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Goes too far in 'forgiving' Caligula
on July 22, 2016
l am still very glad and grateful to Aloys and his translator for this newer biography of Caligula. The other readers have not read what other experts on the early empire think of this work. The truth is that most of the source material on anyone or anything from this era is a minefield to a modern historian. All of the source authors, be it Tacitus, Seutonius, Livy, or Josephus had an agenda with their writings, and the 'truth' was not at the top of that list. We are all grateful to modern historians for sifting through the junk and trying to report some semblance of the truth to us.
Aloys does a good job of explaining apparently bizarre acts in terms that are explainable. Most notably, the Senatorial Horse, and the bridge across the Gulf of Baiae. But Aloys goes too far, as if he's on a mission to fully redeem Caligula and make him a 'good guy' for us. Yes, you need to spend money to demonstrate your superior status... but did he need to bleed the treasury dry? Growing up with the Sword of Damocles dangling over his head probably did affect him deeply as emperor. The relationship with his sisters should have been extremely close, Aloys does not ask why they would conspire against him. The best answer is... they feared him. Callistus and the others knew that it was only a matter of time before Caligula turned on them too. Caligula was a man whom Absolute Power, corrupted Absolutely.
Aloys presents the Principate as an unsustainable paradox. That is total BS. Augustus, Tiberius, Sejanus, and Vespasian proved quite conclusively that this system of understandings could and did work, even under the flawed rule of Tiberius.
Barbara Levick's work on Claudius is much more balanced. Thank you for the refreshing work Aloys, but you raised Caligula up a little thigh for me.