My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For nearly two thousand years, Ancient Rome was a great arena of fearless political gladiators whose ambitious instincts to rule the world coincided with epochal shifts in demography and geopolitics in the regions it had conquered. No wonder the history of Ancient Rome is fraught with memorable figures whose names are immortalized in a variety of literary forms: Plays, Poems, Paintings, and Films depict the deeds and actions of these men of exceptional characters, one of whom is unforgettable Caligula as elegantly narrated in Caligula by Hourly History.
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born in 12 A.D. The nickname “caligula” derived from caliga, meaning “little military boot” was attached to him as a term of endearment as Caligula accompanied his father Germanicus on the military campaign to Germania at the age of two attired in a full soldier’s uniform. In fact, Germanicus was a renowned Roman general whose valor was second to none and very popular among soldiers and citizenry. Perhaps it was this great popularity that caused his demise and the tragic end of his beloved family under the rule of Tiberius, the second emperor, the successor of the first emperor Caesar Augustus (which also indicates that Caligula was a distant nephew of Julius Caesar.) It was believed that Piso was responsible for the assassination of Germanicus out of jealousy and imprisonment of the family except Caligula who had managed to escape the arrest by fleeing to Tiberius in Capri when his mother Agrippina the Elder and his two elder brothers were horribly mistreated in prison and beaten to death. And it was this Tiberius who named the only living son of the popular Germanicus to be his successor – the third emperor.
Thus Caligula’s rise to the throne of the emperor was the sine qua non of the tumulus aftermath as a result of his father’s death that rekindled the ember of political intrigues of the Senate and the Praetorian Guard. What’s more, the first six months of Caligula’s reign was regarded as quite innovative and auspicious. With a huge sum of money in the Roman Treasury, Caligula’s achievements included the following: 1) to reinstate the popular vote allowing all citizens to speak in the government process; (2) to make the ledgers of the use of treasury funds public; (3) to raise the salaries and provide bonuses to every branch of military; and (4) to recall all those who had been exiled under Tiberius.
According to a popular theory, Caligula was struck with a serious mental illness eight months after his enthronement. Some say that Caligula suffered from a lifelong epilepsy as evidenced by his having never learnt to swim, whereas swimming was a popular form of exercise at the time. It was also this time when Gemellus, the young grandson of Tiberius who had supposed to co-rule with Caligula was executed under his order along with Caligula’s father-in-law and brother-in-law with his younger sisters being sent into exile. However, curiously enough, he saved his uncle Claudius, who had been afflicted with a serious illness that left him with a severe limp and partial deafness.
Caligula’s stupendousness of eccentricity continued in building two large ships for personal use, one of which was a floating palace and erecting many monuments commemorating himself as well as theaters, temples, and entertainment complexes for his personal use at the expense of the treasury funds. Furthermore, by 40 AD Caligula proclaimed himself to be a god in attempt to dictate religious aspects into political policies by beginning to refer to himself as “Jupiter” in public documentation while still alive.
However, the reign of Caligula’s pseudo-theocracy met its end when Cassius Chaerea, a member of the Praetorian Guard, and his accomplices faced Caligula during a public event held in honor of Augustus and stabbed the emperor until he fell to the ground and breathed no more. It was only three years and ten months that Caligula ruled the young empire and it was how it was ended.
Caligula by Hourly History is a comparatively light read, written in plain English from insightful views on the notorious emperor Caligula based upon factual analysis and historical backgrounds that help the reader understand the cohesiveness of how Caligula rose to power in the turbulent time of political intricacies, which might have caused the young and impetuous emperor to be agitated and anxious evermore as his ambition to emulate the ruling style of Augustus and the popularity of his beloved father clashed with a harsh reality. Caligula’s acting upon instincts or “guts” did not work out for him because of his trauma as a result of the tragedy of his once beloved family in combination with his impulsive temperament that needed a wise guardian to tame it. If you have heard about Caligula but do not know much about him other than you have seen him in movies, which have a tendency to portray him as a downright madman indulging in every form of debauchery you can possibly imagine, this is the read you can enjoy in your spare time at one sitting.