Caligula

Just about to finish a bio of Caligula, which I have quite enjoyed – which is a good thing, since I recently bought a book on Agrippina (the Younger) by the same author. I had to laugh, though; I don’t know whether he did it deliberately, but I thought he was aiming for a dispassionate account, or as dispassionate as an historian is capable of being, but there’s a great line about Caligula being condemned by historians through the ages largely because he deserves it! Ah, Objectivity; how we worship Thee. As well, i’m not entirely convinced by his treatment of the sources, who are basically Suetonius and Dio, with a bit of Philo and Seneca thrown in. He says they’re unreliable, and totally dismisses some stories – and I think I agree with his rationale in those cases – but I wasn’t always able to follow his logic for the stories that he accepted as likely to be basically true, or containing some useful historical nugget.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting read. And the above issues are always interesting for an historian, and perhaps especially a history teacher, to be reminded of.

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