The Roman history: from the foundation of the city of Rome, to the destruction of the western Empire. By Dr. Goldsmith. In two volumes. [pt.2]
Goldsmith, Oliver, 1730?-1774.
Page  159

CHAP. V. CALIGULA, the Fourth EMPEROR of Rome.

NO monarch ever came to the throne with more advantages than Caligula. He was the son of Germanicus, who had been the darling of the army and the people. He was bred among the soldiers, from whom he received the name of Caligula, from the short buskin, called Caliga, that was worn by the common centinels, and which was also usually worn by him. He succeeded a merciless tyrant; after whom, even moderate merit would look like excellence. Wherefore, as he approached Rome, the principal men of the state went out in crowds to meet him. He received the con|gratulations of the people on every side, all equally pleased in being free from the cruelties of Tiberius, and in hoping new advantages from the virtues of his successor.

Caligula seemed to take every precaution, to impress them with the opinion of an happy change. Amidst the rejoicings of the multi|tude, he advanced mourning, with the dead body of Tiberius, which the soldiers brought to be burnt at Rome, according to the custom Page  160 of that time. Upon his entrance into the city, he was received with new titles of honour by the senate, whose chief employment seemed now to be, the art of encreasing their emperor's vanity. He was left coheir with Gemellus, grandson to Tiberius; but they set aside the nomination, and declared Caligula sole successor to the empire. The joy for this election was not confined to the narrow bounds of Italy, it spread through the whole empire, and victims with|out number were sacrificed upon the occasion. Some of the people, upon his going into the island of Campania, made vows for his return; and shortly after, when he fell sick, the mul|titude crowded whole nights round his palace, and some even devoted themselves to death, in case he recovered, setting up bills of their reso|lutions in the streets. In this affection of the ci|tizens, strangers themselves seemed ambitious of sharing. Artabanus, king of Parthia, who took every method of contemning his prede|cessor, sought the present emperor's alliance with assiduity. He came to a personal confe|rence with one of his legates; he passed the Euphrates, he adored the Roman eagles; and kissed the emperor's images; so that the whole world seemed combined to praise him for vir|tues, which their hopes, and not their experi|ence, had given him.

Page  161 Thus all the enormities of this emperor were concealed in the beginning of his reign. He, at first, seemed extremely careful of the pub|lic; and having performed the funeral solem|nities of Tiberius, he hastened to the islands of Pandataria and Pontia, to remove the ashes of his mother and brothers, exposing himself to the danger of tempestuous weather, to give a lustre to his piety. Having brought them to Rome, he ordained annual solemnities in their honour, and ordered the month of September to be called Germanicus, in memory of his father. These ceremonies being over, he con|ferred the same honours upon his grandmother Antonia, which had before been given to Livia; and ordered all informations to be burnt, that any ways exposed the enemies of his family. He even refused a paper that was offered him, tending to the discovery of a con|spiracy against him; alledging, That he was conscious of nothing to deserve any man's hatred, and therefore had no fears from their machina|tions. He caused the institutions of Augustus, which had been disused in the reign of Tiberius, to be revived; he undertook to reform many abuses in the state, and severely punished cor|rupt governors. Among others, he banished Pontius Pilate into Gaul, where this unjust magistrate afterwards put an end to his life by suicide. He strictly inspected the behaviour Page  162 of the knights, whom he publicly degraded upon being found guilty of any infamous crime.

He banished, without remission, the Spin|triae, or inventors of abominable recreations, from Rome. He attempted to restore the ancient manner of electing magistrates by the suffrages of the people, and gave them a free jurisdiction, without any appeal to himself. Although the will of Tiberius was annulled by the senate, and that of Livia suppressed by Ti|berius, yet he caused all their legacies to be punctually paid; and, in order to make Ge|mellus amends for missing the crown, he caused him to be elected Princeps Juventutis, or principal of the Youth. He restored some kings to their dominions, who had been unjustly dis|possessed by Tiberius, and gave them the ar|rears of their revenues. And, that he might ap|pear an encourager of every virtue, he ordered a female slave a large sum of money for en|during the most exquisite torments, without discovering the secrets of her master. So many concessions, and such apparent virtue, could not fail of receiving just applause. A shield of gold, bearing his image, was decreed to be carried annually to the Capitol, attended by the senate, and the sons of the nobility, singing in praise of the emperor's virtues. It was like|wise ordained, that the day on which he was appointed to the empire should be called Pu|bitia; Page  163 implying, that when he came to govern, the city received a new foundation.

But it had been happy for him and the em|pire, had such a beginning been as strenuously maintained. In less than eight months all this shew of moderation and clemency vanished; while furious passions, unexampled avarice, and capricious cruelty, began to take their turn in his mind. As most of the cruelties of Tibe|rius arose from suspicion, so most of those com|mitted by Caligula took rise from prodigality. Some indeed pretend to assert, that a disorder which happened soon after his accession to the empire, entirely distorted his reason, and dis|composed his understanding. However this may be, madness itself could scarce dictate cruelties more extravagant, or inconsistencies more ridiculous than are imputed to him; some of them appear almost beyond belief, as they seem entirely without any motive to incite such barbarities.

The first object of his cruelty, and one that will scarcely be regretted by posterity, was a person named Politus, who had devoted him|self to death, in case the emperor, who was then sick, should recover. When Caligula's health was re-established, he was informed of the zeal of Politus, and actually compelled him to complete his vow. This ridiculous devotee was therefore led round the city, by Page  164 children, adorned with chaplets, and then put to death, being thrown headlong from the ramparts. Another, named Secundus, had vow|ed to fight in the amphitheatre upon the same occasion. To this he was also compelled, the emperor himself chusing to be a spectator of the combat. However, he was more fortu|nate than the former, being so successful as to kill his adversary, by which he obtained a re|lease from his vow. Gemellus was the next who suffered from the tyrant's inhumanity. The pretence against him was, that he had wished the emperor might not recover, and that he had taken a counter-poison to secure him from any secret attempts against his life. Caligula ordered him to kill himself; but as the unfor|tunate youth was ignorant of the manner of do|ing it, the emperor's messengers soon instruct|ed him in the fatal lesson. Silenus, the em|peror's father-in-law, was the next that was put to death upon slight suspicions; and Grecinus▪ a senator of noted integrity, refusing to witness falsely against him, shared his fate. After fol|lowed a crowd of victims to the emperor's ava|rice or suspicion. The pretext against them was their enmity to his family; and in proof of his accusations he produced these very memorials, which but a while before he pretended to have burnt. Among the number of those who were sacrificed to his jealousy, was Macro, the late Page  165 favourite of Tiberius, and the person to whom Caligula owed his empire. He was accused of many crimes, some of which were common to the emperor, as well as to him, and his death brought on the ruin of his whole family.

These cruelties, however, only seemed the first fruits of a mind naturally timid and suspi|cious: his vanity and profusion soon gave rise to others which were more attrocious, as they sprung from less powerful motives. His pride first began by assuming to himself the title of ruler, which was usually granted only to kings. He would also have taken the crown and dia|dem, had he not been advised that he was al|ready superior to all the monarchs of the world. Not long after he assumed divine honours, and gave himself the names of such divinities as he thought most agreeable to his nature. For this purpose he caused the heads of the statues of Jupiter and some other gods to be struck off, and his own to be put in their places. He frequently seated himself between Castor and Pollux, and ordered that all who came to their temple to worship, should pay their adorations only to him. However, such was the extrava|gant inconstancy of this unaccountable ideot, that he changed his divinity as often as he changed his cloaths. Being at one time a male deity, at another a female; sometimes Jupiter or Mars, and not unfrequently Venus or Diana. Page  166 He even built and dedicated a temple to his own divinity, in which his statue of gold was every day drest in similar robes to those which he himself wore, and was worshipped by crowds of adorers. His priests were numerous, the sa|crifices made to him were of the most exquisite delicacies that could be procured, and the dig|nity of the priesthood was sought by the most oppulent men of the city. However, he ad|mitted his wife and his horse to that honour; and, to give a finishing stroke to his absurdities, he became a priest to himself. His method of assuming the manners of a deity was not less ri|diculous: he often went out in the full moon, and courted it in the style of a lover. He often invited it to his bed, to taste the plea|sure of his embraces. He employed many in|ventions to imitate thunder, and would fre|quently defy Jupiter, crying out from a speech of Homer,

"Do you conquer me, or I will conquer you."
He frequently pretended to converse in whispers with the statue of Jupiter, and usually seemed angry at its replies; threat|ening to send it packing into Greece. Some|times, however, he would assume a better temper, and seemed contented that they two should dwell together in amity.

A person so impious respecting the deity, was still more criminal with regard to man. He was not less notorious for the depravation of Page  167 his appetites, than for his ridiculous presump|tions. Neither person, place, nor sex were ob|stacles to the indulgence of his unnatural lusts. There was scarce a lady of any quality in Rome that escaped his lewdness; and, indeed, such was the degeneracy of the times, that there were few ladies then who did not think this disgrace an honour. He committed incest with his three sisters, and at public feasts they lay with their heads upon his bosom by turns. Of these he prostituted Livia and Agrippina to his vile com|panions, and then banished them as adultresses and conspirators against his person. As for Drusilla, he took her from her husband Lon|ginus, and kept her as his wife. Her he loved so affectionately, that, being sick, he appointed her as heiress of his empire and fortune; and she happening to die before him, he made her a goddess. Nor did her example, when living, appear more dangerous to the people than her divinity, when dead. To mourn for her death was a crime, as she was become a goddess; and to rejoice for her deity, was capital, because she was dead. Nay, even silence itself was an un|pardonable insensibility, either of the emperor's loss or his sister's advancement. Thus he made his sister subservient to his profit, as before he had done to his pleasure; raising vast sums of money by granting pardons to some, and by confiscating the goods of others. As to his Page  168 marriages, whether he contracted them with greater levity, or dissolved them with greater in|justice, is not easy to determine. Being pre|sent at the nuptials of Livia Orestilla with Piso, as soon as the solemnity was over, he com|manded her to be brought to him as his own wife, and then dismist her in a few days. He soon after went so far as to banish her upon sus|picion of cohabiting with her husband after she was parted from him. He was enamoured of Lollia Paulina, upon a bare relation of her grandmother's beauty; and thereupon took her from her husband who commanded in Mace|donia: notwithstanding which he repudiated her as he had done the former, and likewise forbad her future marrying with any other. The wife who caught most firmly upon his affections was Milonia Caesonia, whose chief merit lay in her perfect acquaintance with all the alluring arts of her sex, for she was otherwise possest neither of youth nor beauty. She continued with him during his reign, and he loved her so ridi|culously, that he sometimes shewed her to his soldiers drest in armour, and sometimes to his companions stark naked; so that his very re|gards were a reproach to those whom he wished to oblige.

His envy was still more detestable than his lusts. We are told that he put Caius to death for no other crime, than because he wore a Page  169 purple gown, the lustre of which called off all the regards of the spectators from himself. He ordered several persons in the city to be shaved, for having hair more beautiful than ordinary. He ordered one Proculus, who was remark|able for his beauty and the tallness of his sta|ture, to descend into the amphitheatre, and to fight among the combatants as a gladiator. Proculus came off victorious, having vanquish|ed two men one after the other. However, the tyrant was not satisfied with this punish|ment, but caused him to be bound and cloathed in rags, and then to be led round the city and slain. Being present at the public games, where a particular gladiator succeeded with more than ordinary applause, he was so highly displeased that he flung himself out of the amphitheatre in a fury, crying out with great indignation, that the Romans gave more honour to a pitiful fencer, than to the emperor himself.

But of all his vices, his prodigality was the most remarkable, and that which in some mea|sure gave rise to the rest. The luxuries of former emperors were simplicity itself, when compared to those which he practised. He contrived new ways of bathing, where the rich|est oils and most precious perfumes were ex|hausted with the utmost profusion. He found out dishes of immense value, and had even jewels, as we are told, dissolved among his Page  170 sauces. He sometimes had services of pure gold presented before his guests instead of meat, observing, that a man should be an oeconomist or an emperor.

The expensive manner in which he main|tained his horse will give some idea of his do|mestic oeconomy. He built it a stable of mar|ble, and a manger of ivory. Whenever this animal, which he called Incitatus, was to run, he placed centinels near its stable, the night preceding, to prevent its slumbers from being broken. He appointed it an house, furniture, and a kitchen, in order to treat all its visitors with proper respect. The emperor sometimes invited Incitatus to his own table, presented it with gilt oats, and wine in golden cup. He often swore by the safety of his horse, and it is said he would have named it to the consulship, had not death prevented.

For several days together he flung consider|able sums of money among the people. He ordered ships of a prodigious bulk to be built of cedar, the sterns of ivory inlaid with gold and jewels, the sails and tackling of various silks, while the decks were planted with the choicest fruit trees, under the shade of which he often dined. Here, attended by all the mi|nisters of his pleasures, the most exquisite sing|ers, and the most beautiful youths, he coasted along the shore of Campania with great splen|dour. Page  171 All his buildings seemed rather calcu|lated to raise astonishment, than to answer the purposes of utility. He ordered houses to be built in the sea; he cut his way through rocks of prodigious bulk; he levelled mountains, and elevated plains and valleys. But the most no|torious instance of his fruitless profusion was the vast bridge at Puteoli, which he undertook in the third year of his reign. To satisfy his desire of being master as well of the ocean as the land, he caused an insinite number of ships to be fastened to each other, so as to make a floating bridge from Bai to Puteoli, across an aim of the sea three miles and an half broad. The ships being placed in two rows, in form of a crescent, were secured to each other with anchors, chains and cables. Over these were laid vast quantities of timber, and upon that earth, so as to make the whole resemble one of the streets of Rome. He next caused several houses to be built upon his new bridge, for the reception of himself and his attendants, into which fresh water was conveyed by pipes from land. He then repaired thither with all his court, attended by prodigious throngs of people, who came from all parts, to be spectators of such an expensive pageant. It was there that Caligula, adorned with all the magnificence of eastern royalty, sitting on horseback with a civic crown, and Alexander's breast-plate, attended Page  172 by the great officers of the army, and all the nobility of Rome, entered at one end of the bridge, and with ridiculous importance rode to the other. At night, the number of torches and other illuminations with which this ex|pensive structure was adorned, cast such a gleam as illuminated the whole bay, and all the neigh|bouring mountains. This seemed to give the weak emperor new cause for exultation, boast|ing that he had turned night into day, as well as sea into land. The next morning he again rode over in a triumphant chariot, follow|ed by a numerous train of charioteers, and all his soldiers in glittering armour. He then as|cended a rostrum erected for the occasion, where he made a solemn oration in praise of the greatness of his enterprize, and the assiduity of his workmen and his army. He then distri|buted rewards among his men, and a splendid feast succeeded. However, there was still wanting something to mark the disposition of the mighty projector. In the midst of the en|tertainment many of his attendants were thrown into the sea; several ships filled with spectators, were attacked and sunk in an hostile manner; and, altho' the majority escaped through the calmness of the weather, yet many were drown|ed▪ and some who endeavoured to save them|selves by climbing to the bridge, were struck down again by the emperor's command. The Page  173 calmness of the sea during this pageant, which continued for two days, furnished Caligula with fresh opportunities for boasting; being heard to say,

"that Neptune took care to keep the sea smooth and serene, merely out of reverence to himself."

Expences like these, it may naturally be sup|posed, must have exhausted the most unbound|ed wealth: in fact, after reigning about a year, Caligula found his revenues totally exhausted; and a fortune of about eighteen millions of our money, which Tiberius had amassed to|gether, entirely spent in extravagance and folly. Now, therefore, his prodigality put him upon new methods of supplying the exchequer; and, as before his profusion, so now his rapacity became boundless. He put in practice all kinds of rapine and extortion; while his principal study seemed to be the inventing new imposts, and illicit consiscations. Every thing was taxed, to the very wages of the meanest tradesman. He caused freemen to purchase their freedom a second time; and poisoned many who had named him for their heir, to have the immediate pos|session of their fortunes. He set up a brothel in his own palace, by which he gained consider|able sums by all the methods of prostitution. He also kept a gaming house, in which he him|self presided, scrupling none of the mean tricks of that reptile race, in order to advance his Page  174 gains. On a certain occasion, having had a run of ill luck, he saw two rich knights passing through his court, upon which he suddenly rose up, and causing both to be apprehended, confiscated their estates, and then joining his former companions, boasted that he never had a better throw in his life. Another time, want|ing money for a stake, he went down, and caused several noblemen to be put to death, and then returning, told the company that they sate playing for trifles, while he had won sixty thou|sand sesterces at a cast. Having had a daugh|ter born, he complained openly of his poverty, and published an edict that he would receive whatever presents should be sent him, and ac|tually stood in the portico of his palace, to in|duce the people to be liberal in their dona|tions.

These methods, however, were but subor|dinate to the cruelties by which he acquired immense sums. He slew many of the senate, and afterwards cited them to appear as if they had killed themselves. He condemned many persons of the highest quality to dig in the mines, and to repair the high-ways, for offer|ing to ridicule his profusion. He cast great numbers of old and infirm men and poor de|crepid housekeepers to wild beasts, to free the state from such unserviceable citizens. He usually fed his wild beasts with the bodies of Page  175 those wretches whom he condemned; and every tenth day, sent off numbers of them to be thus devoured; which he jocosely called, clear|ing his accounts. One of those who was thus exposed, crying out that he was innocent, Caligula ordered his tongue to be cut out, and then thrown into the amphitheatre as be|fore. He took delight in killing men with slow tortures, that, as he exprest it, they might feel themselves dying; being always present at such executions, himself directing the duration of the punishment, and mitigating the tortures, merely to prolong them. In fact, he valued himself for no quality more than this unrelent|ing temper, and inflexible severity which he preserved while presiding at an execution.

His barbarous attempts at wit in the midst of slaughter, sufficiently evince what little pain he felt from compassion. An eminent citizen, who for an indisposition had got leave to retire into the island Anticyra, which was a place fa|mous for curing madness by hellebore, desiring to have his stay prolonged, Caligula ordered him to be put to death; adding, with a smile, That bleeding must certainly be useful to one who had so long taken hellebore without success. Once putting a wrong person to death by mistake, upon finding his error, he said it was well done, for this criminal had doubtless deserved to die as well as the other. This horrid disposi|sition Page  176 never forsook him, even in his most fes|tive hours: he frequently had men racked be|fore him, while he sate at meat, ironically pity|ing their misfortunes, and blaming their execu|tioner. He always desired to have the friends and relations of the sufferer to be present at these executions. Upon a certain occasion one of them excusing himself upon account of sickness, the tyrant sent a litter to carry him. Whenever he kissed his wife or mistress, he generally laid his hand on her neck, observing, that, however smooth and lovely it was, he could take it off when he pleased. Demanding of one whom he had recalled from banishment, how he employed himself in his exile; being told, that he had prayed for the death of Tiberius, Caligula immediately concluded, that all whom he him|self had banished, wished for his death likewise▪ commanded that all exiles should be slain without mercy. At one time, being incensed with the citizens of Rome, he wished that all the Roman people had but one neck, that he might dispatch them at a blow.

Such insupportable and capricious cruelties produced many secret conspiracies against him but these were for a while deferred, upon ac|count of his intended expedition against the Germans and Britains, which he undertook in [U. C. 793] the third year of his reign. For this purpose [A.D. 41] he caused numerous levies to be made in alPage  177 parts of the empire, and talked with so much resolution, that it was universally believed he would conquer all before him. His march perfectly indicated the inequality of his temper: sometimes it was so rapid that the cohorts were obliged to leave their standards behind them; at other times it was so slow, that it more resem|bled a pompous procession than a military ex|pedition. In this disposition he would cause himself to be carried on eight mens' shoulders, and order all the neighbouring cities to have their streets well swept and watered, to defend him from the dust. However, all these mighty preparations ended in nothing. Instead of con|quering Britain, he only gave refuge to one of its banished princes; and this he described in his letter to the senate, as taking possession of the whole island. Instead of conquering Ger|many, he only led his army to the sea-shore, in Batavia. There disposing his engines and war|like machines with great solemnity, and drawing up his men in order of battle, he went on board his galley, with which coasting along, he com|manded his trumpets to sound, and the signal to be given as if for an engagement; upon which, his men, having had previous orders, immediately fell to gathering the shells that lay upon the shore into their helmets, terming them the spoils of the conquered ocean, wor|thy of the palace and the Capitol. After this Page  178 doughty expedition, calling his army together, as a general after victory, he harangued them in a pompous manner, and highly extolled their atchievements; and then distributing money among them, dismissed them with orders to be joyful, and congratulated them upon their riches. But that such exploits should not pass without a memorial, he caused a lofty tower to be erected by the sea-side, and ordered the galleys in which he had put to sea, to be con|veyed to Rome in a great measure by land.

After numberless instances of folly and cru|elty in this expedition, among which he had intentions of destroying the whole army, that had formerly mutinied under his father Germa|nicus, he began to think of a triumph. The senate, who had long been the timid ministers of his pride and cruelty, immediately set about consulting how to satisfy his expectations. They considered that a triumph would, even to him|self, appear as a burlesque upon his expedition: they therefore decreed him only an ovation. Having come to this resolution, they sent him a deputation, informing him of the honours granted him, and the decree, which was drawn up in terms of the most extravagant adulation. However, their flattery was far from satisfy|ing his pride. He considered their conduct rather as a diminution of his power, than an addition to his glory. He therefore ordered Page  179 them, on pain of death, not to concern them|selves with his honours; and being met by their messengers on the way, who invited him to come and partake of the preparations which the senate had decreed, he informed them that he would come; and then laying his hand upon his sword, added, that he would bring that also with him. In this manner, either quite omit|ting his triumph, or deferring it to another time, he entered the city only with an ovation: while the senate past the whole day in acclamati|ons in his praise, and speeches filled with the most excessive flattery. This conduct in some measure served to reconcile him, and soon after their excessive zeal in his cause entirely gained his favour. For it happened that Protogenes, who was one of the most intimate and the most cruel of his favourites, coming into the house, was fawned upon by the whole body of the senate, and particularly by Proculus. Whereupon Protogenes with a fierce look, asked how one who was such an enemy to the emperor could be such a friend to him? There needed no more to excite the senate against Proculus. They instantly seized upon him, and violently tore him in pieces; plainly shewing by their conduct, that tyranny in the prince produces cruelty in those whom he governs.

It was after returning from his extravagant expedition, that he was waited on by a depu|tation Page  180 from the Jews of Alexandria, who came to deprecate his anger, for not worshipping his divinity as other nations had done. He was employed in looking over some houses of plea|sure, and giving directions to the workmen, when Philo, the Jew, and the rest of the em|bassy, were admitted to an audience. Upon their approaching him with the most profound humility, he began by calling them enemies to the gods, and by asking them how they could refuse to acknowledge his divinity? Upon their replying that they had sacrificed hecatombs both upon his accession to the empire, and his recovery from sickness, he replied, that those sacrifices were offered not to him, but for him. In the mean time, while they continued silently astonished at his impiety, he went from room to room, giving directions to his workmen con|cerning new improvements, and remarking such parts of the furniture as happened to displease him. He would now and then stop to ask some extravagant question.

"What can be the reason," cried he, "that you Jews abstain from pork?"
This question seemed so very lively to his attendants, that they burst into such loud fits of laughter, as obliged an officer who was present to reprimand them. Philo was will|ing to give him all the information he was able upon this head, and began by saying, That different nations had different customs; Page  181 that, while the people of one religion abstained from pork, those of another never eat lamb.
"Nor do I blame them," cried Caligula, "for lamb is very bad eating. But tell me," con|tinued he, "What pretensions have you to be citizens of Alexandria?"
Upon this, Philo began to enter into the business of his embassy; but he had scarce commenced, when Caligula abruptly left him, and ran into a large hall, the windows of which he ordered to be adorned with transparent stone, which was used by the antients instead of glass. He then returned to the deputies, and assuming a more moderate air,
"Well," cried he, "let me know what you have to say in your defence."
Philo be|gan his harangue where it had been interrupted before; but Caligula again left him in the midst of it, and gave orders for placing some pictures. Nothing can be a more striking picture than this, of the manner in which this monster at|tended to the complaints of mankind. This affair of the Jews remained undecided during his reign; but it was at last settled by his suc|cessor to their satisfaction. It was upon this occasion, that Philo made the following re|markable answer to his associates, who were terrified with apprehensions from the emperor's indignation:
"Fear nothing," cried he to them; "Caligula, by declaring against us, puts God on our side."

Page  182 The continuation of this horrid reign seemed to threaten universal calamity: however, it was as short as it deserved to be. There had already been several conspiracies formed to de|stroy the tyrant, but without success. That which at last succeeded, in delivering the world of this monster, was concerted under the influence of Cassius Cherea, tribune of the Praetorian bands. This was a man of experienced courage, an ar|dent admirer of freedom, and consequently an enemy to tyrants. Besides the motives which he had in common with other men, he had re|ceived repeated insults from Caligula, who took all occasions of turning him into ridicule, and impeaching him of cowardice, merely because he happened to have an effeminate voice. When|ever Cherea came to demand the watch-word from the emperor, according to custom, he always gave him either Venus, Adonis, or some such, implying effeminacy and softness. He, therefore, secretly imparted his designs to several senators and knights, whom he knew to have received personal injuries from Cali|gula, or to be apprehensive of those to come. Among these to Valerius Asiaticus, whose wife the emperor had debauched. Annius Vinici|anus, who was suspected of having been in a former conspiracy, was now desirous of really engaging in the first design that offered. Besides these, were Clemens, the prefect; and Page  183 Calistus, whose riches made him obnoxious to the tyrant's resentment.

While these were deliberating upon the most certain and speedy method of destroying the tyrant, an unexpected incident gave new strength to the conspiracy. Pompedius, a se|nator of distinction, having been accused be|fore the emperor, of having spoken of him with disrespect, the informer cited one Quin|tilia, an actress, to confirm his accusation. Quintilia, however, was possessed of a degree of fortitude not easily found, even in the other sex. She denied the fact with obstinacy; and being put to the torture, at the informer's request, she bore the severest torments of the rack with unshaken constancy. But what is most remarkable of her resolution is, that she was acquainted with all the particulars of the conspiracy; and although Cherea was the per|son appointed to preside at her torture, she re|vealed nothing: on the contrary, when she was led to the rack, she trod upon the toe of one of the conspirators, intimating at once her knowledge of the confederacy, and her own resolution not to divulge it. In this manner she suffered, until all her limbs were dislocated, and in that deplorable state was presented to the emperor, who ordered her a gratuity for what she had suffered. Cherea could now no Page  184 longer contain his indignation, at being thus made the instrument of a tyrant's cruelty. He, therefore, proposed to the conspirators to at|tack him as he went to offer sacrifices in the Capitol; or while he was employed in the se|cret pleasures of his palace. The rest, how|ever, were of opinion, that it was best to fall upon him when he should be unattended; by which means they would be more certain of their success. After several deliberations, it was at last resolved, to attack him during the con|tinuance of the Palatine games, which lasted four days; and to strike the blow, when his guards should have the least opportunity to de|fend him. In consequence of this, the three first days of the games passed, without affording that opportunity which was so ardently desired. Cherea now, therefore, began to apprehend, that deferring the time of the conspiracy, might be a means to divulge it: he even began to dread, that the honour of killing the tyrant, might fall to the lot of some other person, more bold than himself. Wherefore, he at last resolved, to defer the execution of his plot only to the day following, when Caligula should pass through a private gallery, to some baths, not far distant from the palace.

The last day of the games was more splendid than the rest, and Caligula seemed more spright|ly Page  185 and condescending than usual. He took great amusement in seeing the people scramble for the fruits, and other rarities, thrown, by his order, among them; and seemed no way ap|prehensive of the plot formed for his destruction. In the mean time, the conspiracy began to tran|spire; and, had he possessed any friends, it could not fail of being disccovered. A senator, who was present, asking one of his acquaintance, if he had heard any thing new; the other reply|ing in the negative;

"then you must know," says he, "that this day will be represented the death of a tyrant."
The other immediately under|stood him, but desired him to be more cautious how he divulged a secret of so much importance. The conspirators waited a great part of the day with the most extreme anxiety; and at one time Caligula seemed resolved to spend the whole day without any refreshment. This unex|pected delay entirely exasperated Cherea; and had he not been restrained, he would have gone and perpetrated his design in the midst of all the people. Just at that instant, while he was yet hesitating what he should do, Asprenas, one of the conspirators, persuaded Caligula to go to the bath, and take some slight refresh|ment, in order to enjoy the rest of the enter|tainment with greater relish. The emperor, therefore, rising up, the conspirators used every Page  186 precaution to keep off the throng, and to sur|round him, under pretence of greater assiduity. Upon entering into the little vaulted gallery that led to the bath, he was met by a band of Grecian children, who had been instructed in singing, and were come to perform in his pre|sence. He was once more, therefore, going to return into the theatre with them, had not the leader of the band excused himself, as having a cold. This was the moment which Cherea seized to strike him to the ground; crying out, "Tyrant, think upon this." Immediately after the other conspirators rushed in; and, while the emperor continued to resist, crying out, that he was not yet dead, they dispatched him with thirty wounds.

Such was the merited death of Caius Cali|gula, in the twenty-ninth year of his age, after a short reign of three years, ten months and eight days. It will be unnecessary to add any thing more to his character, than what Seneca says of him: namely, that nature seemed to have brought him forth, to shew what was possible to be produced, from the greatest vice, supported by the greatest authority. His wit and eloquence are applauded by some: but what could be his taste in either, who con|demned Virgil as a bad poet, and Livy as a wretched historian? With him his wife and Page  187 infant daughter also perished; the one being stabbed by a centurion, the other having its brains dashed out against the wall. His mo|ney also was melted down, by a decree of the senate; and such precautions were taken, that all seemed willing, that neither his features nor his name might be transmitted to posterity.