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August 31 - Birth of Caligula

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: August 31 - Birth of Caligula
    Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 03:48
Inspired by the recent thread about the movie, heres a short account of Caligulas life. I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I made in order to research, I went to the Video store to rent a copy of 'Caligula, the Movie", the uncut version of course, were in Holland after all.


On August 31, 12 AD Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, better known under his nickname Caligula (little soldiers' boots) is born in Antium.

With the possible exception of Nero, who had a really bad press due to his persecution of Christians, no other Roman Emperor in history has been vilified as viciously, and no other Emperor has inspired the fantasies of historians and fascinated their audiences as Caligula, hes the subject of innumerable history books, novels, theatre plays, and that notorious movie made in the 70s. There is no sign that the fascination with Caligula will decrease and thats no surprise: in todays mass media Caligula would be prime tabloid material, his short life has everything for a good story: sex, crime and madness.

Caligula, a great-grandson of Augustus, succeeded his grand-uncle Tiberius in 37 AD at the age of 25. The beginning of his rule came as a great relief to the Romans, they had been suffering under Tiberius who during the last years of his reign had become increasingly paranoid and inflicted sporadic acts of terror on his subjects.



Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, "Caligula"

It all started very promising, Caligula withdrew some of the Draconian laws Tiberius had imposed, he recalled some prominent Roman citizens his predecessor had exiled, and he spent lavish amounts of cash on public entertainment to celebrate his accession. But then things turned sour, and the good people of Rome became increasingly suspicious that all wasnt well with their new Emperor. Caligulas suggestion to appoint his horse Incitatus to Consul could have been understood as a clever sarcastic comment on the anachronistic structures of Roman administration, but there were other things that couldnt be that easily explained.

Caligula changed the whole conception of the Roman Emperor. Had Augustus and to a great extent Tiberius still understood themselves as the first servants of a still somewhat republican state, Caligula introduced the rites of Eastern autocratic monarchies that regarded the ruler as a god-like figure. He became more and more convinced of his own divinity, and encouraged his subjects to worship the newly appointed Emperor god.
Real and imagined rivals to the throne, mostly members of his own Julian dynasty disappeared, and turned up again mutilated and murdered. Members of the Roman aristocracy were simply killed to give the Emperor access to their funds, something that his enourmous extravagances constantly demanded.
Rumours about his alleged sexual excesses began to circulate and Caligula was accused of any possible debauchery, from pedophilia to an incestuous relationship with his sister.
Caligulas planned military campaigns in Britain and Germany turned out to be products of pure fantasy and were never undertaken. In short, the young Roman Emperors rule was an unedifying spectacle, Caligula emerged as a mixture of clown and tyrant, his actions becoming more and more incalculable and monstrous.

After only four years his long-suffering people had enough of their Emperor and his antics. A conspiracy of senators and high ranking officers decided to put an end to the dangerous youth on the Imperial throne and on January 21, 41 Caligula was assassinated by the Praetorian guard.
It has been much speculated what motivated Caligula to his irrational and bizarre behaviour, if indeed all the anecdotes told about him are true. Was it insanity that took hold of him, was it the harrowing experiences he had made as a child on his senile uncles court, or was it simply that the young man when he ascended to the throne just couldnt handle all the power he suddenly possessed and became corrupted and megalomaniac. Roman sources seems to differ on the true nature of his troubles, but agree on that Caligula was not of Imperial caliber.
As only the third Roman Emperor, he already was the first to show signs of the madness of the Caesars, not an auspicious beginning for the young Empire. His uncle Claudius, by far not the first choice, succeeded him.



What else happened on this day?


1888 In London, Mary Ann 'Polly' Nichols, the first victim of Jack the Ripper, is found mutilated in Buck's Row in the East End.

1939 Hitlers Nazi-Germany staged a "Polish" assault on a German radio station in Gleiwitz, Silesia. Nazis dressed as Polish soldiers were supposed to "provoke" a war, an excuse for Germany to invade Poland the next day.

1942 The British army under General Montgomery defeated Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in the Battle of Alam Halfa in Egypt.


Full list:

Wikipedia



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  Quote Nagyfejedelem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 05:56

Komnenos:

The madness of emperors was the consequence of the marriage of relatives. Caligulas extreme acts: he appointed his favourite horse to consul and after a short champaign he had a triumph because he defeated Britannia, Germania and God Neptun.  So, Germanicus will be a better emperor-Tacitus wrote that he was poisoned by Tiberius.

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 06:01
Originally posted by Nagyfejedelem

Komnenos:


Caligulas extreme acts: he appointed his favourite horse to consul and after a short champaign he had a triumph because he defeated Britannia, Germania and God Neptun. So, Germanicus will be a better emperor-Tacitus wrote that he was poisoned by Tiberius.




Apparently he dressed up a few poor Gauls as German warriors and paraded them around Rome in triumph. The Romans weren't fooled however.
His father Germanicus, would have probably made a better Emperor indeed, alas it wasn't to be.

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  Quote Nagyfejedelem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 06:10

Komnenos:

About Gleiwitz: Who 'attacked' the radio station were impromised people dressed Polish uniform. After the action they were killed by the Nazis. The commander of the !attack' was Naujocks.

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  Quote Nagyfejedelem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 06:20

Komneneos:

Gleiwitz similar to Kassa. In 1941, four days later Germany attacked the Sovietunion, aeroplanes without signal bombed Kassa (today's Kosice) and because this accidant Hungary missed forces into the Sovietunion.

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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 14:09

 Having looked over the last months worth of "today in history" its pretty damn obvious August was a nightmare for the Roman/Byzantine empire

 Manzikert, Adrianople, Cannae and Yarmuk, the fall of Rome 410 and the destruction of Pompeii. 4 total catastrophes in the field, the fall of the greatest city in the world and a horrid volcanic eruption.

 Not to mention the birth of Caligula. Come August Romans, run for the hills

A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough.
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  Quote Nagyfejedelem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 16:14

Heraclius:

Roma/Byzantium was very enermous and powerful, so a Roman/Byzantine catastrophe is more interesting and more (in)famous than a Roman/Byzantine victory.

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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 17:47

 Im aware of its power, size and victories.

 Look again at the name of these battles, Cannae, Adrianople, Yarmuk and Manzikert, with the exceptions of Myriokephalon and the Teutoburg, these are some of the worst and most devastating defeats the empire ever suffered.

 The consequences of most of the above defeats were long lasting and catastrophic for the empire.

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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 02:01
Was it true that Caligula made a donkey the consul???
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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 03:07
Originally posted by rider

Was it true that Caligula made a donkey the consul???


It was a horse, as far I know, see above. And caligula only proposed to make his horse a consul, a plan that was never realised.
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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 10:33
 I understand his plan was more to insult the senate then a symptom of his madness.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 11:16
He gave the horse all the trappings of power. Maybe the Senate had the poor beast killed after his master out of revenge. After all, why stop at the man's wife and infant daughter.
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  Quote Nagyfejedelem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2005 at 14:25
Caligula thought that he was a god. I don't know that it was a symptom of his madness or it was a conscious political act. Emperor Augustus could become god only after his death. So the godness of Caligula was the killing of the Roman traditions.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2012 at 19:52
1422: Death of Henry II
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