Caligula: A Biography


" Caligula enjoys a reputation as one of he most violent and tyrannical Roman emperors. In this accessible narrative of Caligula 's life, Winterling uses his deep understandin of Roman society and the imperial court to investigate why contemporaries chose to assassinate Caligula 's reputation as well as his person. Caligula emerges here as rather less insane, if no less loathsome, than his posthumous reputation made him out to be. "

-- Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, author of Rome 's Cultural Revolution

Book originally published in German as Caligula: eine Biographie

Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
Caligula: Eine Biographie
Publication Date
Published September 1st 2011 by University of California Press (first published 2005

Public Commentary

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A nove started quit well and towards its middle it was fun to writ about he life of the emperor and the people close to him and how there were many conspiracies.

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Some are understandable reactions to the ocial and political environment he is in.Caligula relishes in sadistic and humiliating acts.

his does however fit into he category of malignant personality disorder and I would agre in the pheres of sadistic, narcissistic and paranoid subtypes.Wait- are n't personality disorders mental illnesses?

Yes and No. Mental illness woul have a component of emotional distress and in the cases of avoidant and borderline subtypes this is obviously the case.

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Later, he shows that his cruelty was no different from that of other previous emperors but because he had irritated the nobles, the history they left behind turned him into a madman.

Winterling 's belief is that Caligula did not really believe himself a god but used the nobles' attempt to in his favor in order to persuade them over and over again.

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Barret ’ s Caligula: The Corruption of Power among others paved the way for this interpretation and really doesn ’ t giv as its premise a radically different viewpoint.

oth see Caligula as a Stalinesque figure; an all-too-sane monster who saw the world perhaps too clearly and was not reluctan to ut up with the farce of concealing his power.

Thi difference between these two books is this: Barrett went through Caligula ’ s reign in numbing detail and showed us there was a clear rational approach at work.

Winterling goes straight for questions of character.In this book we follow Caligula from his early ears as family pet through the horrors he endured as Tiberius slowly liquidated his family and hen the gradual dissolution of his friendshi with the Senate.

he goal of the Senate was to recognize these unstated wishes and act on them, thus preserving their authority while abrogating their power.

He fel the Senate had and ca have power as well as authority.

And in keeping with the theme of communication, Caligula ’ s main method of humiliating senators was to take their stated wish at face value while ignoring their unstated wish.

specially since to do otherwise would mean your death, th fact which he loved sticking their face in.I ’ m less sure I buy the idea that his claims of godhood were designed to umiliate the Senators by having them publicly take an absurd idea literally.

Of course he used his godhood to humiliate Senators.

And I hink it ’ s anothe decen memoi for any different uses.

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The autobiography was compelling and disappointing at the same time.

It is very educational and easy to find ( maybe it helped a bit that the second ook I had read before had been Historia de Roma but I do n't feel a first-time reader would have been too lost either way.) And it ha very revelatory too.

And considering the way Caligula is remembered today -- batshit crazy I should say -- then you coul guess his relationship with the aristocrats senators did not ge as well as everyone might have hope for.

What better way to state how little you think of them than saying in th very public manner that your own horse is smart enough to g on he most significan political role available.

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Contradicting conventional wisdom about Caligula, this book ries to shed the ad hominems of " madman " and " crazed emperor " and dig for the truth of the atter.

Caligula, when looked at with a degree historical scholarship, is reall not that xciting or unique of an mperor.

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© Nicole Waggonner