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Monday, 11 December 2017

Caligula (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

Caligula, official name Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, also known as the Emperor Gaius, was the third Roman Emperor, from 37 until his assassination in 41 at the age of twenty-eight. Along with his nephew the Emperor Nero (SEI), Caligula is probably the most (in)famous of all Roman Emperors, known popularly, for two millennia, as the archetype of the insane, depraved ruler. "Caligula" is a nickname, meaning "Little Boots", which he got as a little boy: his parents liked to dress him up in soldier's uniform while among the Rhine legions.

Caligula's "madness":  The image of Caligula as mad, in the sense of clinically insane, goes back to his own time. The most notorious story is that he appointed his horse to the position of consul (i.e. most senior magistrate); that however is an exaggeration of the historical record, which is that Caligula just said he was thinking of doing that. Nevertheless, all the existing historical records are consistent in pointing to Caligula as fond of making sarcastic, insulting, shocking remarks, as well as engaging in equally shocking and cruel behaviour, which often seemed inexplicable, and so it was easy to characterise him as insane. Nowadays the most accepted theory is that although an erratic and often capricious and irresponsible ruler, Caligula's behaviour was closer to what we'd today call a "troll" rather than that of a true lunatic.

Background: Caligula was the great-grandson of Augustus (LIE) and grand-nephew of Tiberius (ILI)Although only twenty-four years old, with no experience in government, and mostly unknown to the general public when Tiberius died, Caligula was the most suitable survivor of the "dynastic civil war" of the ruling family that took place in Tiberius' reign. He was acclaimed and accepted as Emperor of Rome by the Senate, the army, and the general population without much difficulty, above all because he had "inherited" the popularity of his late father, Germanicus.

Caligula was extremely popular at first due to feel-good gestures aimed at erasing the "gloom and doom" mood of the last years of Tiberius, especially the free (or rather reckless) spending on spectacles and public works, dissipating in less than one year the reserves built up by his predecessor. When money ran out, he had to turn to draconian measures to raise money, including higher taxes and confiscation of property of members of the aristocracy on trumped-up charges. He also executed or exiled close members of his family and inner circle, including his two surviving sisters and the Praetorian Prefect, Macro, who had been his most important supporter. A massive military expedition with the official aim of conquering Britain never crossed the Channel; instead Caligula stopped in France to remove and execute his own military governor on charges of conspiracy. Returning to Rome, he addressed the ongoing conflicts between the Greek and Jewish communities in Alexandria by ordering a statue of himself placed at the Temple of Jerusalem, since the Greeks had accused the Jews of not honouring the emperor. The local Roman governor managed to stall fulfilling that inflammatory plan until Caligula's timely assassination. That was the result of a plot involving not only members of Caligula's inner circle, but also senior members of his Praetorian Guard, fed up with the way the emperor would taunt and insult them: by giving them ridiculous and obscene watchwords and moving his finger pornographically when offering his hand to be kissed. A faction of the conspirators, and of the Senate, intended to abolish the very position of emperor and return to the system of the Republic; such dreams were completely derailed when the majority of the Praetorian Guard acclaimed Caligula's uncle, Claudius (ILI) as emperor.

Caligula's obelisk, St Peter's Square, Vatican
Caligula's behaviour:  As already mentioned above, it was Caligula's personal and public behaviour that made the theory of his lunacy seem credible. In a nutshell, he seemed to enjoy taunting, humiliating and scaring anyone of any kind of authority that was in his immediate presence; when interacting with truly humble members of the public, he tended to be more easy-going. His behaviour could be called that of a "troll" or prankster, except that his practically unlimited power, and his lack of scruples in punishing and even executing people, made his behaviour absolutely terrifying to those around him. His assassination was a backlash from that behaviour.

The most complete eyewitness description of Caligula's personal behavior was written by Philo of Alexandria, in his On the Embassy to Gaius, describing how he led an embassy of Jews from Alexandria to make their case to the emperor regarding the ongoing clashes there. Caligula received them as he was inspecting one of his villas and ordering changes in its interior decoration. Caligula seemed to only half listen to Philo's arguments as the whole group followed him from room to room, occasionally taunting them with questions like "why don't you eat pork?" As the Jews argued that different nations have different customs, and some don't eat lamb for instance, Caligula retorted "they're right, for it's not very nice". After complaining to the embassy that Jews were not paying him enough respect by making sacrifices to his statues, he ordered them to leave, saying, "these men do not appear to me to be wicked so much as unfortunate and foolish, in not believing that I have been endowed with the nature of a god".

This behavior - which is consistent with many other reports - makes clear that Caligula did not care at all about making others feel comfortable, welcome, or at ease; on the contrary, his inclination was to make others uncomfortable, scared, uncertain of whether he was joking or not. His pattern was to show in an "in your face" manner that he was far more powerful than those around him. Sometimes he would make the point explicitly, saying, "remember that I can do whatever I want to whomever I want". This very consistent pattern in his behaviour already points to F as quadra value with very subdued S, that is, to the Beta or Gamma quadras. That he also seemed very focused on the emotional response he would cause on others (whether fear, terror, or humiliation) points to a higher focus on E than on P.

Those priorities can also be seen in what is known of his actions in government. First, for someone who was emperor for under four years, the impact of Caligula's building projects in Italy is extraordinary (the tight-fisted Tiberius had built next to nothing in twenty-three years). Caligula brought to Rome the famous obelisk in St Peter's Square, weighing 326 tonnes, ordering the design and construction of a giant ship specifically for that purpose (it would remain the longest recorded ship for centuries, surpassed only in the 19th century). The obelisk was originally placed in Caligula's circus, or race-track, also built by the emperor on his private estates there. Even without knowing the actual sums, it is clear that they must have been astronomical. He also built a vast palace on the Palatine Hill (until then the so-called "imperial palace" had been a network of previously existing private houses), extending it down towards the Forum, behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Archaeological evidence confirms that Caligula actually connected the back of the temple to his palace, and it's recorded that he joked that the twin gods were now his "doorkeepers" - yet another example of his sense of humour aimed at making others uncomfortable or at being "edgy". Those building projects, focusing on the biggest, largest, most shocking etc., regardless of cost, are physical manifestations of a higher focus on F and E than on P, pointing to the Beta quadra (or if Gamma, only to SEE).
Caligula's palace on the Palatine hill, with the columns of the Temple of Castor

Much more bizarrely, and defying rational explanation, in the year 39 AD Caligula assembled the available ships (disrupting the grain supply in the process) besides building more for the purpose, in the bay of Naples. He ordered a pontoon bridge, over 2 miles long, built on the ships, connecting the towns of Baiae and Puteoli. Then, wearing Alexander the Great's armour, he spent two days riding his horse back and forth across the bridge, followed by soldiers and cronies, alternating that with wild drunken parties at night, with lots of people falling or being thrown into the sea, with a few drowning in the process. A contemporary, Seneca, wrote that the diversion of merchant ships to that purpose caused a disruption in the grain supply to Rome and its surroundings, with even a short-lived famine.

To the extent that this bizarre and hugely expensive spectacle had any purpose, it can only have been a combination of Caligula's personal amusement, and some kind of "message" he intended to convey with that spectacle, in an "artistic" way; and that message would be somehow related to Caligula's power. The problem is that contemporaries were all baffled at the precise reason for that exercise, demonstrating that Caligula did not bother announcing it. Since it preceded Caligula's (never completed) expedition to Britain, it has been speculated that it was meant as a symbol of his mastery of the seas and of his future conquest of Britain. But whatever Caligula had precisely in mind, the fact that its precise purpose remained unannounced and was almost certainly of symbolic meaning, points strongly to T as in one of Caligula's stronger functions, and T + E in particular. That Caligula again did not care about the expense of that project (and was seemingly unconcerned with the disruption of ship traffic caused by it) points again to P as a subdued and not very strong function.  This combination of functional preferences points more strongly to the Beta quadra, and to EIE or IEI in particular.

Caligula seemed to find it easy to think of cutting, witty remarks, and his approach to policies, projects and even interior decoration seemed more quirky and impulsive than settled; the historian Tacitus (LSI) summed that up with, "his impulsive ideas shifted like a weather-cock". This points to an ease with I and maybe to an Energiser. Finally, what sealed Caligula's fate was his inability or lack of concern with how the attitude of those around him was being shaped by his behaviour.  By making his inner circle, and even his personal armed guard, hate him more than they feared him, he was opening himself to his eventual assassination, yet he did not seem to realise that. That points not only to R as subdued in relation to E, but to R as more like an Ignoring rather than Background function, that is, R7 rather than R8, and I8 rather than I7. Finally, his approach to F - constantly reminding others of how powerful he was in an over-the-top way, which should be unnecessary - fits perfectly F6.

That is, the type that fits the evidence best on Caligula's functional preferences and strengths is EIE.

To learn more about EIE, click here.

Sources: the scholarly work on all aspects of Caligula's reign, referencing all the available historical and archaeological evidence, is Anthony Barrett's Caligula: the corruption of power

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