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Caligula

Caligula kəlĭg´yo͝olə [key], AD 12–AD 41, Roman emperor (AD 37–AD 41) son of Germanicus Caesar and Agrippina the Elder . His real name was Caius Caesar Germanicus. As a small child, he wore military boots, whence his nickname [ caligula =little boot]. On the death of Tiberius the army helped make Caligula emperor. Shortly afterward he became severely ill his subsequent strange and cruel actions led to the wide belief that he was thereafter insane. A more recent, alternative hypothesis blames his behavior on a desire to humiliate and destroy Rome's aristocracy. In any case, Caligula earned a reputation for ruthless and cruel autocracy, and torture and execution became the order of the day. He was responsible for serious disturbances among the Jews, and he nearly caused a rebellion in Palestine by attempting to erect a statue of himself in their temple. He was assassinated by a tribune of the Praetorian Guard and succeeded by Claudius I .

See biographies by J. P. V. D. Balsdon (1934) and A. Winterling (2011) A. A. Barrett, Caligula: The Corruption of Power (1996).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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