Showing posts with label caligula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caligula. Show all posts

Monday, February 5, 2018

Caligula Never Made His Horse Senator, but He Did Conquer the Sea

Caligula, the third and most infamous emperor of Rome was a colorful character. He was sadistic, grandiose, and possibly insane. He enjoyed dressing as gods and demi-gods, and had the faces on statues of dieties replaced with his own likeness. His cruelty has seen that he's gone down in history as one of the baddest of the bads, but he certainly left us with some fantastic stories.

Image result for caligula
Bust of Caligula 
The most famous stories about Caligula involve his horse, Incitatus. The most popular story, that Caligula intended to appoint his horse consul, is most likely untrue, and likely the result of Romans taking Caligula's jokes that his horse could do a better job as consul than the actual consul too seriously. However, it is undeniable that Caligula loved his horse. He had a marble stall erected for Incitatus, and an ivory manger made for him to eat out of.

Caligula aspired to be a great military conqueror like his great-grandfather, Augustus. Unfortunately, he was insane, and lacked the attention span for real warfare. He took his armies on several pointless campaigns in Gaul. When he reached the Gaulish coast to prepare for an invasion of Britain, he had his soldiers collect seashells to show as proof of him having 'plundered the sea'. Then, instead of invading Britain, he turned his army around and went back to Rome, displaying the shells as booty.

By far the biggest, and most costly, of Caligula's whims was his decision to bridge the Bay of Naples by tying hundreds of ships together. Caligula did this so that he could ride his horse (remember Incitatus?) across the bay, galloping back and forth across the bay several times.

Superficially, the reign of Caligula is a terrifying and hilarious footnote on the history of Rome. However, beneath the surface lingers questions about Caligula's mental health and how much of his supposed cruelties were made up after his death.

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Sources
The Roman Empire in the First Century-Caligula
Caligula-Ancient Encyclopedia
Caligula: Historical Background
Caligula-History Network
Caligula: Roman Emperor