Caligula – Orgies and Oratory

Caligula was quite the guy.  Some think he may have been just a wee bit effeminate.  Others might agree, but also consider him brutally placed in history at a time when the factions surrounding the leadership of Rome, took the accounts to new levels of exaggeration. 

One thing remains clear in all accounts.  He was a man of few words and a littler than average penis, or so it is told.  His mouth only got him in trouble at orgies and oratory. He had parents of renown and a somewhat “relative” reputation so that Caligula never really knew the truth surrounding his parents courtship. But hey, it doesn’t take much to release the raging hormones of an arrogant and pompous young man.  

Caligula sauntered around in army boots as a boy and earned himself the name, from the Latin caligula meaning little boot. It’s suggested he pulled the legs off insects and possibly the little girl in the adjacent villa, but that’s sheer speculation.  One thing is for sure. He grew up in a time of suspicion and subversion.  His family reunions were undoubtedly an amusing gathering of killers, spies and mouthy politicians.  Such were the glory days of the Roman Empire, until that dolt Nero burned the place down, but that’s a different story. 

Emanuele Brambilla - Rome, Italy -  Panoramic of Colosseum
click to enlarge

As his military and political career careened down the corridors of history, he became more and more famous for his tyranny and cruel nature. Serving as emperor from 37 to 41 A.D. he gathered a hungry group around him, anxious to kiss the robes of the current Caesar and keeping court, the Roman way.  For pompous Caligula, not a comment was to cutting.  No insult to small. He was a little man with a smaller personality. 

He flouted stability when the Empire needed it most.  He let himself appear weak like a woman, attending festivals dressed as Venus, goddess of love, causing serious speculation about his sexuality, scattered amongst the tales of his massive orgies. He would stock his parties with courtiers of quality and invite the wealthiest of citizens.  His aim was to appear well loved and thus well connected.  Wealth and connection equal power and Caligula saw this as an advantage when funding war and burning through money faster than he could recoup it. 

His “banquets” were said to include human trays of fruits and sweets, the sampling of which was encouraged, provided one keep one’s hands behind one’s back.  Festivals of fertility were celebrated with decorations including giant penis and testicles and huge vaginas.  Human statues, naked and elaborately made up were said to have littered his hall.  This, of course, is only hearsay.          

G. Antiqua - Colonnade with a View
Colonnade with a View

click to enlarge

Unlike a later fellow in history, his tales are not colored with the brush of sadistic cruelty.  Yes, the occasional orgy might have got out of hand, so to speak.  The sadistic rompings of a certain Marquis later in history are not applicable here with Caligula. We see him flitting around the party, dressed as a goddess, falsetto voice bestowing all kinds of godlike blessings upon the couples present (probably insistent these “blessings” occur immediately for his viewing pleasure) sure of his own godlike status. 

Mind you, the godlike status didn’t stand him too well when he was nearly assassinated for trying to erect a statue of himself in the temple in Palestine.

In the end, he really did go to far.  Or rather, he went too far in the end of Rome.  The empire’s idea of leadership did not go so far as to allow that leadership to thumb its nose at civil rule. His own guards took him out while the tyrant emperor watched the gladiatorial contests. 


Luigi Rossini - Views of Rome (Landscape) (HC)
Views of Rome (Landscape) (HC)




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