Caligula

Caligula

A Biography

Book - 2011
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The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from A.D. 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. An exceptionally smart and cruelly witty man, Caligula made his contemporaries worship him as a god. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered in gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and committed incest with his sisters. He wanted to make his horse a consul. Torture and executions were the order of the day. Both modern and ancient interpretations have concluded from this alleged evidence that Caligula was insane. But was he?

This biography tells a different story of the well-known emperor. In a deft account written for a general audience, Aloys Winterling opens a new perspective on the man and his times. Basing Caligula on a thorough new assessment of the ancient sources, he sets the emperor's story into the context of the political system and the changing relations between the senate and the emperor during Caligula's time and finds a new rationality explaining his notorious brutality.
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2011.
ISBN: 9780520248953
Branch Call Number: 937.07 CALIG-W
Characteristics: vii, 299 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

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Fuzzy_Wuzzy
Nov 05, 2017

Was Roman emperor, Gaius Caesar (aka. Caligula) really a vile, cruel, and horribly sadistic bastard who had more enemies than friends? - or - Was he just the victim of bad press?

Born in 12 AD - Caligula came into supreme power at the youthful age of just 25. His reign as emperor lasted for nearly 4 years when, in 41 AD, he was promptly assassinated at the age of 28.

Historian/Author - Aloys Winterling reassesses Caligula's story as Rome's 3rd emperor. Here he takes into account the corrupt and unstable political system at the time. And, as a result, he ultimately finds a new rationality explaining Caligula's notorious brutality.

If you are at all interested in ancient history - This rather brief bio (at only 229 pages) is certainly well-worth reading.

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Basileus
May 23, 2012

As something a "fan" of Roman history, particularly the more colourful Emperors such as Nero, Commodus and Caligula, I found this book a rather boring read. For such a small book, it took me weeks to slog through it. Maybe it was the translation, or the writing style, but I just didn't find the book absorbing enough to keep my interest for more than 15 minutes at a time. Using various conflicting sources from the era, the author presents the arguement that Caligula was not in fact insane or even particularly cruel. He just suffered from bad press. Some of the arguements are a bit of a stretch, but many are reasonable and much more likely than anything Seutonius wrote. A new twist on an old story, while actually plausible, doesn't make for entertaining reading. Only for serious readers.

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