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    Evil Emperors Essay (1535 words)

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    Andew BoveBlock FAugustus was one of the single most extraordinary emperors to ever rule theRoman Empire, he was also the first. Augustus set a precept for emperors to come.

    Someemperors followed it, some tried, and some didn’t try at all. My report is about twoemperors of Rome that didn’t rule in light of Augustus, and probably couldn’t help it,considering they were most definitely insane. CaligulaGaius Caesar was born in the ancient city of Antium on August 31, 12 A. D.

    . Gaiushad two brothers and three sisters. Gaius was devoted to his sisters, and according topopular scandal, to the point of incest. Gaius’s father was Germanicus, nephew andadopted son of Tiberus, the second emperor of Rome. Germanicus was an active generalfor the Roman army.

    As a child Gaius accompanied his parents on military campaigns. Onthese campaigns Gaius would wear soldiers boots around the camp, thus earning him thename ?Caligula? which means ?little boot. ?But Caligula’s childhood was not a happy one. His father died under suspiciouscircumstances when Caligula was only 9.

    Caligula was basically abandoned by his mother,Agippina, granddaughter of Augustus, and sent to live with his great-grand mother Liviaat the age of 15. Following Livia’s death 2 years later, Caligula, now 17, was sent to livewith his grand mother Antonia. Caligula’s mother and two brothers would eventuallysuffer demotion and eventually, violent deaths because they were thought to be, andindeed were, conspirators against the Roman emperor, Tiberius When Tiberius died on March 16, 37 A. D. Gaius was in perfect position to assumepower except for the obstacle of Tiberius’s will, which named his son Tiberius Gemellusand Caligula joint heirs.

    Caligula didn’t like the fact that he might not become soleemperor. To solve this problem Caligula ordered Gemellus killed within months. So Gaius,not Gemellus became emperor of Rome. The people of Rome were extremely glad to see Tiberus go, and hoped thatCaligula would rule in light of Augustus. During the first six months of his reign, Caligulagained immense popularity by publicly demoting Tiberius and destroying his personalpapers.

    Six months into his reign Caligula fell ill with a fever and was near death forweeks. When Caligula recovered he was most likely insane, and would soon show histerrible face. Gaius began acting in an openly autocratic behavior. He soon lost his earlypopularity and earned the hatred of the Senate. Caligula exhibited excessive cruelty,immoral sexual escapades, and disrespect toward tradition and the Senate. He declaredhimself to be a god, in fact, he declared himself to be all of the gods.

    He set up a brothelusing senator’s wives and declared his horse a member of the senate, complete with agolden stall. He squandered money on public entertainment, ordered many peopleexecuted for no reason, had most of his relatives murdered or banished, ordered foolishbuilding projects, and had people tortured and killed while he dined. At one point heordered a statue of himself to be set up in the temple at Jerusalem, but later canceled hisorder. Caligula exhibited laughable military campaigns. He ordered an attack on theGermans, but called it off and told the army to collect seashells instead.

    He also orderedan attack on the British but called it off at the last minute. He boasted of defeating theGerman and British, but he never actually fought them. By the year 41, Caligula had made too many enemies. His biggest mistake wasprobably insulting the army and threatening to kill members of the senate.

    Caligula waskilled by his own body guard while exiting the theater on January 24th, 41 A. D. He was28 years old, and had ruled for 3 years and 10 months. Caligula’s uncle Claudius, who wasaged and regarded as an idiot, was hailed emperor by the Praetorian Guard.

    Old uncleCaludius, the family embarrassment, was now emperor. Caligula’s reign is the one of the most poorly documented in Roman History. Many of the surviving sources are most likely bias and inaccurate. It is at times hard todistinguish from truth and embellishment. Such tales of sheer lunacy could most likelyhave been made up, or could be the truth.

    The true character of the youthful emperor willforever elude us. NeroLucius Domitus Ahenobarbus or simply Nero, was born in 37 A. D. into what isnow considered a dysfunctional family. Nero lost his father at the age of three.

    But Nero’sbiggest disadvantage was the obsessive behavior exhibited by his mother, Agrippina theyounger, the sister of Caligula. Dispite all this Nero grew to love the arts. When Claudius, the emperor, executed his wife, Agrippina seduced her uncle andbecame his wife. She persuaded him to adopt Nero as his son, thrusting his own sonBritannicus aside. Agrippina then poisoned her husband with mushrooms so he could notappoint Britannicus emperor. After Claudius’ death in 54 Nero was appointed emperor at the age of 17.

    For thefirst part of Nero’s reign he was guided by Burrus, who Nero would later poison, and thephilosopher Seneca, who Nero would later force to commit suicide. This was calledNero’s ?good period. ? He cut taxes, and organized fairs and festivals. This period wasshort lived. As Nero reached his early twenties he began to resent his mother.

    He threw herout of the palace and considered her an outcast. Agrippina became angry with her son andthreatened to make Britannicus emperor. So Nero poisoned Britannicus at his birthdayparty. Agrippina, as a last resort to reconcile with her son, seduced him. Although Nerosoon broke off these incestuous relations. These relations served as a mental torment,perhaps the reason that the emperor began to act more oddly.

    Nero would walk the streets at night, says Dio the historian ?insulting women,practicing lewdness on boys, stripped people he encountered, beating, wounding, andmurdering. ? On one occasion Nero assaulted a young man, and in defense the man gaveNero a black eye. Although the man apologized, Nero forced him to commit suicide. Nero loved the arts. He also loved the circus.

    Nero put on spectacular shows. Heheld circus’ that consisted of as many as 400 bears and 300 lions, elephants, andgladiatorial shows. He gave immense prizes to people in attendance. At one time he evenconstructed an artificial lake. Nero ordered Brothels and taverns to be built in the centerof this lake.

    At one time Nero outlawed the selling of anything boiled except for pea soup andvegetables. If one failed to obey they were executed. On March 22, 59 A. D. Nero decided to kill his mother.

    He sent his mother out tosea in a small wooden boat that soon fell apart in the harbor. Sailors then were ordered tobeat her with thier wooden oars until death. When the sailors brought the body of hismother before Nero he is quoted in saying ?I did not know I had such a beautiful mother. ?He regretted the death of his mother and he began acting more bizarre. Soon after Nero killed his wife Octavia and married Poppaea.

    He begancross-dressing when he attended the Senate and forced senators to dance in public. Hemade nobles chant songs of praise to him. In July 64, a fire broke out that would eventually burn 2/3rds of Rome. Rumor hasit that while Rome was burning Nero stood on the roof of his palace and composed a songwith his lyre.

    After the fire was finnaly put out rumors were flying. People thought thatNero had set the fire in order to provide inspiration to a song he was composing called?The Sack of Troy. ? Nero’s advisors told him to lay the blame on the Christians, a smallminority at the time. The Christians were disliked by most Romans because they wouldn’tworship Roman gods. They served as the perfect scapegoat for Nero. Nero spread the rumor that the Christians were to blame and he made a big showof arresting and executing them.

    Most of the Christians that were arrested and sufferedcruel and horrifying deaths. They served as human torches in the streets and Nero’sparties. The Church declared Nero the anti-Christ. The following year Nero flew into a rage. He kicked his pregnant wife to death.

    He found a male slave named Sporus, had him castrated, renamed him Sabina and usedhim as if he were a wife. Nero would tie girls and boys to stakes, and then putting on ananimal hide he would ?satisfy his lusts while appearing to devour parts of their bodies. ?says Dio the historian. In April 65 Nero uncovered a plot against him.

    He personally presided over eachof the convicted. After the tria,l Nero, living in fear of perpetual assassination, left forGreece where he participated in the Olympic Games. He returned to Rome with 1,808crowns he had won for poetry and racing. Upon his return, discontent was growing. A revolt began in Gaul and Germany,before spreading to Italy. Nero panicked and fled to the house of an ex-slave.

    He beggedsomeone to kill him because he lacked the nerve to do it himself . But when he heard thesound of horsemen coming for him he stabbed himself in the throat. As he bled to death hesaid ?What an artist dies within me. ?Nero and Caligula, both early emperors of Rome, both well educated men with thecapability to be extraordinary rulers. But both were corrupted by power and brought up byRoman government. Their first words as children were probably ?senate? and ?emperor?rather then ?mommy? and ?daddy.

    ? Being brought up in the imperial household of ancientRome is enough to make anyone go mad. .

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