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Caligula's Death


The life and death of the Roman Emperor Caligula.

To many, he was the personification of evil, remembered as probably the most depraved of all of the Roman Emperors – notorious for random murders and sexual excesses. Many considered him flat out crazy.


But he didn't last long, sitting as Emperor for only three years before he was assassinated at the age of 28.

His real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, and he was the great grandson of Augustus Caesar, Rome's first Emperor.

He was nicknamed Caligula because of the small boots that he wore when he followed his father Germanicus, a Roman General, into battle. But his popular father was assassinated on orders of the Emperor Tiberius…

Emperor Tiberius

…via poisoning. His mother, Agrippina the Elder, also offended Tiberius and saw much of her family wiped out.

Caligula was her only surviving son and he eventually went to live with the Emperor on the island of Capri. In his time there, Caligula learned debauchery from Tiberius, who was himself a master of depravity.

Caligula's said to have hidden his loathing for Tiberius and even planned his great uncles' assassination. He didn't kill him, but when Tiberius died, Caligula became emperor, helped by bribes to the Praetorian Guard.

For the first six months, he was popular because he granted bonus pay to members of the military and helped those hurt by the Roman tax system along with other public and political reforms, including some democratic elections.

Coins with his likeness were minted …

Caligula coins

…and what's now known as the Vatican obelisk…

Vatican obelisk

…was brought to Rome by Caligula, to adorn a race track.

But after weathering a serious illness, perhaps a poisoning, his dark side emerged. He's gone down in history as a horrendous individual – killing on a whim, like the time he got bored at some gladiator games and ordered an entire section of spectators thrown into the arena so he could watch them being eaten by the animals.

He forced a younger cousin Gemellus to commit suicide. He also ordered several senators put to death and humiliated others, creating tensions that resulted in conspiracies against him.

His orgies were legendary…

Caligula orgy

…and he often had sex with the attractive wives of his guests and later bragged about it. Caligula was also accused of sexual relations with two sisters, Drusilla and Agrippina the Younger, and sending troops into harm's way.

Finally Rome had enough and officers of the Praetorian Guard assassinated him. Caligula was stabbed thirty times - just like Julius Caesar - according to reports at the time.

Caligula's original burial spot was purportedly found in January, 2011…

Caligula burial spot

…although some historians express doubts whether it's true.

Caligula was portrayed in several films, although the 1979 movie about him…

Caligula movie

…starring Malcolm McDowell…

Malcolm McDowell

…was panned by critics and audiences for being too violent and depraved

Kind of like the Emperor himself!