Of all Roman emperors none, with the possible exception of Nero, surpasses Caligula's reputation for infamy. But was Caligula really the mad despot and depraved monster of popular legend or the victim of hostile ancient historians?
In this study of Caligula's life, reign and violent death, Anthony A. Barrett draws on the archaeological and numismatic evidence to supplement the later written record. In Professor Barrett's view, the mystery of Caligula's reign is not why he descended into autocracy, but how any intelligent Roman could have expected a different outcome - to grant total power to an inexperienced and arrogant young man was a recipe for disaster. This book, scholarly and accessible, offers a careful reconstruction of Caligula's life and times, and a shrewd assessment of his historical importance.