When Caligula comes to power as Rome's 3rd Emperor, everyone has high hopes for him. The son of Germanicus, a descendant of Augustus himself, he seems eminently suited to rule. But once in power, Caligula goes on a rampage of depravity and cruelty which would lead to all sorts of sordid tales about him. The question is - are those stories true? New scholarship suggests that Caligula may not have been as crazy as they say. That instead, he used a black sense of humor to dispose of anyone and anything that might get in the way of his quest for power. In the end, after only 1400 days in power, Caligula is assassinated by a powerful group - hoping to restore the Republic. Little did they know, the Praetorian Guard already had other plans... Written by
This isn't as thorough as a similar documentary I saw about 25 years ago
This documentary tries to tie in Caligula the child watching his family being slaughtered by the emperor Tiberius because of Tiberius' jealousy of his father's popularity and then being called to Tiberius' side at age 17 and being forced to watch and join in with all of the debauchery at Tiberius' court as educating Caligula on the importance of eradicating rivals and the politics of power as well as giving him a taste for pleasure and power himself.
I saw a different documentary 25 years ago on Caligula of about the same length as this one that spent much more time on the illness that Caligula had six months into his reign. Up to that point Caligula had been a sly leader, rewarding key constituencies to solidify power, but he was not bloodthirsty. It was after the illness that the reign of terror began.
This documentary does not even mention that maybe the high fevers that Caligula endured during his illness might have induced brain damage that caused his behavior to so radically change. Much of this documentary seems focused on being a Caligula "sanity apologist" on showing how what he did that seemed cruel and insane actually had a point about retaining power and I just disagree. Making your favorite racehorse head of the Roman senate and ordering your troops to attack the ocean is just full scale goofiness.
One interesting point that this documentary brought out that I had not heard before? The tall obelisk that Caligula had brought from Egypt still remains and stands intact...in front of the Vatican...with a cross on top. An interesting mixture of cultures and religions, is it not?
This is probably worth watching, but even though the historians seem credible I think the production shows that even documentaries meant to inform have become somewhat infected with the sensationalism of reality TV.
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