Does Caligula deserve his bad rep?Breaking News
tags: Ancient Rome, BBC News, mary beard, Caligula
Our modern idea of tyranny was born 2,000 years ago. It is with the reign of the Caligula - the third Roman emperor, assassinated in 41 AD, before he had reached the age of 30 - that all the components of mad autocracy come together for the first time.
In fact, the ancient Greek word "tyrannos" (from which our term comes) was originally a fairly neutral word for a sole ruler, good or bad.
Of course, there had been some very nasty monarchs and despots before Caligula. But, so far as we know, none of his predecessors had ever ticked all the boxes of a fully fledged tyrant, in the modern sense.
There was his (Imelda Marcos-style) passion for shoes, his megalomania, sadism and sexual perversion (including incest, it was said, with all three of his sisters), to a decidedly odd relationship with his pets. One of his bright ideas was supposed to have been to make his favourite horse a consul - the chief magistrate of Rome....
comments powered by Disqus
- Corporate America Copied the NFL's "Rooney Rule"—But Also its Lack of Enforcement
- The Fatal Attraction to Florida
- Judge Luttig: Independent State Legislature Theory is Nonsense
- Inuit Greenland Women Demand Answers, Justice in Birth Control Scandal
- Forget Inflation: GOP Reviving Willie Horton (and It's Working)
- Greg Melville Tells America's History Through its Cemeteries
- How Fermented Food Shaped the World
- Sex, Society and Scandal in 19th Century France
- More Information on Removal of Prof. Patricia Limerick from CU Center of the American West
- Misha Matsumoto Yee is Gilder Lehrman's History Teacher of the Year