04 September 2012

This week marked Caligula's 2000th birthday

It’s the day before the Kalends of September and you know what that means: it’s the birthday of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka the emperor Caligula... His father dressed little Gaius in a miniature army outfit, including child-sized versions of caligae, the hobnailed sandal boots worn by common soldiers. That’s how he got his nickname, Caligula, meaning little caliga
His ascent to power was fueled by cutting taxes, which unfortunately led to the bankrupting of the country, to which he responded by starting a brothel staffed by the senators' wives and daughters.

More details at The History Blog.  Photo credit Munich Archaeological Museum.


  1. The thing about a brothel may not be true. From Wikipedia:

    "There are few surviving sources on Caligula's reign, although he is described as a noble and moderate ruler during the first two years of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, extravagance, and sexual perversity, presenting him as an insane tyrant. While the reliability of these sources has increasingly been called into question, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor (as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate). He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and notoriously luxurious dwellings for himself."

    Dude was probably a very nasty guy, but most of the information we have about him came from writers with grudges. He's still really fun to read about, though. He was the most powerful man in the world... and still went by 'booties'.

  2. I, CLAUDIUS does a great job of making you hate the little pipsqueak. He's almost cartoonishly mad.

    "Let's see, what day is it . . . Thursday? Ah! That's the day to install my horse as consul and force all Romans to name me beneficiary to their estates! Hooray!"

  3. I loved I, CLAUDIUS. And BLUE HIGHWAYS, too. One of the things I love about this blog is there are people who have read and enjoyed so many of the book I have loved and enjoyed. It doesn't quite give me a "one with the universe" experience, but I do enjoy it.

    1. I'm not really surprised by your observation. I think blogs tend to retain readers with similar interests. Over the past five years there may have been 100 visitors for every one who stayed on as a regular reader, and the ones who stay self-select based on similar interests. That makes my job much more fun, and often results in comment threads with content as good as the post.


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