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Rome's Really "Bad" Emperors Essay

1547 words - 7 pages

Tiberius, who served as emperor from 14 to 37 AD, began his rule after the death of his father-in-law, Augustus. Tiberius was a weak ruler, and he understood that ruling Rome was like “holding a wolf by the ears.” When conflict arose in Europe, Tiberius sent his nephew, Germanicus, to deal with it. Germanicus did his job, and this resulted in Tiberius fearing the newest war-hero. To avoid the issue, Germanicus was appointed governor of the remote eastern provinces by his uncle. After the sudden death of Germanicus, people believed that Tiberius had poisoned him. He denied this, but the accusations never died. When he was in need of advice, Tiberius sought the assistance of Sejanus, a cavalry officer and town cheat. Tiberius sought the assistance of Sejanus, a cavalry officer. Sejanus abused the trust that was put in him, and he began to prosecute potential threats. Germanicus’s family was rumored to be plotting against Tiberius, and Sejanus had them all killed, only sparing his youngest son, Caligula. Tiberius did nothing, moving and cutting himself off from social contact. In Capri. Tiberius, who was safe from danger now, only allowed Sejanus to visit him regularly. When most believed that Sejanus would turn against him, Tiberius did the unexpected. He turned against Sejanus, choosing Caligula, Germanicus’s only surviving son, as heir to the throne. Taking care of Sejanus, Tiberius sent a letter to the Senate, condemning the cavalry officer. They captured him, strangled him, and dumped his body in the river Tiber. Tiberius died in 37 AD.
After the death of Tiberius, Caligula, who ruled from 37 to 41 AD, took the throne. Caligula lived up to his promises when he first began to rule. Not only did he allow those who had been exiled by Tiberius to return, but he burned the records of the treason trials. Only seven months after taking power, Caligula fell ill. After his recovery, Caligula began to act strangely. Some historians believe that his behavior changed due to epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes a person to have persistent seizures over time. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that Julius Caesar, Caligula’s distant cousin, is believed to have suffered from epilepsy. Caligula also suffered from a chronic inability to sleep, a common symptom of epilepsy. Rather than being almost equal to his people, he acted godlike. Senators were forced to kiss his feet, and at dinner parties, he seduced their wives. He restored the treason trials and executed allies and enemies. Sometimes, Caligula’s harsh actions were unexplained. For instance, when he was about to slaughter an animal for sacrifice, he turned and struck a priest nearby, killing him. During this time, Caligula was also spending more money than he had, and soon, the Roman treasury was bare. To get more spending money, he began to blackmail the rich of Rome. Caligula still saw himself as a god, and he ordered a statue of himself be built in the Temple of Jerusalem. Herod Agrippa...

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