The glorious Caesars

Rome’s first emperors are often decried as tyrannical, sex-mad monsters – but, as Tom Holland explains, the likes of Augustus, Caligula and Nero brought peace and stability to the Roman world...

A 1985 production of 'Julius Caesar'. For all their despotism, Romans thanked their first three emperors for delivering them from the curse of civil war. (Photo by Jean-Jacques BERNIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine

Almost 2,000 years after his death, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus remains the archetype of a monstrous leader. Caligula, as he is better known, is one of the few characters from ancient history to be as familiar to pornographers as to classicists.

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