The Best of the Worst: Caligula & Nero

1250 WordsOct 15, 20105 Pages
Ancient Roman History The Best of the Worst: Caligula & Nero “Such opposed vices, both the greatest arrogance and the greatest timidity, were to be found in the same person” (Caligula, 51). Suetonius’ quotation is vital in composing a description of a poor emperor based on the detestable characters of Caligula and Nero. It appears that both Caligula and Nero suffered from acute vanity due to their overwhelming insecurities. To appease their insecurity, both men must assert themselves superior to their predecessors rather than honoring them. To achieve this, Caligula and Nero violate the precedence of Augustus by disrespecting the Senate and pursuing a civil policy defined by cruelty and corruption. Suetonius decorates the…show more content…
This disrespect is again demonstrated by Suetonius recounting a time when Caligula made senators “run in their togas alongside his military chariot for several miles” (Caligula, 26). Caligula’s cruelty can only provide an explanation for this act. He had senators plot to kill other senators and even “confiscated [the] family insignia” of some senatorial families (Caligula, 35). Nero was no less atrocious in his relations with senators. He carried “neither discrimination nor restraint in putting to death whoever he wished” (Nero, 37). And Nero was “bent on death for the all the most illustrious” (Nero, 36), even threatening to “dispose of the entire order” (Nero, 37). If only Augustus were alive to advise Caligula and Nero on when to kill senators and when to honor them. Yet, the distinction must be made that Augustus was brutal to senators in order to gain power not to maintain it. Augustus improved from the errors of Caesar and was dependent on the support of the Senate to enact the principate. He was considerate of the Senate’s intentions and was freely available to listen to their advice. Caligula and Nero ignored the voice of the Senate and attempted to silence it to satisfy their insecure and violent natures. Their violent natures could not be contained to act just upon the Senate. Both men were cruel to equestrian class and to the general people of the empire. Caligula had some equestrians “disfigured with marks of

    More about The Best of the Worst: Caligula & Nero

      Open Document