Cains Caesar Augustas Germanieus Caligula, the third emperor of Rome, born at Antium, Aug. 31, A. D. 12, put to death in Rome, Jan. 24, 41. He was the youngest son of Germanieus, the nephew of Tiberius. His proper name was Caius Caesar, Caligula being an epithet applied to him from the caliga or half-boot of the Roman soldiers, which he usually wore in his youth. By his contemporaries he was always called Caius, and he regarded the name of Caligula as an insult. His earliest years were passed in camp with his father, and he became .popular with the soldiers. After the murder of his father and the exile of his mother, Agrip-pina, he was .brought up by his great-grandmother Livia, and afterward lived in the house of his grandmother Antonia. Tiberius promoted him to various posts of honor, and encouraged him to look forward to the succession to the imperial crown. Tiberius was killed in 37, as is generally believed, at the instigation of Caligula, who at all events afterward boasted that he had attempted to put him to death to avenge the wrongs which his family had suffered. Tiberius in his will named his grandson Tiberius Gemellus as co-heir with Caligula, but the senate and people gave the sovereign power to Caligula alone. The first seven months of his reign seemed a period of general prosperity.
He then fell sick, and Rome was in mourning; many persons vowed to sacrifice their lives to redeem that of the emperor. When he recovered, his whole character appeared to have suffered a change. There can be no doubt that he had a constitutional taint of insanity, which was now more fully developed. He slept scarcely three hours out of the 24, often paced the halls of the palace all night calling for the coming of day, and talked of secluding himself from the world or of taking poison. His excesses took the most violent and unnatural forms. He caused Tiberius Gemellus to be put to death on a frivolous pretext; and those of his friends who had vowed to give their lives for him were forced to kill themselves in order to carry out their vows to the gods. His thirst for blood increased with the number of his victims. He put the worn-out gladiators to death, because their maintenance was a burden to the state. And when there were no criminals to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena, he ordered victims to be taken at random from the spectators, and had their tongues cut out that they might not make a disturbance by their outcries. When taking his meals he would sometimes order men to be put to torture before his eyes.
He removed the awnings from the amphitheatre, that he might enjoy the spectacle of the crowds sitting in the hot summer sun. He found a pretext in the celebration for the battle of Actium to convict the consuls of treason, for on one side he belonged to the family of Augustus, the victor, and on the other to that of Antony, the vanquished. He built a bridge of boats three miles long between Baise and Puteoli, and when it was opened he caused numbers of those whom he had invited as spectators to be thrown into the sea. His cruelty was equalled by his voluptuousness, obscenity, and impiety. He committed incest with his three sisters, Julia, Agrippina, and Drusilla. The first two he banished as guilty of adultery; he deified the last after her death, punishing both those "who mourned and those who rejoiced for her, since it was equally impious to mourn for the dead woman who had become a goddess, or to rejoice for the goddess when the woman was dead. He would sometimes appear in public as a god, arrayed as Jupiter, Bacchus, or Apollo, or even as Yenus or Diana. He built a temple to himself as Jupiter Latiaris, in which was a golden statue of himself, of life size and in his usual attire. The wealthiest citizens were compelled to purchase the honor of officiating as priests.
Sometimes he acted as his own priest, and made his horse, whom he raised to the consulship, his colleague. In a short time he exhausted the immense treasures left by Tiberius, and resorted to every means for raising money. He established a public brothel in his own palace, and when his daughter was born publicly begged money for her by way of gifts. Having exhausted Rome and Italy by his extortions, he turned his eyes elsewhere. In the year 40 he marched to Gaul, under pretext of a war against the Germans, but really to extort money from the wealthy inhabitants. Executions became as frequent in Gaul as they had been in Italy. After this predatory campaign he led his army to the seashore, as if he would cross over to Britain, but having put to sea returned without landing. The troops were drawn up in battle array on the seashore, and at a given signal were ordered to fill their helmets with shells, which he called the spoils of the subjugated ocean. Returning to Rome, he acted with even greater cruelty than before. Having no German captives to exhibit at his triumph, he had a large number of Gauls dressed up to simulate Germans, and caused them to be scourged and beheaded, as though they were enemies taken prisoners in battle.
His rage was unbounded because the honors which the senate had decreed to him were unworthy of a god, which he claimed to be; and he was on the point of ordering the slaughter of half the senate and more than half the equestrian order, when his career was cut short, four months after his return to Rome, and in the fourth year of his reign. Cassius Chcerea, a tribune of a praetorian cohort, and others, conspired to put him to death. According to some he was killed near the theatre, according to others in his own palace, while he was hearing some boys rehearse the parts which they were to perform in the theatre. His favorite wife, Milona Ceesonia, whom he had threatened with torture in order to force her to divulge how she had made him love her, remained by the corpse, and when the murderers returned bade them kill her, so that she might die with her husband. She was put to death, along with her infant daughter. The corpse of Caligula was taken at night by his friends, half burned, and hastily buried.
His sisters, whom he had banished, came back, and had the remains disinterred, completely burned, and the ashes honorably disposed of.