Why did the Roman population riot when Caligula, who is said to have been a terribly abusive ruler, was murdered but seemed to celebrate his predecessors’ death?


When the third Roman Emperor Caligula was murdered in 41 AD the people of Rome rioted and demanded his killers were brought to justice, despite him being often depicted as an abusive leader, cruel and even insane. He is said to have sentenced people to death for mundane offenses, indulging in a lifestyle of sex and drinking, sending a whole section of the crowd at the Arena to death because he was bored, among other horrible things. He also wanted to move to Alexandria to be venerated as a living God among many other unpopular actions.

His predecessor Tiberius in the other hand, never did as many cruel and unpopular things as Caligula, was a good administrator who left the Empire with vast reserves of money, upheld most of Augustus policies, did public works and had a long lasting rule. When Tiberius died at the old age of 77 the people of Rome are reported to have celebrated the end of his rule as well as Caligula's ascension to power despite rumors that Tiberius was poisened or suffocated with a pilow. Also, the first semester of Caligula's rule was described as "blissful" by Philo, despite the fact that one of his first actions was to nullify Tiberius will and make himself the sole ruler.

I understand a lot of the stories about Caligula are vastly exagerated or simply not true, however his reign seems to have been controversial to say the least.

Why did the people reacted with outrage to his killing if he was such an ill ruler? Was it because his actions were particularly hard on the higher social classes than it was on the plebian population?

Source: reddit post


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here