Caligula: The Corruption of Power
A biography of the Roman Emperor who reigned as a wilful autocrat and planned the invasion of Britain and whose reign saw the beginning of anti ... Show synopsis A biography of the Roman Emperor who reigned as a wilful autocrat and planned the invasion of Britain and whose reign saw the beginning of anti-semitism in Rome. While Caligula's unpredictable behaviour clearly caused distress among the nobility, public reaction to his assassination was anger, not relief: his self-indulgence had been generally enjoyed after Tiberian austerity and most of his named victims had been executed not capriciously, but for involvement in plots against him. Moreover, Caligula's short reign (AD 37-41) is not historically insignificant. He formulated the plans for the conquest of Britain; his reign saw the first serious outbreak of anti-semitism in the Roman world; most important of all, because of a complaisant Senate, he became the first emperor to enjoy almost unlimited powers. The manner of his accession established a pattern that was to be repeated over the next four centuries. In Professor Barrett's view, the mystery of Caligula's reign is not why he descended into autocracy, but how any intelligent Roman could have imagined a different outcome. To make an inexperienced young man, brought up by aged and repressive guardians, master of the world was to court disaster. The autocracy of Caligula and of subsequent emperors was one of the Romans' own making.