Caligula excessiveness Essay

This essay has a total of 1269 words and 8 pages.

caligula excessiveness

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Why were the actions of Caligula regarded as excessive? Why was such behaviour important
in the evaluation of an emperor's image?

When Caligula took the title of emperor of Rome, the population of that vast empire felt
that a new dawn was emerging. Here was someone with youth on his side to reign over them,
by contrast after the aged Tiberius.

Because of his earlier travels with them on their campaigns, he had the loyalty of the
troops, which was always important in a militarist empire.

But the biggest thing he had going for him was his direct family contact with the revered
Augustus, Caligula through his mother was the great grandson of the man and his reign was
hoped to take them back to what was already become to be seen as an golden age.

Yet something that started out so good ended in tragedy for the young man, Caligula soon
displayed ideas way above him self, he became ego manic, disrespectful for others, and
blasphemous, by this behaviour he quickly alienated himself from everybody, who were once
loyal and it became obvious that he would be killed.

In everything he was excessive, but nevermore in his blasphemous behaviour made worst
because as emperor he was the holder of the office of head of the Roman religion and
should never be seen as impious.

In the ‘Excesses Of Caligula', (P526 Roman Civilization). We have a primary source
written by Suetonius, this short paragraph is taken from his great work the ‘Twelve
Caesars', Suetonius was an experienced biographer, the first Latin biographer, and whose
work is still available to us, but he was not a contemporary of the events that he was
writing about, but it's still is a primary source. It would have been read by his
contemporaries, judged by them and indeed we can say by its longevity that it has become a
useful source.

We know from our study of the period that Suetonius and others thought that Augustus was
the benchmark used to judge other emperors and so set the standard that was to be followed
by other emperors. Indeed it is significant to say that such was his behaviour during his
reign of office that he was upon his death deified by senate decree, and thereafter
worshiped as a god.

But it must be noted that not merely having the office of emperor ensured you reached
deification, whilst Augustus obtained it, Tiberius who followed him failed to receive it,
Caligula however by contrast, did not wait for death, or for the senate to bestow it upon
him he, ‘lay claim to divine majesty for himself', whilst still alive,

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this and other excessive behaviour firmly stamped upon his short reign an excessiveness
that was never matched or even neared by any other emperors.

This document is about the excesses of the rule of Caligula, and reveals them in all their
shocking horrors and shows just how the population should fear absolute power.

Other of his excesses emerges further into this source. We see that he also had the
‘statues of the gods' including ‘Zeus' brought to Rome, to have their heads removed
and ‘replaced with his own'' this is impiety of a great degree. If this was not
considered excessive enough, the most powerful man in the known world decided to stand
between the gods of ‘castor and Pollux and was worshipped by those that approached;
being called or hailed as Jupiter of Latium'. He had his own ‘Priests' and a ‘golden
life-sized statue ‘ of himself, with the influential becoming his priests, just by
merely spending their money on him ensured their influence on the most powerful man in the

Birds obtained at high cost and from throughout the empire were sacrificed in his name,
‘Victims were flamingos, peacocks, woodcocks, guinea hens and pheasants' P256). These
birds have a certain majesty that would suggest poignancy at their deaths. This is hinted
at by Suetonius use of the word ‘victim', truly deeply excessive behaviour by Caligula.

Claudius by contrast knew how to behave better when he was offered divine status, albeit
offered by a state he affectively controlled, he said, ‘But I depreciate the appointment
of a high priest for me and the buildings of temples, for I do not wish to be offensive to
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