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Cassius Chaerea – Roman soldier with high voice

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

A print showing the murder of Caligula
A print showing the murder of Caligula

Cassius Chaerea was a Roman soldier serving in the Roman army during the fighting in Germania. However, we are best known from the accounts of Suetonius as the person who killed the emperor Caligula for personal reasons.

When in 37 CE the throne after the death of Tiberius was taken by Caligula, Cherea was either already in the Praetorian Guard or was about to be accepted. According to sources, Chaerea had an exceptionally high voice, not completely matching his figure and military function.

Caligula made fun of his voice many times, and “used to taunt him with voluptuousness and effeminacy”. Moreover, when Chaerea leaned in to kiss the imperial ring, Caligula deliberately used “forming and moving it in an obscene fashion”. In addition, the emperor gave him watchwords such as: “Venus” (term for eunuch) or “Priapus” (referring to erection).

Constant humiliation at court made Chaerea join the plot on the life of the emperor. On January 24, 41 CE he pierced Caligula with his sword; death also reached Caligula’s wife – Caesonia – and their daughter Julia Drusilla. Despite contributing to the murder of the tyrant, Chaerea was probably forced to lose his life.

Sources
  • Swetoniusz, Kaligula
  • Tacyt, Roczniki, I

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