Strange Roman Emperors Quiz
What animal did the emperor Claudius fight for the public's enjoyment?
- According to Pliny the Elder, an orca got trapped in the port at Ostia. Claudius rowed out with a group of his guards and fought the whale to entertain onlookers.
Which emperor spent a massive sum to build a floating palace, with marble floors and plumbing?
- Caligula actually commissioned two massive boats. One was a floating palace, the other was a temple to Diana. The remains of the ships were found in the 1930s, confirming their existence.
Which emperor "won" the chariot race at the Olympics, despite falling off his chariot and leaving the race?
- The judges awarded him the victory on the premise that "had he completed the race, he would have won." When Nero died a year after the Olympics, they went back and struck his name off the winners list.
Which emperor was found hiding behind the curtains when he was named emperor?
- Claudius's nephew and predecessor Caligula had just been murdered by his guards. Claudius was weak and infirm, so instead of running, he hid behind the curtains. The guards found him right away and proclaimed him emperor.
Which emperor renamed the city of Rome, and renamed every month of the year after himself?
- Commodus's official name was Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus Herculeus Romanus Exsuperatorius Amazonius Invictus Felix Pius (one name per month). He also renamed the legions, supply fleet, and even the citizens.
Which emperor had the Olympics postponed, and added singing as a sport so he could compete?
- In addition to his chariot escapade, Nero added multiple events to the Olympics so he could compete despite his serious lack of athleticism. He also completed in playing the lyre, and in acting. As you might have guessed, the emperor "won" every event.
What rank and title did Caligula allegedly grant to his horse, Incitatus?
- According to Roman historians, Caligula planned to make his horse Consul, one of the highest government positions in Rome. However, the horse was named a priest instead. Incitatus' promotion was probably a prank at the expense of the Senate.
Which emperor was told "Rome has perished," and was relieved to learn they meant the city instead of his favorite rooster, named Rome.
- The quote from Procopius is: "Honorius received the message... that Rome had perished. And he cried out... [the messenger] said that it was the city... the emperor with a sigh of relief answered 'But I thought that my fowl Rome had perished."
Which emperor named a new chief deity of Rome, had himself circumcised to become high priest, and made the Senate watch him dance around the altar?
- One of many controversial acts by Elagabalus was replacing Jupiter with the god Elagabalus (the emperor being renamed after the god when he died).
Which emperor handed most of his duties to the captain of the guard, erected statues of the captain all around Rome, then retired to an island villa?
- Tiberius hated being emperor, so much so that a prominent Roman writer declared him "the gloomiest of all men." When Sejanus, the captain of the Praetorian Guard, proved capable, Tiberius happily handed him the reins.