Saturday, 10 May 2014

History's Craziest Assholes: Caligula (12 - 41 AD)

Caligula. Roman emperor and grade A bastard.

Being a Roman emperor was, I imagine, akin to being a rock star. People didn't expect much of you, any decisions you did make were probably nonsensical and self-destructive, and you were more interested in sodomizing your chamber maid or boy slave with a fish than addressing your thousands of devotees. Despite being the holy land that it is now, Rome's soil is absolutely sodden with blood and semen, and is haunted by the ghosts of the raped, tortured, executed and terminally drunk. Historically, Rome made the fictional realms of Sodom and Gomorrah sound like Disney land or the more family orientated Spanish resorts like Puerto Pollensa, the place was a fucking mess. A glorious mess, a picturesque mess, but essentially a sociopath's playground, especially if you just so happened to own the whole fucking coop.

Caligula is a pretty adorable name when you think about it. His father, Germanicus, would take his son with him on military campaigns and would kit him out with child-sized solider garb. His name comes from the Latin word for "Little boots". D'awh.

Except it's not "D'awh". Not one fucking bit.

I'll spare you Caligula's rise to glory tale because unless you ignored your history books in secondary school, you're probably already clued in well enough. And believe it or not, he's probably one of the few Roman emperors who didn't poison, execute and fuck his way to the throne. He did, however, make up for that temporary prudence by descending into ten tonnes of horseshit insanity within six months of his rule.

Like all ruthless tyrants, Caligula needed to put some reasoning behind his blood-spattered agenda (If there ever really was an agenda at hand), so the only sensible way for him to impose his dominance over everyone was to present himself as a demi-god, right? He had temples erected for his own worship, he dressed up as characters like Zeus and Hercules and he even had the heads removed from god statues and replaced with his own. That's the kind of egotistical behaviour reserved for weekend warrior salary slaves and Yngwie Malmsteen. It's hard to imagine that the people of Rome actually hailed him as an earthbound deity, because they probably didn't, but when a ruler as crazy as Caligula can have your kids pumped full of hemlock and decapitated with a snap of his fingers, I can guarantee the Roman people put on some Oscar-worthy facades. In fact, it appears as though the only living thing that Caligula actually gave half a shit about was his horse, Incitatus,who he wanted to appoint as a member of the senate. I'd make a joke about horseplay here, but no, that's a bit too indulgent.

When he wasn't presenting himself as a god and spending excessive amounts of dough on beheading statues and turning his chamber into a brothel, you'd more than likely find Caligula slinging his dick around like a yo-yo. Story has it that not only did Cali have a particular fancy for the wives of other men, but he also apparently loved to play doctor and nurse with his own sisters. Oh, but that was only when he wasn't whoring them out in his brothel palace. Those poor girls must have seen more soldiers than Hitler, but hey, that's what you get for sticking around a brother who, within a year, had gone from a halfway decent man of the soil to a frothing psychopath with a dwindling coin purse and a swelling body count. The man had members of an audience thrown into the arena to be eaten by lions because he felt like it. This is the kind of man we're dealing with.

Of course, like many emperors before and after him, Caligula's short reign was ended by the knife. If his four years of tyranny, perversion and cruelty wasn't justification enough to have his head roll, it was his decision to abandon Rome in favour of Egypt in order to be praised as a living god there that set off the conspiracy to skull fuck the young emperor. You know you've turned into a massive sea beast prick when it's your own bodyguards that are the ones that end up stabbing you like the foil of a microwave chicken Korma.

So, to summarize; we've got spontaneous murder, disgracefully excessive spending, a monumental god-complex, constant fooling around with married women, whoring out his own sisters, making his prized horse a priest and member of the senate, and acting so needlessly rotten that your own bodyguards want your body mutilated. 

On a scale of 1 to 10 on the crazy-o-meter, Caligula is a Gary Busey. 

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