вторник, 30 июля 2013 г.

Caligula has earned a reputation as a tyrant and a pervert?

The name of the Roman emperor Caligula has become synonymous with cruelty and tyranny. It is used all over the place, sticking labels to many politicians, ranging from former President Idi Amin of Uganda to the late leader of the Central African Republic, Jean-Bedel Bokassa. But is a monster, and Caligula was mad or he was the victim of slander?
The modern idea of ​​the tyranny of 2,000 children came back. All the tiles mad autocracy developed into one big drawing during the reign of the third Roman emperor Caligula. He was killed in 41 AD, before the age of 30 years.

Originally, the Greek word for "tyrannos", from which the modern "tyranny" had negative connotations and meant rule by one person, regardless of whether it was good or bad.

Of course, until Caligula ruled extremely cruel and despotic monarchs. But as far as we know, none of the predecessors did not fully correspond to modern concepts of merciless tyrant.

His passion for shoes (quite in the spirit of Imelda Marcos), his megalomania, sadism, sexual abuse (including, believed to incest with all three sisters), and definitely strange, to say the relationship with animals - it's all easy to remember. It is assumed that one of his brilliant ideas was to appoint his horse consul - the chief executive of the empire.

Roman historians loved to talk about his terrible behavior. He became the epitome of tyranny for them, and after a half-century unpopular emperor was nicknamed "the bald Caligula."

A nice young man?

But what of the shocking stories are true, it is very difficult to establish. Is he forced men to look at the execution of her sons, and then invited to the feast, where they were joking and laughing? Is he went into the temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum and waited until the Romans begin to worship him?

Perhaps not doubt in everything that we say, to avoid accusations of excessive skepticism. Contrary to all expectations, a Cambridge archaeologist believes to have found traces of a large bridge that Caligula supposedly built between his palace and the temple of Jupiter, that it was easier to communicate with the deity.

So the idea of ​​Caligula as a pleasant young man, which simply do not speak, it would be quite justified.

But the conclusion of the monstrous cruelty of the Emperor is not as undeniable, as is commonly believed. There is some evidence of contemporaries of his time, and in one of them there is no mention of the horrors that occur in later texts.

They said nothing about incest with her sisters. In one unusual description, which left a senior ambassador from Judea, Caligula presents a such a grim laugh, but no more.

He jokes with the Jews about their prohibition against eating pork (confessing that he does not like lamb). But the idea of ​​the Emperor at the time were far from the delegation of overseas visitors. In fact, he was planning a chic repair one of his residences and chose new paintings and expensive glass.

Speculation and rumors

And even the most extravagant memories of the Emperor, written by Suetonius 80 years after his death, not as extravagant as they seem.

If you read the text carefully, it becomes obvious that it does not describe what he did Caligula, but many retellings that talked about.

The story of how that one day the grandmother of the Emperor found him in bed with his own sister - just a bike. And no Roman author, as far as we know, never mentioned that he wanted to appoint his horse consul. They just write that there were similar rumors.

It can be assumed that the whole story - no more than a joke. Personally I think that at some point, exasperated emperor threw aristocrats something like: "From you no good, I will appoint his horse consul - and it will not be worse!"

And the story about the madness of the emperor, perhaps, was born from a similar joke.

Modern interpretations

The truth is that with the passage of time in the public mind the image of Caligula became more monstrous. And perhaps we are even more than ancient Romans tried to become the embodiment of the image of the despotic tyrant.

In the series Bi-bi-si, 1976 Claudius, Caligula, played by John Hurt, is presented with the ugly, bloody face, as implied from eating the fruit of the womb of his sister.

This scene was completely invented by the writers, but the image created by Hurt, made history. He even began to be used in the comics.

But if Caligula and was created by our contemporaries, it would be nice to them to learn the lessons of what has ended the reign of the emperor.

Caligula was assassinated in a bloody coup, just four years after the ascended the throne. Murder partly explains its terrible reputation. Those who ruled after him, resorted to propaganda to slander his name and justify the coup.

Much more important is the question of who and what followed the death of Caligula. He was killed in the name of freedom, and a few hours seemed like ancient Rome decided not to flirt with a regime ruled by one man, and will regain democracy.

But then one of the guards of the palace found hiding behind the curtain of Caligula's uncle Claudius, and proclaimed him emperor. In the works of contemporary authors it appears quite nice, a bit clumsy and pedantic ruler.

But the writings of ancient historians paint a different image. They Claudius - the same autocrat, like his predecessor. The Romans thought that they would receive freedom, and got the same thing.

Given what happened two thousand years ago, it's hard not to recall the joys and frustrations of the Arab Spring.




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