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Caligula and his “romances”

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


Caligula was remembered as one of the worst rulers of ancient Rome. If we believe historians’ accounts the Emperor would have distinguished himself with controversial ‘romances’.

Augustus, his great-grandfather, would certainly be shocked if he saw what Caligula is doing. During his reign he lived in an official concubinage with his own sisters. In addition, he often allowed himself to deal with married women, and with the knowledge of their husbands. We know the message that the emperor was once on Gaius Piso and Livia Orestillia marriage. After the whole ceremony, Caligula went with wife of Piso to his chambers to return and announce that he married woman as Romulus, who according to legend, had ordered the kidnapping of the women from Sabines to Rome.

Only after a few days the Emperor divorced Livia, because his attention was attracted by the beautiful Lolia Paulina. He was so charmed by her beauty that he called her and her husband to Rome and ordered them to made a divorce. The marriage of Caligula and Paulina lasted only a few weeks; the emperor, as before, divorced and under the death penalty forbade her to make love with other men. Eventually, Caligula married Caesonia, the daughter of a baker – because of low origins she could not be title as empress.

In addition to “official” accounts, Caligula allowed himself to indulge with married women at feasts. During the banquets, he abducted wives of otheres, and after a while he would come back as if nothing had happened at the table where their husbands waited.

Caligula did not despise men either. A certain Valerius Catullus complained publicly that the emperor treated him hardly. In addition, Caligula maintained sexual relations with her sister’s husband Marcus Lepidus and the actor pantomina Mnester. The second lover was the Emperor’s favorite, and also the best dancer of his time. The emperor did not allow any interference with Mnester’s performance and severely punished even coughing in the audience.

Caligula’s crazy idea was to organize a luxury public house in the imperial palace. Caligula played the role of a pimp, and the sisters and patricians acted as prostitutes.

  • Koper Sławomir, Życie prywatne i erotyczne w starożytnej Grecji i Rzymie, Warszawa 1998

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