The Untold Evils Of The Roman Emperor Caligula

One of the most devious Roman Emperors in history, Caligula is remembered for his notably bad behavior. As PBS notes, Rome had some particularly high hopes for young Caligula, but he would go on to let them down disastrously. He made some positive moves after taking power, lifting an exile on several people mandated by a previous emperor and burning records of past unpleasantness. However, just seven short months after assuming the throne, Caligula started acting strangely after recovering from an illness. Donning silk robes and iced down in jewels, he walked the halls of the Senate believing he was a god and making people kiss his feet.

After a while, Caligula's quirkiness took a dangerous turn. He grew suspicious, held treason trials, and executed high-standing government and military officers, both friend and foe. He even took out the head of his personal security detail, the Praetorian Guard. Caligula was known to lash out without warning or rhyme or reason. Once during an animal sacrifice, he reportedly used the mallet meant for the animal on a nearby priest, striking and killing him right then and there.

Caligula takes his reign of madness on the road

Caligula's belief that he could get away with anything that popped into his head extended beyond that poor unsuspecting priest. The emperor also had his way with Rome's coffers, and he soon found himself running low on cash. He turned to blackmail and theft, running prominent Roman families out of their homes. Caligula had so much fun doing that with his own people that he decided to see what people's houses were like in other empires. So he took an army to Gaul (modern-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, and parts of a few others), where he robbed the locals before continuing north, headed for Britain. When they arrived at the coast, however, he ordered his men to stop and gather seashells, claiming they were the spoils of the ocean he had conquered.

Despite the pretty seashells and news of Caligula's dominion over the ocean, he did not receive a warm welcome upon his return. He had angered a few too many of the city's elite. Just four months after coming back from Gaul, he was assassinated by his advisors and bodyguards, as were his wife and daughter to avoid any pesky revenge plots. And with that ended the untold evils of the reign of Caligula.