Five Crazy Roman Emperors
There have been some impressive Roman Emperors, but for every Luke Skywalker there must also be Darth Vader. Here are five of the worst and craziest Roman Emperors.
Nero murdered many, including his mother. He cheated in Ancient Olympics. Additionally, Nero loved torturing animals – even making one his horse senatorial.
Caligula became Emperor after Tiberius died, yet soon turned into an increasingly bizarre megalomaniac ruler. Instead of sleeping through the night he wandered his palace instead while speaking aloud with Jupiter and speaking directly to both. Additionally he had an affinity for horses making senators of their own kind while hosting dinner parties where he would sit next to and speak directly with one.
Caligula may have suffered some sort of status epilepticus in 37 AD that left him violent, paranoid, psychopathic and sadistic – likely reigniting childhood aspirations to become a god.
Construction projects that he initiated included remodeling the Temple of Augustus and building an amphitheater nearby, bringing an Egyptian obelisk from Alexandria, and expanding Rome’s imperial palace. Unfortunately, his rule was far from benign as his first wife, aunt and baby daughter all met their deaths under his rule.
Mad Claude tells Jason and Piper about Caligula and Nero murdering Christians brutally; one date farmer named themselves after Caligula because once you honor an emperor it can be difficult to change your name. She mentions a date farmer named after Caligula claiming that once named after an emperor it can be hard to renounce their legacy.
Tinto Brass’s controversial 1979 movie Caligula depicted Caligula vividly and graphically, depicting his cruel exploits and sexual adventures as well as being banned in some countries. Malcolm McDowell played Caligula. The film remains controversial today due to its graphic depiction of Caligula’s reign and sexual exploits.
Nero’s reign as Emperor of Rome started off well. Despite his lavish lifestyle and delusions of grandeur, Nero’s intelligence, public speaking skills, and ability to make friends at every level earned him respect from those he knew well. Nero granted greater independence for Senate meetings; tackled corruption; cancelled secret trials; banned capital punishment altogether and established a stable economy while reforming Roman army troops.
Nero had proved himself an efficient ruler despite widespread reports of him meddling while Rome burned. Unfortunately, however, his personal life soon took precedence over his public image; Nero fell deeply for Acte, an obscure freedwoman with low birth who fell deeply for him; even flirting with marriage at some point – something his mother didn’t approve of.
As a result, she took steps to distance him from his true love and to disrupt their relationship. She divorced him, had his first wife beheaded so she could glory over it in Rome, then killed their second spouse by kicking her in the stomach while pregnant with their child.
He soon fell victim to his own vanity, becoming increasingly disjointed from reality and losing his mind. He created new festivals of chariot racing and athletic competition, hosted wild orgies, and openly displayed his musical abilities on lyre – even historian Suetonius recorded women giving birth during his performances!
As Nero, Nico, and Vergil made their way out of the destroyed city they encountered V who was trying to break through an opening that Gilgamesh had provided for him to pass through. When Nero attacked V he mocked him for wanting to become King of Demon World before V stepped in and finished him off.
Elagabalus took power at 14 and his reign was marked by scandal, depravity and religious controversy. Much to Rome’s displeasure, Elagabalus worshiped Syrian sun god El-Gabal and attempted to elevate him as head of Roman pantheon. Furthermore, he became involved with Hierocles cult and enjoyed playing “wife”, pretending she was pregnant while having sexual encounters with Hierocles (his lusty Carian charioteer who served as his “husband”) He promoted close friends into power positions based solely upon their penises being longer!
Ancient sources often glorified these scandals, yet one must bear in mind that accusations of sexual perversion and depravity were often used as political ammunition against Elagabalus; thus it may well have been invented or exaggerated as part of this campaign.
He was an ineffective, insecure ruler, spending most of his reign drinking and engaging in illicit affairs. Julia Soaemias and Julia Maesa, his mother and grandmother respectively, were descendants of his assassinated father Caracalla; when he finally succeeded to the throne he was assassinated by Macrinus who sought to remove him from power and remove him from his rightful position as ruler. Elagabalus may have known of this plot and encouraged rumor of it as an attempt to undermine rivals and maintain his power, yet his behavior ultimately brought down his regime: in his final years, Elagabalus danced publically for his god, built a temple dedicated to sun worshipping, and allowed wild animals into his palace freely roaming free.
Caracalla stands as an iconic figure in Roman history. His scowling portrait stands out against serene imperial busts in galleries of imperial busts; in stark contrast with their predecessors. Ancient sources tell tales of fratricide, cruelty, incestuous scandal and sexual impotency against him; however his six year reign was marked by grand cultural works that stood as monuments to splendor and imagination.
Caracalla became heir apparent to Rome at age 10, following his father’s suicide in 198 CE. To honor Nerva-Antonine dynasty which included Trajan, Hadrian and himself; Marcus Aurelius Antoninus became his formal name.
At first, his reign was peaceful; but as he gained power he gradually became consumed with Alexander the Great’s legacy, adopting clothing, weapons, behavior patterns and travel routes from him as a way of associating himself with him and becoming his clone. He even attempted to conquer Parthian empire using 16000 men and hundreds of war elephants as force against it.
His war against the Alemanni, a Germanic tribe that occupied parts of Switzerland and Germany at that time, was less successful. Instead, he sought peace with them, offering to pay an annual subsidy that other emperors might have refused to do. While ruling jointly with his brother Geta, their relationship was far from harmonious as they frequently feuded among themselves.
He was also known as an enthusiastic foodie, dining lavishly at his villa in Lorium near Rome. According to some accounts, he once overindulged in an especially delectable alpine cheese and experienced fatal fever the next day – perhaps this may explain his death!
Commodus was born at Lanuvium, the center of imperial power during the second century AD. He was the son of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina, thus becoming part of his inner circle. Commodus showed signs of immoral behavior early in his youth – according to legend a 12-year-old Commodus was so annoyed by a subpar bath experience he ordered his bath attendant be cast into furnaces before another slave intervened quickly by throwing a sheepskin instead into one furnace!
Commodus enjoyed watching gladiatorial combat like other emperors; however, he took it further by dressing up himself and competing himself in gladiatorial contests. Furthermore, he modified Nero’s Colossus adjacent to the Colosseum so it resembled Hercules more — with club and lions at his feet!
Commodus quickly earned the support of both his constituents and soldiers alike, though senatorial class began to disdain him. Instead he preferred leaving day-to-day governance to Perennis’ praetorian guard, whom he gave power.
Cassius Dio, an historian, noted that Commodus was also very self-centered. He would rename months and major cities after himself, as well as engage in aphrodisiac practices to seduce women; these behaviors may explain his rumored encounters with over 100 women during his brief reign as Emperor.