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 an 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 ...
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...presence to his own citizens. Indeed most noted is the fact that in the end it was a soldier, one of those most loyal at the beginning who put an end to his rule.
There were a few shortcomings to this source, with it being a posthumous evaluation of his Caligula?s reign. Suetonius shows some biasness, he blames Caligula for the excessive behaviour by describing what went on, as a historian working during this period he wanted the reader to learn from the past, he shows how Caligula treated his senators, his subjects and his soldiers, to this end.
History has judged Caligula?s rule excessive in the extreme, as leader of the Roman religion he was supposed to proclaim and protect it, not bring ridicule upon it.
He not only failed Rome, but failed the office of emperor, failing to protect himself and to provide for his successor, this would not only have benefited the individual but also Caligula himself, because his successor would have had an interest in protecting his benefactors reputation after his death, as it was his rule was judged as excessive in the extreme.
Roman Civilization Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold third edition Columbia University press.
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