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Caligula : a biography /
Aloys Winterling ; translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider, Glenn W. Most, and Paul Psoinos.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2011.
description
vii, 229 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
0520248953 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780520248953 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
uniform title
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2011.
isbn
0520248953 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780520248953 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
Introduction: A mad emperor? -- Childhood and youth -- Two years as princeps -- The conflicts escalate -- Five months of monarchy -- Murder on the Palatine -- Conclusion: Inventing the mad emperor -- Epilogue to the English edition.
general note
Originally published in German: M√ľnchen : C.H. Beck, c2003, with title Caligula : eine Biographie.
catalogue key
7838045
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 215-218) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Andrew Wallance-Hadrill, author of Rome's Cultural Revolution
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Caligula enjoys a reputation as one of the most brutal and tyrannical Roman emperors. In this accessible narrative of Caligula's life, Winterling uses his deep knowledge of Roman society and the imperial court to investigate why contemporaries chose to assassinate Caligula's reputation as well as his person. Caligula emerges here as rather less insane, if no less loathsome, than his posthumous reputation made him out to be." --Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, author of Rome's Cultural Revolution
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-05-30:
In this lively biography of Rome's infamous third emperor, readers will not find the wild-eyed dictator the public has, for nearly two millennia, come to expect. Offering not an apology for the "mad" emperor but a thoughtful argument for his sanity, Winterling, ancient history professor at the University of Basel, Switzerland (Aula Caesaris), debunks Caligula's most grotesque and oft repeated crimes. Accounts of his incestuous relationship with his sisters and his creation of a brothel on palace grounds (with senators' wives as prostitutes) were slander by biased historical sources such as Suetonius. Caligula's supposed plan to appoint his favorite race horse as consul (the highest ranking position below emperor) and his claim to be in direct contact with various gods, says Winterling, were cruel jokes misinterpreted over time. The emperor's crossing of the Bay of Baiae on a bridge of ships was not an expensive folly but an unprecedented display of power to the Germanic tribes he was targeting. Like a police interrogator, Winterling plays his ancient sources off each other, identifying holes in their accounts, "blatant contradictions," and conflicts of interest. In this brisk and well-measured biography, Caligula emerges a troubled and cruel man, but not a crazy one. Photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-11-18:
In popular imagination Caligula (12 C.E.-41 C.E.) is the mad young emperor who acted out of some combination of insanity, cruelty, or lead poisoning. In a revisionist take on the man, Winterling (ancient history, Univ. of Basel; Politics, Society, and Aristocratic Communication in Imperial Rome) argues that Caligula was cruel but that his actions were explicable in the light of the political situation of the time and considering the changing role of the emperor. While Augustus had managed to fit into the old aristocratic structures, Caligula needed to wield monarchical powers to control the senate. His reinvention of the status of the emperor required extraordinary acts to subjugate the aristocracy; likewise, the aristocracy took extraordinary measures to remove Caligula, who remained popular with the common people. In this reading, the more egregious acts attributed to Caligula-such as incest and making his horse a consul-were inventions of later writers. Verdict This is an important perspective, but Winterling's interpretation of Caligula often feels overly exculpatory and one-sided. Accessible to the general reader, but most likely to appeal to serious Roman history readers or students.-Margaret Heller, Dominican Univ. Lib., River Forest, IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2011-12-01:
Winterling (Univ. of Basel, Switzerland) attempts to completely revise the prevailing view of the Emperor Gaius, better known as Caligula. Coming to the throne in 37 CE when only 25, Caligula chose at first to rule in a modest and limited manner, respecting the privileges and powers of the senatorial aristocracy. But then in 39 he was confronted with a powerful conspiracy of leaders of the aristocracy, including his closest advisers and his own sisters. Thereafter, he suspected plots everywhere, executed many leading senators, and threatened more, and this led to his assassination in the palace in early 41. What lay behind these plots and murders was the inner tension in the system created by Augustus, an unstable union (dyarchy) of the military princeps and the aristocratic senate, well described by Winterling as "an emperor in a republic." Only with Constantine's introduction of the dynastic principle 300 years later was the problem finally resolved. The book is clear and well organized, written in an accessible and graceful style, and has a helpful genealogical chart, good notes, and a well-selected bibliography. Altogether, a valuable introduction for undergraduates to early Roman Empire politics and historiography. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All undergraduate libraries and up. R. I. Frank emeritus, University of California, Irvine
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Accessible and graceful. . . . Highly recommended."
"Accessible and graceful. . . . Highly recommended."-- Choice
"An eloquent and compelling study of Roman imperial history, and especially of the difficult relations between the imperial monarch and the traditional aristocracy."
"A persuasive new Caligula emerges from this elegant revision: not mad at all, but just as bad and dangerous to know."
"A persuasive new Caligula emerges from this elegant revision: not mad at all, but just as bad and dangerous to know."-- Maclean's
"A revisionist take on the man."
"A worthy study, which covers significant aspects of Caligula's reign and provides some new interpretations on this fascinating subject."
"In this lively biography of Rome's infamous third emperor, readers will not find the wild-eyed dictator . . . but a thoughtful argument for his sanity."
"In this lively biography of Rome's infamous third emperor, readers will not find the wild-eyed dictator . . . but a thoughtful argument for his sanity."-- Publishers Weekly
"Makes it clear that the behavior of the third emperor were the acts of a diffident, slightly paranoid youth, who lacked the patience that the most quarrelsome and important of his subjects required."
"No Roman emperor cries out more obviously for redemption, but Aloys Winterling's Caligula, a calm reassessment of his reign, avoids revisionist whitewashing and takes the residue of hatred as inescapable."
"Presents Roman emperor Caligula in a new light."
"Presents Roman emperor Caligula in a new light."-- Booklist
"Seeks to rehabilitate one of the most infamous Roman emperors, commonly believed to have been deranged."
"Seeks to rehabilitate one of the most infamous Roman emperors, commonly believed to have been deranged."-- New Yorker
"[Winterling] gives us a biography that brings the man and his times to life."
"Winterling has produced an innovative biography which takes a novel approach to interpreting the historiography of Caligula's reign."
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, May 2011
Booklist, June 2011
The Australian, September 2011
Library Journal, November 2011
Choice, December 2011
The Times (London), April 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from AD 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. This biography tells a different story of the well-known emperor. In a deft account written for a general audience, Aloys Winterling opens a new perspective on the man and his time.
Main Description
"Caligula enjoys a reputation as one of the most brutal and tyrannical Roman emperors. In this accessible narrative of Caligula's life, Winterling uses his deep knowledge of Roman society and the imperial court to investigate why contemporaries chose to assassinate Caligula's reputation as well as his person. Caligula emerges here as rather less insane, if no less loathsome, than his posthumous reputation made him out to be." --Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, author of "Rome's Cultural Revolution"
Main Description
Edition statement inferred from Epilogue.
Main Description
The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from A.D. 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. An exceptionally smart and cruelly witty man, Caligula made his contemporaries worship him as a god. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered in gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and committed incest with his sisters. He wanted to make his horse a consul. Torture and executions were the order of the day. Both modern and ancient interpretations have concluded from this alleged evidence that Caligula was insane. But was he? This biography tells a different story of the well-known emperor. In a deft account written for a general audience, Aloys Winterling opens a new perspective on the man and his times. Basing Caligula on a thorough new assessment of the ancient sources, he sets the emperor's story into the context of the political system and the changing relations between the senate and the emperor during Caligula's time and finds a new rationality explaining his notorious brutality.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviationsp. vii
Introduction: A Mad Emperor?p. 1
Childhood and Youthp. 9
Two Years as Princepsp. 52
The Conflicts Escalatep. 90
Five Months of Monarchyp. 132
Murder on the Palatinep. 172
Conclusion: Inventing the Mad Emperorp. 187
Epilogue to the English Editionp. 195
Notesp. 197
Bibliographyp. 215
Indexp. 219
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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