Roman Empire Caligula Denarius 37 - 41 AD

Rev: Radiated head of Augustus r between two stars - no legend
. Metal: Silver 3.48 grams, 19 mm diameter. Condition: EF

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History of Caligula

Born in 12 AD Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula) has not faired well in history about the only good thing said about him is that he was devoted to his family and had a ready wit. Some on the antics reported by ancient writers may have been due to the Senate's hostility and exagerated reporting on Caligula's cruel jokes and play acting, however everything points to a dangerous unpleasant individual bordering on megalomania. His father was Germanicus who was a national hero of Rome. The emperor Tiberius had most of his family killed, but Caligula showed no emotion and was eventually invited to live with Tiberius at Capri and was declared Tiberius' heir. Tiberius boasted that he was rearing a "Viper" for the Roman people. Upon Tiberius' death Caligula's accession was greeted with rejoicing and his reign started out very promisisng, but after 6 months he fell seriously ill, possibly causing metal illness.

He was a spectacle: his horse "Incitatus" lived in luxury; he built a boat bridge accross the bay of Naples (over 2 miles) as a stage for a spectacular show;. he drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and he had a gem encrusted pleasure boat. All this extravagance soon exhausted the treasury of some 3000 million sesterces left by Tiberius. He raised taxes, confiscated, extorted and even is said to have opened a brothel in the palace. Relations with the Senate rapidly deteriorated. In 39 - 40 he led an unsuccessful military campaign against Germany he marched to the British coast, but never invaded, but rather he had his troops gather seashells.

Towards the end of his reign in late 40 AD, Caligula declared himself a living God and forced leading citizens to pay enormous sums of money for the honor of becoming his priests. Caligula's actions had lost him his support. He was assassinated during the Palatine games when he retired, as usual, to have a mid-day bath and lunch in the narrrow passageway from the auditorium to the palace. After his death he was damned, his name was erased from official acts, his statues pulled down and his coins defaced; however his name was slowly revised as the archetype of a mad ruler.