Winterling is a professor in the Department of History at Humboldt University in Berlin. Winterling is also the author of Caligula: A Biography. In this book, Winterling believes that Caligula was not as “mad” or “insane” as is commonly thought. He argues that this depiction is caused by his disunion from the Senate and his emotional instability as Emperor. According to Suetonius, Caligula’s’ Biographer, Caligula was most sought after by the Roman people to be their emperor. After he had first entered the City of Rome, while away for 6 years, it is said that the celebration lasted almost three months and almost 160,000 animals were sacrificed. Caligula had set free all of those who had been imprisoned by Tiberius and had all their documents publicly burned. Caligula even professed to the Senate, the fact that the power was shared between the princeps and themselves…show more content…
Adams argument is another critical aspect into understanding the legacy of Caligula. The fact that Caligula was basically raised to understand ‘power’ as being an absolute entity, was dangerous in Roman aristocratic society. Caligula was simply acting the way he believed one should rule, especially when everyone was seemingly out to get him. However, aristocrats saw his acts as threatening, they wished to discredit him as best they could, and end up killing him over basically having the wrong upbringing. Geoff Adams offers a slightly distinctive focal point on Caligula’s life than that of Winterling. Adams focused more on the historical background of Caligula. This view of Caligula is a better account when interpreting the ‘insanity’ of Caligula, because any person acts the way in which they were raised to. Therefore, since Caligula grew up around Germanicus, he was used to seeing ultimate power exhibited over people in a non-traditional Roman way. Adams book is a superb view into the life of Caligula and shows a little bit better look at the Roman Emperor that Winterling’s. The only reason I have for saying so is because of the different variables they focused on. Winterling’s psychological approach makes complete sense, however it is harder to prove something in the mind of an individual as opposed to observing their
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