Gaius Caesar Caligula.jpg
Bust of the Emperor Caligula
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign18 March 37 – 24 January 41
(3 years and 10 months)
Born31 August AD 12
Antium (modern Anzio and Nettuno), Italy
Died24 January AD 41 (aged 28)
Palatine Hill, Rome
Regnal name
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
HouseJulio-Claudian dynasty
MotherAgrippina the Elder
Religionancient Roman religion

Caligula (ə/;[1] Latin: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 31 August 12 – 24 January 41 AD) was Roman emperor from AD 37 to AD 41. The son of the popular Roman general Germanicus and Augustus' granddaughter Agrippina the Elder, Caligula was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire, conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Germanicus' uncle and adoptive father, Tiberius, succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome in AD 14.

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 AD 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intrigues, Caligula accepted an invitation in AD 31 to join the emperor on the island of Capri, where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded his adoptive grandfather as emperor in AD 37.

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 AD 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. Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire until the fall of his nephew Nero in AD 68, Caligula's death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares in the male line.

Early life

Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus 27 BC – AD 14
Tiberius AD 14–37
Caligula AD 37–41
Claudius AD 41–54
Nero AD 54–68
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors
See Julio-Claudian family tree.
A marble bust of Caligula restored to its original colours. The colours were identified from particles trapped in the marble.
Julia Drusilla, sister of Caligula

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.[3] Gaius had two older brothers, Nero and Drusus,[3] as well as three younger sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Julia Drusilla and Julia Livilla.[3][4] He was also a nephew of Claudius, Germanicus' younger brother and the future emperor.[5]

Agrippina the Elder was the daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder.[3] She was a granddaughter of Augustus and Scribonia on her mother's side. Through Agrippina, Augustus was the maternal great-grandfather of Gaius.[3]

As a boy of just two or three, Gaius accompanied his father, Germanicus, on campaigns in the north of Germania.[6] The soldiers were amused that Gaius was dressed in a miniature soldier's outfit, including boots and armour.[6] He was soon given his nickname Caligula, meaning "little (soldier's) boot" in Latin, after the small boots (caligae) he wore.[7] Gaius, though, reportedly grew to dislike this nickname.[8]

Suetonius claims that Germanicus was poisoned in Syria by an agent of Tiberius, who viewed Germanicus as a political rival.[9]

After the death of his father, Caligula lived with his mother until her relations with Tiberius deteriorated.[10] Tiberius would not allow Agrippina to remarry for fear her husband would be a rival.[11] Agrippina and Caligula's brother, Nero, were banished in 29 AD on charges of treason.[12][13]

The adolescent Caligula was then sent to live with his great-grandmother (and Tiberius's mother) Livia.[10] After her death, he was sent to live with his grandmother Antonia Minor.[10] In 30 AD, his brother, Drusus Caesar, was imprisoned on charges of treason and his brother Nero died in exile from either starvation or suicide.[13][14] Suetonius writes that after the banishment of his mother and brothers, Caligula and his sisters were nothing more than prisoners of Tiberius under the close watch of soldiers.[15]

In 31 AD, Caligula was remanded to the personal care of Tiberius on Capri, where he lived for six years.[10] To the surprise of many, Caligula was spared by Tiberius.[16] According to historians, Caligula was an excellent natural actor and, recognizing danger, hid all his resentment towards Tiberius.[10][17] An observer said of Caligula, "Never was there a better servant or a worse master!"[10][17]

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.[18] Suetonius claims that Caligula was already cruel and vicious: he writes that, when Tiberius brought Caligula to Capri, his purpose was to allow Caligula to live in order that he "... prove the ruin of himself and of all men, and that he was rearing a viper for the Roman people and a Phaethon for the world."[19]

In 33 AD, Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestorship, a position he held until his rise to emperor.[20] Meanwhile, both Caligula's mother and his brother Drusus died in prison.[21][22] Caligula was briefly married to Junia Claudilla, in 33, though she died in childbirth the following year.[23] Caligula spent time befriending the Praetorian prefect, Naevius Sutorius Macro, an important ally.[23] Macro spoke well of Caligula to Tiberius, attempting to quell any ill will or suspicion the Emperor felt towards Caligula.[24]

In 35 AD, Caligula was named joint heir to Tiberius's estate along with Tiberius Gemellus.[25]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Caligula
Alemannisch: Caligula
አማርኛ: ካሊጎላ
العربية: كاليغولا
aragonés: Caligula
asturianu: Calígula
azərbaycanca: Kaliqula
تۆرکجه: کالیقولا
Bân-lâm-gú: Caligula
беларуская: Калігула
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Калігула
Bikol Central: Caligula
български: Калигула
bosanski: Kaligula
brezhoneg: Caligula
català: Calígula
Чӑвашла: Калигула
čeština: Caligula
Cymraeg: Caligula
dansk: Caligula
Deutsch: Caligula
eesti: Caligula
español: Calígula
Esperanto: Kaligulo
estremeñu: Calígula
euskara: Kaligula
فارسی: کالیگولا
français: Caligula
Frysk: Kaligula
Gaeilge: Caligula
galego: Calígula
한국어: 칼리굴라
հայերեն: Կալիգուլա
hrvatski: Kaligula
Bahasa Indonesia: Caligula
interlingua: Caligula
íslenska: Calígúla
italiano: Caligola
עברית: קליגולה
ქართული: კალიგულა
Kiswahili: Kaisari Kaligula
Kongo: Caligula
Latina: Caligula
latviešu: Kaligula
lietuvių: Kaligula
Ligure: Caligola
lumbaart: Caligola
मैथिली: कालिगुला
македонски: Калигула
Malagasy: Caligula
മലയാളം: കലിഗുല
मराठी: कॅलिगुला
Bahasa Melayu: Caligula
монгол: Калигула
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ကလီဂျူလာဘုရင်
Nederlands: Caligula
日本語: カリグラ
norsk: Caligula
norsk nynorsk: Caligula av Romarriket
occitan: Caligula
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕਾਲੀਗੁਲਾ
ភាសាខ្មែរ: លោកកៃយុសសេសារ
Piemontèis: Calìgola
polski: Kaligula
português: Calígula
română: Caligula
русский: Калигула
Gagana Samoa: Caligula
Scots: Caligula
sicilianu: Calìgula
Simple English: Caligula
slovenčina: Caligula
slovenščina: Kaligula
српски / srpski: Калигула
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kaligula
suomi: Caligula
svenska: Caligula
Tagalog: Caligula
தமிழ்: காலிகுலா
татарча/tatarça: Калигула
Türkçe: Caligula
українська: Калігула
Tiếng Việt: Caligula
West-Vlams: Caligula
Yorùbá: Caligula
粵語: 卡利古拉
Zazaki: Caligula
Zeêuws: Caligula
中文: 卡利古拉