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The son of the popular Roman general Germanicus and Augustus 's granddaughter Agrippina the Elder , Caligula was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire , conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Germanicus's uncle and adoptive father, Tiberius , succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome in Although he was born Gaius Caesar , after Julius Caesar , he acquired the nickname "Caligula" meaning "little [soldier's] boot", the diminutive form of caliga from his father's soldiers during their campaign in Germania.

When Germanicus died at Antioch in 19, Agrippina returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. The conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. Untouched by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted an invitation in 31 to join the emperor on the island of Capri , where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier.

Julius Caesar

Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded his adoptive grandfather as emperor in There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant.

While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, and initiated the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire annexed the client kingdom of Mauretania as a province. In early 41, Caligula was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by officers of the Praetorian Guard , senators , and courtiers.

The conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic was thwarted, however. On the day of the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorians declared Caligula's uncle, Claudius , the next Roman emperor.

Mar 15, 44 BCE: Julius Caesar Assassinated

Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire until the fall of his nephew Nero in 68, Caligula's death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares in the male line. Gaius Julius Caesar named in honor of his famous relative was born in Antium modern Anzio and Nettuno [2] on 31 August 12 AD, the third of six surviving children born to Germanicus and his second cousin Agrippina the Elder. Through Agrippina, Augustus was the maternal great-grandfather of Gaius. As a boy of just two or three, Gaius accompanied his father, Germanicus , on campaigns in the north of Germania.

Suetonius claims that Germanicus was poisoned in Syria by an agent of Tiberius , who viewed Germanicus as a political rival. After the death of his father, Caligula lived with his mother until her relations with Tiberius deteriorated. The adolescent Caligula was then sent to live with his great-grandmother and Tiberius's mother Livia. In 31, Caligula was remanded to the personal care of Tiberius on Capri , where he lived for six years. Caligula claimed to have planned to kill Tiberius with a dagger in order to avenge his mother and brother: however, having brought the weapon into Tiberius's bedroom he did not kill the Emperor but instead threw the dagger down on the floor.

Supposedly Tiberius knew of this but never dared to do anything about it. In 33, Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestorship , a position he held until his rise to emperor. In 35, Caligula was named joint heir to Tiberius's estate along with Tiberius Gemellus. When Tiberius died on 16 March 37 AD, his estate and the titles of the principate were left to Caligula and Tiberius's own grandson, Gemellus , who were to serve as joint heirs. Although Tiberius was 77 and on his death bed, some ancient historians still conjecture that he was murdered. Caligula accepted the powers of the principate as conferred by the Senate and entered Rome on 28 March amid a crowd that hailed him as "our baby" and "our star", among other nicknames.

Caligula's first acts were said to be generous in spirit, though many were political in nature. In October 37, Caligula fell seriously ill, or perhaps was poisoned. He soon recovered from his illness, but many believed that the illness turned the young emperor toward the diabolical: he started to kill off or exile those who were close to him or whom he saw as a serious threat.

Perhaps his illness reminded him of his mortality and of the desire of others to advance into his place. She is said to have committed suicide, although Suetonius hints that Caligula actually poisoned her. He had his father-in-law Marcus Junius Silanus and his brother-in-law Marcus Lepidus executed as well. His uncle Claudius was spared only because Caligula preferred to keep him as a laughing stock. His favourite sister Julia Drusilla died in 38 of a fever: his other two sisters, Livilla and Agrippina the Younger , were exiled. He hated being the grandson of Agrippa and slandered Augustus by repeating a falsehood that his mother was actually conceived as the result of an incestuous relationship between Augustus and his daughter Julia the Elder.

In 38, Caligula focused his attention on political and public reform. He published the accounts of public funds, which had not been made public during the reign of Tiberius.


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He aided those who lost property in fires, abolished certain taxes, and gave out prizes to the public at gymnastic events. He allowed new members into the equestrian and senatorial orders. Perhaps most significantly, he restored the practice of democratic elections. During the same year, though, Caligula was criticized for executing people without full trials and for forcing the Praetorian prefect, Macro, to commit suicide. Macro had fallen out of favor with the emperor, probably due to an attempt to ally himself with Gemellus when it appeared that Caligula might die of fever.


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  8. According to Cassius Dio , a financial crisis emerged in Ancient historians state that Caligula began falsely accusing, fining and even killing individuals for the purpose of seizing their estates. Historians describe a number of Caligula's other desperate measures. In order to gain funds, Caligula asked the public to lend the state money.

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    The current and past highway commissioners were accused of incompetence and embezzlement and forced to repay money. However, some historians have shown skepticism towards the large number of sesterces quoted by Suetonius and Dio. According to Wilkinson, Caligula's use of precious metals to mint coins throughout his principate indicates that the treasury most likely never fell into bankruptcy.

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    A brief famine of unknown extent occurred, perhaps caused by this financial crisis, but Suetonius claims it resulted from Caligula's seizure of public carriages; [46] according to Seneca, grain imports were disrupted because Caligula re-purposed grain boats for a pontoon bridge. Despite financial difficulties, Caligula embarked on a number of construction projects during his reign. Some were for the public good, though others were for himself. Josephus describes Caligula's improvements to the harbours at Rhegium and Sicily , allowing increased grain imports from Egypt, as his greatest contributions.

    Caligula completed the temple of Augustus and the theatre of Pompey and began an amphitheatre beside the Saepta. At Syracuse , he repaired the city walls and the temples of the gods. In 39, Caligula performed a spectacular stunt by ordering a temporary floating bridge to be built using ships as pontoons , stretching for over two miles from the resort of Baiae to the neighbouring port of Puteoli. Caligula had two large ships constructed for himself which were recovered from the bottom of Lake Nemi around The ships were among the largest vessels in the ancient world.

    The smaller ship was designed as a temple dedicated to Diana. The larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace with marble floors and plumbing. In 39, relations between Caligula and the Roman Senate deteriorated. A number of factors, though, aggravated this feud. The Senate had become accustomed to ruling without an emperor between the departure of Tiberius for Capri in 26 and Caligula's accession. Caligula reviewed Tiberius' records of treason trials and decided, based on their actions during these trials, that numerous senators were not trustworthy.

    Soon after his break with the Senate, Caligula faced a number of additional conspiracies against him. In 40, Caligula expanded the Roman Empire into Mauretania and made a significant attempt at expanding into Britannia — even challenging Neptune in his campaign. The conquest of Britannia was fully realized by his successors. Mauretania was a client kingdom of Rome ruled by Ptolemy of Mauretania. Caligula invited Ptolemy to Rome and then suddenly had him executed.

    Details on the Mauretanian events of 39—44 are unclear. Cassius Dio wrote an entire chapter on the annexation of Mauretania by Caligula, but it is now lost.

    Julius Caesar - Ancient History Encyclopedia

    There seems to have been a northern campaign to Britannia that was aborted. Modern historians have put forward numerous theories in an attempt to explain these actions. This trip to the English Channel could have merely been a training and scouting mission. When several client kings came to Rome to pay their respects to him and argued about their nobility of descent, he allegedly cried out the Homeric line: [81] "Let there be one lord, one king.

    Caligula began appearing in public dressed as various gods and demigods such as Hercules , Mercury , Venus and Apollo. A sacred precinct was set apart for his worship at Miletus in the province of Asia and two temples were erected for worship of him in Rome. Caligula had the heads removed from various statues of gods located across Rome and replaced them with his own. Indeed, he was represented as a sun god on Egyptian coins. Caligula's religious policy was a departure from that of his predecessors.

    According to Cassius Dio , living emperors could be worshipped as divine in the east and dead emperors could be worshipped as divine in Rome. Caligula needed to quell several riots and conspiracies in the eastern territories during his reign. Aiding him in his actions was his good friend, Herod Agrippa , who became governor of the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis after Caligula became emperor in The cause of tensions in the east was complicated, involving the spread of Greek culture , Roman Law and the rights of Jews in the empire.

    Caligula did not trust the prefect of Egypt, Aulus Avilius Flaccus. Flaccus had been loyal to Tiberius, had conspired against Caligula's mother and had connections with Egyptian separatists. In 39, Agrippa accused Herod Antipas , the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea , of planning a rebellion against Roman rule with the help of Parthia.

    Herod Antipas confessed and Caligula exiled him. Agrippa was rewarded with his territories. Riots again erupted in Alexandria in 40 between Jews and Greeks. The Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius , fearing civil war if the order were carried out, delayed implementing it for nearly a year. In Rome, another statue of himself, of colossal size, was made of gilt brass for the purpose.

    Philo of Alexandria and Seneca the Younger , contemporaries of Caligula, describe him as an insane emperor who was self-absorbed, was angry, killed on a whim, and indulged in too much spending and sex. While repeating the earlier stories, the later sources of Suetonius and Cassius Dio provide additional tales of insanity. They accuse Caligula of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger , Drusilla , and Livilla , and say he prostituted them to other men.

    The validity of these accounts is debatable. In Roman political culture, insanity and sexual perversity were often presented hand-in-hand with poor government. Caligula's actions as emperor were described as being especially harsh to the Senate, to the nobility and to the equestrian order. The situation had escalated when, in 40, Caligula announced to the Senate that he planned to leave Rome permanently and to move to Alexandria in Egypt, where he hoped to be worshiped as a living god. The prospect of Rome losing its emperor and thus its political power was the final straw for many.

    Such a move would have left both the Senate and the Praetorian Guard powerless to stop Caligula's repression and debauchery.

    Julius Malema vs Ramaphosa "Stop Dreaming And Wake Up"

    With this in mind Chaerea convinced his fellow conspirators, who included Marcus Vinicius and Lucius Annius Vinicianus , to put their plot into action quickly. According to Josephus, Chaerea had political motivations for the assassination. On 22 January 41 Suetonius gives the date as 24 January , Cassius Chaerea and other guardsmen accosted Caligula as he addressed an acting troupe of young men beneath the palace, during a series of games and dramatics being held for the Divine Augustus. The Germanic guard, stricken with grief and rage, responded with a rampaging attack on the assassins, conspirators, innocent senators and bystanders alike.

    The cryptoporticus underground corridor beneath the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill where this event took place was discovered by archaeologists in The senate attempted to use Caligula's death as an opportunity to restore the Republic. After a soldier, Gratus , found Claudius hiding behind a palace curtain, he was spirited out of the city by a sympathetic faction of the Praetorian Guard [] to their nearby camp.

    Claudius became emperor after procuring the support of the Praetorian Guard. He ordered the execution of Chaerea and of any other known conspirators involved in the death of Caligula. He was buried within the Mausoleum of Augustus ; in , during the Sack of Rome , the ashes in the tomb were scattered. The facts and circumstances of Caligula's reign are mostly lost to history. The couple had a daughter, Julia Caesaris, in 76 B. Cornelia died in 69 B. Caesar married Pompeia, a granddaughter of Sulla.

    In 62 B. The event was strictly women-only, but a young nobleman disguised himself as female and crashed the festivities. At some point during the evening, he was found out. Scandal ensued and it was reported that the man was in love with Pompeia or trying to seduce her. Caesar wed his third wife, Calpurnia, in 59 B. In 48 B. The Egyptians referred to him as Caesarion, meaning little Caesar.

    Although never proven, there was suspicion Cleopatra poisoned Ptolemy XIV so she could name Caesarion her co-ruler, which she did that same year. He became known as Ptolemy XV. In 31 B. Taking the name Augustus, he ruled from 27 B. Caesar had no other known sons besides Caesarion. His only known daughter, Julia, died in childbirth in 54 B. Before Caesar came to power, the Romans used a calendar system based on the lunar cycle, which dictated that there were days in a year.