Oh, and Benito Mussolini and pirates, too! Extra Credit! All courtesy of Simon Black! Thanks!
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This seems to especially be the case when we look at these Fifty States and the FedGov. Here’s another example – courtesy of Simon Black over at Sovereign Man. James and Viktorija follow a time-honored tradition of analyzing modern America (and the world) in light of history of the SPQR (Rome). The latest example is here.
The tale of Tiberius, adopted son and successor of Augustus as Imperator of the SPQR (the Roman Republic and its empire) is well known. (Simon does tend to present Tiberius in a better light than most of us do: he had serious issues of his own, just like Trump.) Also well-known are the hatred of accusations against Tiberius and the events leading up to and following Tiberius’ death (or murder), not far from where Caligula would build his insane bridge. Simon does make some very apt and pointed comparisons of Tiberius and Trump. (Although he is more careful to NOT explicitly call them out.) Ditto for comparing Uncle Joe with the mad “Little Boots” – their successors. (After his acclamation by the Senate, Caligula reigned/ruled madly all of four years before his “untimely death” and the appointment of the “plodding” Claudius as his replacement. (Both done by the Praetorian Guard.)
As a historian pointed out, the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus (nicknamed Caligula which translates as “little boots” – named for the footwear of the legionnaires) was actually loved by the Roman people. They did not care that he was sleeping with his sisters, hosting giant orgies, murdering innocent people, or feasting on peacocks, they loved Caligula because he shared the surplus of Roman wealth with the people and not just the aristocracy, he contributed vast amounts of money to the Roman racecourses and coliseum, to building lavish bathhouses and other institutions, including brothels, pleasure houses, and casinos which the pre-Christian Roman population had absolutely no qualms about. The still-relatively-efficient Roman bureaucracy and military established by Augustus and managed fairly well by Tiberius kept things going in Rome and the provinces.
Except for things like the insane pontoon bridge. Which didn’t just use merchant ships: it also used (and consumed) military vessels and used the soldiers and sailors of the Roman military to build it for two days of Caligula and his palace rats (couriers) to march back and forth pretending to be Alexander the Great to celebrate Caligula’s “great victory” over the Parthians.
Because near Baia was Misenum, home port and shipyard of the western Imperial fleet, tasked with protecting that shipping Simon discusses. As important to Rome as Pearl Harbor or San Diego is to the 21st Century FedGov. And with an important role in Roman history – including a fascinating period in late republican history which sounds like a more astute and successful version of Hunter Biden: the son of Pompey named Sixtus, who became a notorious pirate but used that profession to be a major political influence and dealmaker in Rome! Sort of like, too, that newspaper editor and socialist who won election and became Il Duce, first “official” Fascist of the 20th Century – right there in Rome as well!
So Caligula set the example for modern American (and European) politicians who claim to be progressive and woke: increasing taxes and massively increased spending, especially in the form of welfare and “infrastructure,” his loose morals and looser way with the truth. (Not that any of them will honor Caligula for his example!) But in some ways, he can be (and has been) compared to The Donald on many of these points – and the way he made enemies and irritated people. And in such actions as appointing his horse as a Consul of the Republic. Which did show that the Republic was dead and gone. (Don’t know if we can find a specific action of the present or last American regime to quite compare with that!)
Caligula’s actions (and failures) had far-reaching results even while he was still in office – particularly in the Levant and Mesopotamia and Anatolia (the modern Middle-East). His treatment of the Jews – critical to the Empire’s economy AND military) would take several decades to culminate in the disastrous Jewish War of the AD 65-72 period.
Both the short-term and long-term results – the events which followed the death of Tiberius, the brief but hideous results of Caligula’s time in office – should be lessons learned to 21st Century Americans. And especially to lovers of liberty.
Discover Magazine, Nemi ships – Caligula’s floating pleasure palace as revealed during Mussolini’s regime
Raubotello, Caligula’s bridge at Pozzuoli and successors, discussed by Simon
Weapons and Warfare, a history of Roman naval base at Misenum (near Pozzuoli)
Note: Gaius Germanicus, Caligula, was Imperator (Emperor) for only four years, from 37-41 CE, but his name has lived on in history due to a penchant for sadism, hedonistic excess and brutality. He demanded to be worshipped as a living God, and had the expensive tastes to match. Records show that he emptied the Imperial treasury in a single year with extravagant games and spectacles. His regime set the stage for the reign of Nero, the Year of Four Emperors, and the Jewish-Roman War.