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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