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
- All of American history fits in the life span of only three presidents
- A rare copy of the Declaration of Independence survived the Civil War hidden behind wallpaper. Later it was tossed in a box.
- ‘We say now’: The day more than 25,000 Florida teachers resigned over pay and school funding
- Every president’s health, ranked
- Was Pirate Black Sam Bellamy Found? DNA Test Could Tell
- History Coalition asks historians to "Urge Your Representative to Join the Congressional History Caucus"
- Dartmouth’s Randall Balmer: Under Trump, America's religious right is rewriting its code of ethics
- Was This Technology historian plagiarized? Sure seems like she was.
- Meet the new authorized historian of Britain's communications intelligence agency
- Lerone Bennett Jr., journalist and historian of African American life, dies at 89