As January’s book is Caligula’s Blog, today I have mostly been reading a book about Caligula by a Roman historian called Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. It’s essentially a massive list of the crazy stuff he did, which is very handy from my point of view because each item can be a blog entry (or several).
I haven’t finished it yet, but some of the highlights have included:
– Caligula having a gold statue made of himself. Every day some lucky slave got to dress it up in clothes identical to whatever the man himself had thrown on that morning.
– Inviting the moon to go to bed with him every time it was full. Well, I assume he was after the goddess of the moon rather than the lump of rock, although he pretty much seemed to do anything and anyone that stayed still long enough… I will look into that.
– On meeting handsome men with good hair, he had the backs of their heads shaved to make them look daft. He wanted to be the sexiest, you see. Perhaps making other men look bad would detract from the fact he was a terrifying, all-powerful sex pest.
– He apparently described his maternal grandmother as “Ulysses in a dress.” He didn’t like her very much.
– He referred to signing execution lists as “clearing his accounts.” As you may have gathered, he was a sensitive soul.
– He liked to get members of Senate to run alongside his litter for several miles at a time. A bit like having a performing animal, I suppose.
– Lots more things, but I’m not going to list them all. They’ll be in the blog…
I don’t know much about Suetonius himself yet, so won’t be 100% sure how reliable he is as a source till I’ve done some more research on him. I do know that the man had some lovely turns of phrase and that several subsequent biographies of the Caesars were based on his works. Also, he was mates with Pliny The Younger, which is interesting in the sort of way that makes you say, “oh really?” because you’ve vaguely heard of him.
Which is nice.