Professor Mary Beard embarks on an investigative journey to explore the life and times of one of Rome’s most extraordinary and notorious individuals Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus – better known to us as Caligula.
Caligula was the emperor of Rome from 37 to 41 AD. The son of the popular Roman general Germanicus and Augustus’s granddaughter Agrippina the Elder, Caligula was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire, conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Germanicus’s uncle and adoptive father, Tiberius, succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome in 14.
Although he was born Gaius Caesar, after Julius Caesar, he acquired the nickname “Caligula” (meaning “little [soldier’s] boot”, the diminutive form of caliga) from his father’s soldiers during their campaign in Germania.
There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant.
While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate.
Follow Professor Beard as she tries to uncover the truth of one of ancient Rome’s most infamous figures.
Episode Length: 01:00:00