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Questions and Conclusions

Gaius Caligula is a conundrum. The sources clearly found him difficult. We find the sources difficult.

  • How much can we trust the sources?
  • To what extent do the sources on Gaius play with standard tropes of the tyrant?
  • How many of the stories that surrounded Gaius were mythic?
  • Can we sort fact from fiction in dealing with Gaius?

Gaius was also innovative. He pushed his family to the fore because that was the source of his legitimacy, and then he dropped them. He posed as divine. He was gratuitous in his violence and his causing of offence.

  • Can we understand this as policy?
  • Why did Gaius elevate his family and then exile his sisters?
  • Why did Gaius take divine associations?
  • Why was Gaius so difficult with the senators?

Gaius’ self presentation was in breach of conventional morality. In so doing, he differed from Augustus and Tiberius. His court was more akin to that of Antony and Cleopatra and the later Neronian court in its excesses.

  • Was Gaius looking for new ways to be emperor?
  • What models for imperial or regal behaviour could he look to?
  • What place did morality have in bringing legitimacy to an imperial regime?
  • Why was Gaius openly immoral?

Can we understand the regime’s policies?

  • Was Gaius’ expedition to Gaul a disaster?
  • Why was Gaius thought to be without money? Was he without money?
  • Why did the Jews have such difficulties under Gaius’ rule?

And then there was the assassination.

  • Why was Gaius assassinated?
  • Was the assassination an attempt to restore the Republic and, if so, how realistic were its aims?
  • Can we reconstruct the size and importance of the conspiracy?

Most of all

  • Why did it go so wrong?


Gaius Caligula                                          Assassination                                         Claudius


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