Evil Emperors
Andew Bove
Block F

Augustus was one of the single most extraordinary emperors to ever rule the
Roman Empire, he was also the first. Augustus set a precept for emperors to come. Some
emperors followed it, some tried, and some didn’t try at all. My report is about two
emperors of Rome that didn’t rule in light of Augustus, and probably couldn’t help it,
considering they were most definitely insane.

Gaius Caesar was born in the ancient city of Antium on August 31, 12 A.D.. Gaius
had two brothers and three sisters. Gaius was devoted to his sisters, and according to
popular scandal, to the point of incest. Gaius’s father was Germanicus, nephew and
adopted son of Tiberus, the second emperor of Rome. Germanicus was an active general
for the Roman army. As a child Gaius accompanied his parents on military campaigns. On
these campaigns Gaius would wear soldiers boots around the camp, thus earning him the
name “Caligula” which means “little boot.”
But Caligula’s childhood was not a happy one. His father died under suspicious
circumstances when Caligula was only 9. Caligula was basically abandoned by his mother,
Agippina, granddaughter of Augustus, and sent to live with his great-grand mother Livia
at the age of 15. Following Livia’s death 2 years later, Caligula, now 17, was sent to live
with his grand mother Antonia. Caligula’s mother and two brothers would eventually
suffer demotion and eventually, violent deaths because they were thought to be, and
indeed were, conspirators against the Roman emperor, Tiberius
When Tiberius died on March 16, 37 A.D. Gaius was in perfect position to assume
power except for the obstacle of Tiberius’s will, which named his son Tiberius Gemellus
and Caligula joint heirs. Caligula didn’t like the fact that he might not become sole
emperor. To solve this problem Caligula ordered Gemellus killed within months. So Gaius,
not Gemellus became emperor of Rome.
The people of Rome were extremely glad to see Tiberus go, and hoped that
Caligula would rule in light of Augustus. During the first six months of his reign, Caligula
gained immense popularity by publicly demoting Tiberius and destroying his personal
Six months into his reign Caligula fell ill with a fever and was near death for
weeks. When Caligula recovered he was most likely insane, and would soon show his
terrible face.
Gaius began acting in an openly autocratic behavior. He soon lost his early
popularity and earned the hatred of the Senate. Caligula exhibited excessive cruelty,
immoral sexual escapades, and disrespect toward tradition and the Senate. He declared
himself to be a god, in fact, he declared himself to be all of the gods. He set up a brothel
using senator’s wives and declared his horse a member of the senate, complete with a
golden stall. He squandered money on public entertainment, ordered many people
executed for no reason, had most of his relatives murdered or banished, ordered foolish
building projects, and had people tortured and killed while he dined. At one point he
ordered a statue of himself to be set up in the temple at Jerusalem, but later canceled his
Caligula exhibited laughable military campaigns. He ordered an attack on the
Germans, but called it off and told the army to collect seashells instead. He also ordered
an attack on the British but called it off at the last minute. He boasted of defeating the
German and British, but he never actually fought them.
By the year 41, Caligula had made too many enemies. His biggest mistake was
probably insulting the army and threatening to kill members of the senate. Caligula was
killed by his own body guard while exiting the theater on January 24th, 41 A.D. He was
28 years old, and had ruled for 3 years and 10 months. Caligula’s uncle Claudius, who was
aged and regarded as an idiot, was hailed emperor by the Praetorian Guard. Old uncle
Caludius, the family embarrassment, was now emperor.
Caligula’s reign is the one of the most poorly documented in Roman History.
Many of the surviving sources are most likely bias and inaccurate. It is at times hard to
distinguish from truth and embellishment. Such tales of sheer lunacy could most likely
have been made up, or could be the truth. The true character of the youthful emperor will
forever elude us.

Lucius Domitus Ahenobarbus or simply Nero, was born in 37 A.D. into what is
now considered a dysfunctional family. Nero lost his father at the age of three. But Nero’s
biggest disadvantage was the obsessive behavior exhibited by his mother, Agrippina the
younger, the sister of Caligula. Dispite all