The psychopath Roman emperor Caligula was known for his madness and sadistic personality during his reign of Rome for four years. Caligula is one of the most hated Roman emperors in the history and the world will always remember him for his lunatic predisposed mind and notoriety. But, if we were to closely examine Caligula and his sick mind, it would dawn upon us that the emperor wasn’t that bad a ruler during his initial six months of rule.
There are many myths associated with him and some of these facts are downright incorrect. We say this because most of these myths have been sourced from accounts written by Suetonius who mainly drew conclusions based on legends and stories. Suetonius wasn’t even living during Caligula’s reign. Look at these 15 facts that are little known about this bad ass emperor we all refer to as the ‘sadist…a lunatic’.
1. The name Caligula literally means ‘Little Boot’
Caligula wasn’t the real name of this emperor. His real name was Gaius who was given the nickname ‘Little Boot’ by the troops of Germanicus. Little Boot or Caligula name was given affectionately as the boy Gaius accompanied his father General Germanicus on a military campaign, wearing a full military attire and boots. His footwear was called caligae. Reportedly, Caligula’s mother Agrippina would always proudly dress up young Caligula in a military attire just to show her grand lineage to others. By the way, she was the grand daughter of Augustus and was a tough woman.
Among little known Caligula facts is the one associated with Agrippina, his mother. Agrippina was Emperor Augustus’s grand daughter and shared a very friendly relationship with him. Once married to General Germanicus, she went along with him in every campaign and rendered her services to him by becoming his adviser. She was a courageous woman who had no qualms about accusing one of Germanicus’s rivals of murdering him.
Agrippina was also a frank women who displayed her displeasure publicly at the appointment of Augustus’s successor Tiberius to the throne. She openly defied all norms and spoke of her deep hatred for Tiberius in social circles and because of this, Agrippina was given flogging as a punishment. Such was her will that even after she was imprisoned by Tiberius, she went on to starve herself and died before she could see her son as the new emperor.
3. Caligula was involved in an incestuous relationship with his three sisters
Though, incest was a common practice in Egyptian culture, yet, the Romans were not too fond of it and looked at it with disgust. However, there was this emperor Caligula who went beyond the society’s norms and maintained incestuous relations with all his three sisters. Gross….isn’t it?
But it was a real fact, and we now know what led him to establish such a relationship. Caligula suffered from depravity and at his age, was driven by hormones. He was always fascinated with Egyptian royalty that motivated emperors to form sexual relations with their own siblings for preserving the bloodline and vast treasures. He entered into relationship to maintain the purity of his race and bring an offspring of Julian race.
4. Rome was bankrupted because Caligula was too extravagant in spending
Did Caligula really bankrupt Roman treasury? Well, this fact is biased as there are two different theories that contradict each other. According to one theory, Caligula was too extravagant in organizing parties and like other emperors of his age, engaged in orgies for sexual pleasure. He ruled Rome for four years during which he made Rome a pauper because of his extravagant nature.
But according to a other theory, Caligula couldn’t have done this to one of the most powerful and wealthy empires in ancient world. Under his rule, the Roman mint produced coins made of silver and gold in very large amounts. When Claudius became the emperor after Caligula’s death, he himself indulged in sanctioning large and costly projects like building a huge harbor in Ostia, and large aqueducts. Also, he organized lavish social gatherings and events that surely wouldn’t have been possible with a bankrupt treasury.
There are many references that speak of Caligula’s war that he waged against the Greek god Poseidon. But, we think this fact is merely a rumor and has no authentic evidence. Caligula had a lunatic demeanor, we all know and his lunacy probably gave rise to this rumor. But, would he be so mad that he would go all the way and declare a war against an immortal god? Nope.
Secondly, we would also declare this fact to be baseless as needless to say, Poseidon was the sea god of the Greeks and not Romans. So it cannot be possible that Caligula waged a war against a god that he didn’t believe in or knew. Thirdly, we know of this fact only from the sources written by Suetonius whose facts were biased. So as a matter of fact, Caligula never went on a war with Poseidon but we have always known him to have done so, courtesy, the many stage shows and movies that have immortalized this iconic bad man as having gone this far.