This biography of the Roman Emperor Caracalla challenges his tyrannical reputation with a revealing narrative of his social reforms and military campaigns.
Caracallahas one of the worst reputations of any Roman Emperor. Many ancient historians were very hostile, and the 18th century English historian Edward Gibbon even dubbed him the common enemy of mankind. Yet his reign was considered by at least one Roman author to be the apogee of the Roman Empire. He was guilty of many murders and massacres—including that of his own brother, ex-wife and daughter. Yet he instituted the Antonine Constitution, granting citizenship to all free men in the Empire. He was also popular with the army, improving their pay and cultivating the image of sharing their hardships.
Historian Ilkka Syvanne explains how the biased ancient sources in combination with the stern looking statues of the emperor have created a distorted image of the man. He then reconstructs a chronology of Caracalla’s reign, focusing on his military campaigns and reforms, to offer a balanced view of his legacy. Caracalla offers the first complete overview of the policies, events and conflicts he oversaw and explains how and why these contributed to the military crisis of the third century.