Caligula and Mental Illness

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Mental Illness is defined as “Any of various conditions characterized by impairing an individual’s normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning. It can be caused by social, psychological, biochemical, or genetic factors. Infections or head trauma can also contribute.” (7) Historical sources give us insight to Caligula’s family history, actions, and his mental state of health. The information I have gathered supports the theory that Caligula likely suffered from one or more mental illnesses. However, please keep in mind that most of the information I am using was documented by some very biased people. There are actually no surviving reports concerning Caligula that were written during his lifetime. The earliest surviving records were written by Gaius Seutonius Tranquilis - a century after Caligula’s death. (2) Though Caligula has been dead and gone for centuries, he has never really been totally forgotten. He pops up occasionally in various movies and documentaries. It is odd how the most twisted minds are rarely forgotten; you would imagine that even memory of the existence of such people (e.g. Nero, Attila the Hun) would be avoided. But it isn’t. Maybe because people are both fascinated and repulsed at the same by the very idea of these people and what they did. The same goes for Caligula. On August 1, 12 A.D., Gaius Caesar Germanicus (who was nicknamed Caligula or little boots at a young age) was born unto Agrippina the Elder and Germanicus. (1) Germanicus was both a wildly successful military commander and an immensely popular public figure. He was part of the Julio-Claudiens - the most distinguished family in Rome. Caligula’s lineage could not have been more imperial, his great-great-grandfather was Julius Caesar... ... middle of paper ... ... August 6, 2012 ? 4) Caligula: Historical Background Barbara F. McManus June, 1999, The College of New Rochelle ? 5) “Caligula” Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (AD 12- AD 41) ? ? ? 6) Caligula's Phobias and Philias: Fear of Seizure? D. Thomas Benediktson Dec., 1991 - Jan., 1992 Pages 159-163 The Classical Association of the Middle West and South 7) The Free Dictionary 8) MedlinePlus February 3, 2014

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