May 8, 2006
Tonight I discovered the blog of Lisa Eisenbrey and I did something I rarely do which is read it all the way through. (Hello there Lisa if you happen to be reading this, you made me a) laugh b) miss Austin). The whole blog is great, but I was particularly taken by her Seutonius series (Caesar V, Caesar IV, Caesar III, and Caesars I & II) which distills The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius into amusing lists. (More on Suetonius at livius.org).
Often historians interpret these emperors' erratic actions as madness or inbreeding and of course that was sometimes undoubtedly what was going on, but my thought is this: Is it possible to look at the lives of these some of these emperors and not see madness, but a kind of extreme logic born of a life in which you are told you are a living god ruling over the known world. Aren't many of the extravagences and cruelties of these men simply the capricious whims of the id unchecked by the ego? Don't all ugly bald men like Caligula secretly want to kill the handsome well coifed men they encounter?