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Biography for
Caligula (Character)
from "I, Claudius" (1976)

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"Caligula," born Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (AD 12-41), was the third emperor of Rome. He was a popular choice for successor to Tiberius in AD 37, because he was decended from both the Julian and the Claudian families, and his father was Germanicus, a very popular and accomplished general who had died suddenly and had himself been the most popular choice to succeed his uncle Tiberius. Furthermore, there were very few people who had any idea what a sadistic, depraved, and incompetant leader Caligula would turn out to be.

Unfortunately, his reign fell during a portion of Tacitus' "Annales" that has been lost, and the only accounting we have for it comes from Suetonius, who preferred the sensational. He gives us a string of disgusting obsenities and absurdities, from proclaiming a horse to be a senator to replenishing the imperial treasury by opening a brothel in which senators' wives were forced to serve.

Caligula was assassinated in AD 41, after just four years on the throne. The praetorian guard found his uncle, Claudius (we are told that while they were looting the palace, one of the guards saw his feet where he was hiding behind a curtain), and as he was the last adult male of his extended family left alive after the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula (primarily because he had a limp and a speech impediment and the entire family thought him a half-wit), they decided he was their only option. Much against his own will, we are told, the praetorians forced Claudius to succeed his nephew as the new emperor.

Page last updated by matthewdillenburg, 6 years ago
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