Born: 12 A.D.
Died: 41 A.D. (assassination)
Best known as: Debauched emperor of ancient Rome
Name at birth: Gaius Caesar Germanicus
Caligula was emperor of Rome from 37-41 A.D., and in four short years established a reputation for strange behavior which has endured for 20 centuries. Son of the Roman general Germanicus, Caligula was raised among Roman troops and got the nickname Caligula ("Little Boots") from his miniature military garb. After the death of his great uncle Tiberius, Caligula became emperor with the army's support. His years as emperor were marked by erratic behavior and debauchery: Caligula ordered the deaths of enemies and friends alike, threw absurdly lavish parties, practiced incest with his sisters, and generally abused power while mishandling or ignoring affairs of state. He was assassinated in the year 41 by soldiers from his own Praetorian Guard. Caligula was succeeded by his uncle Claudius.
Extra credit: According to the historian Suetonius, Caligula lavished his horse Incitatus with jewelry, built him a marble stall and planned to make him consul... Caligula apparently suffered from epilepsy as a boy; some scholars think his later behavior was the result of schizophrenia... The 1979 movie Caligula featured Malcolm McDowall as the emperor and a screenplay by Gore Vidal.
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