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Caligula

Gaius Caesar Germanicus (August 31, 12 - January 15, 41), also known as Gaius Caesar or Caligula, was a Roman emperor who reigned 37-41. Known for his extremely extravagant, eccentric, and sometimes cruel despotism, he was assassinated in 41 by several of his own guards.

He was the son of the popular general Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder. As a boy, he accompanied his parents on military expeditions and would wear soldier's boots around the camp, hence the nickname Caligula (Latin: "little boots" or "bootsie"). Through his mother he was the great-grandson of the emperor Augustus, through his father the great-grandson of Augustus's wife Livia. See the Julio-Claudian Family Tree.

Most of the information about Caligula comes from sources biased against him, mainly from the historian Suetonius.

After the death of Tiberius the Roman Senate annulled his will and proclaimed Caligula imperator on March 18, 37. He probably had an incestuous sexual relationship with his sister Drusilla. In 38 he had his former supporter and powerful head of the guard Naevius Sutorius Macro executed; he also had the grandson of Tiberius, Tiberius Gemellus, killed.

At the height of his reign, Caligula claimed to be a god. After having squandered the state's finances on generous rewards for the military and pompous games, he extorted money from the Roman aristocracy and established a state brothel. He was also said to have an extraordinary fondness for his horse Incitatus. One paticularly well-known anecdote holds that Caligula eventually appointed Incitatus as a Senator.

In 39, Caligula suppressed a revolt among his troops on the Upper Rhine and marched on to the northern coast of Gaul, apparently in order to invade Britain. Instead, he ordered his troops to shoot into the waters and collect seashells.

A famous motto of his was oderint dum metuant ("Let them hate so long as they fear", a saying attributed to Lucius Accius).

When he was assassinated, his wife Caesonia and their infant daughter were also killed.

Bibliography:

Preceded by:
Tiberius
Roman emperors
Followed by:
Claudius

Caligula is the title of a play by Albert Camus, which was the basis for a 1996 Hungarian movie and the 2001 made for TV version.
Caligula is also a controversial movie in 1979 about the emperor starring Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Sir John Gielgud and Peter O'Toole, among others, directed by Tinto Brass[?], and produced by Penthouse magazine's Bob Guccione[?]. The movie, based on a novel by Gore Vidal, was unrated when shown in theaters in certain jurisdictions because it contained several scenes with sexually explicit content, including orgies and masturbation. It was highly controversial, and considered by some objectors to be pornographic and would almost certainly have received an X rating.



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