Born ‘Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus’ in 12AD, he was the great grandson of Augustus.
Much of Caligula’s early life was spent with his father Germanicus and his legions. It is at this time that he was given the nickname ‘Caligula’ (little boots).
Following the death of his father Germanicus in 19AD, Caligula lived with his mother Aprippina, his great grandmother Livia and with his grandmother Antonia.
In 31AD Caligula was moved to Capri to live with Tiberius. Many believe he was treated more as a prisoner by Tiberius.
Emperor 37AD – 41AD
Caligula became emperor in 37AD following Tiberius’ death.
In the early months of his rule he was very popular with the people and he provided games for the Roman’s to enjoy. These included chariot races, gladiator shows and plays.
Caligula’s rule changed dramatically after only seven months. He became very ill and due to his popularity, this was of great concern to his people. After recovering from this illness his character changed completely, he was not the same man.
From this time onwards he started to enjoy humiliating people, especially the senate.
Caligula was tortured by headaches, unable to sleep, suffered delusions and had irrational and violent outbursts.
He was known to have dressed in women’s clothing and he wore wigs and make up. He also named himself ‘a God’.
He was out of control and squandering money. He created new taxes to finance his lavish spending, with no thought of the people. The senate believed him to be completely mad.
Caligula kept his favourite horse ‘Incitatus’ inside the palace in a stable box made of ivory and marble. Caligula would invite the horse to dine with him and his guests.
He is said to have ‘considered making the horse consul’. Some believe he did make the horse consul.
In 39AD Caligula set out on campaign. He had become a suspicious madman and believed that people were constantly plotting his assassination.
Many attempts on his life failed, but on 24 January 41AD the emperor was attacked in a corridor of the palace.
He was killed along with his wife and daughter, Caligula himself being stabbed up to thirty times.
According to Cassius Dio, it was stated ‘He learned by actual experience that he was not a god’.