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Was the Roman emperor Caligula really the depraved despot of popular legend? In this book -- the first major reassessment of Caligula's life and career in over fifty. years -- Anthony A. Barrett draws on archaeological, numismatic, and literary evidence to evaluate this infamous figure in the context of the system that gave him absolute power."Authoritative ... highly read Was the Roman emperor Caligula really the depraved despot of popular legend? In this book -- the first major reassessment of Caligula's life and career in over fifty. years -- Anthony A. Barrett draws on archaeological, numismatic, and literary evidence to evaluate this infamous figure in the context of the system that gave him absolute power."Authoritative ... highly readable". -- Bernard Knox, Atlantic Monthly "An excellent study of the brief reign of Caligula....Barrett is a highly competent historian and clear writer, and the intrinsic interest of his subject is so great that the tougher kind of reader, as well as the scholar, will study this book with pleasure as well as with instruction". -- Hugh Lloyd-Jones, New York Review of Books "Barrett's Caligula fills a long-standing void in providing a balanced, thoroughly documented, and persuasive assessment of Caligula's life and career. This eminently readable book's value is further enhanced by the illustrations and by an appendix discussing Caligula's statuary and coinage. It will prove a welcome addition to the library of anyone with interests in Roman history and culture". -- Joseph J. Hughes, Classical World "I do not think that any scholar interested in the Julio-Claudian period or any classics or ancient history library could be without this book. Very well written, it should also be popular with the general public". -- Colin M. Wells


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Was the Roman emperor Caligula really the depraved despot of popular legend? In this book -- the first major reassessment of Caligula's life and career in over fifty. years -- Anthony A. Barrett draws on archaeological, numismatic, and literary evidence to evaluate this infamous figure in the context of the system that gave him absolute power."Authoritative ... highly read Was the Roman emperor Caligula really the depraved despot of popular legend? In this book -- the first major reassessment of Caligula's life and career in over fifty. years -- Anthony A. Barrett draws on archaeological, numismatic, and literary evidence to evaluate this infamous figure in the context of the system that gave him absolute power."Authoritative ... highly readable". -- Bernard Knox, Atlantic Monthly "An excellent study of the brief reign of Caligula....Barrett is a highly competent historian and clear writer, and the intrinsic interest of his subject is so great that the tougher kind of reader, as well as the scholar, will study this book with pleasure as well as with instruction". -- Hugh Lloyd-Jones, New York Review of Books "Barrett's Caligula fills a long-standing void in providing a balanced, thoroughly documented, and persuasive assessment of Caligula's life and career. This eminently readable book's value is further enhanced by the illustrations and by an appendix discussing Caligula's statuary and coinage. It will prove a welcome addition to the library of anyone with interests in Roman history and culture". -- Joseph J. Hughes, Classical World "I do not think that any scholar interested in the Julio-Claudian period or any classics or ancient history library could be without this book. Very well written, it should also be popular with the general public". -- Colin M. Wells

30 review for Caligula: The Corruption of Power

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    How to be a friend of Caligula "Caligula sought out the company of gladiators and actors[...] it is probably safe to say that as a group they would not have seen their role as one of trying to curb the emperor's excesses." "Helicon [...] was the leader of a large group of Alexandrian Greeks in Caligula's service. He had not made great progress under Tiberius because of that emperor's distaste for children jokes. But he saw his opportunity for advancement under Caligula because of his great skill a How to be a friend of Caligula "Caligula sought out the company of gladiators and actors[...] it is probably safe to say that as a group they would not have seen their role as one of trying to curb the emperor's excesses." "Helicon [...] was the leader of a large group of Alexandrian Greeks in Caligula's service. He had not made great progress under Tiberius because of that emperor's distaste for children jokes. But he saw his opportunity for advancement under Caligula because of his great skill at clever witticisms. He was soon inseparable from the emperor. He played ball with him, exercised with him, bathed with him, and was with him when he retired for the night[...] Helicon was eventually executed by Claudius." "It is unfortunate that the only Roman [Lepidus] who might have been in a position to influence Caligula had ambitions of his own and was probably not willing to incur the emperor's displeasure by trying to restrain any tendencies towards autocratic behaviour." Alternate way of killing Caligula "Caligula was no lover of the sea, and he could not swim."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Too dry at times. This reminded me of the Lucrezia Borgia bio I read where the author clearly knows what they are taking about, as a bunch of notes and sources to back it all up, but they fail to make such notorious people in history seem interesting. Everyone knows Caligula is one of the crazy Roman emperors. He did some bad things. Was he fully crazy as the rumors say? Maybe not, but I feel like this book could have been written differently Too many fact being tossed around and not enough story Too dry at times. This reminded me of the Lucrezia Borgia bio I read where the author clearly knows what they are taking about, as a bunch of notes and sources to back it all up, but they fail to make such notorious people in history seem interesting. Everyone knows Caligula is one of the crazy Roman emperors. He did some bad things. Was he fully crazy as the rumors say? Maybe not, but I feel like this book could have been written differently Too many fact being tossed around and not enough story. I still enjoyed this because all I knew about Caligula was he was horse crazy and crazy. It was nice to read something that wasn't fiction. This was a little too scholarly than what I was looking for. Than again this is my mom's books and her non-fiction isn't the same as my non-fiction...which is a good thing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Caligula, despite his short reign, is among the most notorious of Roman emperors. Often portrayed as a monster, from the accounts of contemporaries like Philo and Seneca through later classical sources, such as Tacitus, Suetonious, Josephus and Dio, and down to the present by such popular writers as Robert Graves and Gore Vidal, Caligula's perverse criminality was, in author Barrett's considered judgment, neither so extreme nor especially unusual. Although young and inexperienced, he was, from t Caligula, despite his short reign, is among the most notorious of Roman emperors. Often portrayed as a monster, from the accounts of contemporaries like Philo and Seneca through later classical sources, such as Tacitus, Suetonious, Josephus and Dio, and down to the present by such popular writers as Robert Graves and Gore Vidal, Caligula's perverse criminality was, in author Barrett's considered judgment, neither so extreme nor especially unusual. Although young and inexperienced, he was, from this view, actually a rather good judge of men, his appointments being on the whole competent and his administration popular--but not with the aristocracy, not with the Senate, not with those elites who tend to write the histories. I'm not informed enough to make any authoritative judgment on this matter. I approached Barrett's book with a degree of salacious anticipation, an expectation that was disappointed by his dry, academic reserve. Still, as an antidote to the more popular representations, the reading of this biography was worth the effort. Note that this review is of the first edition of Barrett's book. A second, somewhat revised, edition has been published as "Caligula: The Abuse of Power".

  4. 4 out of 5

    Windsor

    This book is probably on the lower end of good in terms of the amazing Emperor series that I love. Although she gives a good description of Caligula's life, Barrett tends to wish wash on Caligula's reputation in my opinion. I still own this book, but I wonder if there is a better account of Caligula, even with how much I love Barrett's writing. This book is probably on the lower end of good in terms of the amazing Emperor series that I love. Although she gives a good description of Caligula's life, Barrett tends to wish wash on Caligula's reputation in my opinion. I still own this book, but I wonder if there is a better account of Caligula, even with how much I love Barrett's writing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Rose

    Barrett is a well read scholar and has produced an informed account of Caligula. I read mostly around Caligula’s mental health and behaviour, but the whole monograph showed excellent awareness of the surrounding scholarship and in-depth knowledge of the available primary evidence.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elliott

    Anthony Barrett has hands down created the best biography on the emperor Caligula with the evidence available. His scholarship is impeccable, his writing superb. Of special mention is his 'diagnosing' of the emperor that's perfectly logical and far more believable, yet certainly less appealing than the traditional belief: Caligula was not 'mad' per se, he like many a despot before and after him merely found himself as a young adult sheltered for much of his life, inexperienced with the republica Anthony Barrett has hands down created the best biography on the emperor Caligula with the evidence available. His scholarship is impeccable, his writing superb. Of special mention is his 'diagnosing' of the emperor that's perfectly logical and far more believable, yet certainly less appealing than the traditional belief: Caligula was not 'mad' per se, he like many a despot before and after him merely found himself as a young adult sheltered for much of his life, inexperienced with the republican trappings of Augustus' and Tiberius' rule, and popular for his father, in a position where he could have anything he wanted. Meanwhile his "illness" was probably a mental breakdown rather than an infection, or internal hemorrhage as suggested in previous works. All in all a well written biography of the most notorious of the Julio-Claudian line.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    I've had this book on my TBR since 2011 and this was my 2nd attempt at reading it. For a topic that seems so fascinating, how is the book so boring? I did finish it and learned a bit more about the early Roman Empire than I had known before, but the book just really dragged. Despite the author's assurances in the introduction that lay readers would get as much out of it as scholars, I do believe that you would have to know a lot about Rome to begin with to not have any trouble with the book. But I've had this book on my TBR since 2011 and this was my 2nd attempt at reading it. For a topic that seems so fascinating, how is the book so boring? I did finish it and learned a bit more about the early Roman Empire than I had known before, but the book just really dragged. Despite the author's assurances in the introduction that lay readers would get as much out of it as scholars, I do believe that you would have to know a lot about Rome to begin with to not have any trouble with the book. But I got through it, I learned new things and now it is one less book to read later.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alec

    Anticipating a bawdy read in the tradition of the BBC miniseries "I, Claudius", imagine my disappointment when I discovered that this scholarly tome is actually quite serious. A serious examination of the sources, carefully weighing the legend against what is in the records? No fun! Anticipating a bawdy read in the tradition of the BBC miniseries "I, Claudius", imagine my disappointment when I discovered that this scholarly tome is actually quite serious. A serious examination of the sources, carefully weighing the legend against what is in the records? No fun!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    Got a bit dry at times but overall only fueled my current obsession with Bootsie. Definitely worth reading if you're into Roman history or, you know, crazy emperors. Got a bit dry at times but overall only fueled my current obsession with Bootsie. Definitely worth reading if you're into Roman history or, you know, crazy emperors.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Life of Caligula, Rome’s third emperor, sets out to set the record straight and focuses a bit more on the positive for Caligula than is generally recognized, noting his support of theater and intellectual/oratorical gifts, whilst still at the same time acknowledging Caligula’s darker nature and disturbing, troubled reign This is a VERY scholarly book and quite a slog in parts, that I would not recommend for anyone unless they have some prior familiarity with the times (this covers much of the sam Life of Caligula, Rome’s third emperor, sets out to set the record straight and focuses a bit more on the positive for Caligula than is generally recognized, noting his support of theater and intellectual/oratorical gifts, whilst still at the same time acknowledging Caligula’s darker nature and disturbing, troubled reign This is a VERY scholarly book and quite a slog in parts, that I would not recommend for anyone unless they have some prior familiarity with the times (this covers much of the same ground as I, Claudius). The author isn’t going out of his way to make this overly accessible to the layman. This is also a very dry account, as the author/historian clearly doesn’t want to take any historical licenses and consequently is constantly citing the possible inaccuracy of sources/history, gaps in the historical record and thus inability to truly know what happened. This makes for more accurate history presumably (and is interesting from the aspect of wondering what other types of historical licenses have been taken with sources from the past) but also makes for very dry, straight forward writing, as well as many asides where Barrett seems more interested in refereeing the accuracy of competing sources as opposed to keeping the narrative flowing. Difficulty of historical sources, primarily from Suetonius and Vio, and secondary like Pliny, Tacitus, Josephus, Balsdon Birth to Germanicus and Agrippina, subsequent death of father (possible poisoning) and banishment of mother by Emperor Tiberius Machinations of Sejanus and later Macro (head of Praetorian Guard), and later downfall of Sejanus Designated by Tiberius as successor as the next imperator/princeps, spending time in Capri with Tiberius and subsequent time with grandmother Antonia Accession to emperor, somewhat liberal start by respecting previously banished dead mother/brother, naming heir the rival Gemullus, paying Praetorian Guard and relaxing the maestas (traitorous laws) Illness and then change in actions, death/banishment of Gemullus/Macro Death and then deification of sister Drusilla Battle with Senate, taking consulship multiple years in a row Later death/banishments of friend Lepidus, two sisters and roman commander in Germany Gaetulicus Re-organizations possibly of some roman provinces in North Africa Caligula’s desire to re-invade Britain and smaller battles/skirmishes in Germany, no invasion of Britain Final battles with senate, long discussions of treatment of Caligula as a god and debates over whether there were official cults of Caligula for god worship Praetorian final conspiracy to assassinate Caligula, and assassination Subsequent desire for senate to re-establish supremacy but no military power and establishment of Claudius as emperor (after Claudius paying off Praetorians) Roman/Jewish combatancy/issues in Alexandria, Egypt and Judea under the reign of Caligula Building in Rome at the time of Caligula

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Reading Barrett's biography, you get the impression that acquiring an accurate picture of the third emperor's life is a matter of pulling bits and pieces of truth out of a bunch of lying historians. Of course, they weren't lying so much as just very much hostile to Caligula for various reasons and all too willing to include hearsay, gossip, and scandalous rumors. So, as one other Goodreads reviewer put it, if you love the Caligula of I, Claudius, you will be sorely disappointed by this biography Reading Barrett's biography, you get the impression that acquiring an accurate picture of the third emperor's life is a matter of pulling bits and pieces of truth out of a bunch of lying historians. Of course, they weren't lying so much as just very much hostile to Caligula for various reasons and all too willing to include hearsay, gossip, and scandalous rumors. So, as one other Goodreads reviewer put it, if you love the Caligula of I, Claudius, you will be sorely disappointed by this biography. Barrett's picture of Caligula is one of a fairly normal emperor, who really didn't wander that far from the normal trends set by the previous two rulers. The stories of incest don't hold up to this biographer's examination, nor does he think that he was mad, nor does he think that he believed he was Jupiter. And, perhaps most disappointing of all, he didn't try to make his horse a consul. Sardonic and sarcastic? Yes. Lavish? That, too. Rude? Certainly. Cruel? Well, to those who plotted against him, he was efficient, but I'm not sure that he was even cruel, based on this book. Barrett is so informed, thorough, and scholarly that I really do believe him. And Caligula becomes a lot more interesting as a result. This biography is praised on the outside cover as being thorough and accessible to the general public. It certainly is thorough, but this is probably not the book to read for most people wanting to meet the emperor. It's a bit thick (figuratively) and gets slow at parts. Barrett sounds more scholarly than interesting. And the number of names is hard to keep up with. The last chapters were the most interesting to me, especially the section about Caligula's architectural additions to Rome and the empire. I love that stuff. And an appendix looking at the coins issued under Caligula was interesting, too. The biographies I have read on Caesar, Augustus, and Nero tend to ignore the epigrammatic, numismatic, archaeological, architectural, literary, etc., etc. aspect surrounding these men and focus purely on what happened, using the literary sources only. Barrett does not. One last thing, and this, I know, if me being anal, but there were a lot of typos that Barrett's editor missed. It needs some cleaning up.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The life of a Roman Emporer is the most interesting thing I can ever think of learning about. When I picked up this book, I was inspired to learn about the fall of an emporer who became drunk with power and lost it all. What I actually got was a historical psycho analysis of a very deranged character, who was able to manipulate each and every person in his life into a position which gave him the social, political, and economic advantage through violence, torture, murder, rape and deception. I fir The life of a Roman Emporer is the most interesting thing I can ever think of learning about. When I picked up this book, I was inspired to learn about the fall of an emporer who became drunk with power and lost it all. What I actually got was a historical psycho analysis of a very deranged character, who was able to manipulate each and every person in his life into a position which gave him the social, political, and economic advantage through violence, torture, murder, rape and deception. I first heard of lil boots in a History Channel documentary which opened my eyes to how Roman society actually worked. Each venue had its set of traditions and within those traditions is where the citizens life took place. Just as Florence had its courts, Rome had its arenas, universities, libraries, and Houses of Congress. It is in these Houses Of Congress where the historical figures negotiated policies based on class status, which dictated the everyday interactions and economic maneuverings of the citizen. Through slavery, art and discourse the Roman Empire, which eventually merged with the Catholic Church at the council on Nice in 235 a.d, rose to great heights of sophistication and intellectual prowess, which is unrivaled. Learning of the torturous methods used by lil boots and following his progression into the throne I was interested to get a glimpse, in a literal sense, of the events that unfolded, and how his mental state, which was touched with greed, and consumed completely with lust while driven to murder and rape incestuously was the key to his power. But, I find that there is something beyond just Mental capacity and will which propel a character like Caligula, given the historical context. With that stated I can add that the historical context does suggest he was also capturing the spirit of the time in such a way that him becoming emporer was the only choice for his subjects because of his courtly deceptions and rigorous devotion to an ideal. That same idealism is what allowed for the growth and eventual end of a bloodline of dictators for which Caligula represents the most vile representation of ludicrous amounts of control, manipulation and murder.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lyn (Readinghearts)

    finally got to this one, and although I am finding Caligula's life interesting, the book itself is quite dry and reads like a textbook. Being a novice in the history of the Roman Empire, I was lost much of the time reading this book. All of the players had 3 or more names, but the one they went by had nothing to do with their actual name, or was the one that 10 other people were also using at the time. For example, Caligula was actually just a nickname that he received when he was small and tra finally got to this one, and although I am finding Caligula's life interesting, the book itself is quite dry and reads like a textbook. Being a novice in the history of the Roman Empire, I was lost much of the time reading this book. All of the players had 3 or more names, but the one they went by had nothing to do with their actual name, or was the one that 10 other people were also using at the time. For example, Caligula was actually just a nickname that he received when he was small and traveling to army camps with his father. The names themselves were interesting as several of them could be pronounced in such a way to make humorous English translations. In addition, there was a lot of wife and child swapping going on in Rome! I was finding it really hard to keep track of who belonged with/to whom. Add that to the fact that names were repeated without the Roman numerals to tell them apart...WOW. On top of all of the rest, the "family trees" included in the book were confusing, including incomplete names, strange lines of descent (some actual, some not) and omitted characters that the author in fact referred to in his narrative. Although I found the actual narrative interesting, I got lost in all of the above, and it made it hard for me to follow what was going on and who was involved. I am torn between giving this book a two or a three, and would only recommend it to someone who is well versed in Roman history already. A couple of impressions, though: The Tudors have nothing on the Romans as far as intrigue goes. Talk about plots and subplots, murder, backstabbing. They had it all, yet the author made it sound boring. i didn't realize that Germany got it's name from Caligula's father, Germanicus. The author makes a big deal out of how people refer to most Romans by their Latin name, and yet refer to Marcus Antonius and Marc Antony, yet he does the same. It's as if he thinks that we are two stupid to make the connection. I will have to read something else about Caligula if I really want to gain info on him.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Landry

    If you are really into the details of the Roman Empire, then this is the book for you. However, as more of a casual reader of the time period, I ended up getting bogged down and lost in the details. I must say, though, that the scholarship that went into this work is quite remarkable, and for serious students of this period of history, this one is one you'll want to pick up and study. If you are really into the details of the Roman Empire, then this is the book for you. However, as more of a casual reader of the time period, I ended up getting bogged down and lost in the details. I must say, though, that the scholarship that went into this work is quite remarkable, and for serious students of this period of history, this one is one you'll want to pick up and study.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Barksdale

    This book is excellent and as scholarly as it can get when it comes to the study of Roman Emperors, especially the controversial rulers that Ancient Rome experienced. The writer approaches Caligula without bias or an agenda and carefully examines the historical evidence and primary sources. The book explores whether or not Caligula was the insane ruler that history has made him out to be or if he was simply a man who started out well and just simply lost his way while also struggling with mental This book is excellent and as scholarly as it can get when it comes to the study of Roman Emperors, especially the controversial rulers that Ancient Rome experienced. The writer approaches Caligula without bias or an agenda and carefully examines the historical evidence and primary sources. The book explores whether or not Caligula was the insane ruler that history has made him out to be or if he was simply a man who started out well and just simply lost his way while also struggling with mental illness.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This book fell into the ok/liked it a little category for me (2/2.5 stars). For the positive aspects, you can tell that Barrett did an incredible amount of research for this book which I respect. I actually took several Greco-Roman history classes in college so I recognized several of the people he cited as sources and the overall picture he portrayed of life during that time jived with my novice knowledge of that time period. I also appreciated his inclusion of pictures of relevant coinage and This book fell into the ok/liked it a little category for me (2/2.5 stars). For the positive aspects, you can tell that Barrett did an incredible amount of research for this book which I respect. I actually took several Greco-Roman history classes in college so I recognized several of the people he cited as sources and the overall picture he portrayed of life during that time jived with my novice knowledge of that time period. I also appreciated his inclusion of pictures of relevant coinage and busts. It was nice to see who I was reading about. As for the negative aspects, I don't think that the title is appropriate for the content of the book. Barrett adopts such an almost defensive attitude about Caligula that I felt like a title such as "Caligula: His Misunderstood Reign" would have been more appropriate (lame title I know, but give me some slack...you get the idea). Throughout most of the book, Barrett defends everything most people know or have heard about Caligula, constantly saying that this source shouldn't be trusted, that person was biased, what this person said was possible but unlikely, etc. I'm sure that Barrett is correct in a lot of instances that the sources are corrupt or biased, but if he is going to refute those sources then I wish he would have offered more alternative explanations (with other sources of course if they exist). I was left with a very fuzzy portrait of Caligula. I found sections of this book to be INCREDIBLY dry...my eyes started glazing over in parts, but then I would run across a more interesting paragraph and my interest would be rekindled. The most interesting chapter by far was the last one, "Fit to Rule?" Overall, if you are interested in Caligula this is worth a read. Just go into it expecting to read about a PG-13 rated version of the Caligula we have all heard about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lewyn

    Most ancient works on Caligula describe him as a madman. Barrett points out the flaws in these works; only two authors actually lived in Caligula's time (Seneca and Philo). But Philo mostly lived in Egypt, except for one trip to Rome to meet Caligula. And Seneca had a personal grudge against Caligula, having been exiled for adultery with Caligula's sister. Other authors lived decades after Caligula. Thus, there's not a lot of reliable information about his rule. Barrett goes on to debunk the majo Most ancient works on Caligula describe him as a madman. Barrett points out the flaws in these works; only two authors actually lived in Caligula's time (Seneca and Philo). But Philo mostly lived in Egypt, except for one trip to Rome to meet Caligula. And Seneca had a personal grudge against Caligula, having been exiled for adultery with Caligula's sister. Other authors lived decades after Caligula. Thus, there's not a lot of reliable information about his rule. Barrett goes on to debunk the major legends. For example, rumors about Caligula's incest are unreliable because even Seneca (who hated Caligula) doesn't mention them, and the people who do make the claim lived many years later. And although Caligula did have a couple of dozen aristocrats executed, Barrett provides many examples of people who offended him and lived to tell the tale, suggesting that he only killed people who wanted him dead. So why did people want him dead? Barrett admits that Caligula, although not a monster or a madman, was an extremely unpleasant man. But even Barrett doesn't seem to completely believe his argument. He describes Caligula as a "frightening Stalinesque figure, capable of rational decisions [but]...indifferent to the consequences of his actions on others." A "Stalinesque" man is by definition a little worse than Barrett makes Caligula out to be. So even though Caligula was not as bad or as mad as the conventional wisdom suggests, he was still bad.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I remember hunting around bookstores in high school trying to find this book after one of my teachers talked about it. Never could find it and by the time I actually started buying books from the internet it had almost completely slipped my mind. I finally ran across it in the Strand Annex just before it closed while visiting NYC a few years ago and picked it up to read this spring. I was not disappointed. For those have have read some of my other reviews of biographies of classical people, this I remember hunting around bookstores in high school trying to find this book after one of my teachers talked about it. Never could find it and by the time I actually started buying books from the internet it had almost completely slipped my mind. I finally ran across it in the Strand Annex just before it closed while visiting NYC a few years ago and picked it up to read this spring. I was not disappointed. For those have have read some of my other reviews of biographies of classical people, this is how I feel a biography should be written: Don't be afraid of gaps in our knowledge; say there is a gap; explain how you think the gap should be filled in and what leads you to believe this; and, if applicable, say what other interpretations are out there and why you don't subscribe to them. Anyway, most of this bunk is debunking the fun stories of Caligula (taking an army to the shore and ordering them to pick up seashells; having sex with his sister; worshiping his horse as a god etc.) and showing how most of Caligula's "craziness" was really just polemical interpretations of a guy that a lot of people hated. Not that Caligula was a great guy or a great ruler, but he has definitely gotten a raw deal in history - mostly because the stories are fun even if not exactly true.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    This is not a book for the layman. It uses a lot of Latin (which usually is translated, but sometimes is not), and the author assumes that the reader has a somewhat advanced knowledge of Roman history, politics, and the structure of the early empire (or principate). As stated by others, the author attempts to be a "revisionist" in the sense that he challenges the conventional picture of the Emperor being a raving lunatic that we see in I Claudius. Reinterpretation is brought, as most of the sour This is not a book for the layman. It uses a lot of Latin (which usually is translated, but sometimes is not), and the author assumes that the reader has a somewhat advanced knowledge of Roman history, politics, and the structure of the early empire (or principate). As stated by others, the author attempts to be a "revisionist" in the sense that he challenges the conventional picture of the Emperor being a raving lunatic that we see in I Claudius. Reinterpretation is brought, as most of the sources of the time were lost, and later writers such as Suetonius were hostile. In the end, the conclusion we find is that Caligula was not a madman, but rather a corrupt egotistical young man who made his authority clear and known, offending the sensibilities of the Patricians. While this sounds plausible, it is certainly much less sensational than the legendary aspect of a mad emperor which has made the history of a short lived and lacking man of history much more exciting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Barrett is one of the main sources to go to for information on Caligula, particularly for the layman. I found this book quite useful for my Extension History thesis (although keep in mind that was Year 12, not university level, so I cannot say how useful this would be for those doing more in-depth studies on Rome).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janet Martinez

    dr.barrett completely changes your view of caligula-i re read this one every year since it came out-can't wait to read winterling's caligula since dr.barrett himself has recommended it to me&speaks very highly of winterling's assesment oof the most misunderstood of all the julio-claudians dr.barrett completely changes your view of caligula-i re read this one every year since it came out-can't wait to read winterling's caligula since dr.barrett himself has recommended it to me&speaks very highly of winterling's assesment oof the most misunderstood of all the julio-claudians

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    A satisfactory, rather then gripping, account of the life and reign of one of Rome's most notorious emperors. The writing is, however, so dense that I was tempted to just skim over some parts of it. A satisfactory, rather then gripping, account of the life and reign of one of Rome's most notorious emperors. The writing is, however, so dense that I was tempted to just skim over some parts of it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Fitzgerald

    This book was refreshing and full of unexpected histories about the Emperor that most people think was insane. On the contrary, this book proves that Caligula was a sane, rational and cool-calculating ruler who hated the Patrician class.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rena Sherwood

    This was good, but not as good nor as memorable as Aloys Winterling's biography of Caligula. So, you know, it's got a nice beat but it's hard to dance to. This was good, but not as good nor as memorable as Aloys Winterling's biography of Caligula. So, you know, it's got a nice beat but it's hard to dance to.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Larry Van Bibber

    It was interesting from the standpoint of providing details of his demise. But the only sources were anti him. So there may be some issues with their objectiveness. I will use other sources to develop my perspectives oh him. I wont be recommending this book to any one else.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily Brown

    informative, but a lot of history about caligula that i've learned from other sources. great book for those who know very little about him or his reign. informative, but a lot of history about caligula that i've learned from other sources. great book for those who know very little about him or his reign.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dergrossest

    I am not convinced that this least impressive of the Roman emperors deserves an entire book devoted to him and this book did nothing to change my mind.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    I very much enjoyed this book both on an academic level and as entertainment. Found this really useful on my assignment on Caligula!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Birgitta Hoffmann

    Interesting take on Caligula, although at times a bit wordy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ginger Heskett

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14340379 I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14340379

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