Caligula: A Biography

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University of California Press, Sep 1, 2011 - Political Science - 240 pages
4 Reviews
The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from A.D. 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. An exceptionally smart and cruelly witty man, Caligula made his contemporaries worship him as a god. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered in gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and committed incest with his sisters. He wanted to make his horse a consul. Torture and executions were the order of the day. Both modern and ancient interpretations have concluded from this alleged evidence that Caligula was insane. But was he?

This biography tells a different story of the well-known emperor. In a deft account written for a general audience, Aloys Winterling opens a new perspective on the man and his times. Basing Caligula on a thorough new assessment of the ancient sources, he sets the emperor's story into the context of the political system and the changing relations between the senate and the emperor during Caligula's time and finds a new rationality explaining his notorious brutality.

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Review: Caligula: A Biography

User Review  - Goodreads

A short and succinct biography of Caligula. Does cite differences between what Caligula is known to have done and what he was rumored to have done. Still, even if half of what is known about him is true, he was one nasty Emp. Read full review

Review: Caligula: A Biography

User Review  - Goodreads

I thought I could read this one fast, since it's under 200 pages...I was wrong, it took me forever to read it. I have to say that it was worth it though. The author re-examines historical writings to ... Read full review


A Mad Emperor?
1 Childhood and Youth
2 Two Years as Princeps
3 The Conflicts Escalate
4 Five Months of Monarchy
5 Murder on the Palatine
Inventing the Mad Emperor
Epilogue to the English Edition

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About the author (2011)

Aloys Winterling holds a chair for Ancient History at Humboldt-University Berlin. He is the author of Aula Caesaris and Politics and Society in Imperial Rome, among other books.

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