Caligula's Madness

Topics: Caligula, Augustus, Tiberius Pages: 6 (2373 words) Published: March 6, 2006
“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in others the conviction and will to carry on.” This quote can be applied towards the rule of Caligula but perhaps not in the way it was intended. Caligula was, in my opinion, a poor leader. Caligula’s rule was plagued with disasters that did nothing to further the progress of Rome, only strengthen the headaches of his successors. Emperors following Caligula had no choice but to take on the responsibility to fix what he had wronged. Caligula, being the third Roman Emperor, was placed in a position that was still relatively new to Rome. He, unfortunately, didn’t handle his rule as the two emperors prior to him.

Caesar Augustus was the first and often considered as one of the most important Roman Emperors. While preserving the outward form of the Roman Republic, he ruled as an autocrat for more than forty years. As emperor, he ended a century of civil wars and gave Rome an era of peace, prosperity, and imperial greatness, known as the Pax Romana. He used the wealth brought in from the Empire to keep the army happy with handsome payments while keeping the citizens of Rome happy by decorating the capital and setting up brilliant games. He often boasted that he “found Rome brick and left it marble”. But Roman rules often know little economic requirements, Augustus being no exception, and he overtaxed agriculture and spent the revenue on armies, temples, and games. As time went on, the Empire stopped expanding, and along with it, it’s economy began to idle and then decline. Augustus’s reign can be seen in some ways as the high point of Rome’s power and prosperity. Augustus adopted Tiberius Claudius and named him co-heir with Postumus Agrippa. Around the same time, Postumus had been banished and put to death. The way was clear for Tiberius to assume the same powers as his stepfather ( Tiberius Caesar Augustus is often remembered as a dark, reclusive, and depressed ruler who some think never truly desired to rule. His reign is marked by terror and havoc during which he exiled himself from Rome and left Lucius Aelius Sejanus with administration. Sejanus pushed his own political agenda and personal revenges under his position in the Praetorian Guard and his influence over Tiberius. Sejanus, who had been a close friend and confidant, then betrayed Tiberius. The Sejanus matter seemed to have greatly depressed Tiberius. He withdrew from public life while keeping in touch with Rome through letters. The machinery of Augustus’s administration ran the Empire smoothly. Regardless of his faults, Tiberius demonstrated that he was a successful continuation of Augustus’s Principate. Tiberius’s adopted grandson Caligula followed him as the next Roman Emperor after his death in 37 (

Upon the death of the then current emperor, Tiberius, Caligula was in perfect position to assume power. But Tiberius’s will became a familiar obstruction. He had named Caligula and Caligula’s cousin, Tiberius Gemellus, joint heirs. The Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Naevius Sutorius Marco, backed Caligula as he asserted dominance and had Tiberius’s will declared null and void on grounds of insanity. The Senate bestowed the powers of the Principate onto Caligula who willingly accepted and entered Rome on March 28, 37 (

At the age of twenty-five, Caligula was named Rome’s third emperor. Being the song of a charismatic father and as the grown mascot of Rome’s army, the city hoped for the best. Many had hoped that Caligula would bring energy to the drab city, an expectation he, at first, lived up to. He began his reign by declaring an amnesty for all Romans imprisoned or exiled under Tiberius. He even hosted a bonfire where he burned the records of his predecessor’s treason trials. But as time passed, troubling behavior began to occur. On becoming emperor, he ordered a temporary bridge using...
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