Germanicus, the father of Gaius Caesar, the son of Drusus and Antonia the Younger, was adopted by Tiberius, his paternal uncle. After serving as quaestor for five years, before the legal age, he became Consul, without holding the usual intermediate offices, and at Augustus death the Senate appointed him to command the forces in Germany. Though the legions there were unamously opposed to Tiberius succession and would have acclaimed Germanicus Emperor, he showed a remarkable example of filial respect and determination by diverting their attention from this project; he took the offensive in Germany, and won a triumph. As Consul-elect for the second time he was hurried off to restore order in the East, before being able to take office. There he defeated the King of Armenia, and reduced Cappadocia to provincial status, but succumbed to a protracted illness at Antioch, being thirty-three years old when he died. Because of the dark stains which covered his body, and the foam on his lips, poison was suspected; signifcantly, also, they found the heart intact among his bones after cremation- a heart steeped in poison is supposedly proof against fire.
2. According to the general verdict, Tiberius craftily arranged Germanicus' death with Gnaeus Piso as his intermediary and agent. Piso had been appointed to govern Syria and there, deciding that he must make an enemy either of Germanicus or of Tiberius, took every opportunity to provoke Germanicus, even when on his sickbed, by the meanest acts and speeches; behaviour for which the Senate condemned him to death on his return to Rome, after he had narrowly escaped a popular lynching.
3. Germanicus is everywhere described as having been of out-standing physical and moral excellence. He was handsome, courageous, a past-master of Greek and Latin oratory and letters, conspicuously kind-hearted, and gifted with the powerful desire and capacity for winning respect and inspiring affection. Only his legs were somewhat undeveloped, but he strengthened them by assiduous exercise on horseback after meals. He often fought and killed an enemy in hand-to-hand combat; and did not cease to plead causes in the Law Courts even when he had gained a triumph. Some of his Greek comedies are extant, besides other literary works. At home or abroad he always behaved modestly, would dispense with lictors when visiting any free or allied town, and offered sacrifices at whatever tombs of famous men he came across. On deciding to bury under one mound all the scattered remains of Varus' fallen legionaries, he led the search party himself and took the initiative in the collection. Towards his detractors Germanicus showed such tolerance and leniency, regardless of their identity or motives, that he would not even break with Piso (who was cancelling his orders and plaguing his subordinates) until he found that spells and potions were being used against him. And then he did no more than renounce his friendship by uttering the traditional formula, and leave testamentary instructions for his family to take vengeance on Piso if anything should happen to himself
4. Such virtuous conduct brought Germanicus rich rewards. He was so deeply respected and loved by all his kindred that Augustus -I need hardly mention his other relatives - wondered for a long time whether to make him his successor, but at last ordered Tiberius to adopt him. Germanicus, many writers record, had won such intense popular devotion that he was in danger of being mobbed to death whenever he arrived at Rome or took his leave again. Indeed, when he came back from Germany after suppressing the native uprising, all the cohorts of the Praetorian Guard marched out in welcome, despite orders that only two were to do so; and the entire people of Rome - all ages and ranks and both sexes - flocked as far as the twentieth milestone to meet him.
But the most spectacular proof of the devotion in which Germanicus had been held appeared on the day of his death and immediately afterwards. On the day when he died the populace stoned temples and upset altars; people threw their household-gods into the street, and refused to acknowledge their newly-born children. Even the barbarians who were fighting us, or one another, are said to have made immediate peace as though a domestic tragedy had afflicted the whole world; some princes shaving their own beards, and their wives' heads, in token of profound grief. The King of Kings himself cancelled his hunting parties and banquets with his grandees, which is a sign of public mourning in Parthia.
6. While Rome was still stunned and distressed by the first news of his illness,' and waiting for further bulletins, a rumour that he had recovered suddenly went the rounds one evening after dark, and sent people rushing to the Capitol with torches and sacrificial victims. So eager were they to register their vows that the Temple gates were almost torn down. Tiberius was awakened by the joyful chant:
All is well again at Rome,
All is well again at home,
Here's an end to all our pain: Germanicus is well again!
When the news of his death finally broke, neither edicts nor official expressions of sympathy could console the populace; mourning continued throughout the festal days of December. The renown of the dead man and the bitterness of his loss were accentuated by the horrors which followed; for everyone believed, and with good reason, that moral respect for Germanicus had alone kept Tiberius from displaying the cruelty of his wicked heart - which was soon to burst forth.
7. Germanicus married Agrippina the Elder, daughter of Marcus Agrippa and Julia, who bore him nine children. Two died in infancy, and a third, an extremely likeable boy, during early childhood. Livia dedicated a statue of him, dressed as a cupid, to Capitoline Venus; Augustus kept a replica in his bedroom and used to kiss it fondly whenever he entered. The other children - three girls, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla, and Livilla, born in successive years; and three boys, Nero, Drusus, and Gains Caesar - survived their father; but Tiberius later brought charges against Nero and Drusus, whom he persuaded the Senate to execute as public enemies.
8. Gaius Caesar was born on 31 August, A.D. 12, during the consulship shared by his father with Gaius Fonteius Capito. His birthplace is disputed. According to Gnaeus Lentulus Gaetuiicus, he was born at Tibur; but, according to Pliny the Elder, near Treveri, in the village of Ambitarvium, just above the junction of the Moselle and the Rhine. Pliny supports his view by mentioning certain local altars inscribed 'IN HONOUR OF AGRIPPINA'S PUERPERIUM' (i.e. child-bearing), also a verse, which went the rounds at Gaius' accession and suggests that he was born in the winter quarters of the legions:
born in a barracks,
Reared in the arts ofwar: A noble nativity
For a Roman Emperor!
The Gazette, however, gives his birthplace as Antium; and my researches convince me that this is correct. Pliny shows that Gaetulicus tried to flatter the proud young monarch by pretending that he came from Tibur, a city sacred to Hercules; and that he lied with greater confidence because Germanicus did have a son named Gaius Caesar born there, whose lovable character as a boy, and premature death, I have already mentioned. Nevertheless, Pliny is himself mistaken in his chronology since historians of Augustus' reign agree that Germanicus' first visit to Gaul took place after he had been Consul, by which time Gaius was already born. Moreover, the inscription on the altar does not prove Pliny's point, since Agrippina bore Germanicus two daughters in Gaul, and any confinement is a puerperium11, regardless of the child's sex - girls were formerly called puerae as often as pueilae, and boys puelli as often as pueri. Finally, there is a letter which Augustus wrote a few months before he died, to his grand-daughter Agrippina the Elder; the Gaius mentioned in it must have been the future emperor because no other child of that name Was alive at the time. It reads: 'Yesterday I made arrangements for Talarius and Asillius to 'bring your son Gaius to you on the eighteenth of May, if the gods will. I am also sending with him one of my slaves, a doctor who, as I have told Germanicus in a letter, need not be returned to me if he proves of use to you. Goodbye, my dear Agrippina! Keep well on the way back to your Germanicus.' Clearly, Gaius could not have been born in a country to which he was first taken from Rome at the age of nearly two! This letter also weakens my confidence in that piece of verse. So we are, I think, reduced to accepting the only other authority, namely the Gazette, especially since Gaius preferred Antium to any other city, and treated it as his native place; he even planned, they say, to transfer the seat of imperial government there, when he wearied of Rome.
9. He won his surname, Caligula ('Bootikin') from an army joke, because he grew up among the troops and wore the miniature uniform of a private soldier. An undeniable proof of the hold on their affections which this early experience of camp-life gave him is that when they rioted at the news of Augustus' death and were ready for any madness, the mere1 sight of little Gaius unquestionably calmed them down. As soon as they realized that he was being removed to a neighboring city to protect him from their violence, they were overcome by contrition; some of them seized and stopped his carriage, pleading to be spared this disgrace.
10. Gaius also accompanied Germanicus to Syria. On his return he lived with his mother and next, after she had been exiled, with his great-grandmother Livia,1 whose funeral oration he delivered from the Rostra though he bad not yet come of age. He then lived with his grandmother Antonia until Tiberius summoned him to Capreae, at the age of eighteen. He assumed his manly gown and shaved his first beard as soon as he arrived there; but this was a most informal occasion, compared with his brothers' coming-of-age celebrations. The courtiers tried every trick to lure or force him into making complaints against Tiberius; always, however, without success. He not only failed to show any interest in the murder of his relatives, but affected an amazing indifference to his own ill-treatment, behaving so obsequiously to his adoptive grandfather and to the entire household,that someone said of him, very neatly: 'Never was there a better slave, or a worse master!'
11. Yet even in those days he could not control his natural brutality and viciousness. He loved watching tortures and executions; and, disguised in wig and robe, abandoned himself nightly to the pleasures of gluttonous and adulterous living. Tiberius was ready enough to indulge a passion which Gains had for theatrical dancing and singing, on the ground that it might have a civilizing influence on him. With characteristic shrewdness, the old Emperor had exactly gauged the young man's vicious inclinations, and would often remark that Gaius' advent portended his own death and the ruin of every-one else. 'I am nursing a viper for the Roman people,' he once said, 'and a Phaethon for the whole world.'
12. Gaius presently married Junia Claudilla, daughter of the distinguished Marcus Silanus; after which he was first appointed Augur, in place of his brother Drusus, and then promoted to the Priesthood, in compliment to his dutiful behaviour and exemplary life. This encouraged him in the hope of becoming Tiberius' successor, because Sejanus' downfall' had reduced the Court to a shadow of its former self - and when Junia died in childbirth, he seduced Ennia Naevia, wife of Macro9, the Guards Commander; not only swearing to marry her if he became Emperor, but putting the oath in writing. Having through her wormed his way into Macro's favor, he poisoned Tiberius, as some assert, issuing orders for the imperial ring to be removed while he was still breathing; and then, suspecting that he was trying not to let it go, he had him smothered with a pillow - or even throttled Tiberius with his own hands, and when a freedman cried out in protest at this wicked deed, crucified him at once. All this may be true; some writers report that Gaius later confessed at least to intended parricide. He would often boast, that is to say, of having carried a dagger into Tiberius' bedroom with the dutiful intention of avenging his mother and brothers; but, according to his own account, found Tiberius asleep and, restrained by feelings of pity, threw down the dagger and went out. Tiberius, he said, was perfectly aware of what had happened, yet never dared question him, or take any action in the matter.
13. Gaius' accession seemed to the Roman people - one might almost say, to the whole world - like a dream come true. The memory of Germanicus and compassion for a family that had been practically wiped out by successive murders, made most provincials and soldiers, many of whom had known him as a child, and the entire population of Rome as well, show extravagant joy that he was now Emperor. When he escorted Tiberius' corpse from Misenum to Rome he was, of course, dressed in mourning, but a dense crowd greeted him uproariously with altars, sacrifices, torches, and such endearments as 'star', 'chicken', 'baby', and 'pet'.
14. On his arrival in the city the Senate (and a crowd of people who had forced their way into the House) immediately and unanimously conferred absolute power upon him. They set aside Tiberius' will - which made his other grandson, then still a child, joint-heir with Gaius - and so splendid were the celebrations that 160,000 victims were publicly sacrificed during the next three months, or perhaps even a shorter period.
A few days later Gaius visited the prison islands off Campania, and vows were uttered for his safe return - at that time no opportunity of demonstrating a general concern for his welfare was ever disregarded. When he fell ill, anxious crowds besieged the Palace all night. Some swore that they would fight as gladiators if the gods allowed him to recover; others even carried placards volunteering to die instead of him. To the great love in which he was held by his own people, foreigners added their own tribute of devotion. Artabanus, King of the Parthians, who always expressed outspoken hatred and contempt for Tiberius, made unsolicited overtures of friendship to Gaius, attended a conference with the Governor of Syria and, before returning across the river Euphrates, paid homage to the Roman Eagles and standards, and to the statues of the Caesars.
15. Gaius strengthened his popularity by every possible means. He delivered a funeral speech in honour of Tiberius to a vast crowd, weeping profusely all the while; and gave him a magnificent burial. But as soon as this was over he sailed for Pandataria and the Pontian Islands to fetch back the remains of his mother and his brother Nero; and during rough weather, too, in proof of devotion. He approached the ashes with the utmost reverence and transferred them to the urns with his own hands. Equally dramatic was his gesture of raising a standard on the stern of the bireme which brought the urns to Ostia, and thence up the Tiber to Rome. He had arranged that the most distinguished knights available should carry them to the Mausoleum in two biers, at about noon, when the streets were at their busiest; also appointing an annual day of funeral sacrifices, in addition to Circus games, in honour of his mother, at which her image would be paraded in a covered carriage. He honored his father's memory by renaming the month of September 'Germanicus'; and sponsored a senatorial decree which awarded his grandmother Antonia, at a blow, all the honors won by Livia Augusta in her entire lifetime. As fellow-Consul he chose his uncle Claudius, who had hitherto been a mere knight; and adopted young Tiberius Gemellus when he came of age, giving him the official title of'Prince of the Youth'.
Gaius caused the names of his sisters to be included in all oaths, in the following terms: '. . .1 will not value my life or that of my children less highly than I do the safety of the Emperor Gaius and his sisters!' - and in the consular motions, as follows: 'Good fortune attend the Emperor Gaius and his sisters!'
An equally popular step was his recall of all exiles, and dismissal of all criminal charges whatsoever that had been pending since earlier times. The batches of written evidence in his mother's and brothers' cases were brought to the Forum at his orders, and burned, to set at rest the minds of such witnesses and informers as had testified against them; but first he swore before Heaven that he had neither read nor touched a single document. He also refused to examine a report supposedly concerning his own safety, on the ground that nobody could have any reason to hate him, and that he gave no hearing to informers.
16. Gaius drove from the city the perverts known as spintriae, and could with difficulty be restrained from drowning the lot. He gave permission for the works of Titus Labienus, Cremutius Cordus, and Cassius Severus, which had been banned by order of the Senate, to be routed out and republished - stating it to be entirely in his interest that posterity should be in full possession of all historical facts; also, he revived Augustus' practice, discontinued by Tiberius, of publishing an imperial budget; invested the magistrates with full authority, not requiring them to apply for his confirmation of sentences; and strictly and scrupulously scanned the list of knights but, though publicly dismounting any who had behaved in a wicked or scandalous manner, merely omitted the names of those guilty of lesser mis-behaviour from the list which he read out. Gaius' creation of a fifth judicial division aided jurors to keep abreast of their work; his reviving of the electoral system was designed to restore popular control over the magistracy. He honored faithfully and uncritically every one of the bequests m Tiberius' will, though this had been set aside by the Senate, and in that of his maternal great-grandmother Livia, which Tiberius had suppressed; abolished the Italian half per-cent auction tax; and paid compensation to a great many people whose houses had been damaged by fire. Any king whom he restored to the throne was awarded the arrears of taxes and revenue that had accumulated since his deposition - Antiochus of Commagene, for example, got a refund of a million gold pieces from the Public Treasury. To show his interest in every kind of noble action he awarded 8,000 gold pieces to a freedwoman who, though put to extreme torture, had not revealed her patron's guilt. These acts won him many official honors, among them a golden shield, carried once a year to the Capitol by the priestly colleges marching in procession, and followed by the ~1~ate, while children of noble birth chanted an anthem in praise of his virtues. By a senatorial decree the festival of Parilia, was transferred to the day of his accession, as though Rome had now been born again.
17. Gaius held four consulships: the earliest for two months, from 1 July; the next for the whole month of January; the third for the first thirteen days of january; and the fourth for the first seven. Only the last two were in sequence.2 He assumed his third consulship without a colleague. Some historians describe this as a high-handed breach of precedent; but unfairly, because he was then quartered at Lugdunum, where the news that his fellow Consul-elect had died in Rome, just before the New Year, had not reached him in time. He twice presented every member of the commons with three gold pieces; and twice invited all the senators and knights, with their wives and children, to an extravagant banquet. At the first of these banquets he gave every man a toga and every woman a red or purple scarf He also added to the gaiety of Rome by extending the customary four days of the Saturnalia, with a fifth, known as 'Youth Day'.
18. Gaius held several gladiatorial contests, some in Statilius Taurus' amphitheatre, and others in the Enclosure; diversifying them with prize-fights between the best boxers of Africa and Campania, and occasionally allowing magistrates or friends to preside at these instead of doing so himself. Again, he staged a great number of different theatrical shows of various kinds and in various buildings -sometimes at night, with the whole city illuminated - and would scatter vouchers among the audience entitling them to all sorts of gifts, over and above the basket of food which was everyone's due. At one banquet, noticing with what extraordinary gusto a knight seated opposite dug into the food, he sent him his own heaped plate as well; and rewarded a senator, who had been similarly enjoying himself with a praetorship, though it was not yet his turn to hold this office. Many all-day Games were celebrated in the Circus and, between races, Gaius introduced panther-baiting and the Trojan war dance. For certain special Games, when all the charioteers were men of senatorial rank, he had the Circus decorated in red and green. Once, while he was inspecting the Circus equipment, from the Gelotian House which overlooks it, a group of people standing in the near-by balconies called out: 'What about a day's racing, Caesar?' So, on the spur of the moment, he gave immediate orders for games to be held.
19. One of his spectacles was on such a fantastic scale that nothing like it had ever been seen before. He collected all available merchant ships and anchored them in two lines, close together, the whole way from Baiae to the mole at Puteoli, a distance of more than three and a half Roman miles. Then he had earth heaped on their planks, and made a kind of Appian Way along which he trotted back and forth for two consecutive days. On the first day he wore oak-leaf crown, sword, buckler, and cloth-of-gold cloak, and rode a gaily caparisoned charger. On the second, he appeared in charioteer's costume driving a team of two famous horses, with a boy named Dareus, one of his Parthian hostages, displayed in the car beside him; behind came the entire Praetorian Guard, and a group of his friends mounted in Gallic chariots. Gaius is, of course, generally supposed to have built the bridge as an improvement on Xerxes' famous feat of bridging the much narrower Hellespont. Others believe that he planned this huge engineering feat to terrify the Germans and Britons, on whom he had his eye. But my grandfather used to tell me as a boy that, according to some courtiers in Gaius's confidence, the reason for the bridge was this: when Tiberius could not decide whom to appoint as his successor, and inclined towards his natural grandson, Thrasyllus the astrologer had told him: 'As for Gaius, he has no more chance of becoming Emperor than of riding a horse dryshod across the Gulf of Baiae.'
20. Gaius gave several shows abroad - Athenian Games at Syracuse in Sicily, and miscellaneous Games at Lugdunum in Gaul, where he also held a competition in Greek and Latin oratory. The loser, it appears, had to present the winners with prizes and make speeches praising them; while those who failed miserably were forced to erase their entries with either sponges or their own tongues - unless they preferred to be thrashed and flung into the neighboring river.
21. He completed certain projects half finished by Tiberius: namely, the Temple of Augustus and Pompey's Theatre; and began the construction of an aqueduct in the Tibur district, and of an amphitheatre near the Enclosure. (His successor Claudius finished the aqueduct; but work on the amphitheatre was abandoned.) Gaius rebuilt the ruinous ancient walls and temples ~f Syracuse, and among his other projects were the restoration of Polycrates palace at Samos, the completion of Didymaean Apollo's temple at Ephesus, and the building of a city high up in the Alps. But he was most deeply interested in cutting a canal through the Isthmus in Greece, and sent a leading-centurion there to survey the site.
22. So much for the Emperor; the rest of this history must deal with the Monster.
He adopted a variety of titles: such as 'Pious', 'Son of the Camp', 'Father of the Army', 'Best and Greatest of Ceasars . But when once, at the dinner table, some foreign kings who had come to pay homage were arguing which of them was the most nobly descended, Gaius interrupted their discussion by declaiming Homer's line:
Nay, let there be one master, and one king!
And he nearly assumed a royal diadem then and there, turning the semblance of a principate into an autocracy. However, after his courtiers reminded him that he already outranked any prince or king, he insisted on being treated as a god - sending for the most revered or artistically famous statues of the Greek deities (including that of Jupiter at Olympia), and having their heads replaced by his own.
Next, Gaius extended the Palace as far as the Forum; converted the shrine of Castor and Pollux into its vestibule; and would often stand beside these Divine Brethren to be worshipped by all visitants, some of whom addressed him as 'Jupiter Latiaris'. He established a shrine to himself as God, with priests, the costliest possible victims, and a life-sized golden image, which was dressed every day in clothes identical with those that he happened to be wearing. All the richest citizens tried to gain priesthoods here, either by influence or bribery. Flamingoes, peacocks, black grouse, guinea-hens, and pheasants were offered as sacrifices, each on a particular day of the month. When the moon shone full and bright he always invited the Moon-goddess to sexual intercourse in his bed; and during the day would indulge in whispered conversations with Capitoline Jupiter, pressing his ear to the god's mouth, and sometimes raising his voice in anger. Once he was overheard threatening the god: 'If you do not raise me up to heaven I will cast you down to Hell.' Finally he announced that Jupiter had persuaded him to share his home; and therefore connected the Palace with the Capitol by throwing a bridge across the Temple of the God Augustus; after which he began building a new house inside the precincts of the Capitol itself, in order to live even nearer.
23. Because of Agrippa's humble origin Gaius loathed being described as his grandson, and would fly into a rage if anyone mentioned him, in speech or song, as an ancestor of the Caesars. He nursed a fantasy that his mother had been born of an incestuous union between Augustus and his daughter Julia; and not content with thus discrediting Augustus' name, cancelled the annual commemorations of Agrippa's victories at Actium and off Sicily, declaring that they had proved the disastrous ruin of the Roman people. He called his great-grandmother Livia a 'Ulysses in petticoats', and in a letter to the Senate dared describe her as of low birth - 'her maternal grandfather Aufidius Lurco having been a mere local senator at Fundi' -although the public records showed Lurco to have held high office at Rome. When his grandmother Antonia asked him to grant her a private audience he insisted on taking Macro, the Guards Commander, as his escort. Unkind treatment of this sort hurried her to the
grave though, according to some, he accelerated the process with poison and, when she died, showed so little respect that he sat in his dining-room and watched the funeral pyre burn. One day he sent a colonel to kill young Tiberius Gemellus without warning; on the pretext that Tiberius had insulted him by taking an antidote against poison - his breath smelled of it. Then he forced his father-in-law, Marcus Silanus, to cut his own throat with a razor, the charge being that he had not followed the imperial ship when it put to sea m a storm, but had stayed on shore to seize power at Rome if anything happened to himself The truth was that Silanus, a notoriously bad sailor, could not face the voyage; and Tiberius's breath smelled of medicine taken for a persistent cough which was getting worse. Gaius preserved his uncle Claudius merely as a butt for practical jokes.
24. It was his habit to commit incest with each of his three sisters and, at large banquets, when his wife reclined above him, placed them all in turn below him. They say that he ravished his sister Drusilla before he came 0[[sterling]] age: their grandmother Antonia, at whose house they were both staying, caught them in bed together. Later, he took Drusilla from her husband, the former Consul Lucius Cassius Longinus, openly treating her as his lawfully married wife; and when he fell dangerously ill left Drusilla all his property, and the Empire too. At her death he made it a capital offense to laugh, to bathe, or to dine with one's parents, wives, or children while the period of public mourning lasted; and was so crazed with grief that he suddenly rushed from Rome by night, drove through Campania, took ship to Syracuse, and returned just as impetuously without having shaved or cut his hair in the meantime. Afterwards, whenever he had to take an important oath, he swore by Drusilla's divinity, even at a public assembly or an army parade. He showed no such extreme love or respect for the two surviving sisters, and often, indeed, let his boy friends sleep with them; and at Aemilius Lepidus' trial, felt no compunction about denouncing them as adulteresses who were party to plots against him - openly producing letters in their handwriting (acquired by trickery and seduction) and dedicating to Mars the Avenger the three swords with which, the accompanying placard alleged, they had meant to kill him.
25. It would be hard to say whether the way he got married, the way he dissolved his marriages, or the way he behaved as a husband was the most disgraceful. He attended the wedding ceremony of Gaius Piso and Livia Orestilla, but had the bride carried off to his own home. After a few days, however, he divorced her, and two years later banished her, suspecting that she had returned to Piso in the interval. According to one account he told Piso, who was reclining opposite him at the wedding feast: 'Hands off my wife!' and abducted her from the table at once; and announced the next day that he had taken a wife in the style of Romulus and Augustus. Then he suddenly sent for Lollia Paulina, wife of Gaius Memmius, a Governor of consular rank, from his province, because somebody had remarked that her grandmother was once a famous beauty; but soon discarded her, forbidding her ever again to sleep with another man. Caesonia was neither young nor beautiful, and had three daughters by a former husband, besides being recklessly extravagant and utterly promiscuous; yet he loved her with a passionate faithfulness and often, when reviewing the troops, used to take her out riding in helmet, cloak, and shield. For his friends he even paraded her naked; but would not allow her the dignified title of 'wife' until she had borne him a child, whereupon he announced the marriage and the birth simultaneously. He named the child Julia Drusilla; and carried her around the temples of all the goddesses in turn before finally entrusting her to the lap of Minerva, whom he called upon to supervise his daughter's growth and education. What finally convinced him of his own paternity was her violent temper; while still an infant she would try to scratch her little playmates' faces and eyes.
26. it would be trivial and pointless to record how Gaius treated such relatives and friends as his cousin King Ptolemy of Mauretania (the son of King Juba and grandson of Antony by his daughter Cleopatra Selene), or Macro the Guards Commander, with his wife Ennia, by whose help he had become Emperor. Their very nearness and services to him earned them cruel deaths.
Nor was he any more respectful or considerate in his dealings with the Senate, but made some of the highest officials run for miles beside his chariot, dressed in their togas; or wait in short linen tunics at the head or foot of his dining couch. Often he would send for men whom he had secretly killed, as though they were still alive, and remark off-handedly a few days later that they must have committed suicide. When two Consuls forgot to announce his birthday, he dismissed them and left the country for three days without officers of state. One of his quaestors was charged with conspiracy; Gaius had his clothes stripped off and spread on the ground' to give the soldiers who flogged him a firmer foothold.
He behaved just as arrogantly and violently towards the other orders of society. A crowd bursting into the Circus about midnight to secure free seats angered him so much that he had them driven away with clubs; more than a score of knights, as many married women, and numerous others were crushed to death in the ensuing panic. Gaius liked to stir up trouble in the Theatre by scattering gift vouchers before the seats were occupied, thus tempting commoners to invade the rows reserved for knights. During gladiatorial shows he would have the canopies removed at the hottest time of the day and forbid anyone to leave; or take away the usual equipment, and pit feeble old fighters against decrepit wild animals; or stage comic duels between respectable householders who happened to be physically disabled in some way or other. More than once he closed down the granaries and let the people go hungry.
27. The following instances will illustrate his bloodthirstiness. Having collected wild animals for one of his shows, he found butcher's meat too expensive and decided to feed them with criminals instead. He paid no attention to the charge-sheets, but simply stood in the middle of a colonnade, glanced at the prisoners lined up before him, and gave the order: 'Kill every man between that bald head and the other one over there!' Someone had sworn to fight in the arena if Gaius recovered from his illness; Gaius forced him to fulfill this oath, and watched his swordplay closely, not letting him go until he had won the match and begged abjectedly to be released. Another fellow had pledged himself, on the same occasion, to commit suicide; Gaius, finding that he was still alive, ordered him to be dressed in wreaths and fillets, and driven through Rome by the imperial slaves -who kept harping on his pledge and finally flung him over the embankment into the river. Many men of decent family were branded at his command, and sent down the mines, or put to work on the roads, or thrown to the wild beasts. Others were confined in narrow cages, where they had to crouch on all fours like animals; or were sawn m half- and not necessarily for minor offenses, but merely for criticizing his shows, or failing to swear by his Genius.
Gaius made parents attend their sons executions, and when one other excused himself on the ground of ill-health, provided a litter for him. Having invited another father to dinner just after the son's execution, he overflowed with good-fellowship in an attempt to make him laugh andjoke. He watched the manager of his gladiatorial and wild-beast shows being flogged with chains for several days running, and had him killed only when the smell of suppurating brains became insupportable. A writer of Atellan farces was burned alive in the amphitheatre, because of a line which had an amusing double-entendre. One knight, on the point of being thrown to the wild beasts, shouted that he was innocent; Gaius brought him back, removed his tongue, and then ordered the sentence to be carried out.
28. Once he asked a returned exile how he had been spending his time. To flatter him the man answered: 'I prayed continuously to the gods for Tiberius' death, and your accession; and my prayer was granted.' Gaius therefore concluded that the new batch of exiles must be praying for his own death; so he sent agents from island to island and had them all killed. Being anxious that one particular senator should be torn in pieces he persuaded some of his colleagues to challenge him as a public enemy when he entered the House, stab him with their pens, and then hand him over for lynching to the rest of the Senate; and was not satisfied until the victim's limbs, organs, and guts had been dragged through the streets and heaped up at his feet.
29. Gaius' savage crimes were made worse by his brutal language. He claimed that no personal trait made him feel prouder than his 'inflexibility' - by which he must have meant 'brazen impudence. As though mere deafness to his grandmother Antonia's good advice were not enough, he told her: 'Bear in mind that I can treat anyone exactly as I please!' Suspecting that young Tiberius Gemellus had taken drugs as prophylactics to the poison he intended to administer, he scoffed: 'Can there really be an antidote against Caesar?' And, on banishing his sisters, he remarked: 'I have swords as well as islands.' One ex-praetor, taking a cure at Anticyra, made frequent requests for an extension of his sick leave; Gaius had him put to death, suggesting that if hellebore had been of so little benefit over so long a period, he must need to be bled. When signing the execution list he used to say: 'I am clearing my accounts.' And one day, after sentencing a number of Gauls and Greeks to die in the same batch, he boasted of having 'subdued Gallo-Graecia'.
30. The method of execution he preferred was to inflict numerous small wounds; and his familiar order: 'Make him feel that he is dying!' soon became proverbial. Once, when the wrong man had been killed, owing to a confusion of names, he announced that the victim had equally deserved death; and often quoted Accius' line:
Let them hate me, so long as they fear me.
He would indiscriminately abuse the Senate as having been friends of Sejanus, or informers against his mother and brothers (at this point producing the papers which he was supposed to have burned!); and exclaim that Tiberius' cruelty had been quite justified since, with so many accusers, he was bound to believe their charges. The Knights earned his constant displeasure for spending their time, or so he complained, at the play or the Games. On one occasion the people cheered the team he opposed; he cried angrily: 'I wish all you Romans had only one neck!' When a shout arose in the amphitheatre for Tetrinius the bandit to come out and fight, he said that all those who called for himwere Tetriniuses too. A group of net-and-trident gladiators, dressed in tunics, put up a very poor show against the five men-at-arms' with whom they were matched; but when he sentenced them to death, one of them seized a trident and killed each of the victorious team in turn. Gaius then publicly expressed his horror at what he called 'this most bloody murder', and his disgust with those who had been able to stomach the sight.
31. He went about complaining how bad the times were, and particularly that there had been no public disasters like the Varus massacre under Augustus, or the collapse of the amphitheatre at Fidenae under Tiberius. The prosperity of his own reign, he said, would lead to its being wholly forgotten, and he often prayed for a great military catastrophe, or for some famine, plague, fire, or earthquake.
32. Everything that he said and did was marked with equal cruelty, even during his hours of rest and amusement and banqueting. He frequently had trials by torture held in his presence while he was eating or otherwise enjoying himself; and kept an expert headsman in readiness to decapitate the prisoners brought in from gaol. When the bridge across the sea at Puteoli was being blessed, he invited a number of spectators from the shore to inspect it; then abruptly tipped them into the water. Some clung to the ships' rudders, but he had them dislodged with boat-hooks and oars, and left to drown. At a public dinner in the city he sent to his executioners a slave who had stolen a strip of silver from a couch; they were to lop off the man's hands, tie them around his neck so that they hung on his breast, and take him for a tour of the tables, displaying a placard in explanation of his punishment. On another occasion a gladiator from the school' against whom he was fencing with a wooden sword fell down deliberately; whereupon Gaius drew a real dagger, stabbed him to death, and ran about waving the palm-branch of victory. Once, while presiding appropriately robed at the sacrificial altar, he swung his mallet, as if at the victim, but instead felled the assistant-priest. At one particularly extravagant banquet he burst into sudden peals of laughter. The Consuls, who were reclining next to him, politely asked whether they might share the joke. 'What do you think?' he answered. 'It occurred to me that I have only to give one nod and both your throats will be cut on the spot!'
33. As an example of his sense of humour, he played a prank on Apelles, the tragic actor, by standing beside a statue of Jupiter and asking: 'Which of us two is the greater?' When Apelles hesitated momentarily, Gaius had him flogged, commenting on the musical quality of his groans for mercy. He never kissed the neck of his wife or mistress without saying: 'And this beautiful throat will be cut whenever I please.' Sometimes he even threatened to torture Caesonia as a means of discovering why he was so devoted to her.
34. In his insolent pride and destructiveness he made malicious attacks on men of almost every epoch. Needing more room in the Capitol courtyard, Augustus had once shifted the statues of certain celebrities to the Campus Martius; these Gaius dashed to the ground and shattered so completely, inscriptions and all, that they could not possibly be restored. After this no statue or bust of any living person anywhere could be set up without his permission. He toyed with the idea of suppressing Homer's poems - for he might surely claim Plato's privilege of banishing Homer from his republic? As for Virgil and Livy, he came very near to having their works and busts removed from the libraries, claiming that Virgil had no talent and little learning; and that Livy was a wordy and inaccurate historian. It seems, also, that he proposed to abolish the legal profession; at any rate, he often swore by Hercules that no lawyer could give advice contrary to his will.
35. He deprived the noblest men at Rome of their ancient family emblems - Torquatus lost his golden collar, Cincinnatus his lock of hair, and Gnaeus Pompeius the surname 'Great' belonging to his ancient house. He invited King Ptolemy to visit Rome, welcomed him with appropriate honors, and then suddenly ordered his execution -as mentioned above - because at Ptolemy's entrance into the amphitheatre during a gladiatorial show the fine purple cloak which he wore had attracted universal admiration. Any good-looking man with a fine head of hair whom Gaius ran across - he himself was bald - had the back of his scalp brutally shaved. One Aesius Proculus, a leading centurions son, was so well-built and handsome that people nicknamed him 'Giant Cupid'. Without warning, Gaius ordered Aesius to be dragged from his seat in the amphitheatre into the arena, and matched first with a Thracian net-fighter, then with a man-at-arms. Though Aesius won both combats, he was thereupon dressed in rags, led fettered through the streets to be jeered at by women, and finally executed; the truth being that however low anyone's fortune or condition might be, Gaius always found some cause for envy. Thus he sent a stronger man than the then Sacred King of Lake Nemorensis to challenge him, after many years of office.1 A chariot-fighter called Porius drew such tremendous applause for freeing his slave in celebration of a victory at the Games that Gaius indignantly rushed from the amphitheatre. In so doing he tripped over the fringe of his robe and pitched down the steps, at the bottom of which he complained that the people who ruled the world seemed to take greater notice of a gladiator's trifling gesture than of all their deified emperors, or even the one still among them.
36. He had not the slightest regard for chastity, either his own or others', and was accused of homosexual relations, both active and passive, with Marcus Lepidus, also Mnester the comedian,' and various foreign hostages; moreover, a young man of consular family, Valerius Catullus, revealed publicly that he had buggered the Emperor, and quite worn himself out in the process. Besides incest with his sisters, and a notorious passion for the prostitute Pyrallis, he made advances to almost every woman of rank in Rome; after inviting a selection of them to dinner with their husbands he would slowly and carefully examine each in turn while they passed his couch, as a purchaser might assess the value of a slave, and even stretch out his hand and lift up the chin of any woman who kept her eyes modestly cast down. Then, whenever he felt so inclined, he would send for whoever pleased him best, and leave the banquet in her company. A little later he would return, showing obvious signs of what he had been about, and openly discuss his bed-fellow in detail, dwelling on her good and bad physical points and commenting on her sexual performance. To some of these unfortunates he issued, and publicly registered, divorces in the names of their absent husbands.
37. No parallel can be found for Gaius' far-fetched extravagances. He invented new kinds of baths, and the most unnatural dishes and drinks - bathing in hot and cold perfumed bath-oils, drinking valuable pearls dissolved in vinegar, and providing his guests with golden bread and golden meat; and would remark that a man must be either frugal or Caesar. For several days in succession he scattered largesse from the roof of the Julian Basilica; and built Liburnian galleys, with ten banks of oars, jewelled sterns, multi-coloured sails, and with huge baths, colonnades, and banqueting-halls aboard - not to mention vines and fruit trees of different varieties. In these vessels he used to take early-morning cruises along the Campanian coast, reclining on his couch and listening to songs and choruses. Villas and country-houses were run up for him regardless of expense - in fact, Gaius seemed interested only in doing the apparently impossible - which led him to construct moles in deep, rough water far out to sea, drive tunnels through exceptionally hard rocks, raise flat ground to the height of mountains, and reduce mountains to the level of plains; and all at immense speed, because he punished delay with death. But why give details? Suffice it to record that, in less than a year he squandered Tiberius' entire fortune of 27 million gold pieces, and an enormous amount of other treasure besides.
38. When impoverished and in need of funds, Gaius concentrated on wickedly ingenious methods of raising funds by false accusations, auctions, and taxes. He ruled that no man could lawfully enjoy Roman citizenship acquired by any ancestor more remote than his father; and when confronted with certificates of citizenship issued by Julius Caesar or Augustus, rejected them as antiquated and obsolete. He also disallowed all property returns to which, for whatever reason, later additions had been appended. If a leading-centurion had bequeathed nothing either to Tiberius or himself since the beginning of the former's reign, he would rescind the will on the ground of ingratitude; and voided those of all other persons who were said to have intended making him their heir when they died, but had not done so. This caused widespread alarm, and even people who did not know him personally would tell their friends or children that they had left him everything; but if they continued to live after the declaration he considered himself tricked, and sent several of them presents of poisoned sweets. Gains conducted these cases in person, first announcing the sum he meant to raise, and not stopping until he had raised it. The slightest delay nettled him, and he once passed a single sentence on a batch of more than forty men charged with various offenses, and then boasted to Caesonia, when she woke from her nap, that he had done very good business since she dozed off.
He would auction whatever properties were left over from a show; driving up the bidding to such heights that many of those present, forced to buy at fantastic prices, found themselves ruined and committed suicide by opening their veins. A famous occasion was when Aponius Saturninus fell asleep on a bench, and Gaius warned the auctioneer to keep an eye on the senator of praetorian rank who kept nodding his head at him. Before the bidding ended Aponius had unwittingly bought thirteen gladiators for a total of 90,000 gold pieces.
39. While in Gaul Gaius did so well by selling the furniture, jewellery, slaves, and even the freedmen of his condemned sisters at immense prices that he decided to do the same with the furnishings of the Old Palace. So he sent to Rome, where his agents commandeered public conveyances, and even draught animals from the bakeries, to fetch the stuff north; which led to a bread shortage in the city, and to the loss of many law-suits, because litigants who lived at a distance were unable to appear in court and meet their bail. He then used all kinds of procurers' tricks for disposing of the furniture: scolding the bidders for their avarice, or for their shamelessness in being richer than he was, and pretending grief at this surrender of imperial property to commoners. Discovering that one wealthy provincial had paid the men who issued the emperor's invitations 2,000 gold pieces to be smuggled into a banquet, he was delighted that the privilege of dining with him should be valued so highly and, when next day the same man turned up at the auction, made him pay 2,000 gold pieces for some trifling object - but also sent him a personal invitation to dinner.
40. The tax-collectors were ordered to raise new and unprecedented levies, and found this so profitable that he detailed his Guards colonels and centurions to collect the money instead. No class of goods or individuals now avoided duty of some kind. He imposed a fixed tax on all foodstuffs sold in any quarter of the city, and a charge of 2~ per cent on the money involved in every law-suit and legal transaction whatsoever; and devised special penalties for anyone who compounded or abandoned a case. Porters had to hand over an eighth part of their day's earnings and prostitutes their standard fee for a single sexual act - even if they had quitted their profession and were respectably married; pimps and ex-pimps also became liable to this public tax, and even marriage was not exempt.
41. These new regulations having been announced by word of mouth only, many people failed to observe them, through ignorance. At last he acceded to the urgent popular demand, by posting the regulations up, but in an awkwardly cramped spot and written so small that no one could take a copy. He never missed a chance of securing loot: setting aside a suite of Palace rooms, he decorated them worthily, opened a brothel, stocked it with married women and free-born boys, and then sent his pages around the squares and public halls, inviting all men, of whatever age, to come and enjoy themselves. Those who appeared were lent money at interest, and clerks openly wrote down their names under the heading 'Contributors to the Imperial Revenue'.
Gaius did not even disdain to make profits from gambling, and when he played at dice he would always cheat and lie. Once he interrupted a game by giving up his seat to the man behind him and going out into the courtyard A couple of rich knights passed; Gaius immediately had them arrested and confiscated their property; then resumed the game in high spirits, boasting that his luck had never been better.
His daughter's birth gave him an excuse for further complaints of poverty. 'In addition to the burden of sovereignty,' he said, 'I must now shoulder that of fatherhood' - and promptly took up a collection for her education and dowry. He also announced that New Year gifts would be welcomed on 1 January; and then sat in the Palace porch, grabbing the handfuls and capfiils of coin which a mixed crowd of all classes pressed on him. At last he developed a passion for the feel of money and, spilling heaps of gold pieces on an open space, would walk over them barefoot, or else lie down and wallow.
43. Gaius had only a single taste of warfare, and even that was unpremeditated At Mevania, where he went to visit the river Clitumnus and its sacred grove, someone reminded him that he needed Batavian recruits for his bodyguard; which suggested the idea of a German expedition. He wasted no time in summoning regular legions and auxiliaries from all directions, levied troops everywhere with the utmost strictness, and collected military supplies of all kinds on an unprecedented scale. Then he marched off so rapidly and hurriedly that the Guards cohorts could not keep up with him except by breaking tradition: they had to tie their standards on the pack-mules. Yet, later, he became so lazy and self-indulgent that he travelled in a litter borne by eight bearers; and, whenever he approached a town, made the inhabitants sweep the roads and lay the dust with sprinklers.
44. After reaching his headquarters, Gaius showed how keen and severe a commander-in-chief he intended to be by ignominiously dismissing any general who was late in bringing along from various places the auxiliaries he required. Then, when he reviewed the legions, he discharged many veteran leading-centurions on grounds of age and incapacity, though some had only a few more days of their service to run; and, calling the remainder a pack of greedy fellows, scaled down their retirement bonus to sixty gold pieces each.
All that he accomplished in this expedition was to receive the surrender of Adminius, son of the British King Cunobelinus,1 who had been banished by his father and come over to the Romans with a few followers. Gaius, nevertheless, wrote an extravagant despatch to Rome as if the whole island had surrendered to him, and ordered the couriers not to dismount from their post-chaise on reaching the outskirts of the city but make straight for the Forum and the Senate House, and take his letter to the Temple of Mars the Avenger for personal delivery to the Consuls, in the presence of the entire Senate.
45. Since the chance of military action appeared very remote, he presently sent a few of his German bodyguard across the Rhine, with orders to hide themselves. After lunch scouts hurried in to tell him excitedly that the enemy were upon him. He at once galloped out, at the head of his friends and part of the Guards cavalry, to halt in the nearest thicket, where they chopped branches from the trees and dressed them like trophies; then, riding back by torchlight, he taunted as timorous cowards all who had failed to follow him, and awarded his fellow-heroes a novel fashion in crowns - he called it 'The Ranger's Crown' - ornamented with sun, moon, and stars. On another day he took some hostages from an elementary school and secretly ordered them on ahead of him. Later, he left his dinner in a hurry and took his cavalry in pursuit of them, as though they had been fugitives. He was no less melodramatic about this foray: when he returned to the hall after catching the hostages and bringing them back in irons, and his officers reported that the army was marshaled, he made them recline at table, still in their corselets, and quoted Virgil's famous advice: 'Be steadfast, comrades, and preserve yourselves for happier occasions!' He also severely reprimanded the absent Senate and People for enjoying banquets and festivities, and for hanging about the theatres or their luxurious country-houses while the Emperor was exposed to all the hazards of war.
46. In the end, he drew up his army in battle array facing the Channel and moved the arrow-casting machines and other artillery into position as though he intended to bring the campaign to a close. No one had the least notion what was in his mind when, suddenly, he gave the order: 'Gather sea-shells!' He referred to the shells as 'plunder from the ocean, due to the Capitol and to the Palace', and made the troops fill their helmets and tunic-laps' with them; commemorating this victory by the erection of a tall lighthouse, not unlike the one at Pharos, in which fires were to be kept going all night as a guide to ships. Then he promised every soldier a bounty of four gold pieces, and told them: 'Go happy, go rich!' as though he had been excessively generous.
47. He now concentrated his attention on his forthcoming triumph To supplement the few prisoners and the deserters who had come over from the barbarians, he picked the tallest Gauls of the province -'those worthy of a triumph' - and some of their chiefs as well. These had not only to grow their hair and dye it red, but also to learn German and adopt German names. The triremes used in the Channel were carted to Rome overland most of the way; and he sent a letter ahead instructing his agents to prepare a triumph more lavish than any hitherto known, but at the least possible expense; and added that everyone's property was at their disposal.
48. Before leaving Gaul he planned, in an access of unspeakable cruelty, to massacre the legionaries who long ago, at news of Augustus death, had mutinously besieged the headquarters of his father Germanicus, who was their commander; he had been there himself as a little child. His friends barely restrained him from carrying this plan out, and he could not be dissuaded from ordering the execution of every tenth man; for which purpose they had to parade without arms, not even wearing their swords, and surrounded by armed horsemen. But when he noticed that a number of legionaries, scenting trouble, were slipping away to fetch their weapons, he hurriedly fled from the gathering and headed straight for Rome. There, to distract attention from his inglorious exploits, he openly and vengefully threatened the Senate who, he said, had cheated him of a well-earned triumph - though, in point of fact he had expressly stated, a few days before, that they must do nothing to honour him, on pain of death.
49. So, when the distinguished senatorial delegates met him with an official plea for his immediate return, he shouted: 'I am coming, and this' - tapping the hilt of his sword - 'is coming too!' He was returning only to those who would really welcome him; namely,
the knights and the people; so far as the senators were concerned he would never again consider himself their fellow-citizen, or their Emperor, and forbade any more of them to meet him. Having cancelled, or at least postponed, his triumph, he entered the city on his birthday, and received an ovation. Within four months he was dea&
But meanwhile he had dared commit fearful crimes, and contemplated even worse ones: such as murdering the most distinguished of the senators and knights, and then moving the seat of government first to Antium, and afterwards to Alexandria. So that none may doubt this, let me record that two books were found among his papers entitled The Dagger and The Stvora, each of them containing the names and addresses of men whom he had planned to kill. A huge chest filled with a variety of poisons also came to light. It is said that when Claudius later threw this into the sea, quantities of dead fish, cast up by the tide, littered the neighboring beaches.
50. Physical characteristics of Gaius:
Body: hairy and badly built.
Eyes and temples: hollow.
Forehead: broad and forbidding.
Scalp: almost hairless, especially on the top.
Because of his baldness and hairiness he announced that it was a capital offense for anyone either to look down on him as he passed or to mention goats in any context. He worked hard to make his naturally forbidding and uncouth face even more repulsive, by practicing fearful and horrifying grimaces in front of a mirror. Gaius was, in fact, sick both physically and mentally. In his boyhood, he suffered from epilepsy; and although in his youth he was not lacking in endurance, there were times when he could hardly walk, stand, think, or hold up his head, owing to sudden faintness. He was well aware that he had mental trouble, and sometimes proposed taking a leave of absence from Rome to clear his brain; Caesonia is reputed to have given him an aphrodisiac which drove him mad. Insomnia was his worst torment. Three hours a night of fitful sleep were all that he ever got, and even then terrifying visions would haunt him - once, for instance, he dreamed that he had a conversation with an apparition of the sea. He tired of lying awake the greater part of the night, and would alternately sit up in bed and wander through the long colonnades, calling out from time to time for daylight and longing for it to come.
51. 1 am convinced that this brain-sickness accounted for his two contradictory vices - over-confidence and extreme timorousness. Here was a man who despised the gods, yet shut his eyes and buried his head beneath the bedclothes at the most distant sound of thunder; and if the storm came closer, would jump out of bed and crawl underneath. In his travels through Sicily he poked fun at the miraculous stories associated with local shrines, yet on reaching Messana suddenly fled in. the middle of the night, terrified by the smoke and noise which came from the crater of Etna. Despite his fearful threats against the barbarians, he showed so little courage after he had crossed the Rhine and gone riding in a chariot through a defile, that when someone happened to remark: 'What a panic there would be if the enemy unexpectedly appeared!' he immediately leaped on a horse and galloped back to the bridges. These were crowded with camp servants and baggage, but he had himself passed from hand to hand over the men's heads, in his impatience at any delay. Soon afterwards, hearing of an uprising in Germany, he decided to escape by sea. He fitted out a fleet for this purpose, finding comfort only in the thought that, should the enemy be victorious and occupy the Alpine summits as the Cimbrians had done, or Rome, as the Senonian Gauls had done, he would at least be able to hold his overseas provinces. This was probably what later gave Gaius' assassins the idea of quieting his turbulent soldiers with the story that rumors of a defeat had scared him into sudden suicide.
52. Gaius paid no attention to traditional or current fashions in his dress; ignoring male conventions and even the human decencies. Often he made public appearances in a cloak covered with embroidery and encrusted with precious stones, a long-sleeved tunic and bracelets; or in silk (which men were forbidden by law to wear) or even in a woman's robe; and came shod sometimes with slippers, sometimes with buskins, sometimes with military boots, sometimes with women's shoes. Often he affected a golden beard and carried a thunderbolt, trident, or serpent-twined staff in his hand. He even dressed up as Venus and, even before his expedition, wore the uniform of a triumphant general, including sometimes the breastplate which he had stolen from Alexander the Great's tomb at Alexandria.
53. Though no man of letters, Gaius took pains to study rhetoric, and showed remarkable eloquence and quickness of 'mind, especially when prosecuting. Anger incited him to a flood of words and thoughts; he moved about excitedly while speaking, and his voice carried a great distance. At the start of every speech 1he would warn the audience that he proposed to 'draw the sword which he had forged in his midnight study'; yet so despised all polished and elegant style that he discounted Seneca, then at the height of his fame, as a mere text-book orator', or 'sand without lime'. He often published confutations of speakers who had successfully pleaded a cause; or composed speeches for both the prosecution and the defense of important men who were on trial by the Senate - the verdict depending entirely on the caprice of his pen - and would invite the knights by proclamation to attend and listen.
54. Gaius practiced many other various arts as well, most enthusiastically, too. He made appearances as a Thracian gladiator, as a singer, as a dancer, fought with real weapons, and drove chariots in many circuses in a number of places. Indeed, he was so proud of his voice and his dancing that he could not resist the temptation of supporting the tragic actors at public performances; and would repeat their gestures by way of praise or criticism. On the very day of his death he seems to have ordered an all-night festival, intending to take advantage of the free-and-easy atmosphere for making his stage debut. He often danced at night, and once, at about midnight, summoned three senators of consular rank to the Palace; arriving half-dead with fear, they were conducted to a stage upon which, amid a tremendous racket of flutes and clogs, Gaius suddenly burst, dressed in cloak and ankle-length tunic, performed a song and dance, and disappeared again. Yet, with all these gifts, he could not swim a stroke!
55. On those whom he loved he bestowed an almost insane passion. He'would shower kisses on Mnester the comedian, even in the theatre; and if anyone made the slightest noise during a performance, Gaius had the offender dragged from his seat and beat him with his own hands. To a knight who created some disturbance while Mnester was on the stage, he sent instructions by a centurion to go at once to Ostia and convey a sealed message to King Ptolemy in Mauretania. The message read: 'Do nothing at all, either good or bad, to the bearer.'
He chose Thracian gladiators to officer his German bodyguard He reduced the defensive armor of the men-at-arms; and when a gladiator of this sort, called Columbus, won a fight but was lightly wounded, Gaius had him treated with a virulent poison which he afterwards called 'Columbinum' - at any rate that was how he described it in his catalogue of poisons. He supported the Leek-green faction with such ardor that he would often dine and spend the night in their stables and, on one occasion, gave the driver Eutychus presents worth 20,000 gold pieces. To prevent Incitatus, his favorite horse, from being disturbed he always picketed the neighborhood with troops on the day before the races, ordering them to enforce absolute silence. Incitatus owned a marble stable, an ivory stall, purple blankets, and a jeweled collar; also a house, a team of slaves, and furniture - to provide suitable entertainment for guests whom Gaius invited in its name. It is said that he even planned to award Incitatus a consulship.
56. Such frantic and reckless behaviour roused murderous thoughts in certain minds. One or two plots for his assassination were discovered; others were still awaiting a favorable opportunity, when two men put their heads together and succeeded in killing him, thanks to the co-operation of his most powerful freedmen and the Guards' commanders. These commanders had been accused of being implicated in a previous plot and, although innocent, realized that Gaius hated and feared them. Once in fact, he had subjected them to public shame and suspicion, taking them aside and announcing, as he waved a sword, that he would gladly kill himself if they thought him deserving of death. After this he accused them again and again, each to the other, and tried to make bad blood between them. At last they decided to kill him at about noon as he left the Palatine Games, the principal part being claimed by the Guards' colonel Cassius Chaerea. Gaius had persistently teased Cassius, who was no longer young, for his supposed effeminacy. Whenever he demanded the watchword, Gaius used to give him 'Priapus', or 'Venus'; and if he came to acknowledge a favor, always stuck out his middle finger for him to kiss, and waggled it obscenely.
57. Many omens of Gaius' approaching murder were reported. While the statue of Olympian Jupiter was being dismantled before removal to Rome at his command, it burst into such a roar of laughter that the scaffolding collapsed and the workmen took to their heels; and a man named Cassius appeared immediately afterwards saying that he had been ordered, in a dream, to sacrifice a bull to Jupiter. The Capitol at Capua was struck by lightning on the Ides of March, which some interpreted as portending another imperial death; because of the famous murder that had taken place on that day. At Rome, the Palace doorkeeper's lodge was likewise struck; and this seemed to mean that the Owner of the Palace stood in danger of attack by his own guards. On asking Sulla the soothsayer for his horoscope, Gaius learned that he must expect to die very soon. The Oracle of Fortune at Antium likewise warned him: 'Beware of Cassius!' whereupon, forgetting Chaerea's family name, he ordered the murder of Cassius Longinus, Governor of Asia at the time. On the night before his assassination he dreamed that he was standing beside Jupiter's heavenly throne, when the God kicked him with a toe of his right foot and sent him tumbling down to earth. Some other events that occurred on the morning of his death were also read as portents. For instance, blood splashed him as he was sacrificing a flamingo; Mnester danced the same tragedy of Cinyras that had been performed by the actor Neoptolemus during the Games at which King Philip of Macedonia was assassinated; and in a farce1 called Laiireo1i~s, at the close of which the leading character, a highwayman, had to die while escaping and vomit blood, the understudies were so anxious to display their proficiency at dying that they flooded the stage with blood. A nocturnal performance by Egyptians and Ethiopians was also in rehearsal: a play staged in the Underworld.
58. On 24 January then, just past midday, Gaius, seated in the Theatre, could not make up his mind whether to adjourn for lunch; he still felt a little queasy after too heavy a banquet on the previous night. However, his friends persuaded him to come out with them, along a covered walk; and there he found some boys of noble family who had been summoned from Asia, rehearsing the Trojan war-dance. He stopped to watch and encourage them, and would have taken them back to the Theatre and held the performance at once, had their principal not complained of a cold. Two different versions of what followed are current. Some say that Chaerea came up behind Gaius as he stood talking to the boys and, with a cry of 'Take this!' gave him a deep sword-wound in the neck, whereupon Cornelius Sabinus, the other colonel, stabbed him in the breast. The other version makes Sabinus tell certain centurions implicated in the plot to clear away the crowd and then ask Gaius for the day's watchword. He is said to have replied: 'Jupiter', whereupon Chaerea, from his rear, yelled: 'So be it!' - and split his jawbone as he turned his head. Gaius lay writhing on the ground. 'I am still alive!' he shouted; but word went round: 'Strike again!' and he succumbed to1 thirty further wounds, including sword-thrusts through the genitals. His bearers rushed to help him, using their litter-poles; and soon his German bodyguard appeared, killing several of the assassins and a few innocent senators into the bargain.
59. He died at the age of twenty-nine after ruling for three years, ten months, and eight days. His body was moved secretly to the Lamian Gardens, half-cremated on a hastily-built pyre, and then buried beneath a shallow covering of sods. Later, when his sisters returned from exile they exhumed, cremated, and entombed it. But all the city knew that the Gardens had been haunted until then by his ghost, and that something horrible appeared every night at the scene of the murder until at last the building burned down. Caesonia was murdered by a centurion at the same time, and their daughter's brains were dashed out against a wall.
60. The condition of the times could be judged by the sequel: at first no one would believe that he had really been assassinated, and suspected that the story was invented and circulated by himself to discover what people thought of him. The conspirators had no particular candidate for Emperor m mind, and the senators were so unanimously bent on restoring the Republic that the Consuls summoned the first assembly not to the House, because it was named the Julian Building, but to the Capitol. Some wanted all memory of the Caesars obliterated, and their temples destroyed. People commented on the fact that every Caesar named 'Gaius' had died by the sword, beginning with Gains Julius Caesar Strabo, murdered in Cinna's day.