Caligula: In Sickness and in Wealth This is a term paper about the life, reign and downfall of the Roman emperor Caligula

Essay by redmonkeyHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 2002

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History has shown that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Roman emperor Gaius "Caligula" represents a perfect example of this truism. Caligula's abuse of power resulted in his own death and the lives of many others.

Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born August 31st, 12 A.D. at Antium1 as the third of six children of Germanicus and Agrippina. Germanicus was the adopted grandson of Augustus and was adopted by his paternal uncle Tiberius2. He commanded many campaigns for Tiberius and was respected and adored by the people for his lenient and benevolent ways. Caligula had anything but a normal childhood. He lived in an atmosphere of paranoia, suspicion, and murder. As a child, Gaius accompanied his father on military campaigns where he acquired the nickname "Caligula". It began as an army-joke because he grew up with troops of Germanicus and wore a miniature soldier outfit and the "caliga" or little boots3.

After the suspicious death of Germanicus on October 10th, 19 A.D., which Tiberius may have arranged by Gnaeus Piso4, Caligula returned with his mother Agrippina to Italy. There he lived with his grandmother Livia Augusta in her house on the Palentine5. A short two years after, Caligula again moved with the death of Livia in 29 A.D. He was sent to live with his grandmother Antonia6 along with his three sisters: Drusilla, Livilla and Agrippina7. Then, The emperor Tiberius called for Caligula, at the age of 19, to live with him at his villa in Capri8. Tiberius had gone into self-exile at the island and ruled Rome through his Prefect Sejanus. Caligula became like a slave to Tiberius, yet he never complained about Tiberius9. A disturbing sign of Caligula's later madness was the fact that he enjoyed and gleefully watched murders and torture sessions10. He also sometimes...