2

Was Caligula, the Roman Emperor, popular with the general Roman population after his illness a few months into his reign?

  • What answer do you expect? There was no elections, and the results of opinion polls did not survive. – Alex Jan 18 '16 at 22:35
  • 2
    @Alex the idea that popular opinion could not be expressed or gauged outside polls is a modern Western fiction. In Caligula's case, at least before his illness, he was extremely popular, as evidenced by public jubilation and the observations of contemporary historians. – congusbongus Jan 19 '16 at 1:34
  • 1
    @congusongus: Is Kim Il-sung popular in N Korea? Was Stalin popular in Soviet Union? Judging by "public jubilations" they are/were. Also according to some "contemporary historians". – Alex Jan 19 '16 at 5:02
  • 7
    @Alex yes, yes they were. In Kim Il-sung's case, extremely popular. Granted, the popularity was largely a product of coercion but that's a separate issue. Again, you seem to have conflated democracy with the concept of popularity. The definition of popularity is whether a lot of people like you, and people outside democracies can hold opinions too. – congusbongus Jan 19 '16 at 6:01
5

When Caligula first became emperor, he was very popular with the people because he reduced taxes and instituted a few public reforms. After his illness, however, Caligula became increasingly paranoid and started to kill off those around him. He also began throwing lavish parties at his palace, and used up all the money in the Treasury in the process.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caligula#Early_reign

  • 2
    Thanks for the response. I know that he was popular before his illness. Can you find any information about his actual popularity after his illness though? The actions that you have described may well have made people close to him (especially politically) dislike him but I do not know whether knowledge of these actions reached the general Roman population... – LJD200 Jan 22 '16 at 16:28
  • The only surviving contemporary sources are from Philo and Seneca, but they only briefly mention Caligula. But it was a pretty well-known fact that he liked to host lavish parties and waste money. Of course, like nearly all empires, the common people couldn't speak out against the emperor or they would get themselves killed. – Ducks Jan 23 '16 at 14:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.